The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 30 Jun 2015 22:06:33 +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 » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Volkswagen Introducing ‘Budget-Car Family’ By 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-introducing-budget-car-family-by-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-introducing-budget-car-family-by-2018/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101537 Once upon a time, Volkswagen lived up to its name by providing a low-cost car for the people. Now, the automaker has plans to do so once more. CEO Martin Winterkorn told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag Sunday his company would bring “a budget-car family to market in 2018, with an SUV, saloon and hatchback,” […]

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Volkswagen Beetles in Paphos Circa March 2015

Once upon a time, Volkswagen lived up to its name by providing a low-cost car for the people. Now, the automaker has plans to do so once more.

CEO Martin Winterkorn told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag Sunday his company would bring “a budget-car family to market in 2018, with an SUV, saloon and hatchback,” Reuters reports. Winterkorn added the cars — to cost between €8,000 and €11,000 ($8,932 and $12,225 USD) — would be assembled in China; the original target was between €6,000 and €8,000 ($6,670 and $8,932).

Though the low-cost vehicles are aimed for markets in Southeast Asia, Winterkorn says his company would determine “if this is something of interest for other markets as well.” Whether North America is among them, only he and his senior execs know for certain.

(Photo credit: Chris Parker/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100193 Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does?  Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers […]

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Obama+Announces+New+Automobile+Fuel+Efficiency+h36L8Fl4eLpx

Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does? 

Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers Association Draft! Tonight, we’ll see the future of automakers unfold, as they get the chance to select a new model for their existing lineup.

Talking Head #2: That’s right, and the excitement has been building ever since the end of last model year. Some big questions will be answered this evening: What will Subaru do with their pick? Will Ford finally have a full-sized sedan worth talking about? And will FCA’s Sergio Marchionne finally find a trade partner for their spot in the draft?

TH1: Word has it that Sergio has been burning up the phone lines trying to find somebody to help him move out of the first round, but my sources say that he hasn’t had any takers so far. As you know, though, there’s invariably a surprise or two on NAA Draft Night!

TH2: That there is! As always, the automakers will be drafting in reverse order of current U.S. market share. That means that first up on the clock is a fan favorite, Mazda.

TH1: Well, Mazda has a good, quality lineup, full of young star players, but for some reason they’ve had a hard time breaking through in America. Will this be the pick that finally gets them over the hump and positions them as a real player in the U.S. market?

TH2: We’re about to find out, as it looks like we are getting this 2015 NAA Draft underway! Here comes the commissioner to the podium with the card. Let’s listen.

Commissioner: With the first pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mazda selects… a New CX-9, from Hiroshima, Japan!

TH1: Well, we can’t be too surprised with this one, can we?

TH2: No, not at all. The CX-9 has been getting long in the tooth and Mazda needed something new and fresh to be competitive in this segment. The Mazda fans have got to be happy with this selection.

TH1: Indeed, they are. While some fans here were hoping for a new Mazda 2 to be brought to the U.S., it’s hard to ignore that Mazda is missing out on a key segment with the current CX-9. Great pick.

TH2: All right, that was a solid, if not necessary climactic beginning to our evening. Next up is one of the more glamorous names in our industry: Mercedes-Benz. What have you been hearing about Mercedes?

TH1: It’s hard to know exactly which direction Mercedes might go in here. Their fans are still a little confused about the recent shakeup of their lineup – there are a lot of familiar faces with new names. Plus, they’ve had a few recent refreshes of their biggest sellers – the C Class is selling better than ever, and they’ve already signed a new E-Class for 2016.

TH2: We’ll know soon enough – here’s the commish!

Commissioner: With the second pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mercedes-Benz selects…the W246 B Class, from Stuttgart, Germany!

TH1: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had our first surprise of the evening!

TH2: No question. The B Class has been a solid performer in both the EU and in Japan since it launched back in 2011, but I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised that they’re trying it in America. However, with the growth that MINI is seeing in America this year, perhaps Mercedes thinks there’s an opportunity for a luxury entry into the subcompact market.

TH1: It’s all part of the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the NAA Draft! Next on the clock with the third pick is another German automaker, BMW.

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

TH1: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have to blow the whistle on you there, partner. I’m sure you weren’t about to say that they’ve “lost their way,” like every other talking head hack, were you?

TH1: Um, no. Not at all. I was about to say that they’ve lost their…okay, fine. You got me.

TH2: Considering that BMW is up about 7 percent in sales year over year, I think they’re doing just fine. But there is one segment where they’ve lost some market share, and that’s the small luxury SUV segment.

TH1: Let’s see if they address that tonight. Over to you, Commissioner!

Commissioner: With the third pick in the 2015 NAA draft, BMW selects…a new X3, from Spartanburg, South Carolina!

TH1: That’s the obvious choice here, isn’t it?

TH2: Certainly is. The X4…well, I mean, what the heck is the X4, anyway? It’s not selling in any great numbers, and the X3 has been down big time as of late. A new model seems to be just what Herr Doctor ordered.

TH1: Subaru is next up on the clock, partner. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Subaru’s recent success in the American market, but how will that impact their draft pick tonight?

TH2: That’s a great question. They’re missing a lot of the key segments for American market success in their lineup – mid-sized SUV, subcompact – and the Impreza is sold in numbers that don’t impress anybody. But can they take on more capacity right now?

TH1: Let’s see what they decide to do. Here’s the commissioner with the pick.

Commissioner: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a trade. Subaru has traded their pick to Toyota, along with all remaining BRZs on dealer lots, for cash considerations and a car to be named later. With the fourth pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Toyota selects…an Avalon replacement, from Georgetown, Kentucky!

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

TH1: No, not particularly. I think Subaru did the right thing – they’re already at maximum capacity at most of their plants, and adding more models would just make it even worse. Also, killing the BRZ makes a ton of sense. They barely sell, and they are occupying floorplan space that could be used for other, more profitable models.

TH2: And Toyota needed a new full-sized sedan. The whole segment is dying quickly, yes, but maybe Toyota sees that as an opportunity to seize some market share from their aging competitors. Perhaps they can use the platform to update the Lexus ES, too.

TH1: This evening is moving along quickly, as we move to the fifth pick, which belongs to Volkswagen Auto Group. VW and Audi have a few holes to fill in their American lineup, to say the least.

TH2: Truer words were never spoken, my friend. The Jetta, the Passat, the A4…all of them are aging and relatively unpopular in their segments. The lights are flickering a bit at VW stores. Can tonight’s pick help keep them on?

TH1: The pick is in, so let’s turn things over to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the fifth pick in the NAA draft, Volkswagen Auto Group selects…a Jetta with actual content, from Wolfsburg, Germany!

TH2: I think they didn’t really have much of a choice here. The Jetta is losing market share faster than any other compact car – they had to get competitive.

TH1: I don’t know…the Passat isn’t doing any better, and that’s a bigger segment, overall.

TH2: Yes, but the Jetta name still means something in America. The Jetta is the top-selling VW model of all time. I think VW knows that they’re climbing an uphill battle in the mid-sized segment with the Passat – maybe they figure it’s better to fight a battle that they actually have a shot at winning. And they’ve proven that they can make an excellent small car with the Golf and its performance derivatives.

TH1: Good point. VW fans have to be pleased with this pick.

TH2: Well, we’ve got Hyundai/Kia up next. Is there a faster rising team in the league than these guys?

