The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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 (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen Horn: VW Phaeton To Return To US In 2018 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:18 +0000 phaetons

In an interview with Bloomberg at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Volkswagen America CEO Michael Horn says the Phaeton will return to the United States market as early as 2018.

Autoblog reports the full-size luxury sedan — which last sold in 2006 on our shores — has been under consideration by the automaker for a return sometime between 2018 and 2019. No word has been given on whether or not the 2018 Phaeton will be underpinned by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, as it was the last time the sedan was sold.

Whether the return will be marred once more by customers scoffing at the idea of paying Audi-A8 money for a VW badge depends on what Horn does to improve dealer relationships, which are strained between the automaker and the network as of late. Currently, both sides are in negotiations regarding improvements to bonuses, marketing and other issues in the hope narrowing the “great distance” between the two parties.

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QOTD: Volkswagen Golf GTD Looking Less Likely For America – Is The Audi A3 To Blame? Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:42:47 +0000 2014-volkswagen-golf-gtd

Despite promises of the Volkswagen Golf GTD making its way to America, Automotive News is reporting that the prospect of VW’s diesel hot hatch arriving in America is looking like a dim prospect.

According to AN, the high output version of VW’s 2.0L TDI engine can’t be built in Volkswagen’s Mexican factory that supplies the engines for Golf in North America (though it does build the standard TDI engine). Although VW wouldn’t elaborate, the cost of the GTD (factoring in the engine, which would have to be imported from Germany), would make the GTD cost prohibitive for North America.

On the other hand, VW will have no less than three additional hatchbacks for North America: a lower priced version of the Golf TDI, a TDI Golf Sportwagen and the Audi A3 TDI Sportback. Given the small market share for diesels, it’s possible that Volkswagen is satisfied that these models will sufficiently cover the diesel hatchback market in America.

Previous, VW was projecting that the GTD would account for as much as 10 percent of Golf TDI sales. But it’s possible that VW was scared off by a last-minute product plan change over at Audi. The A3 TDI Sportback wasn’t initially planned for America, but enthusiast demand apparently spurred Audi to import it to America.

The A3 TDI will likely run close to the GTD’s projected $27,000 price tag – close enough that VW may have been worried about cannibalization between the two cars. Unlike Europe, America has neither the demand for diesels, hatchbacks or manuals (the A3 TDI is only offered with a dual-clutch transmission) to support two similarly priced entrants with little differentiation.

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New York 2014: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Live Shots Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:59:34 +0000 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13

Though the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta bowing at the 2014 New York Auto Show may be refreshed, most of the work may just be too subtle to notice at first.

Updates to the outgoing model include LED running lights for daytime cruising, new tail and trunk lighting, revised rain gutters, and underbody shrouding.

Under the hood, three gasoline engines and one turbodiesel help move the Jetta along. The all new 2-liter TDI with a six-speed manual holds a combined 37 mpg while pushing 150 horses with 236 lb-ft of torque through the front wheels.

Inside, the biggest change is an upgrade in technology for the Jetta, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting with Bi-Xenon headlamps, and rear cross-traffic alert. Other interior upgrades include new fabrics, air vent controls and ambient lighting.

The new Jetta will arrive in U.S. showrooms Q3 2014.

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Volkswagen Delivers The Holy Grail With Golf SportWagen 4Motion TDI Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:00:58 +0000 2015-Volkswagen-Golf-Sportwagen


This is Volkswagen’s Golf SportWagen concept, which the automaker will be bringing to New York’s Auto Show. The “concept” shown here is what we can expect when the car goes on sale in early 2015, save for two key details.

The upcoming Golf SportWagen is confirmed for the corporate 1.8T gasoline four-cylinder engine. This concept has a 2.0L TDI engine and all-wheel drive, satisfying the wishes of the Internet Product Planning Brigade by saving them from the horrific ignominy of having a front-drive, diesel wagon. And yes, it will have a manual gearbox and a DSG option.

Both the 1.8T and a front-drive TDI SportWagen seem like done deals. The prospect of an AWD version has been a long-standing rumor, with VW apparently looking at it as an alternative to the Subaru Outback.

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UAW Subpoenas Haslam, Corker To Appear At VW NLRB Appeal Hearing Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:30:50 +0000 Governor_Bill_Haslam

Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker are just two of the 20 prominent Tennessee witnesses subpoenaed by the United Auto Workers to appear at the union’s hearing before the National Labor Resource Board later this month, where the UAW will appeal the results of the organizing election held at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga back in February of this year.

