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. (Read More…)
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. (Read More…)
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. (Read More…)
As I noted in an earlier piece on the macro-level issues with EVs, it’s dangerously misleading to assume that electric cars can simply replace internal combustion-engine vehicles without a basic re-think of nearly every way in which we relate to our cars. That’s true in terms of consumer-end issues like refueling grid impacts and “range anxiety” but it’s also true in terms of manufacturer-end issues like development and differentiation. It’s even true for the auto media.
One of the giant re-thinks spawned by EV development is in how manufacturers make their vehicles reflect their brand values and stand out in the marketplace, as the electric motor in (say) a Ferrari EV wouldn’t be as fundamentally different as an electric motor in (say) a Kia. This, in turn, makes reviewing EVs extremely difficult, as they all display similar power attributes, weight challenges, single-speed transmissions and battery ranges. So when you are asked to drive a pre-production EV from a major manufacturer, the major question in the mind of the conscientious reporter is the same as the question that drove the vehicle’s development: how is this vehicle different than any other EV? In the case of the Golf blue-e-motion, the answer to that question reflects the challenges of developing a major-market electric vehicle.
According to VWVortex, 1,461 Etienne Aigner Edition 1991 Golf Cabrios were sold in North America. I found one in a Northern California junkyard last year, and now here’s another. You’d think such an exclusive, one-year-only Golf would have legions of collectors driving the values well above scrap price, but the junkyard evidence shows otherwise. (Read More…)
Ah, designer-edition cars! The Malaise Era Cartier and Givenchy Lincolns! The Oleg Cassini AMC Matador! The Mark Cross New Yorker! By the early 1990s, you couldn’t get quite the variety of designer-edition cars that we saw in decades past, but Volkswagen wasn’t done yet! (Read More…)
New Volvo (and former VWoA) CEO Stefan Jacoby is (once again) targeting his former employer’s best selling Golf with an upcoming entry-level Volvo due in 2012. Autocar.uk reports that Jacoby has initiated a major reshuffling of Volvo’s future product line and brand positioning, which will now be (once again) based on the theme “functionality and Scandinavian elegance” and further away from sportiness. It appears this direction will also de-emphasize large CUVs, since developing a replacement for the elderly XC90 will give way (for now, at least) to the priority of a compact hatchback, which Volvo has not built since the (non-US) 1990 340 (above).
The upcoming Golf-competitor will presumably be based on the current C30, and not a new platform. But it will debut a new “face” for Volvo. Once again.
Automotive News [sub] reports that Volkswagen has approved a plug-in electric version of its Golf hatchback for sale in the US by 2013. According to AN [sub]:
Called the Golf Blue-E-Motion, the car forms part of a broad-based electric-vehicle offensive by VW that will see similar versions of the Mexico-built Jetta and the Chinese-market Lavida also going on sale in 2013.
Powered by a 115-hp electric motor, the front-drive Golf will be VW’s higher-end EV, fitting above the Up! Blue-E-Motion subcompact “city specialist.”
Should your travels bring you to Wolfsburg in the near future, do yourself a favor, don’t mention “Cologne.” Don’t say anything about “Köln.” For goodness gracious, don’t mention Ford. Even colloquialisms such as “ich mach mich fort” (“I’m outta here”) should be avoided. Any of the above would get you an icy stare at a minimum. Or a uniformed Werkschutz escort to the factory gate at Wache Sandkamp. The boys in Wolfsburg carry a deep grudge against Ford. Ford beat Volkswagen at Golf. (Read More…)
A recent test by Autobild sought to find the German-market vehicle that could tow the most kilos per euro. Third place (at€13.36 euros per kilo) went to the AWD 1.6 TDI Golf Variant, which is tow-rated at 1.8 tons on the German market (first and second went to the Tiguan and CR-V). Though the American-market Golf TDI has far more power than Autobild’s value-hauler podium finisher, Volkswagen continues to send tow-rating curious Americans messages like this one:
Thank you for visiting the Volkswagen website. We appreciate your
inquiry regarding the capability of using your Volkswagen for towing
Volkswagen does not recommend a passenger vehicle be used to tow.
Bastards! Incidentally, this image is from a post on the British Caravan Club’s voting the Golf 2.0 TDI as “Overall Towcar of 2009.”
1. VW GOLF 571,838 +23.9%
2. FORD FIESTA 472,091 +44.0%
3. PEUGEOT 207 367,160 -9.7%
4. OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA 351,807 -2.5%
5. FIAT PUNTO 323,536 +15.9%
6. RENAULT CLIO 312,925 -6.8%
7. FORD FOCUS 309,134 -15.1%
8. FIAT PANDA 298,914 +33.8%
9. VW POLO 282,780 +2.4%
10. OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA 275,638 -14.1%
Volkswagen will continue its pioneering work testing the boundaries between platform-sharing and brand-engineering, reports Autocar, with a new platform destined to underpin some 60 models globally. The modularen querbaukasten (modular transverse engine, or MQB) architecture will form the basis of models ranging from the sub-Golf Lupo to the Sharan MPV, starting with the next-gen Audi A3 which debuts in Europe in 2011. The key to the platform’s versatility is its adaptiveness to different wheelbases, tracks and wheel sizes. 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 architectur. 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 architecture will allow VW to replace some 18 engine-mounting architectures to a mere two, reportedly providing about 60 to 70 per cent parts commonality between Volkswagen’s biggest-selling models.
Car and Driver scoops the inside poop on the latest über-Golf headed to The Land of the Free. According the Csere-free buff book, the Golf R will offer the GTI’s four cylinder engine tuned to “an impressive” 270 hp with all wheel-drive to tame all those ponies. The R’s lighter, cheaper 2.0-liter turbo four may help the new top spec Golf sell more prolifically than the last top shelf Golf, which featured a heavier and more expensive 3.2-liter six, clocking in at $32,990 (msrp). Well, it couldn’t do any worse; you can still buy new ’07s. Car and Driver reckons VW will call the new car an R20 Turbo. As always, we reckon it all comes down to price/performance. The GTI is a stunner. The R20T would have to offer significantly better thrust and handling for a reasonable premium to make it. What are the odds? Meanwhile, if you haven’t driven the original R32, you should. Oh, yes.