TH1: I don’t think so, my friend. While the current Sonata hasn’t been everything that they hoped it would be, they’ve got some real hits on their hands with their crossover lineup. And the new Sedona is doing quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t trouble spots.

TH2: You’re absolutely right. The Rio is falling well behind the competition in the Subcompact category, and even the Soul isn’t selling like it once was. What inside scoop do you have about H&K’s next move?

TH1: I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to have a real, legitimate sporting car in their lineup. But can they justify it?

TH2: Well, the pick is in, so let’s go to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the sixth pick in the NAA draft, Hyundai/Kia selects…an all-new, 5.0 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe, from Seoul, South Korea!

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

TH2: Is it ever! The Genesis Coupe has been tired for a while. Not only are they revamping it, they’re shoving in the big V8 from the sedan. Do you like it?

TH1: I love it! They’ve already got, in my opinion, the best RWD sedan for the money on the market. Now, they’re taking aim at the Mustang and Camaro. It’s bold, it’s brash – great pick!

TH2: Don’t go anywhere, folks! When we come back from commercial (tomorrow –Bark), we’ll find out what the big boys from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford, and GM have in store for us.

All right, have at it, B&B – what would you have “drafted” for these manufacturers?

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review – The Loneliest Number http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi-review-the-loneliest-number/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi-review-the-loneliest-number/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094945 Diesel torque? Fuel efficiency? Compact three-box sheetmetal? You only have two non-premium choices in the U.S.: the Chevrolet Cruze and this, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. That’s a serious dearth of variety. Even after expanding body style and size limitations to mid-size sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes, that still only includes two brands offering up all of […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (4 of 8)

Diesel torque? Fuel efficiency? Compact three-box sheetmetal? You only have two non-premium choices in the U.S.: the Chevrolet Cruze and this, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

That’s a serious dearth of variety.

Even after expanding body style and size limitations to mid-size sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes, that still only includes two brands offering up all of the available diesel cars in the non-premium bracket. More importantly, Volkswagen has embedded itself into the collective diesel consciousness and Chevrolet isn’t even a blip on the radar. You need to actively think of today’s diesel options before you remember the Cruze even exists.

VW’s ingrained diesel association and the Jetta’s more affordable compression-ignition cost of entry compared to the Cruze shows in the sales numbers. The Jetta TDI outsells the Cruze 2.0TD by more than 5 to 1. In fact, GM sells so few Cruze diesels, a California DMV employee is more likely to register a new e-Golf – yes, the all-electric VW Golf that wasn’t even on sale last year – or the California compliance Fiat 500e than a Cruze diesel.

So, when it comes to arrive-and-drive-away compact diesel sedans, there’s only one real option. But, does that alone make the Jetta worth buying?


The Tester

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SEL [USA]/Highline [Canada]

Engine: 2.0L DOHC I4, turbodiesel w/ intercooler, direct injection (150 horsepower @ 3500-4000 rpm, 236 lbs-ft @ 1750-3000 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, DSG with Tiptronic

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 31 city/46 highway/36 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 42 mpg, approx. 60% highway

Options: Technology Package (Canada, similar to Driver Assistance and Lighting Package in the U.S.)

As Tested (U.S.): $30,020 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $33,890 (sheet)


2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (2 of 8)

After four years of taking its beatings over the decontented sixth-generation Jetta, Volkswagen has said they’ve had enough and won’t be phoning it in anymore. For 2015, the Jetta receives a laundry list of improvements as part of a mid-cycle refresh – though you wouldn’t know it to look the compact sedan square in the face. While it might be cliche, it’s what’s inside the Jetta that counts.

For starters, the Jetta receives a new version of the ubiquitous 2.0L TDI I4, now pumping out 150 hp and 236 lbs-ft of torque, up 10 hp over last year. Even with the power uptick, the new engine will stretch a tank of diesel farther than before, now rated at 36 mpg combined versus 34 mpg pre-refresh. This particular tester, the exact same Jetta our resident sales expert Tim Cain tested back in March, returned a stellar 42 mpg in my hands. Tim did even better at 44.4 mpg, though this is likely down to Mr. Cain’s home being located in a suburban neighborhood versus my more urban digs.

While fuel economy and torque are key with diesels, I’d have given up a bit of either – or both – for improved drivability. The Jetta refused to wake up when given a moderate application of throttle from a standing start. Yes, it’s a diesel. I get it. However, even during multiple attempts to compensate for the Jetta’s lack of gumption by giving it more pedal only resulted in some fairly embarrassing launches that caused my passenger to question my chosen profession. Over the span of a week, I did eventually find a happy medium, but it was finicky at best and didn’t inspire much in the way of confidence as I tried to navigate intersections with heavy cross traffic.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (5 of 8)

On the bright side, shifts from the 6-speed DSG automatic were as crisp as one could hope and completely devoid of the abrupt engagements felt in the ZF-sourced automatics found equipped in some Chrysler and Land Rover products. Also, since CVT isn’t part of the Volkswagen lexicon in North America, we don’t have to listen to the hollow, shiftless version of the diesel inline-four’s drone.

Ride quality rates fair with road imperfections exacerbated by 17-inch wheels and thin sidewalled rubber. However, thanks to suspension upgrades over the past few years, the Jetta is at least a better handler than before. While you’re not about to start another Jetta TDI Cup with the latest batch of sixth-generation sedans, it could actually be called fun to drive, even if it felt a bit heavy in the bends.

What wasn’t fun were the brakes. While it might have been just this particular tester, the first inch or so of pedal travel was soft and lacked any kind of engagement. This wasn’t the first diesel VW I’ve experienced laden with squishy brake pedal syndrome, but I can’t really find or explain a cause. It was easily rectified by just giving it more pedal and I never once felt in any danger of not stopping.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (6 of 8)

Just like the Jetta’s driving dynamics, the interior is a mixed bag. While all the materials in this top spec model were of a much higher calibre than those of just a couple years back, there were still some glaring deficiencies.

For starters, the infotainment system was a bust. If you really like a sharp looking 7- or 8-inch display sitting proudly within the dash, look elsewhere. The Jetta got nuthin’ for you. Same with USB ports. Not a single one to be found in the VW. And before you say, “But VW said they’ll be putting them in next year!”, you’ve just proved my point – wait until next year because 2015 doesn’t cut it.

On the bright side, this sunroof-equipped Jetta did surprise me in one very important way: I had head room. At 6-foot-1, I am not a giant, but I am far from being short and can greatly appreciate headroom in cars equipped with sunroofs. Yes, I do put my seat all the way to the floor when I can, but some other cars still encroach my aerial space in the same seating configuration. Also, having my butt on the floor wasn’t the only position in which I felt comfortable. I found no less than three different seating/steering wheel positions where I felt completely at ease. If there’s one thing this car had, it was adjustability for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8)

Speaking of shapes, the Jetta still rocks a classic three-box sedan look that’s slowly becoming extinct in the compact segment. As most of VW’s competitors are chasing sloping roofs and higher beltlines, Volkswagen is content with its conservative approach. That’s not a bad decision. Critics have been quick to point out the Jetta is a bit dull looking, but I think this is all by design, literally and figuratively. I challenge you to point to any of the previous Jetta designs and say they haven’t aged gracefully. Individual Jettas in the real world, well, that’s a different story.

Does the Cruze offer up anything to justify the need to hunt one down versus just showing up at any VW dealer and signing on the dotted like for a TDI? Nope. You still have more options with the Jetta, even a manual transmission if you so choose.

