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, 01 Sep 2015 15:09:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – New-To-You Utility [w/ Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155553 2016 Audi Q3 Prestige 2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm) 6-speed Tiptronic automatic 20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package Base Price: $34,625* As Tested: $42,175* * Prices include $925 destination charge. Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. […]

The post 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – New-To-You Utility [w/ Video] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002

2016 Audi Q3 Prestige

2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)

6-speed Tiptronic automatic

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package

Base Price:
$34,625*
As Tested:

$42,175*

* Prices include $925 destination charge.

Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.

With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.

Exterior
Outside, the Q3 plays the same farm girl card as the majority of the Audi lineup. The wholesome sheetmetal is attractive, but completely devoid of the dramatic styling cues that grace the new GLA. Closer inspection reveals that the headlamps and grille design are different from the 2015 Q5. That’s because the Q3 was one of the first Audis to wear the brand’s latest front end design. The sharper lines, crisper angles and new headlamp design can also be seen on the next generation Q5. The look is fresh and instantly recognizable, but some may call it is so restrained that it is almost boring. 

At 172.6 inches long, the Q3 is nearly a foot shorter than the X3, Q5, NX or XC60. That means the Q3 is aimed squarely at the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes GLA. Unlike the GLA and X1, the Q3’s side profile screams miniaturized SUV, not jacked up hatchback.

The rear design is 8/10ths Q5 despite being totally unrelated. Unlike most crossovers, the tail lamps are housed solely on the hatch itself. You’d think that this would allow the opening to be larger, but access is somewhat limited much like its bigger brother Q5. Total cargo room suffers more than you would think since Audi decided to give the rear window a more dramatic rake than on its other crossovers.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard

Interior
Like the exterior, the interior design is simple almost to the point of being plain. Although the A3 came to the USA before the Q3, the latter houses an older design and that explains why the interior looks more like the rest of the Audi line up, not the minimalist design we see in the A3. Our model didn’t have the optional wood trim ($350) but I recommend it as it helps break up the black-on-black-on-black interior in our model. Also on the must-have list are the optional sport seats that add extending seat bottom cushions. Audi’s usual attention to detail is easily seen in the interior where fit and finish is notably higher than the mass-market Escape, CR-V or Tiguan.

In an unusual move, Audi makes 12-way power front seats standard and equips them with 4-way power lumbar support. This puts front seat adjustability above the GLA, which skimps on passenger seat comfort to keep the price low. Also surprising, leather seating surfaces are standard while most luxury brands have moved to imitation leather as the base material. The optional sport seats are the most comfortable seats in this segment, according to my back, besting the BMW and Mercedes. Helping my marriage out during the week I had the Q3, the passenger seat is just as comfortable (eliminating the complaints I received when I tested the RDX and GLA). Like Audi’s A3, the Q3 lacks driver’s seat memory, an odd omission when you can find that feature on less expensive Kias, not to mention the Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes. Heck, Mercedes even gives the front passenger standard 3 position seat memory.

Thanks to the Q3’s upright profile, the rear seats are surprisingly accommodating. Although combined front and rear legroom figures are lower than the Q5 and the overall vehicle is smaller than the larger Audi, the Q3 was better able to handle a rearward facing child seat behind a front passenger. The difference is down to the shape of the Q3’s dash which allows the right front seat to move farther forward, freeing up more room in the back. Headroom was equally impressive despite the panoramic moonroof. BMW is claiming a hair more room in the 2016 X1 which will mean the Audi and BMW are the best options if you plan on carrying folks in the rear. On the other hand, the GLA has a more cramped rear bench and my head touched the ceiling unless I leaned inboard. When it comes to cargo hauling, the Q3’s hold is 33-percent smaller than the next size crossover and right about the same as your average midsize sedan.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004

Infotainment
The Germans have cornered the market in controller-knob based infotainment systems since BMW first introduced iDrive in 2001. Since then, BMW and Audi have been in a gadget arms race. Taken as a whole, MMI isn’t as intuitive as iDrive with more confusing menus and illogical button placement. While I’m sure you would get used to it over time, even after a week I found myself needing to stare at the array of buttons for way too long to find what I needed. If you have another Audi in the family, the Q3’s MMI button placement will take even more getting used to since they dropped it in the dash, not the center console. On the flip side, this means you’re less likely to spill your drink on your MMI controller.

