The Truth About Cars » Golf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 03 Jul 2015 19:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Golf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term Tester Update http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/long-term-tester-update-2015-volkswagen-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/long-term-tester-update-2015-volkswagen-gti/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 13:49:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084753 The media is all abuzz about former Olympic decathlon gold-medalist Bruce Jenner transforming himself into a woman. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI could be considered the sporty car equivalent of a decathlete, excelling in a wide variety of automotive virtues. I see a marketing opportunity here for VW: the decathlon champion meets the decathlon champion of cars. After all, Jenner is a GTI himself: […]

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The media is all abuzz about former Olympic decathlon gold-medalist Bruce Jenner transforming himself into a woman. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI could be considered the sporty car equivalent of a decathlete, excelling in a wide variety of automotive virtues.

I see a marketing opportunity here for VW: the decathlon champion meets the decathlon champion of cars. After all, Jenner is a GTI himself: a Gender Transformed Imbecile…Heyooo, I’ll be here all week! Tip your writers by clicking on the jump!

The 2015 Golf GTI represents the 7th generation of the venerable Volkswagen hot hatchback. The car is larger and lighter than the previous incarnation but the bigger news is the jump in power for the 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder engine. Now with 210 hp (220 hp with the Performance Package) and 258 pound-feet of torque, up 10 hp and 51 pound-feet over the previous model, the GTI sports the ultimate Millennial Motor.

My GTI is the base S model 2-door with the 6-speed manual transmission, priced at $25,605 with freight. I was torn about springing an additional $600 for the 4-door version for its easier access to the back seat and to lose the massive doors. I also wanted the Performance Package with its increased horsepower, bigger brakes and torque-sensing limited-slip differential. The problem is I couldn’t find one: I previously wrote about how difficult it is to find specific models and option packages on VW dealers’ lots and our friends at Jalopnik piled on, agreeing that getting the exact GTI that you desire is nearly impossible. I wasn’t willing to order a car and wait 6 months, travel hundreds of miles or sacrifice color to find a match.

The GTI’s best-in-class interior with its cloth tartan plaid seats and Audi-worthy dash is a delight. The intuitive controls fall right to hand. My wife and I covered 770 miles in a single day with nary a backache thanks to the supportive seats. Nice interior touches abound: two sunglass cubbies, two power outlets, an adjustable-height center armrest, red illuminated door sills and massive door pockets for storage. The 5.8″ touch screen for entertainment and navigation functions is a bit small but an 8″ version is said to be in the works for 2016 models. The base model has no sunroof so it is quite dark inside the cabin, though I like the extra headroom.

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Fold down the rear seats and you have 53 cubic feet of cargo area, close to that of many small CUVs. Two adults will fit comfortably in the back seat though ingress and egress is tricky in the 2-door model. I love how you flip the giant VW emblem on the hatch to open it.

My favorite attribute of the GTI is its balance between power and economy. Alex clocked the hatch at 5.75 seconds for the 0 to 60 mph sprint. The nearly turbo-lag free motor does a nice job of propelling the GTI through its tall gearing – you bounce off the rev limiter in 3rd gear at an eye-popping 106 mph. The 6-speed GTI is rated at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. We saw 36.1 mpg on a 2,500 mile jaunt to Wyoming on its fresh motor and 24 to 27 mpg around town for an overall average of 31.9 mpg in the car’s first 3,950 miles.

Coming out of a S2000, I expected to have to adjust to some lack of feel in the steering but the GTI’s variable-ratio electronic steering is more change than I expected. I will note it is nicely weighted and does improve when in “Sport” driving mode. Hitting some curves at 8/10th, the GTI remained neutral and nicely planted, easily the best handling front-wheel car I have ever driven. I plan to hit a track day before my next report to test the car’s limits and see if I can lift a wheel or two.

I keep forgetting this is a front-wheel drive car, as torque steer is near non-existent (shift the VW’s slick tranny from 2nd to 3rd at the redline and the car pulls to the right ever so slightly.)

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Living in Tucson means I have the pleasure of navigating the fifth worst roads in the United States. Our potholes would be called sinkholes in your town. The GTI’s firm suspension did not take too kindly to our craters but I rate its overall ride as average for a sports car.

The GTI comes standard with VW’s Soundakoter, which pipes artificial engine sounds into the interior. The system is not mentioned in any marketing materials as carmakers do not want you to know about it so as to enhance the test drive experience and sell more cars. I will admit I loved the GTI’s smooth sound during my demo drive and still do. I am such a mullet.

Much has been written about Volkswagen’s suspect reliability and my GTI is already having issues. The shift from 5th to 6th gear is sometimes not as smooth as it should be and I am also suspicious of the 2/3 synchro. The proprietary iPod connecting cord was dead from day one though Bluetooth connectivity works fine. The driver’s seat belt is also a bit balky.

Despite these problems I am happy with my fun and versatile GTI. I am not quite ready to deem it the best $25,000 to $30,000 sporty car available today until we see its bugaboos go away.

At which point I will officially name my car Caitlyn.

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2015 Volkswagen GTI 2-Door Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-volkswagen-gti-2-door-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-volkswagen-gti-2-door-review-video/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061210 Although GTI sales are on an upward trend, the American hot hatch is a rare breed as there are just three options. We have the aging Ford Focus ST, and a new pair of hatches from Germany: the Volkswagen GTI and the MINI Cooper S. (Yes MINI fans, I’m calling the MINI German.) The last […]

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2015 VW GTI 2-Door Exterior Front

Although GTI sales are on an upward trend, the American hot hatch is a rare breed as there are just three options. We have the aging Ford Focus ST, and a new pair of hatches from Germany: the Volkswagen GTI and the MINI Cooper S. (Yes MINI fans, I’m calling the MINI German.) The last time I reviewed the GTI and Focus ST, the Focus came out on top despite the greater refinement Volkswagen offered. This time we have an all new GTI while Subaru has kicked the 5-door WRX to the curb, BMW has redesigned the MINI Cooper JCW and Ford has “gone Euro” by jamming a 2.3L turbo in the Mustang. Where does that leave the GTI?

Exterior

Although the MK7 GTI looks nearly identical to the outgoing MK6 GTI, park them next to each other and you’ll start to see the differences. This GTI is longer, lower and wider with a significant stretch to the passenger compartment. VW pushed the front wheels 2-inches farther forward and gave the Golf a longer hood for better proportion. The headlamps get an angrier look and the tail lamps ditch the cute round theme for a more aggressive motif.

Sounds like a moderate refresh, right? Wrong. What VW did with the Golf is akin to swapping clothes with a stranger. It may look the same at first glance, but this stranger is different underneath and the clothes fit a little better as well. That’s all possible because this GTI rides on Volkswagen’s new MQB platform which also underpins the 2015 Audi A3. The promise of MQB is to deliver faster product development cycles, lower costs, improve parts sharing and achieve better fuel economy. Indeed, the GTI is lighter than before; however, the weight difference isn’t as dramatic as I was lead to believe at just under 100 pounds. Of course the GTI did get bigger and lighter at the same time, but the top-end 3,086 pound curb weight is about the same as a 2005 GTI.

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Interior

VW was once known as the “discount Audi” in America. But as part of their mission to increase sales on our shores, VW divorced the Passat and Jetta from their Euro twins and started cutting back on their other models. Thankfully, a few models escaped this fate and are still pair-bonded to the model sold in the EU. The Golf is one of them and, as a result, feels a notch above the American Passat in interior quality. From the fabric-covered A-pillars to the soft-touch door panels and dashboard bits, the feel upon entering the Golf in any form is in some ways “more Audi” than the A3. Without a doubt, the Golf has the best interior in this category, which oddly enough applies as much to the $17,995 base Golf as to the $25,095 GTI or $36,595 Golf R. MINI’s recent redesign has seriously improved its interior, but the VW is arguably on par with the JCW model in terms of parts quality despite being $10,000 less in some configurations.

Perhaps the “price” for the interior refinement is a distinct lack of power seating in most models. If you want more adjustability up front, you have to step up to the Autobahn model, which means you also receive leather instead of the attractive GTI tartan fabric. A little known fact about the GTI (and the Golf in general): the three-door and five-door versions are the same length and deliver identical interior dimensions. This means that our seemingly small three-door GTI was able to swallow two 6-foot tall passengers and a skinny third in a pinch. More surprising was the ability to squeeze a rearward facing child seat behind a 6-foot tall passenger up front. That’s different than the MINI which has a cramped back seat and even more cramped cargo hold.

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Infotainment

The redesign of the GTI includes a refresh of VW’s infotainment system. Sadly, this is the one area where revolution would have been preferable to evolution. The VW software lags behind the competition and if you want navigation it is only available in the most expensive trim. All units feature expanded voice commands, finger gestures (like scrolling), and a proximity sensor to clean up the interface when your digits aren’t near the screen. Most of the system’s graphics have been improved and the media interface is more attractive than before (including the elusive navigation software). But, the system still lacks the ability to voice command your media library, and still uses a proprietary VW connector for media devices.

As much heat as MyFord Touch has received over the years, the system in the Focus ST is light-years ahead of this. Since MINI gets BMW’s iDrive on a MINI scale, it takes the top slot in this segment. However, you will have to pay some serious coin as MINI’s options list is long, confusing, and expensive. Volkswagen tells us to expect significant changes “soon” to address the deficiencies, including the VW/Audi proprietary cable.

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Drivetrain

As you’d expect from a hot hatch, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine sits under the GTI’s hood. For 2015, the 2.0L engine has been reworked to deliver 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s a slight power bump but a fairly healthy torque increase over the last gen GTI. Thanks to the turbocharger and direct-injection, we get the expected “power plateau” rather than a curve with all 210 ponies pulling from 4,500-6,200 RPM and all the torque available from a low 1,500 RPM to 4,400. If you opt for the $1,495 performance package, peak power rises slightly to 220 hp from 4,700-6,200 while torque remains unchanged at 258 lb-ft but hangs out for 200 more RPM at the top end.

All GTIs start with a standard 6-speed manual transmission including the top end Autobahn trim. Shoppers can add a 6-speed DSG to any trim. In a nod to enthusiasts, the DSG and performance package are neither forcibly bundled nor mutually exclusive. Standard on all models is VW’s XDS system which has caused some confusion among potential shoppers so allow me to explain. XDS is not a true limited slip differential. Instead, it is an advanced software package added to the car’s ABS and Stability Control systems. The software reads yaw, steering angle, wheel slip, etc and uses the vehicle’s brakes to act as both a limited slip differential and a torque vectoring differential depending on the situation. The system will gently brake the inside wheel in a corner to help “vector” torque to the outside wheel and give a more balanced feel to the car. The system also responds to potential torque steer making all GTI models more civilized.