That doesn’t mean you should buy the TDI. The 1.8 TSI is now the superior choice for the fuel agnostic. However, if you are dead set on an oil burner, this is the only viable compact sedan option, for better or for worse.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (2 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (3 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (4 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (5 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (6 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (7 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (8 of 8)

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The Last Cheap Four-Seat Convertible Left Is a Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/the-last-cheap-four-seat-convertible-left-is-a-jeep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/the-last-cheap-four-seat-convertible-left-is-a-jeep/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094609 Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to mourn the loss of the four-seat convertible. We have known for a while that its time was coming. First, they came for the Pontiac G6. Then, they came for the Toyota Solara. Then, they came for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. And when it was time to come for the […]

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2015-jeep-wrangler

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to mourn the loss of the four-seat convertible. We have known for a while that its time was coming. First, they came for the Pontiac G6. Then, they came for the Toyota Solara. Then, they came for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. And when it was time to come for the Chrysler 200, nobody cared, because nobody buys these cars anymore.

But surely some people still buy them. I mean, there are still millions of people out there having midlife crises, looking for the last modicum of driving excitement before they start ranting about how mobile apps are tearing at the fabric of our society. But sadly, the fun is over: there are no reasonably priced four-seat convertibles left.

Yes, I admit, you can still buy the Volkswagen Beetle, if you’re into that kind of thing. But one of the principal selling points of the Solara and the G6 and the 200 was that you didn’t have to get some odd-looking retromobile in order to get a convertible. You were just buying a normal ol’ car, but it happened to have a removable roof. Or, in the case of the enormous Solara, an infield tarp.

You can also still buy the Camaro and the Mustang. But reasonably priced, they are not: the Mustang Convertible starts above thirty grand, and for that money you’re still manually moving your seats. (“It’s a lever right in front,” the Hertz guy will tell you.) The Camaro is even more expensive, and it doesn’t have any more stuff. It also has blind spots the size of New Hampshire.

So what do you do, if you want a four-seater convertible without spending thirty grand? The answer is, you do nothing. You’re screwed. All the normal stuff is cancelled, so you have to either buy a Beetle, pony up for a Camaro or Mustang, or start measuring your garage to see if it can fit a used Solara. The four-seat convertible is dead.

Or is it?

Enter the Jeep Wrangler, which isn’t on any automotive website’s list of modern convertibles even though it is, in fact, a convertible. The Wrangler has everything you need. Un-weird styling. A powerful V6. Reasonable dimensions. And a starting price you can afford: just $24,000 with shipping. This thing is the Chrysler LeBaron of the modern era.

But it’s so much better than a LeBaron, because you can do so much more with it. For example: in a LeBaron, you would only remove the doors when you wanted to get all the water out of the cabin that had leaked in through the convertible top. In the Wrangler, you can pop off the doors whenever you want! Cruising on the beach? Take off the doors! Off-roading? Take off the doors! Driving to your local post office to mail a bag of human waste to your ex? Take off the doors!

And then there’s the off-road capability. Most human beings do not take their four-seat convertibles off-road, because the trail is no place for a four-seat convertible. The Red Robin parking lot is. But with the Wrangler, you don’t HAVE to choose! You can go to Red Robin AND you can hit the trails. You can go to the nail salon AND the mountains. The Wrangler is at home just about anywhere, from the Kappa Sigma parking lot at the University of Alabama to the Kappa Sigma front lawn at the University of Alabama.

So to those of you mourning the loss of the four-seat convertible, may I just say: it ain’t over yet. And the Jeep Wrangler is proof.

Of course, there is one small problem with the Jeep Wrangler. Namely, it isn’t very easy to remove the roof. In a normal car, you just unlatch the roof and you push it down, or you just press a button and it folds right into your trunk, or, in the case of the Solara, you hit a switch, and the FAA gives you airspace clearance, and then you go inside to watch an episode of Friends, and eventually the top is stowed.

But in the Wrangler, it’s a two-person job. One person to loosen the fasteners and the other person to complain about how annoying it is that the roof in a Jeep Wrangler weighs as much as a canoe.

But the simple truth is with all the other decent four-seat convertibles gone, the Wrangler is all we have left. And if you really don’t like the cumbersome top, my suggestion is you buy two Wranglers. One to park in the garage with the roof off. And one to park outside with the roof on. You will still probably end up spending less than one single Volkswagen Eos.

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Volkswagen Forges New Auto Union Through Reorganization http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-forges-new-auto-union-through-reorganization/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-forges-new-auto-union-through-reorganization/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092657 Volkswagen Group is reorganizing itself into a decentralized organization with four holding companies to better handle high production costs. German business daily Handelsblatt reports former BMW manager Herbert Diess will head up the first group, expected to be composed of Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat, Automotive News Europe says. Current Audi CEO Rupert Stadler will lead […]

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Audi RS 3 Sportback

Volkswagen Group is reorganizing itself into a decentralized organization with four holding companies to better handle high production costs.

German business daily Handelsblatt reports former BMW manager Herbert Diess will head up the first group, expected to be composed of Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat, Automotive News Europe says. Current Audi CEO Rupert Stadler will lead the second group, featuring Audi, Lamborghini and Ducati, while Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller will be in charge of the third group made up of Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti. Finally, former Daimler truck boss Andreas Renschler will helm the last group of three, set to include VW Commercial, Scania and MAN.

The new structure is expected to improve efficiency and speed-up decision making, each group deciding what models to sell and where to sell them. The group bosses will also have a seat on the main group’s management board, while groupwide positions would be eliminated.

According to investment group Evercore ISI, the move affects mainly the mass-market trio of VW, Skoda and Seat, resulting in a unit delivering 7.6 million units annually with a combined revenue of €119.2 billion ($133.9 billion USD) and €3.2 billion ($3.6 billion) in earnings.

The reorganization also casts aside the plan made by ousted VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piech, which allowed the brands to go their own way while competing amongst each other. Industry observers say this scheme made the overall structure hard to manage, hindering quick reactions to changes in the market.

[Photo credit: Audi]

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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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2015 Pics 082

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.

009

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.)

2015 Pics 079

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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Piston Slap: Making Masala of a Jetta Parking Brake? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-making-masala-jetta-parking-brake/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-making-masala-jetta-parking-brake/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085697   Gaurav writes: Hello Sanjeev, (oh dear…*facepalm*- SM) I am writing you from India. I have a Jetta MkV 1.9 TDI with automatic transmission. It has done about 74,000 km. About a month back, I got the the brake fluid replaced as the service adviser suggested it should be replaced once every 60-70k km. After I got the car back, […]

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GAADI BULA RAHI HAI? (photo courtesy: www.gaadi.com)

Gaurav writes:

Hello Sanjeev, (oh dear…*facepalm*- SM)

I am writing you from India. I have a Jetta MkV 1.9 TDI with automatic transmission. It has done about 74,000 km. About a month back, I got the the brake fluid replaced as the service adviser suggested it should be replaced once every 60-70k km. After I got the car back, it felt like the brake efficiency had decreased. I was told its normal and after driving for some time it would be okay. Unfortunately, it never improved.

Yesterday, when I applied the brake, I noticed a burning smell. I took my car to the side of the road and there was smoke coming from the rear brake pads. I stopped to let them cool and then drove back. Since it was late at night I had no help available from VW.

Today, when I took it to VW workshop, they said they are not sure about the problem and have been trying to investigate it for last 8 hours. I am writing this email to you with the hope of getting some suggestions on what should I do.