The Detroit News reports the 20 witnesses subpoenaed are ordered to bring emails and documents related to a state government incentive made to VW in the aim of bringing production of a planned midsize SUV to Tennessee. Outgoing UAW president Bob King defended his union’s decision:

The purpose of the NLRB’s investigation is to determine the truth concerning the third-party interference in the February election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. The NLRB’s rules call for the use of subpoenas as part of this truth-seeking exercise. The UAW hopes that all parties who receive subpoenas will fully comply by providing the NLRB with the requested documents and with their testimony.

The action comes on the heels of an exposé conducted by Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF-TV regarding documents linking the Haslam administration to an incentive proposal made to the German automaker on the alleged condition the plant in Chattanooga remain unorganized; the proposal was withdrawn in January ahead of the election.

Among the others subpoenaed by the UAW include Tennessee house speaker Beth Harwell, economic development commissioner Bill Hagerty, and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

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Review: Skoda Octavia RS Fri, 11 Apr 2014 04:01:23 +0000 aIMG_9292

Originally, I wanted to borrow an Octavia RS as the ultimate example of the “nice things you Americans can’t have”. But then I decided not to. I had three reasons. First, the RS, unlike “ordinary” Skodas, isn’t readily available in any shade of brown. Second, I had already tested a diesel, manual wagon recently. And third, the diesel wagon really isn’t the Octavia RS you really want. It’s a compromise, something you choose as a company car, because gasoline engines are verbotten by your company’s policy and you need the space for hauling stuff to your vacation home each weekend.

Instead, I opted for the closest thing Skoda has to a sportscar; the Octavia RS with the 2.0 TSI/220hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and a liftback body. The choice of the engine was kind of obvious – if you want “sporty”, you don’t want diesel. No matter what diesel fans will tell you, diesels are always rattly, reluctant to rev and heavy, compared to the gasoline counterparts. They may be miracles compared to their predecessors from two decades ago, but if you want a fun to drive car, you want it to burn the right fuel.


And the body? Wagons are cool, and they will, one day, make their way back to America, because they just make sense. But here in Europe, we have one more body style, which is even cooler than wagon. So cool that not even Jalopnik readers know about it. It’s called a liftback. From the outside, it looks much like a modern sedan, with a really short trunk. But when you open the trunk – voilá! – the whole rear hatch opens.

You say it’s like wagon, just less practical? Well, not really. For one, it doesn’t look like a wagon, which is apparently important to some people – even in Europe. And for a second, it’s not really that impractical. In some ways, it’s maybe even more practical.

While the liftback offers a bit less space than a wagon (and is a bit worse in case you want to transport really high items or stack stuff up to the roof), it has this HUGE trunk opening. Wagons, even fairly large ones, require you to push stuff inside them. Which can be a bit of pain with stuff like bicycles. A Liftback allows you to just place the thing inside from above – or reach over the sides, if you, for example, need to move the bicycle to the inside of the car, so you can close the trunk. In other words, liftbacks rock!

So, what do we have here? Basically, the Octavia is Europe’s take on Jetta (yes, the real Jetta is sold here as well, but no one really buys it). Unlike the Jetta, it is based on current generation of Golf and not the previous one, so it uses the new MQB modular system, basically the same engine line-up as Golf, it has a nearly identical suspension and the same electronic architecture. The radio/satellite navigation line-up to the fancy modern gizmos like adaptive cruise, lane assist and automatic parking can be had in Octavia. The RS, then, can be viewed as a slightly larger Golf GTI, with a huge trunk.


But when you look at it, the word “Volkswagen” doesn’t really pop up in your mind. The word that does, though, is “Audi”. The stance, the edgy lines, even the bright blue paint really does make it look like a junior S4.  While the GTI is still kind of youthful car that doesn’t try to hide it’s relatively humble origins, the Octavia RS seems to be aimed at people who aspire to own this very car. Especially here, in its home market, the $30k (with tax) Octavia RS is sort of a mild luxury.

The only difference is that in Czech Republic, the RS gets more attention on the street than an Audi. Or even than the Town Car I drive. Or than just about anything else, short of supercars, American classics or a hot rodded New York cab (I daily drove that, for some time). With Skoda being the only domestic car maker,with just over 30 percent market share, the Octavia itself is fairly ubiquitous. But the RS is still quite new, and since it’s the top version of a car everyone has, did have, thinks about having or aspires to, it really gets people’s interest. It’s the Czech equivalent of a pony car or a fancy truck.


But I digress. Let’s stop looking, and take the thing for a drive. Once you sit inside, the “junior Audi” idea re-establishes itself. Similar design, similar materials, similar take on quality – just less of everything. My special bonus points are awarded for the fact that the seats, while sporty, are flat enough to comfortably get in and out of, and that the steering wheel is round. My super special bonus points are awarded to the MQB modular system for the low window line and relatively narrow A-pillars. Compared to the Astra I tested previously, this makes the Octavia pleasantly easy to see out of.