On the flip side, MMI has probably one of the most advanced feature sets on the market thanks to their well-executed Google integration. While iDrive allows you to search for Google results (as do a number of other systems), MMI takes it a step further and overlays your traditional map images with Google satellite imagery and even allows you to zoom in and view Google Street View images so you can “creep” your neighbors. On the down side, the Google map function requires a $15-$30 a month subscription after the first few years for the built-in cellular modem, and the system has troubles downloading maps fast enough when traveling at freeway speeds, leaving you with a blank screen at times.

Although navigation and the Google Map love is optional, the large LCD and iPod integration are standard, things not found in the 2015 Mercedes GLA. Likely due to the Q3’s standard LCD and upcoming 2016 X1, Mercedes has announced the 2016+ GLA will get a 7-inch LCD standard.

2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001

Drivetrain
Nestled sideways under the hood is one of VW/Audi’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines. Despite having the latest in direct injection and variable valve timing tech, the engine is a little short on twist. Output comes in at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. This is essentially the same as the related Volkswagen Tiguan, but notably lower than the X1 (228 hp/258 lb-ft), Evoque (240 hp/250 lb-ft) or the GLA (208 hp/258 lb-ft). This is also lower than the nearly identical 2.0-liter engine in the Q5, which produces 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in 2015 and 245 hp, 273 lb-ft in the upcoming next generation Q5.

In order to keep costs down, American bound Q3 models ditch Audi’s 7-speed dual clutch for a more traditional 6-speed Tiptronic automatic. This means that in addition to being down on power, the Q5 is short on gears. Although 6-speeds is the norm in the mass-market segment, the GLA has a 7-speed DCT, the X1 uses an 8-speed and the Evoque a 9-speed. While the engine is partly to blame, the lack of gears has a distinct impact on fuel economy and acceleration. Despite being heavier, producing more power, and being faster to 60, the larger Q5 2.0T nets the same EPA combined score of 23 mpg in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models. That’s behind the 24 mpg rating for the Evoque, 27 mpg for the 2015 X1 and significantly lower than the 29 mpg delivered by the GLA 250. In a week of mixed driving, our Q3 averaged under 21 mpg.

2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster

Drive
Out on the road, the first thing you need to know is that the rear wheel drive 2015 BMW X1 is not long for this world. While you may find them on dealer lots now, between the time I had the Q3 and me writing this review BMW announced the new FWD-based X1 will be arriving in the fall. This means two things. First, if you want a small luxury crossover with tail-happy RWD dynamics, you need to hurry. Second, TTAC hasn’t driven the new X1 so it’s not possible to comment on it in an intelligent fashion, but we can make some educated assumptions.

BMW is making all US-bound X1 models AWD. The logic is likely driving dynamics (like Jaguar with their ill-fated X-Type sedan) and not supposed off-road ability as found in the Land Rover Evoque. That sets the BMW apart from the Audi and Mercedes which both have front-wheel drive. Standard all-wheel drive solves the traction and torque steer problems found in a front driver, but it does little to address the nearly 60/40 weight balance found in most transverse engined vehicles. While the 2016 X1 may be the best balanced in this shoe box sized category, 56/44 (front/rear) is a far cry from BMW’s almost religious dedication to 50/50 weight balanced vehicles. This means that when chucking your 2016 crossover into a corner, the BMW no longer has a neutral handling advantage, and it’s where the strangely wide tires on the Q3 make a surprising difference.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010

BMW shoes the new X1 with 225-width tires, the narrowest in the segment, while the GLA and Evoque start with 235s. Audi starts with 235s on the base model, but the Premium trim and an $800 option on the base model kick the rubber up two sizes to 255/40R18s — two sizes larger than the GLA 45 AMG and three sizes ahead of the X1. While suspension tuning obviously plays a big role in road holding, the Audi starts with more grip and then adds an excellent suspension to boot. Despite the wide 40-series tires, the Q3’s suspension is tuned more compliant than the GLA 250 and lacks the unsettled behavior on broken pavement I noted in the Evoque. While BMW’s FWD models I’ve tested in Europe aren’t as dynamic as their RWD models, they are excellent for front drivers.