Sajeev answers:

Gaurav, just so our readers are on the same page, MkV Jettas assembled in India wear 4-wheel disc brakes and the repair procedure is straight-forward enough for your average mechanic. So, even if they serviced the wear items on the brakes (pads and rotors), that isn’t a problem.

Which leads to the parking brake cable. It must be dragging on the brake.

This thread suggests the parking brake lever at the caliper can fall out-of-sync after pad/rotor replacement. It’s possible there isn’t enough slack. This thread suggests tinkering with the lever inside the car works! I reckon that’s your problem and the VW workshop is struggling to make this adjustment!

Some parts of India (hills in the North) are hard on brakes, but in urban areas you probably can’t go fast enough to cook brakes designed for the German Autobahn. I doubt you needed the fluid flush at 70,000-ish km on a MkV Jetta. More miles and many more years on the road is needed for that. But it’s too late for that advice, bhai

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Oil Burning and Carbon Cleaning? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-oil-burning-carbon-cleaning/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-oil-burning-carbon-cleaning/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 11:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085625   Arley writes: Sajeev, I have a 2003 Jetta TDI with 178k miles. Runs 100%. My mechanic recommends a carbon cleaning. What are the positives and negatives? To be more succinct, what can go wrong? You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish. (Good to know! – SM) Sajeev answers: Conventional wisdom (for […]

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Looks legit. (photo courtesy: n0str9 @ forums.tdiclub.com)

Arley writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2003 Jetta TDI with 178k miles. Runs 100%. My mechanic recommends a carbon cleaning. What are the positives and negatives? To be more succinct, what can go wrong?

You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish. (Good to know! – SM)

Sajeev answers:

Conventional wisdom (for both diesel and gas engines) is carbon buildup occurs more often when the owner subjects the engine to excessive idling and a severe lack of full throttle acceleration. Today’s direct injected, EGR equipped diesels (and direct injected gas engines lacking a piggyback port-EFI setup a la Toyota V6s) are sensitive to carbon buildup due to idle time, EGR design and cooling system inadequacies, and perhaps even fuel (i.e. varying quality of bio diesel). Don’t take my word, this company’s blog did a good job assessing the problem.

Whew!

So carbon cleaning is commonplace and a good idea. And be it a seafoam-alike treatment or physical removal/cleaning of critical parts, there’s no downside if performed with even a modicum of care.

Question is, do YOU have a problem? 

Considering your mileage (less idling and more highway driving?) and engine performance: probably not. Watch this video (go to 1:39) and DIY if you are even the least bit handy. From the video, make a trip to the parts store for vacuum lines too!

Or just do nothing aside from performing an Italian Tune-Up. That’d work for sure, and it’s totally fun.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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While You Were Sleeping: Phaeton Axed in UK, Porsche 911 GT With A Stick and GM Is Down in China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084185 The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car. Here’s what happened overnight. Volkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar) The current-generation VW Phaeton has […]

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2011 VW Phaeton

The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car.

Here’s what happened overnight.

2011 VW PhaetonVolkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar)
The current-generation VW Phaeton has been removed from the company’s UK lineup due to engines not meeting Euro 6 emissions.

opensesameThis Hacked Kid’s Toy Opens Garage Doors in Seconds (WIRED)
Using the pictures Mattel IM-ME kid’s texting toy, security researcher Samy Kamkar has developed a way to open garage doors relying on an insecure “fixed code” system.

Chevy-Cruze-SalesChevy has Sold 3.5 Million Cruzes Globally (AutoGuide)
“Globally, the bow-tie brand has sold more than 3.5 million copies of its Cruze compact car, making this nameplate their best-selling automobile in the world.”

lesabreWatching This 1990s Buick LeSabre Get Thrown Around Off-Road Makes Us Wonder If Grandma Regrets Loaning Out Her Car (BlipShift)
Rally LeSabre? Okay.

Maruti-Suzuki-Celerio-diesel-0Suzuki Builds Its First Diesel Engine, A 0.8L 2-Cylinder Rated At 47 HP (CarScoops)
But it does has a whopping 92 (!!!) pound-feet of torque.

Formula 1 Testing, JerezF1 refuelling decision imminent (Motorsport.com)
Teams are discussing the possibility in efforts to liven “the show”.

img_4613Unique vintage Alfa Romeo took $2-million to restore (Driving.ca)
“Timelessly elegant Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale was a complete basketcase, but the story behind it makes the car truly unique.”

B99276667Z.1_20150604082658_000_GQBH60D4.1-0GM China sales drop 4% in May (The Detroit News)
Drop blamed on “vehicle model changeovers and phasing out of older vehicles.”

porsche-911-spy-nov-2014-194_0‘Pure’ Porsche 911 GT planned (Autocar)
New GT model will get a manual transmission and be distinct from other 911’s with GT badging.

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VW Offering $39 Monthly Jetta Leases to Hook Customers in Later http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/vw-offering-stupid-cheap-jetta-leases-to-hook-customers-in-later/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/vw-offering-stupid-cheap-jetta-leases-to-hook-customers-in-later/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 22:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1081369 The Nissan Versa sedan might be the cheapest car in the U.S., but it isn’t holding candle to the cheap lease rates available for the Volkswagen Jetta. Regardless of the almost $4,500 price differential between the two cars in base model trim, Jetta lessees are spending less than half each month compared to the Versa, as low as […]

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Jetta TDI 2015

The Nissan Versa sedan might be the cheapest car in the U.S., but it isn’t holding candle to the cheap lease rates available for the Volkswagen Jetta. Regardless of the almost $4,500 price differential between the two cars in base model trim, Jetta lessees are spending less than half each month compared to the Versa, as low as $39/month at one San Jose, CA dealership.

It’s all part of an effort to bring customers in now at a loss to have their attention three years in the future when the German marque has more compelling products to offer.

According to Automotive News, the lease deals are “a sign of how Volkswagen AG is grasping to turn around its fortunes in the U.S.”

The leases run for three years and require $2,500 down, making for a short-term commitment to a base model car that’s decidedly less of a penalty box than America’s cheapest Nissan.

Even with the deals, Volkswagen may have its work cut out for it. The brand is looking to more than double sales in the U.S. before 2018 with a lineup lacking a number of segments currently experiencing the most growth, a midsize crossover in particular.

Volkswagen’s current discounts average approximately $3,000 per car sold through April, including cash and leasing incentives.

 

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2003 Última Edición Volkswagen Beetle Up For Sale For €1M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2003-ultima-edicion-volkswagen-beetle-up-for-sale-for-1m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2003-ultima-edicion-volkswagen-beetle-up-for-sale-for-1m/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1081105 Original Volkswagen Beetles can be had for a couple of thousand at minimum these days, so why pay €1 million for one? Because it came from Mexico. For just €1,097,000 ($1.2 million USD), one wealthy individual would have the honor of owning one of the last Beetles to leave the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico […]

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Last OG Volkswagen Type I Beetles Ever Produced Circa 2003 Mexico

Original Volkswagen Beetles can be had for a couple of thousand at minimum these days, so why pay €1 million for one? Because it came from Mexico.

For just €1,097,000 ($1.2 million USD), one wealthy individual would have the honor of owning one of the last Beetles to leave the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico in 2003, Autoblog reports.