The performance package adds an electronically controlled limited slip differential; although the design is very different than the eLSDs you see in RWD applications, the function is similar. The VAQ system (Vorderachsquersperre in German) uses a multi-plate clutch pack to deliver limited slip, full locking and torque vectoring across the front axle. VAQ does not replace XDS, instead you get both systems working for you at the same time.

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Drive

The GTI we got our hands on for a week was a four-door model without the performance package. I’m glad I was able to test a GTI in this configuration because it allows me to say: get the performance package. Not for the additional ponies, or even the trick eLSD, but for the upgraded brakes and the ability to get the $800 dynamic damper package (DDC). The previous generation GTI was so eager to please, it was easy to overwhelm the standard brakes. Although the new model appears to have improved this on base trims, the upgraded stoppers are worth every penny. The standard suspension can feel a little too firm over broken pavement and at times this causes the rear to get unsettled on a poorly paved corner. The DDC package allows the suspension to deliver a more compliant highway ride and a firmer autocross ride. It also helps settle the GTI’s rear end on rough pavement.

Our best 0-60 run rang in at a 5.75 seconds which is an improvement of nearly a half second over the last generation GTI, 2/10ths faster than the last Focus ST we tested and 4/10ths faster than a dealer provided MINI Cooper JCW. If you opt for the DSG, your 0-60 runs will be a hair slower but much more consistent. Interestingly enough, this is only a hair slower than the EcoBoost Mustang.

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The mission of the hot hatch could not be more different from the pony car. The Mustang is a large coupé with rear wheel drive, sexy lines and V6 and V8 engines that are shared with the F-150 pickup. The hot hatch formula starts with a practical compact hatchback, then you add stiff springs and bolt a turbo charger to a small displacement engine. For 2015, Ford added independent suspension and a 2.3L turbo to the Stang making comparisons more rational.

Obviously, driving dynamics are what separate the GTI from the Mustang, but it’s more about feel than speed around a track. As our friends over at MotorTrend recently discovered, the better balanced rear wheel drive Mustang was actually slower around a figure-eight than the GTI. Although that proclamation surprised some, it didn’t surprise me at all, given the VW weighs nearly 500lbs less. You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about steering feel. That’s because there isn’t any. A wise man once told me to never confuse steering weight with steering feel. The GTI’s tiller is well weighted but the FWD layout and the electric power steering suck all the life out of it.

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Part of the reason the GTI did so well is the standard XDS system which nearly eliminates torque steer. In concept it is quite similar to what Ford uses to control the Focus ST’s front end but in the real world the VW system is more effective. Trouble is, half the fun of having a hot hatch is “riding a bull” – where your foot is on the floor and your hands and mind are fully engaged trying to keep the car going in a straight line. (The old Mazdaspeed3 acted like its steering rack was possessed by demons from hell.) MINIs Cooper JCW slots between the GTI and the Focus ST in civility. Add the VAQ eLSD to the GTI and things go to the next level with very little drama when accelerating around sharp corners. While I found the feeling a little artificial at times, I can’t deny it is faster.

Pricing for 2015 starts at $25,095 for the 3-door GTI and tops out at $35,950 for the 5-door Autobahn edition with all the options. Although VW limits navigation to the top-trim, you can add the DSG to any trim for $1,100, Performance Package for $1,495, steering HID headlamps for $995 and for $695 they will tack on front/rear parking sensors and a radar based collision warning system. If you want the $800 DDC (dynamic dampers), you have to start with the SE trim with the Performance Package ($29,280 3-door, $29,880 5-door). In a nice change from the industry norm, the transmission selection doesn’t alter the availability of the other options and the top-end Autobahn doesn’t force you to get the DSG.

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Ford’s Ecoboost Mustang starts $300 higher than the GTI while the Focus ST starts nearly $2,000 lower. The MINI is in a universe all to its own with the JCW starting over $8,000 higher. The ‘Stang gets standard HID lamps in the turbo trim making both Ford models less expensive than the VW when comparably equipped. Unlike VW, Ford also allows you to add navigation to their less expensive trims and the ST gets some seriously comfortable Recaro seats in most trims.

At the end of the week, the GTI’s charms were clear: this is a hot hatch with few compromises. The MINI is cute but slower and much more expensive. The GTI has a more comfortable back seat than the Mustang and, although it’s less fun, it is faster in some situations. The WRX isn’t a hatch anymore and if you want an automatic your only option is a soul-sucking CVT. The Focus gives a more raw and direct experience, but the added weight means it’s no faster than the GTI in just about any situation. The final nail in the coffin for the competition is the GTI SE with the limited slip differential, dynamic suspension and the DSG. For $32,000, a GTI equipped in that way won’t be as much fun as others, but with all that and 28 MPG combined, it may be the best daily driver on sale. Sacrilege you say? Perhaps, but that configuration is the truest to the hot hatch concept: make a daily driver as much fun as possible.

Mission accomplished.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.5 Seconds

0-60:5.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.31 @ 98 MPH

Average Economy: 29.8 MPG over 675 miles

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QOTD: Are Car Enthusiasts Ahead of or Behind the Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-car-enthusiasts-behind-ahead-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-car-enthusiasts-behind-ahead-market/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062618 The latest sales numbers from April are a tale of two cars: one with a bodystyle we praise and another sporting a shape we denounce without impunity – the VW Golf SportWagen and Porsche Macan. The long-roof Golf took nine days on average to find a buyer. The Macan is at 11 days. Brown manual diesel all-wheel […]

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The latest sales numbers from April are a tale of two cars: one with a bodystyle we praise and another sporting a shape we denounce without impunity – the VW Golf SportWagen and Porsche Macan.

The long-roof Golf took nine days on average to find a buyer. The Macan is at 11 days.

Brown manual diesel all-wheel drive wagon it is not, yet the SportWagen does check most of the boxes typically associated with the practical car enthusiast set. You get space without having to pay the drag penalty associated with SUVs and their large frontal area. Also, for those looking for some performance, nothing delivers torque like diesel (unless you go electric, which is a discussion for another day).

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Which brings us to the Macan. Granted, the smaller Porsche-UV is exceptionally good, even if you do lose out on a considerable amount of cargo space compared to its platform mate, the Audi Q5. But, the Macan is still the antithesis of typical car enthusiast thinking: a high-riding utility vehicle that can’t go off-road sporting a badge from a “sportscar” company when, in fact, it has virtually nothing in common with the rest of the range. It’s also expensive, equipped horribly on the lower end of the price scale, and about as ‘aspirational’ as one can get.

So, that begs the question: are car enthusiasts ahead of the curve or behind it? Is the Golf SportWagen a case of the rest of the market finally “getting it” or just an odd blip in a typically silver SUV-filled market?

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Review: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-volkswagen-e-golf-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-volkswagen-e-golf-video/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 19:24:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037841 Because I live in California, it seemed only fitting that my first taste of the new Golf arrived in electric form: the 2015 VW e-Golf. (Why e-Golf? Because “Golfe” just sounded silly.) The Golf isn’t just the first Volkswagen EV in the US, it’s also the first VW built on the new MQB platform which […]

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2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-001

Because I live in California, it seemed only fitting that my first taste of the new Golf arrived in electric form: the 2015 VW e-Golf. (Why e-Golf? Because “Golfe” just sounded silly.) The Golf isn’t just the first Volkswagen EV in the US, it’s also the first VW built on the new MQB platform which promises reduced weight and lower development costs. While MQB isn’t a dedicated EV platform like Nissan’s LEAF, it was designed to support electrification from the start rather than being converted like the Fiat 500e. While that may sound like a quibble, the difference is noticeable as the e-Golf feels like a regular VW that happens to be electric. The e-Golf also demonstrates just how rapidly EVs have evolved since the LEAF launched in 2010.

Exterior

Volkswagen has always been a company that prefers restrained elegance when it comes to design and the new Golf is no different. While some described the look as boring, I generally appreciate design evolution more than design revolution because the latter leads to products like the Aztek. The downside to VW’s design evolution is that the Golf doesn’t look all that different from the last Golf, but VW owners tell me that’s how they like it. Park it next to the last VW hatch and you will notice a difference. The 2015 model is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor with a longer hood and a shorter front overhang. The result is a more grown-up hatch than ever before that also schleps more stuff than ever before.

For EV duty, VW swaps in their first US-bound LED headlamps, and (according to a product announcement released when we had the e-Golf) will swap them back out if you opt for the new starting trim of the e-Golf which is coming soon. We also get a revised DRL strip of LEDs curving around the front bumper that gives the electric version a distinctive look in your rear-view mirror. Finishing off the transformation are blue accents here and there, EV specific wheels and unique badging. From a functional standpoint, the electrically heated windshield (ala Volvo and Land Rover) helps reduce energy consumption by heating the glass directly instead of heating the air and blowing it on the glass.

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Interior

Changes to the new interior are as subtle as the exterior. It was only after sitting in a 2012 Golf that I realized that parts sharing appears to be somewhere near zero. Although the shapes are similar, everything has been tweaked to look more cohesive and more up-scale. The console flows better from the climate controls, infotainment screen and knick-knack storage all the way to the armrest. The dashboard design is smoother and more Audiesque and the door panels have improved fit and finish with slightly nicer plastics. Keeping in mind that the Golf competes with the Hyundai Elantra GT, Ford Focus, Mazda3, Chevy Sonic, and Fiat 500L, this is easily the best interior in this class.

When it comes to the e-Golf things get murky. Since most auto companies have just one EV model, the electric Golf competes with a more varied competitive set spanning from the Spark EV and 500e to the BMW i3 and Mercedes B-Class Electric. In this competitive set, the VW still shines with an interior that isn’t that far off the B-Class or the i3 in real terms. The only oddity here is that the e-Golf does not offer leather in any configuration. The new base model gets cloth seats which are comfortable and attractive but the top end trim we tested uses leatherette which is attractive but doesn’t breathe as well as leather or cloth. Breathability is a problem the Spark’s leatherette seats also suffer from and is especially important in an EV where you frequently limit AC usage to improve range. Kia’s Soul EV is a stand-out in this area by offering real leather and ventilated seats which consume less power than running the AC.

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Infotainment

The redesign of the Golf includes a refresh of VW’s infotainment lineup. Sadly however, this is the one area where revolution would have been preferable to evolution. The VW infotainment software, even in our up-level unit with nav, still lags behind the competition. The unit features expanded voice commands, finger gestures (like scrolling), snappier navigation software and a proximity sensor to clean up the interface when your digits aren’t near the screen. Most of the system’s graphics have been improved and the media interface is more attractive than before. Sadly however the system still lacks the ability to voice command your media library and the screen is notably smaller than the huge 8-inch screen in the Kia Soul.