At start-up, the engine doesn’t make much of a fuss, but throwing the sweet shifter into first reveals gobs of torque from low down, making it almost impossible to stall. What made me more anxious was the ride. The “sporty” VW products, including Audis, which this car tries to mimic, tend to be on the harsh side. And with 18” wheels (which are, by the way, extremely pretty, and also very prone to scratching) on a relatively small car, this is a reason to worry. But the RS surprises here. While it’s definitely not a plushy, comfy ride, it perfectly bearable even on the broken city surfaces I usually drive on. While it looks much more aggressive than last month’s Astra, it’s got enough ground clearance to not scratch under any normal circumstances. Nice, liveable and rational. Just as a Skoda should be.


What’s a bit less rational is the driving style this car invokes. In this country, Octavia RS drivers are known as one of the biggest jerks on the road – up there with Audi drivers. It’s easy to see why. The car works like it was designed for you to drive like a total asshole. While 220hp doesn’t sound like much, the ever present torque really helps, and the RS has a way of disguising speed that makes you drive like a total lunatic and not even think about it. You’re just leaving the traffic lights like a normal, sane person, when the little devil inside the car just whispers to you “See that gap between the slow car in the left lane and another slow car in the right lane? You can totally fit in there!”. And before you know it, you’re weaving in and out of traffic at twice the posted speed limit. It takes some restraint to start driving like a normal person again.

And this theme continues when you leave the city limits. Most of all, the RS is super easy to drive fast. The combination of torque, the traction provided by the XDS (a fake electronic LSD in the front), the grip and the stability lets you cover the ground at huge rates of speed, without the car asking anything back. Between the XDS and the unkillable ESP, it’s a car that your grandmother could drive stupidly fast. A 100+ mph run on backroads? No problem. And no drama.


It’s even quite easy on gas. You can get over 35mpg in real life, it you’re driving sanely (e.g. in a way that won’t put you in jail), around 20mpg during “slightly spirited” city driving, and maybe 15-16mpg on the backroads, driving in the manner that would definitely put you in jail Stateside.

Which sounds totally great. But it also reveals a great problem for some of us. That the Octavia RS is not even a little bit like homemade mayonnaise, and that it doesn’t resemble an automatic watch in the slightest.

What I’m blabbing about? Let me explain.


The “petrolheads”, or driving enthusiasts, are like any other enthusiasts in the world. They want two things. They want to stand out of the crowd by earning things, and they want things not to be fake. Like foodies, who will spend their lives perfecting their perfect recipie for artisanal Sriracha mayonnaise, instead of just going out and buying bottled, mass produced stuff. They do it because the homemade stuff is better, but also because they like the challenge, and they like the notion that they are just better than those ordinary folks who don’t know any better than going to the supermarket. Or you can compare them to watch enthusiasts, who will spend unbelievable amounts of money on watches that, in the end, do their job significantly worse than a $20 Casio. They will despise anything with “Quartz” written on it, because it’s not real watch. And they put high value on the manufacturer making its own movements, because using someone else’s, not matter how nice watch you put them into, is just “not right”.

And this is where the problems with Octavia RS come to light.

You have your electronics to help you stay on the road, and fake electronic LSD, helping you get loads of traction, but also disrupting already artificial (or, ahem, fake) steering feel. In hard cornering, the steering wheel sometimes gets heavy when you would expect it to be light. You can get used to it, but it’s not really the connection with the car you really want. At least the quick engine responses make it quite easy to do non-fake heel and toe throttle blips, although the pedals are not well positioned to do that, with the accelerator being too far below and to the right.

And then there’s the sound. In the “sport” mode, something called a “performance sound generator” is active, emitting deep, fake engine sounds from the speaker somewhere on the firewall. Not only is it fake – it even sounds worse than the natural, raspy engine sound in the “normal” mode. Luckily, this feature is optional and you can avoid it. In fact, I would be willing to pay for it not to be there.

The “fake” theme continues with the design as well. There are fake exhaust tips, fake grilles and fake inlets in the front bumper.


If you’re looking for honesty, driving enjoyment and tactile experience, you will be better off in a much slower and cheaper Skoda Rapid. The Octavia RS is not the car for petrolheads. It is not a car for people who spend all the time thinking about cars and driving.

It is, though, a perfect car for someone who likes fast cars, would like to have a car that is fast, and likes other people to see that he has a fast car, but is not willing to sacrifice anything to the idea. For the same price, a Renault Clio RS (at least the previous generation), a used M3 or a Miata will get you much, much more reward from getting your driving right. The Octavia RS will be a perfect choice for a family guy, who wants to soothe his mid-life crisis, but isn’t in position to buy a dedicated sportscar. With this, he can have a bright-coloured, lightning fast machine, and a reasonable family car – all in one reasonably priced package.