Despite being one of the final Última Edición models, there isn’t much to the Beetle 1600 Mexico waiting for the new owner’s arrival. The interior is black cloth, the exterior is beige, and it only has around 75 miles on the odometer.

The owner, Maik Patzwaldt, says he was personally involved in his and the other Última Edicións’ celebration event as “a former Employee of VW de México in a strategic position,” with his Beetle being one of the last of the last from the second and final day of production back in 2003. Whether the history behind his car is enough to place a million euros into his account, though, is up to the market to decide; the Última Edición originally sold for $7,700 in 2003 dollars.

[Photo credit: Classic Trader]

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While You Were Sleeping: Cadillac Minuses V8 ATS-V+, Volkswagen Picks Boring Font and Ford Releases Patents into the Wild http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 10:25:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077130 The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort. Here’s what happened overnight. No V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority) A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell […]

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Cadillac ATS-V

The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort.

Here’s what happened overnight.

Cadillac ATS-VNo V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority)
A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell when speaking to Motor Authority about the possibility of a V8-powered ATS-V+.

Johnnie Walker sponsor wallTodt says F1 will not ban alcohol sponsorship (Motorsport.com)
Despite a report from the European Alcohol Policy Alliance suggesting F1 fans were exposed to alcohol brands to an excessive degree, FIA head honcho Jean Todt has said the sponsorships will continue unabated.

BSK Elise K20An Unquestionably-Japanese Lotus (Speedhunters)
Fluffy leopard upholstery, RAYS’ Volk Racing TE27 wheels, and a Honda K20 to give it motivation, this Elise is as Japanese as it gets.

145640_cars_KJH_10 dealership terms you may not know (Detroit News)
“Be back”, “mini deal”, “pack” and “skate”. These are 10 dealership terms all customers should know.

Ford Focus Electric. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.orgFord to make EV technology patents available to rivals (Automotive News)
Ford is following Tesla’s lead and opening up its portfolio of patents for competing products.

GM First Day as a Public Company CelebrationJudge puts GM suits on hold pending appeal (Detroit News)
The question of bankruptcy immunity will be the deciding factor in a number of ignition switch lawsuits filed against General Motors. A federal judge has put the suits on hold as they await a ruling from another court.

Volkswagen FontVW Changes Their Corporate Font To Something Less Interesting (Jalopnik)
Even Volkswagen’s marketing is becoming more beige as the German automaker adopts a new font for sales materials.

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Wörthersee GTI Treffen: Where Volkswagens Rule http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/worthersee-gti-treffen-volkswagens-rule/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/worthersee-gti-treffen-volkswagens-rule/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 16:36:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073658   If you’re into Volkswagens – especially of the modified variety – Wörthersee is to you what Sturgis is for Harley riders or Carlisle to Mopar fans. Thousands and thousands of VW fans take over several small, quiet towns around a beautiful mountain lake and turn them into a festival of belly-scraping Volkswagens, Audis, Seats […]

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Old one and new

Old and new.

If you’re into Volkswagens – especially of the modified variety – Wörthersee is to you what Sturgis is for Harley riders or Carlisle to Mopar fans. Thousands and thousands of VW fans take over several small, quiet towns around a beautiful mountain lake and turn them into a festival of belly-scraping Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Škodas.

And there’s beer. Lots and lots of beer.

It’s probably the same story with all big enthusiast gatherings. In the beginning, there was a bunch of dudes who shared a taste for a certain kind of car and wanted to get together occasionally. Years came and went. The small, underground gathering turned bigger and eventually massive. Somewhere along the way, business came into the picture, and the party turned into massive show.

Or, in some cases, a county fair on steroids, which is the case with Wörthersee.

Unlike, say, a biker meet or some hot rodder gathering, the GTI Treffen was never really a “counter culture” event. When about a hundred owners of Golf GTIs came to Reifnitz for the first time in 1982, the GTI was just a quicker version of a sensible family hatchback, and the oldest one was not even 8 years old by that time. Not exactly the German equivalent of a souped-up ’32 Ford.

That's how an original Golf II Rallye looks like

An original Golf II Rallye looks like this.

The event was even conceived with the idea of boosting local tourism from the very beginning. In the next three decades, the gathering grew and grew, gained corporate sponsorship from VW itself, and became world famous.

So, how does GTI Treffen look and feel now, after more than three decades since its birth?

I spent three days at the venue itself and in a nearby lakeside town to find out. Here’s the outcome.

The most important thing about Wörthersee is it’s not just one event. It’s two. The “official” one that Škoda wanted me to see – the one with massive stands for all the VW Group brands, plus several tuners and aftermarket brands – looks a bit like a typical motor show that’s been moved from a big hall to a tiny city. The concepts are unveiled, hot girls (sort of – as a Czech, I have high standards for that) are posing around shiny, gleaming cars, as are rally drivers, designers and sometimes even corporate bosses. I’ve even heard the reason for GTI Treffen’s relationship with Volkswagen Group is due to Ferdinand Piëch living nearby – and now that he’s resigned his chairmanship, the amount of money spent on the event will diminish.

The new Scirocco GTS

The new Scirocco GTS

The official, corporate money fueled event is not of major interest, though. The real reason to come here is not to look at some concept cars and factory tuner specials. I came to see what the real volks bring to Treffen.

From what I read, it’s best to come at least a few days – or even a week – before the main, four-day event. I couldn’t do that, but I tried spent as much time as possible walking around, taking pictures and inhaling the atmosphere. I wanted to find out what it was all about.

Getting a grasp of the car culture involved isn’t as easy for me as it may seem. While I’m European, and modifying Volkswagens is one of the prevalent automotive cultures of our continent, I was never into it and I didn’t grow up around people with cars like these. I know American car enthusiasts and their events. I hang around some people with JDM machines. I know people with vintage cars, Italian cars, old Benzes and Beemers. I’ve been active in the “old” Ford community in the past. I even know some guys with air-cooled VWs – but a slammed Golf? Covering an event full of those is about the same for me as if you sent a hipster from Seattle to write about a Nickelback concert.

Bunch of Russian guys, drinking beer

A bunch of Russian guys drinking beer – not vodka, unfortunately.

The basics are, of course, similar to any other automotive gathering. People who share a taste in cars come somewhere and then either park their cars, sit around and drink beer, or drive their cars around while others watch them, drinking beer, before they park their cars in the evening and go for a beer. One could even suggest that with most such events, the cars are nothing but a vehicle, while the beer is the purpose.

With Wörthersee being in Austria, which is in between Bavaria and Czech Republic, it’s quite clear that the beer will be of utmost importance. And it is. As is blaring pop music and scantily clad women. It’s important to note Wörthersee is on the very south edge of Austria near the Slovenian border and the climate here is closer to northern Italy than it is to Central Europe. The temperature hovered around 28 degrees C for most of the event.

Old school?

Old school?

Since I’m no Jack Baruth and I wouldn’t even know what to do with them, I left the girls alone and concentrated on the cars.

The access to the town’s center is restricted during the event, so only “cool” cars can come and cruise there. The others gather around Reifnitz or in other small towns on the lake. Looking at the long stream of “selected” cars in the town, I can’t help but think they look awfully similar to each other. That’s something that can be expected at such a gathering, and the comparison with American or JDM enthusiast events, which came up in my head, is probably a bit unfair. After all, Volkswagens aren’t the most diverse cars in the world and it’s hardly any surprise they look similar.