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior Gauges

Instead of giving EV models a funky disco-dash like most EVs, VW keeps the four-dial analog cluster  and monochromatic multi-information display with a few changes. Instead of a tachometer we get a sensible power meter showing how much oomph you are commanding. Instead of an engine temperature gauge VW drops in an “available power” gauge that tells you how much power you can draw from the battery pack. In cold weather, or when the battery is too hot or too cold the discharge rate will slow.

I appreciate the simplistic gauge cluster, it’s classier than disco-dash in the LEAF while displaying essentially the same information. On the downside, the rest of the e-Golf’s systems lack the EV-specific features we have come to expect in EVs and hybrids. The extent of the EV information in the infotainment system is a single screen that shows your range. Most of the competition provides insight into how much energy your vehicle’s systems are consuming, how much additional range you’d get by turning your AC off or how long your battery would take to charge on various power sources. In fact the only way you’d know how long the e-Golf would take to charge is by plugging it in and reading the display that flashes the time to charge briefly. For more information VW directs you to their smartphone app, but those looking for a more integrated solution should look elsewhere.

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Motor-001

Drivetrain

Powering the e-Golf is a 115 HP synchronous AC motor capable of delivering 199 lb-ft of torque at low RPMs. That’s 55 fewer ponies, but the same amount of torque as the regular Golf’s 1.8L turbo engine. Logically the performance is lazy when compared to the turbo Golf thanks as much to the single-speed transmission as to the added weight of the e-Golf’s battery pack. 60MPH happens in a Prius-like 10.03 seconds, about 2-seconds slower than the TSI. Because the MQB platform was designed with EVs and hybrids in mind, the large 24.2 kWh (estimated 21.1 kWh usable) battery fits entirely under the vehicle with no intrusion in the passenger compartment and little overall compromise in terms of cargo capacity.

Early reports indicated that VW was going to liquid cool the battery pack like GM does in their EVs but the production e-Golf uses a passive battery cooling system instead. VW engineers tell us that the lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cells from Panasonic lend themselves well to packs of this nature and it ultimately helps them reduce weight and complexity. Like most manufacturers VW will warrant the pack for 8 years and 100,000 miles against capacity drop larger than 30%. This means that your EPA range starts at 83 miles and would have to drop to around 53 miles in that window to get it repaired or replaced.

Charging is always a concern with EV shoppers so VW dropped in one of the faster chargers available (7.2kW) which can charge the battery in three hours if you have an appropriate 240V EVSE. Should you have access to one of the new SAE DC Fast Charge stations (also known as CCS), you can zip from 0-80% in under 30 minutes. On the downside, finding a CCS station proved a little tricky in the SF Bay Area where the older competing CHAdeMO standard is more common by at least 5:1. On the up-side if you can find a station it’s unlikely to be occupied since there are few vehicles on the road that support the new connector.

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior Gauges-001Drive

According to VW, our e-Golf tips the scales at a svelte 3,391 lbs with 701 of that coming from the battery pack. For those that are counting, that’s only 300lbs heavier than the carbon fiber and aluminum BMW i3 REx which is significantly more expensive and actually has a smaller battery and 359lbs heavier than the Golf TSI. I should also mention that the Golf also scores better in crash tests than BMW’s light weight EV. In addition to being light for an EV, the weight is more evenly distributed than in the gasoline Golf. VW has not released exact details, but the pre-production Golf EV had a perfect 50:50 weight balance and that’s likely true for the 2015 e-Golf as well.

Although VW puts 205-width low rolling resistance tires on the e-Golf, it actually handles better than the base Golf TSI. Some of that is because the TSI gets 195s in base form, but the lower center of gravity and the improved weight balance play a large role as well. This means that unlike other EV conversions, the electric Golf isn’t the least fun trim, it actually ends up middle of the pack between the base Golf and top end TSI and TDI trims. The improved balance is obvious in neutral handling where the EV plows less than the base Golf. The added weight has a positive impact on the ride which seemed a hair more refined than the TSI a dealer lent for comparison. Steering is typical modern VW: moderately firm and accurate but lacking any real feedback.

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Charging Connector

Pricing on the e-Golf initially started and ended at $35,445 due to VW’s one-trim strategy. If you qualify for the highest tax incentives available (state and local) the price drops to an effective $25,445. That’s only a hair more than a comparable gasoline model (the e-Golf SEL Premium’s feature set slots between the TSI S and TSI SE model) but higher than many of the recent mass market EVs. To solve this VW announced the arrival of the “Limited Edition” which cuts $1,995 from the price tag by de-contenting. Cloth seats replace the leatherette (I actually think that’s an upgrade), the LED headlamps are dropped and steel wheels replace the 16-inch alloys. None of those changes are a deal-breaker for me, unfortunately however the last thing on the chopping block is the heat pump. Heat pumps are much more efficient than resistive heating elements so this will mean reduced range in colder climates.

The e-Golf is less of a compromise than the 4-seat Spark and a better deal than the 4-seat i3. Nissan’s LEAF provides a little more passenger and cargo room for less, but the trade-offs include lackluster handling, fewer features and a much slower charger. When cross-shopping Fiat’s 500e you realize just how large the Golf has grown over the years. As you’d expect in a segment that is evolving this rapidly, the toughest competition is found in the other new model: the 2015 Kia Soul EV. Priced from $33,700-35,700 (before incentives) the Soul is slightly more expensive than the VW but you get considerably more for your money. The delta is most pronounced in the Soul EV + which gets real leather, cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, power folding mirrors, an 8-inch touchscreen, and about 20% more battery capacity for $225. Highlighting Kia’s deft hand at cutting the right corners, you will notice that the Soul forgoes LED headlamps, the heated windscreen and has a slightly slower charger. As impressive as the e-Golf’s curb weight is, the Soul EV manages to be a hair lighter at 3,289lbs despite the bigger battery, this weight reduction and deeper gearing allow the Soul EV to scoot to 60 one second faster. This leaves me with a split decision, the e-Golf is the better car but the Soul is the better EV with a longer range, EV focused infotainment software and niceties like the cooled seats and heated steering wheel that extend range by reducing your HVAC consumption. If VW adds a third model sporting cooled seats, real leather and drops back in the gas-Golf’s power seats, they’d have a solid alternative to the Soul EV and even the Mercedes B-Class. Just be sure to check with your tax professional before depending on those EV credits and rebates.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and a charged battery for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 3.44 Seconds

0-60: 10.03 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 17.2 Seconds @ 82 MPH

Average Economy: 4.3 Mi/kWh

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Cargo Area.CR2 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Cargo Area 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Cargo Area1 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Charging Connector SAE CCS DC Fast Charge 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Charging Connector 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior.CR2-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior.CR2-002 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior.CR2-003 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior1 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-002 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-003 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-004 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-005 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-0011 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-0021 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-0031 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-0041 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior-0051 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior Gauges 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior Gauges-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior.CR2 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior.CR2-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior1 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-002 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-003 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-004 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-005 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-006 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-007 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-008 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-009 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-010 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-0031 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Interior-0041 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Motor 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Motor-001 2015 Volkswagen eGolf Wheel.CR2

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Volkswagen: Golf-Based CUV May Slot Under Next-Gen Tiguan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-golf-based-cuv-may-slot-next-gen-tiguan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-golf-based-cuv-may-slot-next-gen-tiguan/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984321 With the Volkswagen Tiguan going bigger for the United States market in 2017, senior execs believe a smaller entry-level crossover could soon take its place. Ward’s Auto reports the new crossover would be Golf-based, and would become the fourth crossover in VW’s U.S. lineup alongside the aforementioned Tiguan, the upcoming midsize CrossBlue, and the larger […]

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Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

With the Volkswagen Tiguan going bigger for the United States market in 2017, senior execs believe a smaller entry-level crossover could soon take its place.

Ward’s Auto reports the new crossover would be Golf-based, and would become the fourth crossover in VW’s U.S. lineup alongside the aforementioned Tiguan, the upcoming midsize CrossBlue, and the larger Touareg. The smaller crossover could take its cue from the T-ROC two-door crossover that bowed in Geneva last year, and may likely be built at the automaker’s facility in Puebla, Mexico, where the Golf, Jetta and Beetle are assembled.

Speaking of the CrossBlue, that seven-seater will likely add more models to the lineup, such as one similar to the Cross Coupe GTE PHEV from this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Both of those models would be produced in Chattanooga, Tenn.

As for the next-gen Tiguan, production is expected to begin in North America in 2017, possibly joining the Golf-based crossover in Puebla, as well. The Tiguan will also grow to over 185 inches in overall length, gain a third-row seat, and be able to hold seven passengers, all to better market the crossover to consumers in the U.S.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:30:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949281 For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo. Thanks to a finer focus on […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (4 of 30)

For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo.

Thanks to a finer focus on fuel efficiency — a strength the five-pot did not possess — the base 2.5-litre is now gone. Instead, we have a new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, dubbed 1.8T or 1.8 TSI, delivering the same amount of horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy than the outgoing 2.5 five-cylinder.

Our tester for the week, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline (Canada), is the mid-trim option in the Golf lineup and equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Ticking off the optional Convenience Package adds automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control, light assist, Panorama tilt and slide power sunroof, and rain sensing wipers. The whole package before taxes and freight rings in at $24,590 CAD.

(For you folks living in Canada’s pants bemoaning my Canadian pricing, it’s hard to find an equivalent in the US Golf trim matrix that matches up, so you’ll have to do a little digging on your own.)

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (28 of 30)

The new 1.8 TSI is a fantastic little motor but does miss some of the charm of the old 2.5 inline-5. Thanks to the wizardry of turbocharging, the four-cylinder produces a very healthy 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It also does duty in other Volkswagen lineup models, such as the Beetle and Jetta.

It won’t leave your wallet empty at the pumps either, returning 7.6L/100km (31 MPG) and running on regular gas instead of premium.

The rush of torque comes on fairly early and the most fun is had when shifting at least 1,000 rpm before redline so you can feel the torque through each gear change. This is a car that will actually reward you for shifting slowly and letting the revs drop a bit.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (17 of 30)

The five-speed manual is crisp, notchy, and great for people who actually enjoy rowing their way through the gears. With solid feedback and tight gating, the gearbox might be a little too much for the novice driver though. I’d suggest the Fiesta with its long throws and lighter feedback for that crowd. But, for those who’ve already mastered the third pedal, this is as good a choice as any, except for the fact it is down a gear versus a few of its competitors.