Although there is clearly more body roll in the Audi than in the GLA or GLA AMG, the Audi is quite simply more sure footed. Sure, the GLA is lighter at about 3,500lbs vs the Q3’s nearly 3,700, but the 200 pound difference can’t make up for the wider rubber on the Audi. While the 2015 BMW X1 with the M Sport package was the best handling vehicle in this segment by a hair, 2016 transfers the crown to the Q3. (And the difference in 2015 was smaller than X1 buyers would like to admit.)

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012

On the downside, the Q3’s heritage does reveal. You see, the Q3 is not based on VW-Audi’s new MQB platform like the current Golf and A3, instead related to the older A3. That shows itself in steering feel. There isn’t any. While the rest of the competition also employs electric power steering, the Q3’s rack is particularly vague, although it is precise and well weighted. Also a problem is the Q3’s acceleration. The Audi’s 0-60 acceleration time clocked in at 7.6 seconds, slower than a Hybrid Camry and about the same as a Honda CR-V. That’s 8/10ths slower than the Evoque, a full second slower than the GLA 250 and 1.3 seconds behind BMW’s claim for the new 2016 X1. That’s before we consider the 2016 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG with its blistering 4.3 second 0-60 sprint thanks to a whopping 375 horsepower.

Although the Q3 is slower and thirstier than the GLA, value, interior accommodations and handling are where the Audi shines. Even though the $33,700 starting price of the Q3 is higher than the 2015 GLA 250 at $31,300, the Audi comes with standard leather seating, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and keyless go, backup camera, iPod interface, auto dimming mirror, and HD and SiriusXM radio. All of these are extra on the Mercedes. This makes a comparably equipped GLA $3,000 more than the Audi. The Evoque is the most expensive, running $7,000-10,000 more than the Q3, and the 2016 X1 starts at $34,800 and would crest $37,000 when equipped comparably to a base Q3.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011

The surprising thing about the Q3’s pricing structure is how slowly the pricing builds compared to the other luxury options. This makes the Q3 perhaps the easiest upsell from a Hyundai Tucson or a VW Tiguan. Hyundai’s 2016 Tucson Limited ranges from $29,900-34,900 with equipment levels similar to a $33,700-39,000 Q3 making the bump a reasonable $5,000 or so. That’s much narrower than the distance between the Tuscon and GLA 250, which would end up $6,400-10,000 more when comparably equipped. The Range Rover Evoque? The Baby Rover is by far the premium entry and will set you back $15,000-20,000 more than a comparable Hyundai.

I know it sounds odd to compare an Audi and a Hyundai. In most other segments I would say it’s an inappropriate comparison. However, this crop of “inexpensive” luxury vehicles was designed to attract mainstream brand shoppers, so the comparison makes sense. In this light, the Q3 also makes sense. It’s a much easier up-sell over a mainstream crossover while delivering a luxury brand, luxury interior and the best handling in the segment. The X1 and GLA are faster to 60, the Mercedes is arguably a more premium brand and the Evoque offers a level of customization that higher-end luxury shoppers demand, but none of them is as easy of a cross-shop with the top-end mainstream CUVs. For that value proposition and handling performance the Q3 is my favorite entry in this segment, and it’s a new engine and 7-speed DCT away from perfection. Let’s hope someone at Audi is listening.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.85 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16 Seconds @ 89.2 MPH

2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area 2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-002 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-003 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-005 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-006 2016 Audi Q3 Engine 2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-003 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-004 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-007 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-008 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-009 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-013 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-014 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-015 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-016 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-017 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-018 2016 Audi Q3 Front Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Grille 2016 Audi Q3 Grille-001 2016 Audi Q3 Headlamps 2016 Audi Q3 HVAC Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster-001 2016 Audi Q3 Seat Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Seats-001

The post 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – New-To-You Utility [w/ Video] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/feed/ 6
Suzuki: “I Feel Refreshed” After Win Against Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-i-feel-refreshed-after-win-against-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-i-feel-refreshed-after-win-against-volkswagen/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:22:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156202 Osamu Suzuki (middle right), chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, can finally celebrate his biggest win. After a failed alliance with Volkswagen put Suzuki — the chairman and company — on the back foot for almost four years, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in London has decided in the Japanese company’s […]

The post Suzuki: “I Feel Refreshed” After Win Against Volkswagen appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Volkswagen and Suzuki agreed to establish a comprehensive partnership

Osamu Suzuki (middle right), chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, can finally celebrate his biggest win. After a failed alliance with Volkswagen put Suzuki — the chairman and company — on the back foot for almost four years, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in London has decided in the Japanese company’s favor. Suzuki will purchase back their own stock from Volkswagen.