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Editorial: Get Ready For Massive Recalls Driven By Modular Platforms Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:01:44 +0000 mqb6

Today’s recall announcement by Toyota estimated to span at least 6.4 million vehicles, serves as a nice distraction from the ongoing recall occurring at cross-town rival General Motors. The Best & Brightest are free to squabble about which faceless corporate entity with zero regard for their individual well-being is the superior one. The rest of us have bigger fish to fry.

At 6.4 million vehicles, this Toyota recall is massive. It won’t be the last one. In fact, I think that ten years from now, this will be a low number.

The big trend in the auto industry today is modular platforms, which allow an enormous range of vehicles to share components. Volkswagen’s MQB architecture is an oft-cited example of this, largely because it takes a holistic approach to modularity. Much like Lego bricks, different “modules” can be assembled to create different vehicles. MQB is capable of spawning everything from a B-segment Volkswagen Polo to a D-segment Volkswagen Passat to an Audi TT sports car to a Volkswagen Touran minivan. Only a small number of “hard points” like the dimension from the center line of the front wheel to the pedal box, or the engine mounts, are fixed.

Within these modules are a high level of common parts, designed to be used across the entire range of MQB vehicles. This can include everything from whole powertrains to braking systems to smaller components that could be shared across a range of small to mid-size vehicles – which is, in theory, a truly vast quantity. Other commentators have expressed worries that MQB will lead to components being mismatched to their application. An A/C system engineered for a Passat might be overkill on a Polo (or vice versa) from a utility or financial standpoint.

From a purchasing standpoint, MQB will allow Volkswagen to buy lots and lots of widgets, receiving a significant discount on the cost per widget. This will equal significant savings for VW (though just how much they’ll save seems to depend on who you ask) while leading to shorter assembly times and more standardized production of vehicles. In the event that demand for a given model changes, a factory could scale back production of a slower selling model to help meet demand for the more popular one. This gives Volkswagen unprecedented flexibility in the way that cars can be designed, engineered and manufactured.

It also leaves Volkswagen in a very vulnerable position. What happens if they get a bad batch of widgets from a supplier, or the widget in question was poorly engineered? What if a manufacturing process was poorly designed, and the widgets aren’t installed properly? With so many vehicles assembled with the same faulty part or process, the impact could be enormous: millions of vehicles requiring repair, a black eye for Volkswagen and, heaven forbid, human lives negatively impacted.

This kind of exposure to potential quality defects and mass recalls was dubbed a “Cascading Failure” in a prior article, but many readers with engineering backgrounds objected. Instead, we can call it a “platform level failure”, which is the key difference between the scenario outlined above, and the Toyota recall, which affects everything from the Yaris subcompact to the Land Cruiser SUV.

But in a future where every car maker will have to adopt some kind of modular architecture, the likelihood of these events occurring is almost certain. And those who have invested most in common vehicle architectures are at the greatest risk.

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Leaked Documents Link Anti-Union VW Incentive Offer To TN Governor’s Office Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:15:09 +0000 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Leaked documents linked to the United Auto Workers battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. point to a connection between Governor Bill Haslam and the German automaker regarding a $300 million incentive in exchange for over 1,300 jobs at a proposed SUV plant within the state.

WTVF-TV reports the incentives were contingent “to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.” By the time Volkswagen entered into election talks with the UAW in January, however, the Haslam administration formally notified the automaker that it was withdrawing the offer, citing that it had kept the offer on the table past the 90-day window normally reserved for incentives when the incentive in question had no such expiration date.

Though Haslam has denied any such connection to the incentive — dubbed “Project Trinity” — U.S. Senator Bob Corker claimed as early as February of this year that the offering would be made should the workers at the Chattanooga plant vote against representation by the union.

As for the UAW, organizer Gary Casteel stated the following in response to whether the now-public documents were a game-changer in the union’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board over the election results:

To me, it puts pressure on the state to do what they should have done in the first place — and that’s give the incentives with no strings attached, just like they would any other company, union or non-union.

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Junkyard Find: 1975 Audi Fox Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:00:12 +0000 10 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown Fox jumped over the lazy junkyard dog after a life spent almost entirely in the East Bay, and now it rests in a self-service wrecking yard about two miles from its owner’s longtime place of employment.
02 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI know this because of the thick stack of Oakland Airport North Ramp employee-parking permit stickers on the bumper.
03 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like at least 30 stickers here, so we may be looking at a one-owner car.
17 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought I might pull this Motometer clock for my car clock collection, but it turned out to be a case full of broken gears. Sadness.
07 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior was completely cooked, which suggests that the car spent its entire life unprotected from the California sun.
09 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAccording to Audi tradition, the timing belt should be located where it’s the first thing to get crushed in a minor crash.
05 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOther than the usual California surface rust around the back window, this car is fairly solid in spite of all the bent metal.