Being the first Golf to ride on the new MQB Volkswagen platform also brings with it new characteristics in ride and handling. The Golf now rides like a much bigger car, smoothing out the bumps in the road while the body stays relatively stable. The softer ride does mean the Golf suffers slightly when chucking it around corners. But, unless you are trying to recreate the car chase scene from Ronin, you should be just fine.

There are two trends Volkswagen has bucked with the new Golf — one for the better and the other for the worse.

The first one comes down to design, as the Golf eschews the sloped rear glass used by the Mazda3 Sport and other hatchbacks in favour of a more two-box silhouette. This gives the Golf decent cargo space in the rear. Also, and this is the big kicker, Volkswagen hasn’t brought the beltline up to such a level that makes it hard to see out of the rear of the car. While the Golf gets a nifty backup camera hidden behind the VW badge, you don’t need to rely on the camera to reverse from a parking space. That’s a very welcomed surprise.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (6 of 30)

But, the one trend where Volkswagen really needs to play catch up is from an infotainment point of you. Specifically, the Golf has a serious lack of USB ports, and by that I mean it has exactly zero of them. Instead, Volkswagen still wants you to use the proprietary iPod connector and a car charger that pops into the plug that used to be a cigarette lighter. VW — you should really know better.

Also a point of pain is the beige-and-black two tone interior available on Comfortline models in Canada. While the materials are top drawer, the two-tone scheme cheapens it all just a bit. Again, VW — you should really know better.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (14 of 30)

Even with these slight issues, the Golf is a solid contender (though, if I were at Motor Trend, I wouldn’t be giving the Golf a Car of the Year award). For those who enjoy driving but don’t necessarily enjoy the firm ride, compromised visibility, or stick-on infotainment screen of the Mazda3, this is your next choice. Also, turbocharging makes everything a bit more fun.

But, if you desire something with slightly sharper handling, USB ports, or an interior that doesn’t mutter how boring you are, there are other options.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-volkswagen-rabbit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-volkswagen-rabbit/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888417 I haven’t shot many Junkyard Finds involving water-cooled Volkswagens, mostly due to the fact that these cars tend to depreciate into the crush-worthy price range before age 15, which means that interesting VWs don’t appear too often in self-service wrecking yards. We saw this ’82 Scirocco and this ’80 Dasher Diesel recently, and I’ve found […]

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01 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI haven’t shot many Junkyard Finds involving water-cooled Volkswagens, mostly due to the fact that these cars tend to depreciate into the crush-worthy price range before age 15, which means that interesting VWs don’t appear too often in self-service wrecking yards. We saw this ’82 Scirocco and this ’80 Dasher Diesel recently, and I’ve found 2/1461ths of the North American Etienne Agnier Edition Golfs in junkyards, but nearly all the Golfs I find these days are Mk2s or later, or Mk1 Cabrios (or ones that I’m helping to load up for a trip to The Crusher). Here’s a genuine, numbers-matching (maybe), final-year-of-American-production, Westmoreland-built, Mk1 Rabbit two-door that I spotted in Denver a while back.
02 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNothing very special about this car, other than being uncommon in the junkyard.
03 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo shortage of these engines in the world.
09 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Whorehouse Red Velour Interior craze peaked in the mid-1980s; Japan and Detroit did the most lurid red interiors, but VWoA made some good ones as well.

This car isn’t a GTI, but the ’84 GTI TV ad was so great that I’m including it anyway.

01 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Rigged Voting May Lead ADAC To Scrap Annual Award http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/rigged-voting-may-lead-adac-to-scrap-annual-award/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/rigged-voting-may-lead-adac-to-scrap-annual-award/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=707058 German auto club Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V., or ADAC, may no longer bestow their annual Yellow Angel Award after the club admitted to vote rigging. Automotive News reports that ADAC’s communications director, Michael Ramstetter, resigned from his post after confessing he manipulated the results of the Yellow Angel Award — given to what the auto […]

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ADAC Golden Angel

German auto club Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V., or ADAC, may no longer bestow their annual Yellow Angel Award after the club admitted to vote rigging.

Automotive News reports that ADAC’s communications director, Michael Ramstetter, resigned from his post after confessing he manipulated the results of the Yellow Angel Award — given to what the auto club considers as Germany’s favorite car, providing a boost in sales to the winner — to favor the Volkswagen Golf. Through Ramstetter’s actions, the Golf received 34,299 votes to take the prize; the hatch actually received 3,409 votes from the club’s 18 million members.

Club president Peter Meyer said the Yellow Angel has no future, leading to speculation that the annual prize may be scrapped. The rigging also has critics calling into question the validity of ADAC’s car safety testing, and the club’s overall credibility.

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Fore! Volkswagen Makes 30 Millionth Golf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/fore-volkswagen-makes-30-millionth-golf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/fore-volkswagen-makes-30-millionth-golf/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:06:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492159 In 1973, I had a little hand in launching the Volkswagen Golf. It hit the market in 1974. Today, it hit a new record. I wish I would have received a buck for every Golf sold. I would have $30 million by now. Today, the world’s 30 millionth Golf rolled past “Zählpunkt 8” and off […]

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PopUp600_400DB2013AL00009_smallIn 1973, I had a little hand in launching the Volkswagen Golf. It hit the market in 1974. Today, it hit a new record. I wish I would have received a buck for every Golf sold. I would have $30 million by now. Today, the world’s 30 millionth Golf rolled past “Zählpunkt 8” and off the assembly line in Wolfsburg.

In line with the green leanings, the 30 millionth car is a Golf TDI BlueMotion; a car that is said to use just 3.2 liters for 100 km, something we shall put to the test a little more than a week from now when I return to the scene of my former crimes in Wolfsburg.

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Inside The Industry: TTAC Finds The Missing Etymology Of Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-ttac-finds-the-missing-etymology-of-passat-golf-scirocco-polo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-ttac-finds-the-missing-etymology-of-passat-golf-scirocco-polo/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 11:01:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489412 Where did the names of Volkswagen’s Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo come from? What is their meaning? For four decades, it was shrouded in mystery. Forty years later, a famous former Volkswagen CEO, Dr. Carl Hahn, and his illustrious former sales chief, “WP” Schmidt, help TTAC get to the bottom of an unsolved question, Some of […]

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Polo-cat

German launch catalog for the Polo

Where did the names of Volkswagen’s Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo come from? What is their meaning? For four decades, it was shrouded in mystery. Forty years later, a famous former Volkswagen CEO, Dr. Carl Hahn, and his illustrious former sales chief, “WP” Schmidt, help TTAC get to the bottom of an unsolved question,

Some of the worst performers in the truth department are the gossip press and the automotive media. A good deal there simply is fantasy. Knowing well that no-one will complain or check, bogus new product plans are being published.  The large-scale availability of cheap 3D rendering software (here is how it’s done) and of WordPress turns this disease into a pandemic.

Most of these lies come and go. Some stay and turn into history. A dark chapter of automotive history falsification is about the names of the new generation of cars that, in the early 1970s, rescued Volkswagen from the brink and that helped turn VW into the powerhouse it is today: Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo.

There is so munch nonsense written about those names, that we had to go to the very top, and ask the people who decided these names 40 years ago.

Passat-cat

German launch catalog for the Passat

Before the Volkswagen Passat came out in 1973, all Volkswagen were sold by the number: VW 1200, VW 1303, VW 1600 and so forth. Then came a car called “Passat.” Although nothing was ever officially published, everybody in Germany was convinced that the car was named after the same named trade wind. It had to be.

A year later came two new cars, the Golf, and the Scirocco. The latter is another famous wind. It is called Qibli in Africa, it changes to Scirocco in Italy, and after it crossed the Alps, it is called Föhn and becomes famous for causing headaches and distracted driving in Munich and surroundings.

In Germany, and especially at Volkswagen, everything supposedly goes according to plan and has a system. There was no system announced, so a system was fabricated. Passat, Scirocco: It had to be winds. But where did the Golf fit in?

Even before the Golf appeared, a German auto magazine wrote that the car, following the supposed wind logic, was originally named “Blizzard.” According to the report, an Austrian ski manufacturer with the same name objected, and instead, the car was named Golf.  Or so the apocryphal history says. That story has been written in many books and magazines, and it is wrong. If you believe the story, you have been snowed.

Golf-cat

German launch catalog for the Golf

A little research in the annals of the German Patent and Markenamt would have shown that, before the Golf arrived, the name “Blizzard” was trademarked for products like floor cleaners, perfume, even for socks. There was no entry for cars. In 1973, there wasn’t even one for skis.

The ski trademark was registered half a year after the introduction of the Golf, on October 31, 1974. Most likely by a now highly alarmed Blizzard ski maker, who had not bothered before, and who had read the stories about them allegedly blocking the name for the Golf.  What’s more, the Blizzard trademark for cars remained up for grabs until 1979, when a company called Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha of Toyota, Aichi, Japan, took the Blizzard trademark in Germany. Yes, that Toyota. The mark was used for a luckless Toyota Blizzard, a small Daihatsu-built pocket Jeep. Toyota abandoned the mark in 2010, if you want Blizzard for a car, you most likely will get it.

After Passat, Golf, and Scirocco came the Polo. Its naming still causes great apprehension: Where is the wind? Future cars by Volkswagen had wind names (Jetta, Santana, Vento, Bora,) therefore, members of the media decided that all Volkswagen cars must have wind names, somehow. This leads to the fact that today, Wikipedia, while citing reliable sources, can claim that “the Golf name is derived from the German word for Gulf Stream and the period in its history when VW named vehicles after prominent winds.”

Never mind that a gulf stream is no wind, but an ocean current, the Internet is convinced that the Golf is named after the Gulf Stream. According to Wikipedia, the Polo is named “after Polar Winds.” The latter is said without sources, but by now, the story of Polo and Polar Wind has been copied so many times that it is very easy to find a polar wind source for Wikipedia, even if it is a circular reference – nobody will find out.

I know it differently. I did every launch campaign, I supervised the writing of the catalogs (all pictured here) of the four models, I wrote some myself. All, except those for the Passat. That car was already done when I arrived on my job as Volkswagen copywriter in 1973. No system for the name was ever announced, neither officially nor confidentially. The briefing documents said everything about engine, displacement, they espoused the “Negativer Lenkrollradius”-  but nothing was said about the etymology of the names. Each car had a name, that was it, we were not supposed to ask where it came from, we never knew who created the name, or why. Never ever did anyone think or even joke about the Golf being named after the Gulf Stream, or the Polo after the Polar Wind. Sure, at the agency we joked about “The new  popular sport, Golf.” Sure, the GTI had a golf ball as a shifter knob, and plaid seats. Those were puns, no proof of a meaning.