But there’s still one difference when compared to, say, a VW Beetle gathering. If you randomly choose five VW Beetles from such gathering, they’ll probably be totally different, even if they’re the same car. Odds are, one will be a totally stock, vintage example. The second may be some Cal-look beast, the third can be a tangerine-colored custom monster in the style of ’70s street rods, the third may be a “rat” and the last one in yet another, totally different style.

Yes, those are '50s style Moon caps on a Golf

Yes, those are ’50s style Moon caps on a Golf

Look at cars at GTI Treffen and you don’t see as much variety. Basically, the only thing you’ll see there is a lowered Golf on huge wheels. There will be a few stock Golfs, and a few VW cars that are not Golfs, but they’re usually Golf-based or similar enough to a Golf that it doesn’t matter. In a few rare cases, you get huge Golf-like cars with Audi badges, and in even rarer ones, you’ll see some air-cooled stuff and a handful of supercars. Other than that, it’s Golf, Golf, Golf, Seat, Golf, Golf, Passat, Škoda, Golf, Golf… you get the idea. Even the non-Golf cars are Golfs in one way or another.

What is really interesting, though, is that even though everyone uses basically the same canvas, they use it to paint very different pictures. I guess if you started with anything other than a stanced FWD Volkswagen on large wheels, you would be shot in Wörthersee, or at least not allowed to have any beer, which is similar. At the same time, everyone wants to stand out and be different, so people get creative.

Alex Roy would approve?

Would Alex Roy approve?

The result is a strange but very vibrant car culture, taking many styles of modified cars around the world and melting them into one.

You can’t change the basics. You’ll always have a low hatchback, wagon or maybe sedan – coupe or convertible, in very rare cases – with a front-mounted engine driving the front wheels. Similar lines. Low suspension. Big wheels. And, since the culture is based on Golf GTI and inspired by racing and rally cars, you need to make you car at least look fast.

At the same time, actually going fast has pretty much gone out of fashion for these guys. Many of the cars here may look fast, but only in the same way a Hot Wheels does: oversized wheels, air suspensions, no-profile tires and so on. To make the most of the areas where there’s some space for creativity, owners spend lots of time, money and effort on paint, stickers and various add-ons to make their cars unique. On the surface, these cars are much closer to lowriders than typical American hot rods or JDM tuner cars.

Need to stand out? Try a blackboard hood and a giraffe

Need to stand out? Try a blackboard hood and a giraffe

And one of the ways to be unique is to give your car a theme. Sometimes, it ends up with something like “LeMons race car meets artisan lowrider”. You see Golfs in camo paint and with military insignias as stickers. You see Golf or Passats with U.S. patrol car black-and-white paint. You see old stuff on the roof racks of MkI Golfs and you see cars made to look like rat rods. In fact, it’s surprisingly popular to use hot rod and rat rod style details, like chrome Moon caps, or insignia and stickers, like Maltese crosses.

In the end, it’s like you took all the world’s car cultures and applied them solely to Golfs. It’s a bit strange for the outsider, but it’s definitely interesting to watch.

The stuffed moose is probably drunk on Jäger A pristine, nearly stock Audi Quattro Old Golf Rally with just a few tasteful mods Two ways to do a Golf II When even a supercar isn't low enough Rat rod. Made of Golf II. Want a nice Golf? Call! Totally pristine, original condition Golf I Yes, those are '50s style Moon caps on a Golf Old one and new Need to stand out? Try a blackboard hood and a giraffe Chicks like Golfs, too A statue of a Golf II, made about two decades ago. Family fun in a Golf I Cabriolet The new GTI on the main street That's how an original Golf II Rallye looks like Bora in camo Bunch of Russian guys, drinking beer Stickers Old school?? "quattro" stickers. How 80s. Gulf Racing VW Caddy. Those colors! Alex Roy would approve? A classic on a fancy wheels Wheels are everything That's not broken, that's stance! Matte Seat Changing the wheels Some famous rally driver Rally car and its Wagon cousin Girls at Seat Girls with Seats Rieger tunes many VAG cars Aircooled ones come, too. Everything looks good in Martini colors Some modern metal This rat rod was everywhere A really nice Polo Some really rich hippies An old school Beetle with Porsche wheels Even Up! can be stanced You can also buy stuff It's hot, so people seek water A LONG line of cars Scirocco lying on its belly Yet another US Police car What's this?? BS would approve Octavia sells wheels Lots of taillights US trucks are popular here as showcars Flat black Beetle The new Scirocco GTS A Golf based supercar Really fast Golf once more Das Auto

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1972-volkswagen-karmann-ghia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1972-volkswagen-karmann-ghia/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065402 After seeing this 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 on Tuesday and this 1980 Volkswagen Dasher four-door hatchback on Thursday, it’s only fitting that we should wrap up this week’s Junkyard Finds with yet another old VW: a seldom-seen-in-self-serve-yards 1972 Karmann Ghia. Air-cooled VW Beetles show up in these high-inventory-turnover yards all the time, because 979 trillion […]

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DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-1

After seeing this 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 on Tuesday and this 1980 Volkswagen Dasher four-door hatchback on Thursday, it’s only fitting that we should wrap up this week’s Junkyard Finds with yet another old VW: a seldom-seen-in-self-serve-yards 1972 Karmann Ghia.
DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-4

Air-cooled VW Beetles show up in these high-inventory-turnover yards all the time, because 979 trillion of them were built and they tend to linger under tarps in yards for decades before finally getting junked, and I don’t bother photographing them (except for this ’73 Super Beetle). It’s not that I hate Beetles (I’ve owned a few), but I don’t think they’re of sufficient interest to shoot in the junkyard. A Squareback or Transporter, maybe, and a screaming green Karmann Ghia will make me take out the camera most of the time.
DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-6

This one is just about completely picked clean, which seems a shame because the body is so non-rusty by Volkswagen standards (i.e., there are some areas with no rust). I shot this car in Denver, which isn’t a very rusty place, but air-cooled VWs manage to rust in places like Albuquerque and the Atacama Desert.

DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-2

In stock form, the Karmann Ghia was slow even by the standards of its time; such underpowered sports cars as the MGB and Fiat 124 Sport Spider took on a distinct reddish color from the point of view of a Karmann Ghia driver, due to Doppler redshift effects, as they pulled away in a drag race.

DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-7

Look, a Beetle in the very next row!


Volkswagen’s marketers didn’t try to hide their sports car’s somewhat limited power (60 horses in 1972) in their TV commercials.


The lack of a back seat was also presented as a plus.


Elsewhere in the world, however, the car’s alleged performance got more prominence in TV ads.

DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-1 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-2 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-3 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-4 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-5 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-6 DOTJ-KGhiaGreen-7

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Four-Door Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-four-door-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-four-door-hatchback/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065138 With the 1986 Quantum GL5 Junkyard Find we had a couple of days ago, we might as well make this a VW junkyard week. With that in mind, I present this icky-looking Volkswagen Dasher today. I shot this car in Northern California a few months ago, and it showed all the hallmarks of a car […]

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00 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

With the 1986 Quantum GL5 Junkyard Find we had a couple of days ago, we might as well make this a VW junkyard week. With that in mind, I present this icky-looking Volkswagen Dasher today.
04 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

I shot this car in Northern California a few months ago, and it showed all the hallmarks of a car stored outdoors for decades: low miles, paint burned off upper surfaces, moss and lichens growing on the shaded areas. Look, not even 100,000 miles on the clock!