Suzuki received news of the ruling Saturday and filed the information with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sunday.

“It’s good that a resolution came. I feel refreshed. It’s like clearing a bone stuck in my throat,” said to reporters gathered at a news conference in Tokyo, reports Automotive News. “I’m very satisfied with the resolution. Through it, Suzuki was able to attain its biggest objective.”

In a statement released today, Suzuki Motor Corporation “requested Volkswagen AG to terminate their business and capital alliance through amicable negotiation. However, as VW failed to respond to Suzuki’s request, Suzuki served on 18 November 2011 a notice of termination of the Framework Agreement that was made with VW. Further, on 24 November 2011, based on the parties’ agreement, Suzuki filed a request for arbitration in London, which is the place of arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.”

The tribunal found in favor for Suzuki in two areas: a termination of the “Framework Agreement” and Volkswagen’s divestment of shared in Suzuki.

From Suzuki:

The Tribunal found that the Framework Agreement was validly terminated by Suzuki’s notice of termination dated 18 November 2011 mentioned above, such termination being effective from 18 May 2012.

The Tribunal upheld Suzuki’s claim regarding VW’s disposal of its shares in Suzuki and ordered VW to divest forthwith those shares to Suzuki or a third party designated by Suzuki using a method which is reasonably determined by Suzuki.

Volkswagen’s 19.9-percent share in Suzuki will be purchased by the Japanese company through the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

However, Suzuki could still incur financial penalties later, as Volkswagen’s counterclaim of breach of contract was also partially upheld. That claim will be “addressed in a further stage of the arbitration,” stated Suzuki Motor Corporation. According to Volkswagen in a statement, Suzuki “failed to give Volkswagen last-call rights for the delivery of diesel engines. Volkswagen reserves the right to claim damages against Suzuki.”

The official end of the alliance will likely trigger more succession planning for the Japanese auto and motorcycle manufacturer. In June 2015, Osamu Suzuki appointed his eldest son, Toshihiro, to the role of president.

 

The post Suzuki: “I Feel Refreshed” After Win Against Volkswagen appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-i-feel-refreshed-after-win-against-volkswagen/feed/ 3
Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151441 Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China […]

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Come on Carlos, let’s hit up the Limeys for some money. Picture courtesy of motortrend.com

Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down.

At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China is tapering off its growth (or they’ve been making it up for a while) and that Europe is tinkering on the brink of sinking into another recession.

There are plenty of financial sectors that are taking a beating. Automotive companies are no different. Here’s a rundown of publicly traded automakers and how much they’ve lost from their July 31 close to mid-day trading today.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest droppers are those with more exposure to China (Especially Toyota, whose production has been hampered by a blast in Tianjinand Tesla, whose second stock offering could be diluting shares in addition to the larger, global shock.

Tata Motors (TTM) — 29.66-23.01, -22.4 percent
Tesla Motors (TSLA) — 266.15-219.46, -17.5 percent
Toyota Motor Corp (TM) — 133.71-110.87, -17 percent
BMW (BMW.DE) — 91.30-77.88, -13.5 percent
Daimler (DDAIF) — 89.19-77.59, -13 percent
Nissan Motor Company (NSANY) — 19.34-16.90, -12.6 percent
Honda Motor Company (HMC) — 33.96-29.70, -12.5 percent
Ford Motor Company (F) — 15.18-13.21, -12.9 percent
General Motors (GM) — 32.08-28.22, -12 percent
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) — 15.80-14.02, -11.2 percent
Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) — 40.35-36.56, -9.3 percent

Earlier this month, General Motors issued a statement before the massive stock sell off to ensure investors that it would endure a devalued Chinese currency. It’s “natural hedge,” or locally sourced suppliers, would help insulate it from massive market fluctuations, but not entirely. Last month, GM announced it would invest $5 billion in a joint venture with SAIC motors in China to locally build smaller cars.