Scirocco-cat

German launch catalog for the Scirocco

However, who would believe a former copywriter? I decided to go straight to the source.  Volkswagen has a great new and well-funded department, Volkswagen Classic. It is responsible for Volkswagen’s history.  If anyone knows for sure how these names came about, then it’s the people in charge of Volkswagen’s history.

I asked Eberhard Kittler, spokesman of Volkswagen Classics, whether there was a system to this name madness, whether all Volkswagens of that time were named after winds, or the Golf after the Gulf Stream, or the Polo after the Polar Winds.

Kittler had no idea. That allegedly widely known part of history has no presence in Volkswagen’s history department.

Kittler went through the archives, he pulled old internal marketing plans. He found “no conclusive records.”

Herr Kittler continued digging. He reached former, long retired members of Volkswagen’s sales and Marketing departments. They had never heard of a system, or of any official etymology of these names.

Kittler contacted Dr. Carl Hahn, the famous Volkswagen of America Chief who approved the famous Volkswagen ads of the late 50s and early 60, and who was CEO of Volkswagen from 1982 to 1993. Hahn did not know either. “At that time, I was at Continental, doing tires,” Hahn told Kittler. “But if anyone knows, it’s WP Schmidt.”

WP Schmidt was sales chief at Volkswagen when Passat, Golf, Scirocco, and Polo came, and he was so for 27 years. Schmidt is a living legend at Volkswagen. Matters as important as the naming of a car had to cross his table, and had to be approved by “WP.”

Doing research on behalf of TTAC, Hahn contacted Schmidt. “Prof. Hahn asked  Schmidt what was behind the names of Polo, Golf, Scirocco and Passat,” reported Kittler yesterday. “Schmidt did not know about anything behind the names.”

After a thorough review of the documentation, and interviews with prominent witnesses, no support for any of the naming theories was found.

Kittler confirmed that there are many “legends and speculations” about the names, for instance that “Polo could have been a riff on Marco Polo, to hint on Volkswagen’s global vision.” However, as far as the man in charge of Volkswagen’s history is concerned, these explanations came after the fact.

The quest for a meaning is as powerful as nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum. We may have to accept that some things in life are meaningless.

Passat-cat Scirocco-cat Golf-cat Polo-cat

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TDI Troubles In The Land Of The Rising Sun http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/tdi-troubles-in-the-land-of-the-rising-sun/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/tdi-troubles-in-the-land-of-the-rising-sun/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 13:11:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=479921 The engine quit with a sudden un-dramatic snap, and the little Golf TDI began to slough off speed. Reflexively, I bumped the gearshift lever into neutral, flicked on my signal and began moving towards the left edge of the expressway. My exit was less than a mile away and, rather than stop alongside the highway, […]

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My TDI in Japan

The engine quit with a sudden un-dramatic snap, and the little Golf TDI began to slough off speed. Reflexively, I bumped the gearshift lever into neutral, flicked on my signal and began moving towards the left edge of the expressway. My exit was less than a mile away and, rather than stop alongside the highway, I used my momentum to coast up the off-ramp and over the small knoll that stood between the expressway and the toll plaza. I stopped there, on the back side of the hill where the road widened on the approach to the toll booths, to avoid blocking traffic and dug out my cell phone to call for a tow truck. I didn’t know it then, but it was the last time that I would ever sit behind the wheel of the little car, never mind the fact that it would follow me again around half of the globe.

I had purchased the dark blue VW diesel new before heading to Jamaica and the car had carried me faithfully, but not entirely without drama, during the two years I lived there. The problems were always small, window regulators, the brake like switch, an air bag light, and a check engine light among other things. They were more of a nuisance than anything else. There was a VW dealership in Kingston and they were quite professional but since I had purchased the car in the States, and then imported it to the island, none of these issues were handled under warranty. It was OK though, I really liked the car and so long as nothing big happened, I reasoned, I could foot the bill.

I check the map at a rest stop near Mt. Rokko in Hyogo Prefecture (2004)

After two years in the Caribbean, I moved to Japan, and the Volkswagen, after a delay that stretched into several months, followed me. It arrived in sorry shape, covered in filth and spattered with baked-on dead bugs from a trip across the USA on a car carrier. After so long apart, I was glad to see it and after a thorough cleaning, an oil change and a new set of tires, the car was road worthy. It was, I was told, the only Golf TDI in the country, and I enjoyed running around the Kansai region trailing a cloud of smelly black exhaust wherever I went. Unremarkable as it may have been in the USA, the car was a hit in Japan. VW fans often worked up the courage to bridge the cultural gulf to ask about it.

Times were good, for the most part. I had another broken window regulator, three out of the four VW logos spun off the center caps and I soon found out that there were no correct replacement batteries to be had, but I let these things slide. The car was unusual and quirky, after all, and inconvenience is the price you sometimes pay for cars like that.

Later when I transferred to Yokohama, I used the car to its best advantage to make the 5 hour drive down the Tomei and Meishin expressways almost every weekend to visit my wife who was at her parents’ house in Kyoto awaiting the birth of our first child. My little VW was not especially fast, but it ran well on the smooth high speed expressways of Japan. For once, it finally seemed to be just where it belonged.

On the Japanese expressway.

The car followed me to Okinawa in 2006 and, once again, it was put to work on my daily commute, a 20 minute drive that included surface streets and a bit of expressway. For the first few months, it seemed to be fine, but then, on one of my regular forays under the hood, I noticed that the coolant was low. Okinawa is hot, so I thought nothing of it and added some more coolant. A week later I got a low water alarm and, sure enough, the coolant was low again. Thus it began.

I have had to replace head gaskets before so I know what the signs are. I looked in all the usual places. There was no leaking water under the car, no sudden increase in my oil level, no oil floating on top of the coolant and no white plume out the back, so the signs were not obvious. It could be a weeping gasket, I thought, a leak small enough to suck the coolant slowly from the radiator without leaving a tell-tale trail of white smoke, so I took it to my local VW of Japan dealership to have them perform a test to see if I had combustion gases in my coolant.

It is a testament to my Japanese ability that I was able to use the language to berate the local VW technician well enough that he actually helped me. When first I arrived, he took one wide eyed look at the car and started to wave his hands. “We won’t service this.” He announced. But I wasn’t having any excuses and, after an ass chewing for the ages, he finally he agreed to perform the simple test I wanted. From the way he sucked air through his teeth as he worked, I knew it was bad news before he spoke. “It’s a head gasket,” He said sadly, “and there is no way I can fix it. We never sold these cars and we don’t have any training on them. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.” This time I didn’t give him any static, his words had the ring of truth.

A look at my garage.

At home that night I got out the rebuild manual I habitually carried and looked at the job. It was nothing I wanted to tangle with, honestly, but I felt confident I could do the work if I had to. The first step was parts so I got on-line and ordered everything the manual said I would need. It took weeks for everything to arrive and, in the mean time, I made sure the coolant levels stayed high and limited my trips as much as I could. Still, unwilling to commit myself to a project of that magnitude, I continued to examine my options.

Most Japanese mechanics are excellent and I was confident that, if I could find one who was willing to work on the car, they could fix it. The problem was none of them wanted to touch it. It was an unknown, and no one was willing to take the risk. There were no Japanese rebuild manuals for the car, and since mine was written in English it was useless to them. Eventually, I learned that my local Marine Corps Base had an auto shop, so I went down to see if they had a mechanic who could work on the car. Fortunately, or so I thought at the time, there was someone.

Photo I put in Craigslist

The kid looked like a typical grease monkey. He told his boss he knew all about VW diesels and that he had worked on them when he was based in Germany. His boss seemed convinced they could handle the job and agreed to take it ,so I gave them the little car, the parts and went off confident that my worries were over.

A month later the car had not been completed and I found myself back down at the shop looking around. The kid was nowhere in sight but my car was over in the corner with its hood ajar so I went to look at it. I raised the hood and found myself looking at the shop floor – the engine was gone and my blood pressure jumped. Unhappily I tracked down the ship manager and asked what the hell was going on.

The kid, it turned out, didn’t have the experience he had claimed and there had been a problem. The manager told me that they had already ordered new parts and the work would be handed over to the lead tech who, with my rebuild manual, would put the car back together correctly. Until then I could use a small Mazda loaner and was assured that when the car was ready I would not have to pay a dime for the work. Free is good, but it wasn’t like I could do much anyhow, so I accepted their offer as graciously as I could and left them to it.

Two months later the Volkswagen came home. There were still a few issues with it, most notably a couple of the vacuum lines had been misrouted, but at least it ran. It did OK on the highway but seemed a little down on power. It didn’t matter, I told myself, I was slated to rotate home in another two months and when I got back stateside, I could get the car sorted and decide then whether or not I wanted to keep it. My plan worked for three weeks.

After an uncomfortably long wait, the tow truck arrived, carried the car home and dropped it in my driveway. The VW remained there for the rest of my time in Okinawa and, a day or two before I headed back to the States, another truck came to haul it to the port. While I completed my move and enjoyed a vacation back at home in Washington State before heading on to Buffalo, the little car was put into a container, sent across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal and up the east coast to a port in New Jersey. The first I heard of its arrival was when the shipper called to inform me that one of the world’s best traveled car had arrived with a major case of mold on the interior.

Nice and clean inside!

Although I offered to sell the car to the shipper for a reasonable cost, they elected to clean it prior to delivery and three weeks later the Golf rolled off a ramp truck at my apartment in Buffalo. It looked pretty good for all the trouble it had been through and, together, the tow truck driver and I pushed it into a parking spot. The next day, I took some photos and prepared a brief Craigslist ad explaining that the car had a blown engine and was being sold “as is.” I figured it was a long shot, but I asked $3,500.

Long shot or not, my phone rang off the hook all day long and a guy named Hank was waiting for me when I got home from work. He looked the car over quite thoroughly and offered me $2,500. We dickered for a while and then met in the middle at $3,000. The next day he came back, laid down the cash and put it on a trailer. As he rolled away, I realized that the car had become just another unhappy part of my personal history. I was happy to be rid of it.

Hank called again in mid-December. My exportation and subsequent re-importation of the little car and wreaked havoc on the title process but since I had given him the Certificate of Origin we could sort it out with just a couple of signatures. We met at a local bank and while we waited for the notary he told me the rest of the story.