11 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

This one was a luxurious model with sunroof and air conditioning a diesel injection pump.

01 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

The 1980 four-door hatch version of the Dasher listed at $8,190, which was $2,300 more than the Rabbit four-door hatch. Meanwhile, the far more luxurious and powerful (keep in mind that 1980’s standards for luxury and power differ from the ones we might apply today) Datsun 810 wagon (soon to be rebadged as the Maxima) listed at $8,129. Not that Dasher and 810 shoppers were the same people, but these comparisons are fun to make.

03 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

Yes, I bought the MotoMeter clock… and it works!

The car of choice for Kentucky Colonels.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1986-vollkswagen-quantum-gl5-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1986-vollkswagen-quantum-gl5-sedan/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064938 The original Volkswagen Passat (aka Audi 80) was sold in the United States as the Dasher, and we’ve seen a few of them in this series. Then, when the second-generation Passat came out, the US-market version was called the Quantum. These cars, which were available here for the 1982 through 1988 model years (after which […]

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03 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The original Volkswagen Passat (aka Audi 80) was sold in the United States as the Dasher, and we’ve seen a few of them in this series. Then, when the second-generation Passat came out, the US-market version was called the Quantum. These cars, which were available here for the 1982 through 1988 model years (after which VW decided, what the hell, they’d call its successor the same thing they called the European version), weren’t what you’d call hot sellers, and just about all of them are long gone. That makes today’s Junkyard Find a rarity for the 21st century.
08 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The GL5 had the Audi five-cylinder engine, which would be a lot cooler in this car if the original buyer had opted for the manual transmission.

10 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It’s in very nice condition. No rust, body is straight, interior is nice. Why is it here in this Denver wrecking yard?

11 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I found the original owner’s manual and a big stack of maintenance records inside. The original owner took great car of this car for many years.

18 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The records stop after about 120,000 miles and the odometer shows 143k, so I’m guessing that something broke a decade ago and the car sat in a garage until now.

19 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Check out these pop-out cassette tape holders!


In Brazil (and many other places, including China), this car was called the Santana.


They just stopped making this car in China a couple years back.


The 2000 Chinese model had a George Baker soundtrack.


Engineered to give you a great exit… and a grand entry.

01 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Volkswagen Unveils New W12 At Vienna Motor Symposium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-unveils-new-w12-vienna-motor-symposium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-unveils-new-w12-vienna-motor-symposium/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 20:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066002 Volkswagen’s new 6.0-liter W12 TSI made its global debut at the 36th International Vienna Motor Symposium last Friday. The next-gen W12 combines Audi’s FSI direct injection and Bentley’s TMPI multi-point injection systems together, and is augmented by a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers, an oil circuit for off-road applications, APS-coated cylinders, active engine mounts with hydraulic […]

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Volkswagen 6.0 W12 TSI TTAC Style

Volkswagen’s new 6.0-liter W12 TSI made its global debut at the 36th International Vienna Motor Symposium last Friday.

The next-gen W12 combines Audi’s FSI direct injection and Bentley’s TMPI multi-point injection systems together, and is augmented by a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers, an oil circuit for off-road applications, APS-coated cylinders, active engine mounts with hydraulic basic damping, cooling with integrated temperature management, cylinder deactivation, and start-stop.

Power output for the W12 comes to 600 horses and 664 lb-ft of torque, slotting between the mills used by the Bentley Continental GT W12 and GT Speed on the power scale.

Depending on the application, the new engine could move a vehicle from nil to 62 mph in under four seconds, with top speeds reaching 186 mph.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Interior-004

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.

2015_golf_tsi_3989

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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Engine-001

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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Manual Shifter-001

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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Gauges-002

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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Exterior Rear1

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.

2015 VW GTI 2-Door Exterior Rear-002

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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Volkswagen USA’s Bright Spot Is The Golf, But The Bulb Isn’t Very Big http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-usas-bright-spot-golf-bulb-isnt-big/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-usas-bright-spot-golf-bulb-isnt-big/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062434 During a month of great turmoil at Volkswagen’s German HQ, including expressions of real disappointment regarding the brand’s lackluster performance on the other side of the Atlantic, Volkswagen of America tripled its Golf sales total. Yes, U.S. sales of the Volkswagen Golf line skyrocketed 206% in April 2015, year-over-year. Yet with only 5,508 total Golf […]

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Volkswagen Golf family

During a month of great turmoil at Volkswagen’s German HQ, including expressions of real disappointment regarding the brand’s lackluster performance on the other side of the Atlantic, Volkswagen of America tripled its Golf sales total.

Yes, U.S. sales of the Volkswagen Golf line skyrocketed 206% in April 2015, year-over-year. Yet with only 5,508 total Golf sales last month, the Golf continues to be a low-volume compact car in the United States. Combined, the Jetta and Golf (which no longer share a platform) are still just upper-mid-pack players, nearly 900 sales back of the fifth-best-selling compact, the Ford Focus, last month.

The Golf family was, however, the key bright spot at Volkswagen of America in April. Brand-wide sales slid 3% in April 2015, the third consecutive month (and 21st in 25) that Volkswagen brand sales have decreased on a year-over-year basis.

April sales of the Tiguan and Touareg grew, but only to the tune of 426 extra units. The Jetta sedan’s 5% increase was an exception to a rule that saw Jetta sedan volume slide 6% through the first four months of 2015. Meanwhile, sales of the Beetle, CC, discontinued Eos, and Passat fell precipitously both in April and the first-third of the year.

The picture is clear. It’s all down to the Golf.

USA Volkswagen Golf sales chart

Non-Golf sales at Volkswagen are down 18% year-to-date in a new vehicle market that’s exceptionally healthy. Auto industry sales are up 5.4% so far this year; excluding the VW brand, sales are up 5.7%.

Yet even at these exceptionally high Golf sales levels – by Golf standards – it’s an insufficiently effective model in the United States. Globally, it’s among the best sellers. Locally, it’s a car which generates its moderate level of popularity with niche-filling products and cult classics: diesel-powered hatchbacks, hot hatches, and wagons.

Thankfully, such models exist (and even cohabit in the form of the Golf TDI SportWagen). But they’re not common cars. Volkswagen sold 1,739 copies of their core Golf hatchback in April, 1,228 Golf SportWagens, 309 e-Golfs, 327 Golf Rs, and 1,905 copies of the top-selling Golf, the GTI. The 5,508-unit total achieved by the whole lineup marked the highest April output for the Golf since 2000, Volkswagen of America says, but equalled just 18% of the brand’s April total and just 11% of the VW Group’s April U.S. total.

There’s good news and bad. Golf success is obviously a good thing, but Volkswagen would need infinitely greater success in the game of Golf to make up for disappointment in other parts of the lineup.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar.

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Volkswagen Denies UAW’s Request For Sole Representation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-denies-uaws-request-sole-representation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-denies-uaws-request-sole-representation/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 17:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064274 Volkswagen announced Thursday it would deny the UAW’s request to be the sole representative of the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant. Instead, VW would continue to work with both the UAW and rival organization American Council of Employees toward the goal of establishing a works council at its sole U.S. facility, Bloomberg reports. While the company […]

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Volkswagen announced Thursday it would deny the UAW’s request to be the sole representative of the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant.

Instead, VW would continue to work with both the UAW and rival organization American Council of Employees toward the goal of establishing a works council at its sole U.S. facility, Bloomberg reports.