I couldn’t find any US-market TV ads for the Fox, so we’ll go back to Germany.

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The Golf Turns 40 As TTAC Looks Back At The Man Behind The Launch Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:00:47 +0000 550x353xvw_propaganda-550x353.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Ey6agwO66k

March 29th, 1973 marks the anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf’s introduction some 40 years ago. Although Volkswagen’s official communications tout the car as a runaway success, the front-drive, water-cooled car wasn’t met with such an enthusiastic reception at the outset.

The true story of the Golf (or at least an entertaining one that runs counter to the PR hagiography disseminated by Volkswagen), and its success can only be told by one Bertel Schmitt, who recounted it in “The Autobiography of BS”, back in 2009. Rather than relay it here, I urge you all to check out the original, which is best relayed with Bertel’s unique diction, droll sense of humor and his eye for the absurd.

During my time working with Bertel, much of our business was conducted via the phone, with hour-long chats where Bertel would relay the “directors cut” version of his time working with Volkswagen. Much of it was unpublishable, and I was often left reeling at the end of it, having difficulty processing the sheer amount of information and detail. But the end result was a “Karate Kid” style of mentorship. Bertel was effectively planting the seeds of industry knowledge in my brain, giving me the context and background knowledge I needed to do my job, while giving me enough autonomy to let me screw up, get things wrong and learn the hard way – by getting flayed by the B&B in the comments.


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Volkswagen Builds The Enthusiast’s Dream Wagon Wed, 26 Mar 2014 04:01:03 +0000 volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-spy-photo-01


The wagon you’re looking at is actually not an enthusiast’s dream. It’s not a diesel, nor rear-drive. It may not have a manual, either. But it’s still a tasty bit of forbidden fruit.

Spotted by AutoGuide and their team of crack photographers, the Golf R Wagon is a bit like a baby Audi RS6. Using the Golf R’s 296 horsepower 2.0T engine and all-wheel drive, Volkswagen has created the ultimate version of what will be the next generation Jetta Sportwagen.

As far as we know, this is just a prototype, and we probably wouldn’t see this car in America. But we can at least gaze from afar.


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VW Confirms New Turbodiesel Due Later This Year Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:15:55 +0000 VW EA288 TDI Diesel Engine

Fans of Volkswagen diesels will be thrilled to know that later this year, the automaker’s latest 2-liter turbo-four will be available for the 2015 Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle Convertible.

Autoblog reports the new EA288 TDI will produce 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, with an additional 10-horsepower boost for road train-passing emergencies. Other features include EGR, an intake manifold with integrated intercooler, and low-friction camshaft bearings.

Though the turbodiesel will arrive in five VW models for the 2015 model year, all Audis and Volkswagens will eventually receive the EA288 as the automaker phases out the current 2-liter TDI; 12 such models are in showrooms at present, with 105,899 units sold in 2013.

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Dispatches Do Brasil: Movin On Up! Mon, 17 Mar 2014 17:31:24 +0000 VW_white_up!_1.0_–_Frontansicht,_14._April_2012,_Velbert

As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.

My oh my, what a wonderful little thing it is, albeit different in its Brazilian incarnation. The up! delivers a nutritious meal in a tight, dare I say it, beautiful package. Never having been one that cared much for the looks of VWs, I’m humbled to say I approve. I approve very much. Though it sits quite upright, it is both narrow and short, using the beauty of its simple lines to create a positive impression. Most impressively in our post-Bangle world, it does so without any undue reliance on wanton creases and bulges. Peculiarly attractive is the way the windshield meshes into the front fenders and hoods. To nitpick, my only objection would be that the front could have been done more demurely, but that’s besides the point. To compare this with the unwieldy shapes that usually come out of Asia’s subcompact cars is truly a lesson to be taken to heart.

The Brazilian up! at 142 inches long is 2.5 inches longer than the European one. Although it is about an inch taller than the Euro version, its width and wheelbase remain the same. The extra length is explained by the need for more trunk (285m³) and the extra height is due to a taller stance that better handles our bad roads, and VW recognizing that some extra tirewall does add comfort. In Europe the up! is strictly a four seater, while here it is homologated for five. Other differences include rear windows that actually go down and a hatch made of metal and not glass.

Though it starts at a reasonable R$26,500 (and goes up to a very unreasonable R$46,000), most versions are equipped with the bare, legal minimum level of safety features(ABS and 2 frontal airbags – thank God for government regulation) and all desirable equipment (electrical windows, locks, AC and on it goes and goes and goes) costs a pretty penny. Besides the looks, the mini VW pales in comparison to some of the competition in terms of features, but VW does have a trump card.