My TDI back in the USA – One of the photos that went on Craigslist

The un-dramatic snapping sound I had heard had been the catastrophic destruction of the engine. One of the valves, which had probably been damaged when one of the Marine Corps’ mechanics had turned the engine over without ensuring the timing was perfect, had broken off and fallen into the cylinder bore. Once there, it had wreaked all kinds of havoc. It gouged the cylinder walls, ruined the head, broke the piston into pieces and sent metal shards out the exhaust port and into the turbo where they destroyed that part as well. According to Hank, the engine was in such poor shape he had purchased a replacement drive train for the car.

The process had been expensive, Hank told me, but the little car, with less than 30,000 miles on it, would bring good money when he went to resell it. Someone, he explained happily as we shook hands on parting, would pay good money for it. Too true, I thought, and if they have the same kind of luck I had with it, they will keep on paying for a long, long time. I hope they like lemonade.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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From XL-1 to Veneno, Volkswagen Shows Cars For Everyman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/from-xl-1-to-veneno-volkswagen-shows-cars-for-everyman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/from-xl-1-to-veneno-volkswagen-shows-cars-for-everyman/#comments Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:05:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480133 The volks who worry about Volkswagen being incapable of directing its big band of brands should make a trip to Geneva. Today, the boys from Wolfsburg launch a barrage at all target groups. Aimed at the “blogger who drives mother’s old Celica and googles for super car pics” segment, Lamborghini delivers more bull: Lamborghini’s 750 […]

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The volks who worry about Volkswagen being incapable of directing its big band of brands should make a trip to Geneva. Today, the boys from Wolfsburg launch a barrage at all target groups.

Aimed at the “blogger who drives mother’s old Celica and googles for super car pics” segment, Lamborghini delivers more bull:

Lamborghini’s 750 hp Veneno fits that segment like a USB gaming glove, and it is priced right: At an MSRP of $4.65 million, the production run of three (yes, three) is probably just right. Five would be channel stuffing.

 

The design – clearly inspired by the package design of overclocked Taiwanese motherboards, with a riff on late night vegetable cutter infomercials – is perfect. The crowd loves it. The engine, well, the engine still needs some work. Despite finely honed product planning, the target audience is complaining. Not about the price of the car. About its lack of power: Just 750 hp? The covers were barely pulled off the latest bull by buxom product specialists, and the target audience is already moaning into its keyboards:

“My reaction wasn’t ‘750hp, Holy crap!’, but rather ‘Really? That’s it?’”

+1 , +1, +1

“Its like seriously WTF.”

XL-1

There will be some who complain that the three 750hp Lamborghinis will seriously enlarge the WTF ozone hole. For those, Volkswagen offers, on the other side of the spectrum, its 261 mpg XL-1 super green machine.

Prices are still a secret, the rumor machine cites six figure numbers. Like Lamborghini’s bull, the XL-1 is made from sheets of hand-laid unobtanium and provides similar cramped interior space. Volkswagen brought what looks like this year’s full production run to Geneva.

For the silent majority,.Volkswagen shows at least 6 Golfs, from a natural gas powered Golf TGI Bluemotion all the way to a hot station wagon, the Golf Estate R-Line.

The bull gets the Tweets, the Golf gets the volume.

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Light On Top: VW Golf Carbon GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/light-on-top-vw-golf-carbon-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/light-on-top-vw-golf-carbon-gti/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2013 16:04:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478195 Shuffled off to the side of the Volkswagen display at the Canadian International Auto Show was this Golf, sporting a carbon fibre roof and side mirrors. Back in September, VW announced a planned Golf ‘Carbon’ GTI that intends to use these carbon fibre bits plus fashion its front bulkhead and floorpan out of lightweight aluminium. […]

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Shuffled off to the side of the Volkswagen display at the Canadian International Auto Show was this Golf, sporting a carbon fibre roof and side mirrors.

Back in September, VW announced a planned Golf ‘Carbon’ GTI that intends to use these carbon fibre bits plus fashion its front bulkhead and floorpan out of lightweight aluminium. While this car was devoid of GTI badges, it did have these same carbon fibre treatments. Sadly, VW would not allow TTAC to tear up the carpet and see if the floor was made of aluminium. These changes reportedly shave about 200kg off the weight of a normal GTI.

It may be one of a few special packages offered in 2014, commemorating the Golf’s 40th year. If equipped with the standard 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine, a Carbon GTI could fire off a 0-60 time of less than 6 seconds.

IMG_5282 IMG_5283 IMG_5284 IMG_5285 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Volkswagen Replaces Aluminum With Steel To Save Weight And Money http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/volkswagen-replaces-aluminum-with-steel-to-save-weight-and-money/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/volkswagen-replaces-aluminum-with-steel-to-save-weight-and-money/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 20:20:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475097 Here is today’s other baffling science story: In its quest to save weight, Volkswagen is ripping aluminum out of plans and bills-of–material, to replace it – with steel. Not good old steel. They replace it with much better new steel. According to Reuters, “Volkswagen AG is using new high-strength steel to make cars lighter and […]

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Here is today’s other baffling science story: In its quest to save weight, Volkswagen is ripping aluminum out of plans and bills-of–material, to replace it – with steel. Not good old steel. They replace it with much better new steel. According to Reuters, “Volkswagen AG is using new high-strength steel to make cars lighter and comply with strict emissions rules, confounding forecasts that aluminum would be the metal of choice for reducing weight.”

High tensile steel is up to six times stronger than conventional steel, and helped Volkswagen reduce the new Golf’s weight by about 100 kg, while also saving money. “Aluminum is about a third of the weight of conventional steel but costs three times as much,” says Reuters (let them answer the fuming mails by irate nerds who insist that such a statement is utter nonsense.)

“Volkswagen is using high-strength steels in increasing amounts. It is a very cost effective way of reducing weight,” Armin Plath, VW’s head of materials research and manufacturing, told Reuters in an interview. “Using new innovations in steel engineering… it is possible to reduce weight without the use for more costly materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber.”  Volkswagen uses hot formed advanced high strength and ultra-high-strength steel. Other companies also increasingly use these materials.

However, Volkswagen may have to change its mind after all. Said Plath:

“If you now want to go beyond what is currently achievable, then maybe it will be required to use other materials such as aluminum and fiber re-enforced plastics.”

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Vellum Venom Vignette: More Cluster Commotions? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/vellum-venom-vignette-more-cluster-commotions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/vellum-venom-vignette-more-cluster-commotions/#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 18:09:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473461 Question #1. TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes: Sajeev, I have another question for you. Why do auto manufacturers increasingly make cars with hard to read speedometers? I was thinking of buying a Mustang, but I could not tell easily how fast I was going. The new Accord speedometer is harder to read than previous models. My […]

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Question #1. TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes:

Sajeev, I have another question for you.

Why do auto manufacturers increasingly make cars with hard to read speedometers? I was thinking of buying a Mustang, but I could not tell easily how fast I was going. The new Accord speedometer is harder to read than previous models.

My commute speed limit is 45 mph. I set the cruise at 54, because I have been told that police don’t start ticketing until you get 10 mph over the limit. I can’t see the 54 mph tick easily when the speedometer is hard to read.

Sajeev Answers:

Why? For the same reason they give us no rearward visibility! They don’t care about style with substance. And cameras/TV screens are cheap to install, and a nice option package for you to buy. If you can’t see behind you or look at your gauges, don’t worry: THERE IS A TV SCREEN YOU CAN USE INSTEAD. Woot!

Agreed on the 2005-up Mustang gauge cluster’s horrible ergonomics. But then again, we love our retro Mustang-Clydesdale design (not me)…don’t we? The worst was definitely the first Bullitt Mustang (branded) of the SN-95 variety. It was the one that set the bad precedent. The one that told common sense to go pound sand.

OH NOES WTF IS GOING ON?!? Or conversely: I’m Steve McQueen biatch, I don’t care how fast I’m going!!!

Question #2. Anonymous writes:

In the vein of ATS cluster article, what gives with the speedo on my new-ish Golf?

Up to 80mph, it’s one metric and above 80 it’s another. Before I noticed the disparity, I thought I was cruising along at 85mph because I had the needle pegged on the unmarked tick above 80. Little did I realize I was going 90, because I normally have the display set to fuel economy, not the digital speedo. What was VW thinking?

Sajeev Answers:

Dude are you really trying to hold your phone, snap a photo while exceeding (probably) the speed limit?  I’ve seen worse, but still…COME ON SON! I gotta slap wrists, and make this one Anonymous.

I don’t have a big problem with this setup, as there is enough space between the letters and a seasoned owner learns the denomination change over.  I’m not saying that VW gave you the best cluster but it’s okay.  Even without the redundant digi-gauge in the center!

Okay, I’m lying, I do have a problem with the cluster: 160mph? Really?  In a Golf? This is a good speedo for a high-performance model, exclusively.  Case in point:

 

This is the cluster from my 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7.  Sort of, because it’s a Fox body bastard like everything else in my ride.  I added two different Thunderbird Turbo Coupe tachometers (1985 for the face, 1987 for the guts) and the stupid-rare Ford Motorsport 140 MPH speedometer.

Two design beefs: Yes, I have a factory looking 24PSI boost gauge, but I don’t have a turbo on my 5.0L V8…yet. Yes, this speedo is better than the factory unit (85MPH) but the selection of big numbers to highlight isn’t logical (115MPH?). But they chose the highlights that make it flow nicely.

Is this Cougar a bad design too?  Not really.  The speedometer is odd, but awesome.  Considering Ford Motorsport actually made a proper speedo for a unique vehicle (Thunderbird/Cougar only) this is impressive.  It makes me wonder if the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was actually used by certain government agencies with alphabet names and covert operations. 

You know, covert operations demand a 140MPH speedometer in your jet black Turbo Coupe. Maybe someone at Ford knows the truth, as we all love the myth(?) of the Buick Grand National Turbos supposedly bought by the CIA. And how that somehow inspired the insane Buick GNX. Fiction is fun!

But your Golf? Not really. Just give it a boring speedometer, and let some idiot like me upgrade it with the Golf R unit several decades from now.

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Piston Slap: Modifying the 80-year old with the clap? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/piston-slap-modifying-the-80-year-old-with-the-clap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/piston-slap-modifying-the-80-year-old-with-the-clap/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:14:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466902 Stephen writes: I have a 1.8T GTI, owned since new and more or less problem-free. Its clutch went early, and it occasionally eats a sensor, but otherwise it’s been a contrast to the image of VWs as unreliable money-pits. Now, this is a MKIV, which if you listen to Jeremy Clarkson or any of the […]

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Stephen writes:

I have a 1.8T GTI, owned since new and more or less problem-free. Its clutch went early, and it occasionally eats a sensor, but otherwise it’s been a contrast to the image of VWs as unreliable money-pits. Now, this is a MKIV, which if you listen to Jeremy Clarkson or any of the VWvortex boffins, is about as desirable as an 80-year old Russian lady with the clap.