On Monday, Daimler said it would press on further in China, despite worries that the market for luxury vehicles could be drying up, according to Automotive News.

Losing this much steam in China will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the rest of the automotive world, that much is clear. The size of the wave has yet to be determined.

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/feed/ 9
Volkswagen Sued Researchers To Hide Key Hacking Flaw http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-sued-researchers-hide-key-hacking-flaw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-sued-researchers-hide-key-hacking-flaw/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1143545 Volkswagen has spent over two years trying to block the publication of a research paper which reveals a key hacking vulnerability in many of their models as well as thousands from other manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, a team of researchers discovered the vulnerability in 2012 and notified Volkswagen in May 2013. Instead of working with […]

The post Volkswagen Sued Researchers To Hide Key Hacking Flaw appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
audikey

Volkswagen has spent over two years trying to block the publication of a research paper which reveals a key hacking vulnerability in many of their models as well as thousands from other manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, a team of researchers discovered the vulnerability in 2012 and notified Volkswagen in May 2013. Instead of working with the researchers to resolve the issue, Volkswagen argued that the paper would increase the risk of theft and sued them to stop the publication.

The research paper was blocked by an injunction from the United Kingdom High Court for two years and was finally released after originally being blocked from presentation at the 2013 USENIX Security Symposium. The researchers were able to negotiate an agreement with Volkswagen to allow the paper to be published once they removed one sentence that described a component of the calculations on the chip.

The hack describes a vulnerability in transponders that use the Megamos Crypto algorithm that allows brute force attacks to defeat the security mechanism. A similar attack was described by Silvio Cesare last year which allows a radio transmission device to generate potential unlock codes that can be sent to a car until it is opened. This attack goes one step further by using a similar mechanism to generate a response that defeats the immobilizer systems in the affected vehicles and allows them to be started.

The research team of Roel Verdult and Baris Ege from the Netherlands along with Flavio Garcia from the United Kingdom were able to reverse-engineer the Megamos Crypto security mechanisms and were able to recover the 96-bit secret key and transmit it using an RFID device. Their first type of attack is able to exploit a weakness in cipher design which allows recovery of a portion of the secret key by listening in to two legitimate communications between the vehicle and key. The second type of attack uses brute force to send updates to the immobilizer in the vehicle.

This procedure allowed the researchers to generate a secret key in about 30 minutes that was able to start the car. Their last type of attack uses a similar brute force method, but exploits systems that use a weak cryptographic key. These systems can be hacked using a standard laptop in a few minutes due to the fact that they may use a shorter secret key or lack safety mechanisms such as pseudo-random number generators in their algorithm.

affectedmodels

Models Affected By The Vulnerability (Models In Bold Tested By Researchers)

This type of security flaw is not something that can be corrected with a software update but would require new keys as well as new immobilizer hardware inside the cars which could be costly for Volkswagen and other manufacturers. Since the flaw did not constitute a safety issue it would not require a recall in most countries.

Volkswagen not only put its own vehicles at a higher risk of theft by suppressing the research, but also caused the risk to go unknown for many other manufacturers who use the same algorithm. Volkswagen states that the current models such as the Golf and Passat use a new algorithm that is immune to this type of attack, but have not offered any assistance to owners of older vehicles with vulnerable systems.

The main issue with the response from Volkswagen is that they look to protect their design by relying on the “security through obscurity” safety mechanism. While lawsuits and injunctions will keep legitimate researchers from publishing information about these flaws, thieves will eventually find a way to break through themselves. This was demonstrated with the Keeloq algorithm in 2007 when proprietary design information was discovered by Russian hackers and leaked online.

The better way to approach these issues is to invite these researchers and white hat hackers to work with the manufacturer once a security system is developed in order to reveal vulnerabilities and fix them before they reach thousands of cars.