Surprisingly enough, that ace comes in the form of a 3 cylinder 1.0L 12v engine. Believe me, it’s a gem. It has an aluminum block, variable valve timing and a double cooling circuit (which allow the head and block to work at different temperatures). All of this, I’m told, helps the little engine in terms of efficiency and output. The mill corrals 75 horses on Brazilian gas (E25) and 82 hp on pure Brazilian ethanol.

More importantly, 85% of total torque (9.7m.kgf and 10.4m.kgf, respectively) is available at a low 2000 rpm. While the engine struggles a little against its inherent 3 cylinder imbalance at idle, the effect is minimal in comparison to other brands (namely Hyundai’s) 3 cylinders in our market. Most Brazilians will not even notice it’s not an I4. It also pulls very well up to its lofty redline and thanks to its suave functioning, it never feels unduly strained.

Top speed is a little low, around 165km/h, and 0-100km/h is accomplished at about 12-13 seconds. The consumption is the highlight of this car. Real world drivers are reporting 10km/l in heavy stop and go traffic. Other cars in the 1.0L category, in such circumstances, rarely get more than 9.

I find most Volkswagens a tad on the stiff side, especially the best-selling VW in Brazil and perennial market leader, the Gol. The Gol is fun to take out on the road and gun it, a situation in which it shines. However, in the city, that extra stiffness proves not at all pliant. That makes for a downright unpleasant ride. The up! on the other hand, took the curves I threw at it in a nonchalant manner, all the while being quite comfy in our slow traffic and took in the bumps on our imperfect pavement in a more civilized fashion. I hope this sets a trend for future VWs. Though surely stiffer than some of the competition, the up!’s suspension system does not add discomfort at low speeds due to its relative competence at higher speeds.

Once inside the car, most Brazilian buyers will probably be pleasantly surprised. In spite of the gimmicky flat bottomed steering wheel, the rest of the interior is modern and minimalist. VW was careful in choosing plastics that did not feel any less substantial than that in competitors. Some will balk at the metal apparent on the doors, a throwback to more pristine times, but on the whole it seems rather well screwed together with no glaring deficiencies as to finishing. Instrumentation is adequate, as are seat adjustments. The seating position is very pleasant and one does sit more up than in other small VWs, which I wholeheartedly endorse. Seats, pedals and wheel are almost perfectly aligned and the gear shift action is minimal and light, and most especially quiet. I, who stands 1.8m tall, found headroom and shoulder room more than adequate while in the back footroom and hiproom are at a premium.

The most glaring defect is that air vents are only present off to the side. In the center console there’s simply no room. Up on the dashboard, close to the windshield, there is another one, but its adjustability is limited. Also, since the infotainment system is a couple-on affair that goes right in front of that vent, its usability is rendered even lower. On the day I drove the car it wasn’t that hot, so I didn’t suffer, but I’d be wary of the apparent lack of climate control in a country where temperatures can get up to and above the 40°C mark in the summer.

Due to its tall greenhouse, sight lines are better than in most, though the pillars can intrude. In all honesty I expected better, but quite good for a modern car. The light steering and compact dimensions, added to the adequate sight lines make city parking quite easy. Finally, this is the second Brazilian car to score a perfect five star rating in Latin NCap testing. So, safe it is.

All in all, a nice surprise from VW. The Volkswagen up! offers great economy, tidy but relatively spacious cabin, modern internal ambience, technological gadgets, safe, nice interior design, great exterior design. If you can stomach the relatively high asking price, and the usual VW-games with accessories, this is a Volkswagen that even I would be happy to own.

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UAW Will Appeal NLRB Decision Giving Anti-UAW VW Workers Voice Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:39:46 +0000 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Angered by the decision made by the National Labor Relations Board to allow anti-UAW Volkswagen workers to defend the results of an election held last month at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. on whether or not to be represented by the United Auto Workers, the union has vowed to appeal.

Reuters reports the union believes the NLRB discarded its own precedent by allowing the workers — supported by both the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation and Southern Momentum, two of the outside groups that had campaigned against organization by the UAW — a formal role in the dispute, and expressed their displeasure in a statement:

It is an outrage that their allies, who refused to reveal their funding sources and who openly republished the illicit threats in the media and among the Volkswagen workforce, will now be allowed to participate in the NLRB hearing.

Though it was the regional office in Atlanta who signed-off on the decision to allow the anti-UAW workers a valid voice in the dispute, the UAW plans to appeal directly to the five-member NLRB board in Washington, D.C. The office is overseeing the main dispute over the election results — whose decision could lead to a new election if all is found in favor of the UAW — and is planning an investigation regarding the outside interference alleged by the union to be the main cause of their loss.