But it’s fine – enough get up and go to entertain me, and it handles fine. I’ve tried a new GTI – the DSG model gets to 160kph astonishingly fast with very little drama, but between the sound insulation and the (better) suspension the overall experience is a bit numb. In the MKIV you know you’re up to something.

My instinct is to do some performance upgrades and have some fun with it, as long as gas is cheap, then pick up a performance diesel in a few years if manufacturers can ever get around to importing them, 535d notwithstanding (errr, $50k).

Sajeev answers:

ZOMG SON, don’t you know that everyone on the Internet (and Jeremy Clarkson in particular) are never wrong? Never, never, ever.

I do consider the MKIV Golf to be a colossal turd, but with a caveat: everything is awesome when the original owner loves and cares for their machine.  Turbo SAABs, 3.8L Sables, 2.7L Chryslers, Diamond Star Triplets, etc…you see my point. But is it wise to start modifying such a troubleprone platform?

My beef with your plan is that modified GTIs are the usually the examples with serious problems, even if you aren’t the stereotypical GTI owner at this stage of the depreciation curve.  I would go super conservative: no turbo upgrades, no crazy electrics bound to wreak havoc on an already fragile German system.  My thoughts, in more detail but still generalized cuz I don’t know shit about Vee-Dubs:

  • Exhaust upgrades are great for Turbos: consider eliminating the stock muffler (straight pipe a la Dodge SRT-4, the turbo is already a muffler) and upgrading the catalytic convertor to a higher-flow unit.
  • Intake tube/air cleaner modifications or replacement with aftermarket part.  Just make sure you don’t replace your respectable cold-air setup for a ricey hot-air intake.  It must be isolated from engine heat.
  • Stock springs with your choice of premium shock: Koni, Bilstein, etc.
  • Swaybar upgrades? Not sure, but a matched set is always important in my world of Ford restomods.
  • ECU reflash: something mild, nothing insane.
  • Intercooler upgrade: if for no other reason other than to keep the system cooler and therefore healthier.
  • Sticky Summer tires to hold everything down to the road.

Good luck with your impending nightmare!

 

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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QOTD: Klaus Bischoff On Maturity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-klaus-bischoff-on-maturity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-klaus-bischoff-on-maturity/#comments Fri, 19 Oct 2012 14:16:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464244 “When you are a young designer of course, you think everything is wrong and should be different… You want to conquer the world and with great ideas. But over the time you have to really understand what Golf is, what VW is, And to mature to a certain degree, I needed that time. It took […]

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“When you are a young designer of course, you think everything is wrong and should be different… You want to conquer the world and with great ideas. But over the time you have to really understand what Golf is, what VW is, And to mature to a certain degree, I needed that time. It took 15 years before I really knew what I was talking about.”

The quote above comes from an interview with Klaus Bischoff, Executive Director of Volkswagen Design, regarding the seventh-generation Golf. I found it hit home – when I arrived at TTAC, I thought that I was all-knowledgable, that verbosity, snark and humor thrown into a blender was the recipe for a world-class car review, that brown wagons were the solution to all the problems of the auto industry. What I didn’t know could fill volumes.

My birthday is tomorrow, and in the eyes of most of you, I will still be a mere neophyte. My one year anniversary at TTAC is closing in quicker and quicker, and it seems like forever ago that I wrote the now-infamous “game changer” post about the new Ford Fusion. I still think I’ll be vindicated.

I’ve been humbled by Bertel’s patient mentorship, Jack’s command of the English language, the real-world experience of Sajeev and Steve, Murilee’s ability to take his encyclopedic knowledge of the automobile and put out an article about it every single day, Alex and Michael’s painstakingly prepared reviews and Ronnie’s ability to pull diamonds from the rough on a weekly basis. And to you the readers, for catching mistakes, adding information and insights to my articles and making the site what it is. Without you all, I wouldn’t have any command of topics like manufacturing, finance, the economics of vehicle development, CAFE, marketing or sales analysis. That’s not to say I am all the way there yet, but your help has cut the time down from 15 years to significantly shorter.

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Golf Mk VII To Be Made In Mexico, China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/golf-mk-vii-to-be-made-in-mexico-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/golf-mk-vii-to-be-made-in-mexico-china/#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2012 14:31:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462583   The seventh generation of Volkswagen’s venerable and best-selling hatch, the Golf, has barely been launched in Europe, and Volkswagen is already looking into producing it abroad. Volkswagen aims at two regions that usually prefer cars with trunks: China and America. For North American production, there are two options: The modern plant in Chattanooga, or Volkswagen’s […]

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The seventh generation of Volkswagen’s venerable and best-selling hatch, the Golf, has barely been launched in Europe, and Volkswagen is already looking into producing it abroad. Volkswagen aims at two regions that usually prefer cars with trunks: China and America.

For North American production, there are two options: The modern plant in Chattanooga, or Volkswagen’s Mexican base, Puebla. According to Germany’s Automobilwoche [sub], the car will most likely be made in Mexico.

“The capacities in Chattanooga are currently exhausted,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn told the paper. “If we expand there, then probably for a new SUV that is a little larger than the Tiguan.”

Production of the Golf Mk VII will likely start in Mexico in late 2014, or early 2015.

China will get a domesticated Golf earlier, probably in late 2013, says Automobilwoche. Production will move to Volkswagen’s new plant in Foshan in southern China.

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Pictures Of Golf 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pictures-of-golf-7-6-5-4-3-2-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/pictures-of-golf-7-6-5-4-3-2-1/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 21:43:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458917 Today, the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf was presented in Berlin. 38 years after the launch of the first Golf in 1974, and 29.13 million cars later, Volkswagen shows a new Golf that is 100 kg lighter and up to 23 per cent more fuel efficient that the predecessor. If a new Golf ever was […]

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Today, the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf was presented in Berlin. 38 years after the launch of the first Golf in 1974, and 29.13 million cars later, Volkswagen shows a new Golf that is 100 kg lighter and up to 23 per cent more fuel efficient that the predecessor. If a new Golf ever was “all new” then this one: Built with the new MQB architecture, everything in the new Golf had to be redesigned. And here is a picture count-up, from first to newest.

Golf 1

Golf 2

Golf 3

Golf 4

Golf 5

Golf 6

Golf 7

Golf 1 Golf 2 Golf 3 Golf 4 Golf 5 Golf 6 Golf 7 Golf 7 back 2. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7 dash. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7 dash. Picture courtesy Volkswagen.jpg Golf 7 front 2. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7 side 2. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Golf 7 studio. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Volkswagen Wants To Overtake GM. In A Golf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/volkswagen-wants-to-overtake-gm-in-a-golf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/volkswagen-wants-to-overtake-gm-in-a-golf/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 11:17:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458873 “Volkswagen is on course to bump General Motors into the world no.3 ranking this year,” writes Reuters. That’s not all. Volkswagen “aims to sell a world-leading 10 million vehicles by 2018, up from the 8.36 million recorded last year, and push past Toyota.” The car that is supposed to lead Volkswagen to world domination is […]

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“Volkswagen is on course to bump General Motors into the world no.3 ranking this year,” writes Reuters. That’s not all. Volkswagen “aims to sell a world-leading 10 million vehicles by 2018, up from the 8.36 million recorded last year, and push past Toyota.”

The car that is supposed to lead Volkswagen to world domination is an also-ran in the U.S., but it is one of the world’s most sold cars. It is the Golf, and its seventh generation will be revealed tonight in Berlin at the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Mies van der Rohe designed temple of modern art.

“Success of the new Golf is absolutely critical to VW’s expansion targets but the new version will be battling in a tough environment,” said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management think-tank near Cologne, told Reuters.

It is also the first full scale roll-out of the new MQB architecture. This architecture makes the word “platform” obsolete. Instead, is a system of standardized building blocks. Says VW R&D Boss Ulrich Hackenberg:

“It gives us the possibility to produce models from different segments and in varying sizes using the same basic front-end architecture. We can go from a typical hatchback to a saloon, cabriolet and SUV with only detailed changes to the size of the wheel carriers.”

The new technology aims to make production of 3.5 million small- and mid-sized cars 20 percent cheaper, and shorten assembly time by 30 percent. It also can significantly shorten time to market.

Top 3 World, July Production and Full Year Forecast
7M ’12 7M ’11 YoY Proj ’12
Toyota 6,126,101 4,054,608 51.1% 10,502,000
GM 5,619,000 5,515,000 1.9% 9,633,000
Volkswagen 5,190,000 4,750,000 9.3% 8,897,000
Black: Company data. Blue: Projection, based on last available
Toyota, GM: Production. VW: Deliveries. Forecast by TTAC

Whether Volkswagen will bump GM to third place this year is very doubtful. As the results of the seventh lap of the race of the world’s largest automakers show, Volkswagen is far behind leading Toyota and second-placed GM. To bump GM, Volkswagen would have to rev up production a lot, and GM would have to fail big-time in the second half of the year. Also, Volkswagen needs to aim much higher than 10 million by 2018. Toyota is set to reach 10 million this year.

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Love Me Render, Love Me True, All My Dreams Fulfilled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/love-me-render-love-me-true-all-my-dreams-fulfilled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/love-me-render-love-me-true-all-my-dreams-fulfilled/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458486 As a moderator on a Golf/GTI forum, the past weeks have been overrun with posts like ”THE REAL GOLF MKVII!!” with information inside saying it will have 600 horsepower, 12 transmission options, and the ECU will call the FBI if you attempt to tune it. They are always accompanied by an image that is as […]

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As a moderator on a Golf/GTI forum, the past weeks have been overrun with posts like ”THE REAL GOLF MKVII!!” with information inside saying it will have 600 horsepower, 12 transmission options, and the ECU will call the FBI if you attempt to tune it. They are always accompanied by an image that is as authentic to reality as a photo of Sadam’s secret WMD garage.

Lastly, they always link back to a few usual suspects. These are blogs that drive clicks by praying on that very instinct we have to try and find our hidden present. They have goofy names, intrusive advertising, and (until recently) it seemed they all had white or red text on a black background. They are the ones that ran the picture of the Focus RS in Detroit as proof it IS coming here. These are the dregs of automotive ”journalism.”

One of the best things in life is anticipation. From wondering what your parents got you for your birthday; to seeing what girls are in a college class on the first day of the semester; to the moment before your wife walks down the aisle when you are getting married, anticipation is simultaneously one of the most pleasurable and most frustrating emotions we experience. Yet it truly makes the experience so much more exciting.