[Main Photo Credit: Yahya S/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

[Affected Vehicles Chart Credit: Verdult, Garcia, and Ege]

The post Volkswagen Sued Researchers To Hide Key Hacking Flaw appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-sued-researchers-hide-key-hacking-flaw/feed/ 23
Volkswagen Planning Hot Tiguan R Coupe Because Why Not http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-planning-hot-tiguan-r-coupe-not/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-planning-hot-tiguan-r-coupe-not/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:27:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141338 Volkswagen may build a three-door version of its compact crossover to compete against the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 and Audi RS Q3 because hot hatches are now hot crossovers, Autocar (via AutoGuide) is reporting. According to the report, the Tiguan R would be powered by the Golf R’s 300-horsepower turbocharged four. It could go on sale as […]

The post Volkswagen Planning Hot Tiguan R Coupe Because Why Not appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
03 Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen may build a three-door version of its compact crossover to compete against the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 and Audi RS Q3 because hot hatches are now hot crossovers, Autocar (via AutoGuide) is reporting.

According to the report, the Tiguan R would be powered by the Golf R’s 300-horsepower turbocharged four. It could go on sale as early as 2018 in the UK. It’s unclear if it would go on sale in the U.S. around the same time.

Autocar reported that insiders say the Tiguan R would come with VW’s six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an electronic torque vectoring to manage all the boost so you don’t understeer and die.

The Tiguan R is expected to join the second generation of bigger Tiguans that will go on sale starting in 2017. In 2018, it’s expected that VW will sell the Tiguan in a “coupe” form, with the Tiguan R to follow.

The post Volkswagen Planning Hot Tiguan R Coupe Because Why Not appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-planning-hot-tiguan-r-coupe-not/feed/ 26
Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135890 A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday. The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles. […]

The post Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf 3

A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday.

The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles.

The Leaf has sold nearly 11,000 copies since the beginning of 2015.

The SE trim will have a smaller, 6.5-inch touchscreen, compared to the SEL’s 8-inch model. Additionally, the e-Golf SE will only have a 3.6 kW onboard charger as standard. A 7.2 kW DC fast charger will be available later in the year for the model.

The Leaf S has an available quick charge package that boosts capacity to 6.6 kW for $1,770.

The Golf SE should be arriving in dealerships later this month, Volkswagen said.

The post Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/feed/ 12
China 2015: The Cars of Shanghai http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-shanghai/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-shanghai/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130161  Shanghai Pudong street scenes After going through the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Shanghai Auto Show, it’s time to go wandering the streets of Shanghai to share with you the most popular cars. The Shanghai automotive landscape is surprisingly easy to read with a few main trends on display.  VW Santana taxis in Shanghai French Concession […]

The post China 2015: The Cars of Shanghai appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
1. Shanghai Pudong street scene 7 Shanghai Pudong street scenes

After going through the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Shanghai Auto Show, it’s time to go wandering the streets of Shanghai to share with you the most popular cars. The Shanghai automotive landscape is surprisingly easy to read with a few main trends on display.

2. VW Santana taxi x3 Shanghai VW Santana taxis in Shanghai French Concession

VW Santana taxi is king
The Shanghai-Volkswagen joint venture has been spitting out Santanas for three decades, so it’s no surprise to see them litter every single street of Shanghai. The surprise is how many of them still roam around. Santana taxis account for up to 50 percent of the total traffic in the French concession part of town for example.

3. VW Lavida Taxi Shanghai VW Lavida and Santana taxi in Pudong

Efforts to replace it with more modern Touran and Lavida, though relatively successful, have done nothing to limit the Santana’s supremacy. The Santana Vista 1998 model is everywhere and I did spot two very well preserved first generation, privately owned Santanas. If anything, the Touran and Lavida have curbed sales of the new generation Santana, and you see none of them as taxis.

4. Buick GL8 Shanghai Buick GL8 in Shanghai Tianzifang

Too cool for taxi? Buick GL8 it is.
If you think you’re way too cool to get moved around town in a regular taxi, then you’ll need to opt for the ubiquitous Buick GL8. Already very popular in Beijing, the GL8 — most of all the current generation —is the way to get chauffeured around in Shanghai if you can afford it. Go near the shopping districts of Tianzifang and Xintiandi and you’ll find line after line of Buick GL8 parked with their driver sleepily awaiting the end of a Prada and Louis Vuitton shopping spree.

5. Buick LaCrosse VW Santana taxi Shanghai Buick LaCrosse and VW Santana in Shanghai Tianzifang

In fact, it not only the GL8 but the entire Buick lineup that’s particularly strong in Shanghai, even at the higher end of the scale. The LaCrosse is very frequent in the streets of the city, especially in financial Pudong, and I have spotted a few Envision SUVs already.