While the company said meeting with both factions “has been a very effective way to start dialog with each of the groups,” UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel proclaimed VW should recognize his union “as the bargaining agent,” adding “a works council can only exist with a union and VW has said their preferred union is the UAW.”

The UAW is said to represent 55 percent of hourly workers on the floor, while ACE has between 15 to 30 percent of hourly and salaried employees.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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Sayonara S2K, Guten Tag GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sayonara-s2k-gutan-tag-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sayonara-s2k-gutan-tag-gti/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056754 Yesterday, I traded the most hysterically fun car I have ever owned, a 2008 Honda S2000, for a new 2015 Volkswagen GTI 6-speed manual. Allow me to explain. I bought my S2000 two years ago while living in San Diego. It was the perfect car at the perfect place and time. I don’t think I ever […]

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Yesterday, I traded the most hysterically fun car I have ever owned, a 2008 Honda S2000, for a new 2015 Volkswagen GTI 6-speed manual.

Allow me to explain.

I bought my S2000 two years ago while living in San Diego. It was the perfect car at the perfect place and time. I don’t think I ever drove it with the top up, whether cruising the coast highway or screaming up and down Mt. Palomar. I loved it. Then last fall I took early retirement, thus losing my company car, and moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Once the S2000 became my daily driver, it began to kick my ass. I am getting too old, and am way too tall, to be folding myself in and out of the car numerous times a day. Tucson has perhaps the worst roads in the west and it literally hurt to hit the potholes in the rough riding Honda. My wife and I also wanted something roomy and economical to use on road trips instead of our large SUV. The only car that came to mind that was also fun to drive was the GTI, recent winner of numerous buff book awards. Other “hot hatches” like the Fiesta ST do nothing for me – so GTI it was.

Choosing the GTI was easy; buying it was a challenge due to the infuriating, nonsensical combinations of options and models on the car. (My dealer would later confirm it is as frustrating to them as it is to the consumer). I wanted the $24,785 base model due in part to its cool Clark Plaid cloth seats. I also wanted the $1,495 Performance Package that bumps horsepower up by 10 to 220 and includes upgraded brakes and differential. The MSRP on that combo would be $26,280 but there were none to be found. Most GTIs available had additional options or were the SE model with leather, a sunroof and better sound system and were priced from $29,000 to over $31,000. If you want Navigation, your only choice is to buy the Autobahn model with a base MSRP of $30,045 and is only available as a 4-door. I ended up searching for the admittedly well-equipped base 2-door S model in white, the Official Car Color of the State of Arizona.

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You can order a VW to your exact specs and color but you will wait 6 months for delivery.

I posted the S2000 briefly on Craigslist and discovered when you’re selling a specialty car on this site, most folks that respond are dreamers, schemers, scammers and credit criminals. I could have spent a few hundred dollars and listed the Honda on cars.com or autotrader.com and profited a little more than trade-in value from an out-of-state buyer, but that would be after dealing with inspectors, shippers, etc. I was not in the mood.

In Tucson you have the choice of a friendly, local, family-owned Volkswagen store or one owned by a notorious megadealer group from up north. I chose the former but I did respond to an email from the latter that they send to all Craigslist sellers and told them I was in the game for a GTI. They characteristically did not respond.

The preferred retailer had the car I wanted on their lot. A test drive confirmed all the hype: the GTI is zippy, has a cockpit worthy of an Audi, and is a riot to drive. When the store offered a nice discount on the GTI and a trade-in value combined with tax savings that was within $1,900 of what I paid for the Honda in 2013, the deal was done. The transaction was quick and easy, maybe the best car buying experience I’ve ever enjoyed. To their credit, Volkswagen dealers did score above average in the 2014 J. D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index.

This GTI will now be a TTAC long-term test car. We will do some comparos with other vehicles in its category. We will try to obtain a GTI with the Performance Package to find out what I am missing. Most of all, we will find out what the VW is like to live with over the course of a year. The first report will be after a 2,500 mile round-trip run to Yellowstone National Park in a few weeks.

After one day of ownership (and thus I am still under the influence of the New Car Ether) my first impression can be summed up thusly: the Volkswagen GTI is a ton of fun and a terrific value for $25,000. Let’s see how it performs down the road…

Photos by Oscar Alvarado of Chapman Volkswagen.

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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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2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Fastest-Selling Vehicle For April 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-fastest-selling-vehicle-april-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-fastest-selling-vehicle-april-2015/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 20:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062426 The 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen was the fastest-selling vehicle for April, besting many a truck and SUV in so doing. The SportWagen only took an average of nine days between deboarding the car carrier and heading out onto the highway, Cars.com reports. The 2015 Ford Edge and Porsche Macan tied for silver at 11 days, […]

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The 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen was the fastest-selling vehicle for April, besting many a truck and SUV in so doing.

The SportWagen only took an average of nine days between deboarding the car carrier and heading out onto the highway, Cars.com reports. The 2015 Ford Edge and Porsche Macan tied for silver at 11 days, while the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab and Subaru Outback only spent 12 days on the lot.

On the opposite end, the 2015 BMW 650i xDrive convertible took home the gold as the slowest-selling vehicle in the showroom during April, spending an average of 180 days before someone finally took one out into the sun. The 640i xDrive convertible left the lot five days earlier than its sibling, while the Kia K900 took 172 days from container to garage on average.

Overall, cars made up the slowest-selling list, while 18 out of 23 fastest-selling models were either trucks, crossovers or SUVs.

[Photo credit: Derek Kreindler/The Truth About Cars]

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While You Were Sleeping: Project CARS Tomorrow, Off-Road Lowrider and the Last Commodore is Almost Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-project-cars-tomorrow-off-road-lowrider-last-commodore-almost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-project-cars-tomorrow-off-road-lowrider-last-commodore-almost/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 11:44:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061994 Almost everything interesting from overnight happened in Australia. So lets talk about video games instead. ‘Project Cars’ will finally come out on May 6th, we hope (Engadget) Yes – this article is old. But, it’s what’s inside that counts. Project CARS is supposed to be released tomorrow for PC. Should I give all the writers a holiday? […]

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Project CARS

Almost everything interesting from overnight happened in Australia. So lets talk about video games instead.

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Volkswagen Won’t Cut Prices to Chase Market Share in U.S. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-wont-cut-prices-chase-market-share-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-wont-cut-prices-chase-market-share-us/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 15:37:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1059338 Even with a depressed euro and sales falling 2.7 percent in April, Volkswagen is staying the course. According to Automotive News, Volkswagen has no plans to change its current pricing strategy to chase market share. The brand has seen steady declines in the U.S. even as the market overall has been growing. “We believe it’s […]

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Even with a depressed euro and sales falling 2.7 percent in April, Volkswagen is staying the course.

According to Automotive News, Volkswagen has no plans to change its current pricing strategy to chase market share. The brand has seen steady declines in the U.S. even as the market overall has been growing.

“We believe it’s the right strategy over the long term,” Christian Klingler told AN.

He stated Volkswagen has a long-term approach to protecting profits and won’t try to chase volume at its expense. Similar problems are being experienced in other markets like Brazil. Also, even with the euro down versus the American dollar, most U.S. sales volume comes from North American-built vehicles, negating any possible positive currency impact.

Much of Volkswagen’s sales slump can be attributed to their current model mix. The brand does not offer a competitive crossover between the long-in-the-tooth Tiguan and much more expensive Touareg, a segment currently experiencing significant growth.

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