Some of my strongest memories are when my parents rolling out a Gulf Liveried Pedal Car on an early birthday; or the feeling of excitement realizing a beautiful woman is in one of your classes (only to figure out that you walked into the wrong one, even though you were a senior); to the overwhelming joy of seeing that same woman turn the corner to walk down the aisle to you. All of these events are memorable in their own right, but the addition of that anticipation increase the emotional response tenfold.

Anyone in sales knows this. Float a product as an idea, follow up a short time later with a potential feature set, accidentally show an outline, release the real thing to an anxious public. Automakers are particularly adept at this.

Yet we are impatient. How many times did you try and find your birthday present? Or ask a friend that works in the registrar ”who’s in my class?” Or ask your new sister-in-law ”how does she look?” Enter the automotive render and the speculative blog/forum post.

Now, I love speculation as much as the next (car) guy. Give me some data to work with, I am happy to discuss (at length) what strategic moves company X should take to ensure their survival past a date of Y. Or why company Z would be nuts to not bring (or to bring) a certain vehicle to North America. Often I am wrong, but the conversations can be interesting, engaging, and fun. Yet when I am speculating, I am not presenting this exercise as anything but speculation. It’s not ”I have it on good authority” or ”sources say.” It’s simply speculation,  and it should always be presented as such.

Their speculation and images are driven by a desire to increase page views rather than to provide a service. They, frankly, contribute nothing to the community. We can combat their dreck; refute it, ignore it, ridicule it.

Let’s enjoy the anticipation. Let’s wait until our birthday to unwrap that present.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit 3-Door http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1979-volkswagen-rabbit-3-door/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1979-volkswagen-rabbit-3-door/#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457948 The non-convertible Mk1 VW Golf was sold in the United States through the 1984 model year and the Cabriolet version well into the 1990s, which means that most of the examples you see in high-turnover wrecking yards nowadays are the soft-top variety. I have a friend who is trying to get a long-idle GTI project […]

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The non-convertible Mk1 VW Golf was sold in the United States through the 1984 model year and the Cabriolet version well into the 1990s, which means that most of the examples you see in high-turnover wrecking yards nowadays are the soft-top variety. I have a friend who is trying to get a long-idle GTI project into streetworthy condition, and so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a 3-door hatch Mk1 Rabbit with black interior for him. After six months of spotting Cabrios and the occasional hooptied-out 5-door, I found this ’79 in a Denver self-serve yard.
Not many econoboxes came with factory fuel injection in 1979. The (gasoline-powered) Rabbit was more fun to drive than most of its Malaise Era Japanese and Detroit competition, but still intolerably slow by present-day standards. Fuel economy was great, though.
The round headlights indicate that we’re looking at a car built in Germany, not Pennsylvania.

“I owned my last Volkswagen for seven years!”

12 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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More Car, Less Filling: Volkswagen Launches New Golf Generation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/more-car-less-filling-volkswagen-launches-new-golf-generation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/more-car-less-filling-volkswagen-launches-new-golf-generation/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 14:06:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457563 It’s a little less than 40 years ago that a newly minted copywriter called Bertel Schmitt wrote his first ads for a newly minted car called Volkswagen Golf. As chronicled in the Autobiography of BS, the car became an involuntary star. At its launch, everybody at Volkswagen was convinced it would be a dud. 29 […]

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It’s a little less than 40 years ago that a newly minted copywriter called Bertel Schmitt wrote his first ads for a newly minted car called Volkswagen Golf. As chronicled in the Autobiography of BS, the car became an involuntary star. At its launch, everybody at Volkswagen was convinced it would be a dud.

29 million cars later, the Golf is one of the world’s most sold cars, and by large Volkswagen’s most important.  In a few weeks, Volkswagen will launch its all—new seventh generation of the Golf,  the emm-kay seven in blogger parlance. This is a make-or-break launch. If something would go wrong with this launch, it would be doubly bad for Volkswagen. The new Golf also is the first Volkswagen that is based on VW’s new modular MQB architecture.

The Golf VII is already being produced in Wolfsburg under a cloak of secrecy. A few journalists were allowed to touch, but not to see. They could sit in a new Golf that was still covered by a big tarp. And they had to surrender their camera-equipped cell phones. Today, the embargo on Volkswagen-supplied pictures lifted.  Pictures of the car will be supplied later.

Wait, auto motor und sport has pictures – of a Golf dressed in fetish gear.

The most important innovation: Despite growing a bit in length and girth, the seventh generation Golf is 100 kg  (220 lb) lighter than its predecessor.  The Golf is now at the lightweight level of the 4th generation Golf. The car will get an up to 23 percent better mileage, and will not cost more than the current model, says Volkswagen.

This weight reduction was not achieved “with expensive materials such as aluminum, magnesium or carbon fiber,” writes Der Spiegel. Volkswagen engineers systematically hunted for weight savings.

Electrical parts did shed 3 kilos, the engines lost 22 kgs. 26 kilos were saved in the chassis, 37 in the Golf’s body. Seats could become lighter and less bulky through the use of high tensile steel.

Using “tailored blanks,” metal is only used where needed.

In the past, Volkswagen engineers were proud of the straight line weld achieved through the use of a laser. Now, they brag of “wobble welds.” Those are laser welds that look like a sine curve, allowing firm weld with a minimum of overlap.

The new Golf is “equipped with all imaginable infotainment and electronic assistance gadgets,” writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It even has a new “multi collision brake” that tries to avoid a second impact after initial collision.

The new Golf will meet formidable opposition in Daimler’s new Mercedes A-Class and Toyota’s new hatched Corolla, the Auris.  This time, nobody at Volkswagen doubts that the car will be a success.

Note to GM: Despite a once in a generation model change, and a once in a lifetime changeover to a completely new car architecture that requires completely new production methods, Volkswagen did not pile up inventories of the Golf 6, and does not shut down factories for months.  It is a smooth and fluid changeover. During the three week vacation time from July 30 through August 17, one line was kept running to fill demand, while elsewhere, the lines were re-rigged for the new Golf VII.

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Because Not Every Old VW Deserves To Live: Fetching Crusher Food! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/because-not-every-old-vw-deserves-to-live-fetching-crusher-food/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/because-not-every-old-vw-deserves-to-live-fetching-crusher-food/#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2012 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452542 You don’t need a good reason to visit the Mecca of Colorado wrecking yards on the Fourth of July, but we had one: I was tagging along on a mission to grab a couple of dead Rabbits that could be turned into cash at Denver’s ever-ravenous Crusher/shredder. Here’s how the scrap-metal food chain that (mostly) […]

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You don’t need a good reason to visit the Mecca of Colorado wrecking yards on the Fourth of July, but we had one: I was tagging along on a mission to grab a couple of dead Rabbits that could be turned into cash at Denver’s ever-ravenous Crusher/shredder. Here’s how the scrap-metal food chain that (mostly) ends in a Chinese foundry gets its roughage.
Andy, LeMons racer, automotive entrepreneur, and owner of a righteous yard-o-cars himself, had bought a couple of Malaise Era Volkswagen Rabbits at the Junkyard of Melted Brains a decade or so back, and he decided to celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday by driving 100 miles each way to pick them up. The key to this journey was his recent obtainment of a 1975 Chevrolet Scottsdale flatbed truck with a vintage flame job and a sufficiently low bed to allow Rabbit stacking.
It was 100 degrees out and the air conditioning was broken, but the bigger worry was the 454’s problem with fuel starvation due to bad-gas-induced clogging. Andy had flushed the tank and cleaned out the lines, but bad gas is sort of like nuclear waste; it tends to keep on contaminating for years.
The truck had problems climbing grades in hot weather, and you get plenty of grades and heat on I-25 on the Fourth of July. A stop to replace the fuel filter seemed to help.
Finally, we reached the dirt road that led to the JOMB.
Located way in the back of the yard were the VWs: a light blue Rabbit C Diesel and a gray Rabbit LS.
I was so mesmerized by the acres of vintage machinery that I didn’t offer much help loading the Rabbits. Just as well, because Andy mashed a middle finger right off the bat, and I probably would have found a way to smash the other one.
Rich has a GTI project that could use a radiator, and the Diesel Rabbit had a good one. Out it came!
These guys have a lot of experience hauling cars to The Crusher, so they knew they had to shorten the bottom car of the stack. Rabbits aren’t exactly substantial, particularly when built in Pennsylvania, so the Sawzall didn’t meet with much resistance.
After cutting the pillars and bending the roof back, the second car was ready for its parking space.
The LS got tipped up on its side, so that Andy could harvest the catalytic converter. It turns out that this was a very rare LS with factory air conditioning but not power steering. Is it worth anything? Yes, about $200/ton.
Next, the LS is eased into its position atop the Diesel.
Plenty of space for low bridges!
After the attachment of endless hooks, tie-downs, and cables, we were ready to go.
The truck ran much better in the cool evening air. Here’s my view out the rear cab window.
We stopped for a nice meal during our journey north to Denver.
Meanwhile, property values for the entire neighborhood plummeted. Multiply this trip to The Crusher by several thousand, every day, and you’ll get an idea of how the global steel industry gets much of its raw material.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-rabbit-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-rabbit-pickup/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434773 Americans have never had many choices for front-wheel-drive pickup trucks; you could make your own by dropping a random pickup bed on a Sawzall-ized Sentra, or you could go with an Omnirizon-based Dodge Rampage or a Golf-based VW Caddy. Not many Rampages or Rabbit pickups left, though I did find this ’80 VW in a […]

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Americans have never had many choices for front-wheel-drive pickup trucks; you could make your own by dropping a random pickup bed on a Sawzall-ized Sentra, or you could go with an Omnirizon-based Dodge Rampage or a Golf-based VW Caddy. Not many Rampages or Rabbit pickups left, though I did find this ’80 VW in a Denver junkyard last year. Now here’s another one, apparently quite unrusted, getting ready to be eaten by The Crusher.
Small pickups have no place in 21st-century America, because small pickups are glass-half-empty reminders of life’s limitations. Still, these things sipped gas (or, if you were very patient on freeway onramps, diesel) and could haul a surprising amount of cargo.
One can only imagine what happened to this truck’s 62 horses when the AC compressor went into action. Perhaps it was best to limit use of the air conditioning to roads with steep downhill grades.
These trucks have a small but fanatically devoted following, so it’s safe to assume that most of the good parts on this truck will get rescued by members of the Denver chapter of the Caddy Jihad.

15 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1982 Volkswagen Caddy Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden rabbit Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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