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Winterkorn: T-ROC Will Be Built If Customers Want It Sat, 08 Mar 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is optimistic for the future of the T-ROC, with the automaker willing to build the crossover if the customers want it.

Automotive News Europe reports the production version of the concept crossover — based upon the MQB architecture found in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf — would slot between the compact Tiguan and VW’s planned Taigun subcompact SUV.

Winterkorn believes the concept will have a mass appeal for the automaker’s customer base — especially as sales of crossovers and small SUVs rise in Europe and the United States. VW brand head of development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser concurred, dubbing the T-ROC a logical evolution of the Golf.

The three-door T-ROC seats four, comes with a removable tablet infotainment display, and is powered by a 2-liter diesel found in the Golf GTD, pushing 182 horses through all four wheels.

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VW Considering Larger Pickup For U.S. Market Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:14:02 +0000 2013-Volkswagen-Amarok-Canyon-07

The Amarok may not be coming to the United States, but depending on the success of the General Motors’ twin midsize pickups, Volkswagen may re-enter the light-duty truck market with a product more suited to a U.S. audience.

Autoblog reports VW is mulling over the idea of bringing a truck to the U.S. market, though it may not be the Amarok popular around the world, according to VW Group head of powertrain development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer:

We are just reworking our truck strategy, and this is part of thinking about it. But the Amarok fits not very well to the efforts of the market.

Speculation around the VW U.S. pickup include a revised Amarok or a separate U.S.-only model.

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IG Metall Warns Against Yellow Union For Chattanooga VW Plant Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:12:04 +0000 IG Metall

While Volkswagen works to find a way to establish a works council at their Chattanooga, Tenn. plant in the wake of the failed United Auto Workers election and subsequent appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, German union IG Metall is warning against the establishment of what it calls a “yellow” union at the plant, or one that has been established by Volkswagen.

Just-Auto reports IG Metall international department director Horst Mund, though disappointed with the outcome of the UAW election, believes the only way to a works council is through unionization, while also warning against any diluted form of representation at the plant:

From my talks and contacts with unions in the US, I can tell there is scepticism against house unions. We have seen attempts throughout the world [when] yellow unions are installed. I am not saying Volkswagen is anywhere near contemplating this – on the contrary they are definitely not.

Regarding the UAW appeal, Mund says the fight “was never fair,” citing the outside interference alleged by the union in their appeal as the cause of their defeat, and supports the union’s appeal. He also found the entire controversy around the election absurd, especially with its “life [and] death” tone:

This is not about life and death. It is about simple choice.

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Geneva 2014: Volkswagen Golf GTE Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:10:15 +0000 2014 VW Golf GTE 01

How about a Volkswagen Golf that emits less CO2 than a Toyota Prius and makes as much power as a GTI?


Enter the VW Golf GTE. Officially a concept for now, the GTI hits 62 mph in 7.6 seconds, thanks to its 1.4L TSI 4-cylinder engine making 148 horsepower, along with a 108 horsepower electric motor. Fuel economy is said to be 188 mpg according to European standards, along wth a 31 mile electric-only range.

2014 VW Golf GTE 01 2014 VW Golf GTE 02 2014 VW Golf GTE 03 2014 VW Golf GTE 04 ]]> 13
Geneva 2014: Volkswagen T-ROC Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:22:17 +0000 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept


Another example of what can be done with MQB: a targa top clone of the Juke using the 2.0T engine and Halex AWD.


Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-01 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-03 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-04 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-05 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-06 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-08 ]]> 12
Volkswagen Mum On Alleged Expansion Of U.S. Plant Mon, 03 Mar 2014 15:30:20 +0000 Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV

Though United States Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee claimed Volkswagen would announce an expansion of the plant in his native Chattanooga — slated to build a midsize SUV based on the CrossBlue Concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show — if the workers rejected the United Auto Workers in last month’s attempt to organise the plant, the German automaker has remained silent as of this weekend.

The Detroit Free Press reports Corker believes the delay is the result of an appeal made by the UAW to the National Labor Relations Board, citing the senator’s comments and those of outside anti-union interests as the chief causes in the election’s failure. He also dismissed the idea VW would decide to build the new SUV in either Tennessee or Mexico no matter the election’s outcome:

There is no way I’d put out a statement like I put out unless I was 1,000% that it was accurate in every way.

Meanwhile, VW is moving forward with a plan to install a works council in the Tennessee plant, though where the automaker may build its next U.S. plant depends on the success of the campaign. VW Global Works Council head Bernd Osterloh warned that the “massive antiunion atmosphere” surrounding Chattanooga could prompt the company to take their ball out of the South should future expansion be considered.

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VW Budget Brand Hitting Budget Wall, Still Under Consideration Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:47:21 +0000 2013 Volkswagen Up

In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.

Autoblog and Autocar report VW is having issues hitting safety and quality targets while maintaining the low-cost pricing — aimed between 6,000 and 8,000 euro; the Up above begins at nearly 10,000 euro — the automaker expects for the unnamed budget brand.

Though no business case has been found thus far, VW’s project is still under consideration as technicians pour over how similar rivals — including one-time partner Suzuki and considered partner Proton — are able to build low-cost vehicles without compromising on quality or price. Even though Renault-Nissan manages to be profitable with Dacia, VW is concerned that a low-cost car would erode their own margins.

Last year, Volkswagen announced they would work in a joint venture with Chinese automaker FAW to bring a budget vehicle to China by 2016; cost issues are affecting this effort, as well.

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Corker: Labor Board Should Not Silence Lawmakers Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:45:17 +0000 Senator Bob Corker

Former Chattanooga, Tenn. mayor and current United States Senator Bob Corker urged the National Labor Relations Board not to silence him or fellow lawmakers opposed to unionization as the NLRB considers an appeal by the United Auto Workers over the results of the three-day election recently held at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga.

Reuters reports Sen. Corker issued a statement during the election, where conversations led him to believe that if the workers rejected UAW representation, then VW would build a new midsize SUV in his state. He adds that when Democrat politicians voiced support for unions in the past, the NLRB ruled they properly expressed their free speech rights, a ruling Corker hopes will run for the opposition, as well:

I hope that the NLRB will understand and realize the magnitude of what they are going to be deciding and in no way will try to muzzle public officials who are community leaders from expressing their point of view.

Corker said he spoke out against the UAW in order to counteract misinformation about the SUV’s arrival being tied to the plant’s unionization, an allegation the union denies making while consistently stating the vote would not affect where the SUV would ultimately be produced.

Though mum on where his information regarding the rejection originated, Corker stood firm on his criticism of the UAW and its main reason for showing up in his state in the first place:

I think it was very apparent the UAW was in Chattanooga for one reason – dollars.

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VW Chattanooga Workers File Against UAW Recount Wed, 26 Feb 2014 21:52:46 +0000 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

Five workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Auto Workers’ challenge to invalidate the outcome from this month’s three-day election, which saw the union fail to win the right to represent the plant’s workers in a close fight.

Automotive News reports the quintet are aided by attorneys for anti-union organization National Right to Work Foundation, who believe if the NRLB doesn’t hear the workers, then no one might be able to resist the UAW, a belief NRWF President Mark Mix further explained in a statement regarding the petition:

Based on Volkswagen management’s actions leading up to this point, these workers are concerned that VW will not actively defend their vote to remain free from union boss control. That’s why these workers have filed a motion to intervene.

Meanwhile, the UAW’s argument for their filing is based upon alleged interference from anti-union forces, such as United States Senator Bob Corker, who said if workers voted against the union, the plant would find new funding to expand around a new midsize SUV set to be built in 2016. If allowed to stand, however, the results would be a major setback for the union in their battle to organize the South’s automotive industry.

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UAW Files Rejection Of Chattanooga Election Results Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:49:05 +0000 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

The United Auto Workers union has filed an appeal this day with the National Labor Relations Board over the results of the three-day organization election at Volkwagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant held last week, citing outside intimidation from anti-union groups and individuals.

In the 58-page filing, the UAW goes into detail over the anti-unionization campaign, including references to United States Senator and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker’s threat/promise over Volkswagen’s plan to build their BlueMotion Concept-based mid-size SUV in 2016.

Union president Bob King reaffirmed the union’s commitment to organizing the VW plant in the filing, while also having this to say about the anti-union forces who campaigned against the workers’ right to join the UAW:

It’s an outrage that politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that that would grow jobs in Tennessee. It is extraordinary interference in the private decision of workers to have a U.S. senator, a governor and leaders of the state legislature threaten the company with the denial of economic incentives and workers with a loss of product.

The NLRB will now investigate the results for potential interference. If found in the UAW’s favor, the board will throw out the results and hold a new election at the plant.

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“I” Before “E”, Except After “D” Fri, 21 Feb 2014 02:46:56 +0000 golfgte

Joining the Volkswagen GTI and GTD is the new Golf GTE, a performance plug-in hybrid that puts down as much power as a GTI. According to AutoExpress, a prototype they drove last year hit 62 mph in 7.6 seconds while emitting 60 percent less CO2 than a Toyota Prius. Power comes from a 1.4L TSI 4-cylinder engine making 148 horsepower, mated to a 108 horsepower electric motor.

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