6. Shanghai Pudong street scene 3 Shanghai Pudong street scene

7. Roewe 550 VW Touran Shanghai Roewe 550 in Shanghai Tianzifang

Locals? What locals?
Even more acutely than in Beijing, where I estimated that Chinese carmakers amounted to around 10-15 percent of the traffic, Shanghai harbours a stinging self-hate for domestic manufacturers. The local brands account for no more than 5-8 percent of the overall Shanghai car landscape. The only ones keeping their head out of the water belong to Shanghai-based SAIC Group. Roewe is by far the most popular local brand in Shanghai, with the 550 being the favorite in the lineup by a large margin.

9. Maxus G10 Shanghai Maxus G10

Maxus is strong in the commercial area with a dozen M80 as well as a handful of G10 spotted. MG follows, mainly thanks to the MG3. The only other nameplates to pop up more than once are Jinbei and Foton Hiace-inspired vans and JAC light vans. I did spot one Qoros 3 in Pudong and a couple of BYD Qin hybrids.

8. Shanghai street scene

Range Rover Evoque favorite import
A particular favourite in Shanghai is the Range Rover Evoque, imported here and therefore highly expensive, but that hasn’t deterred a mini-craze towards this vehicle in China. I saw a total of over 20 in just two days spent wandering the streets. I also noticed an inordinate amount of Fiat Viaggio and Ottimo and three Tesla Model S’s in two days: one near People’s Square, one in Pudong and one on the Bund where a Ford F-150 Raptor also caught my attention.

12. BYD Qin Shanghai BYD Qin

Next we are headed North towards the North Korean and Russian borders. Next stop: Changchun, the “Detroit of China” in the Jilin province. Stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a website dedicated to car sales, trends and analysis called BestSellingCarsBlog.

11. Venucia Morning Wind Shanghai

10. Shanghai Pudong street scene 5

13. Ford F-150 Shanghai

15. Chana China Post Minibus Shanghai

16. Foton MPV ShanghaiFoton MPV

17. Jinbei Haise ShanghaiJinbei Haise

14. Shanghai Pudong street scene 4

19. Roewe W5 Police ShanghaiRoewe W5 police

18. Qoros 3 ShanghaiQoros 3

20. Tesla Model S Shanghai Tesla Model S

The post China 2015: The Cars of Shanghai appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-shanghai/feed/ 16
Suzuki Wanted to Sell Re-badged Jetta Hybrid in the US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-wanted-to-sell-re-badged-jetta-hybrid-in-the-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-wanted-to-sell-re-badged-jetta-hybrid-in-the-us/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 20:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1134585 In a detailed report on the failed alliance between Suzuki and Volkswagen, Automotive News reports that the Japanese automaker wanted to re-badge and sell Volkswagen Jetta Hybrids in the U.S. before the company eventually decided to close up its local sales arm. The report, which came out on Monday, is a play-by-play of what happened […]

The post Suzuki Wanted to Sell Re-badged Jetta Hybrid in the US appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

In a detailed report on the failed alliance between Suzuki and Volkswagen, Automotive News reports that the Japanese automaker wanted to re-badge and sell Volkswagen Jetta Hybrids in the U.S. before the company eventually decided to close up its local sales arm.

The report, which came out on Monday, is a play-by-play of what happened from the time Suzuki CEO Osamu Suzuki and Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn first shook hands in 2009, to when Suzuki announced it was cutting its losses, up to today as the automakers struggle over VW’s 19.9-percent ownership of the Japanese automaker.

The original agreement, which would open the door for Suzuki to use advantaged Volkswagen powertrain technology while also giving VW a view into Suzuki’s Indian success, is said to have not been respected by Volkswagen.

From Automotive News:

“The alliance is meaningless,” Harayama told his interlocutor, according to internal Suzuki documents chronicling the demise of the alliance that were obtained by Automotive News.

“Our engineers have lost the desire to cooperate with VW.”

A tipping point, Harayama added, came during an earlier top management meeting. The Suzuki side presented VW CEO Martin Winterkorn a list of complaints. But the tactic backfired.

According to Suzuki’s version of events, instead of contemplating Suzuki’s suggestions for mending relations, the ticked-off German surprised the Japanese by pounding the table in irritation.

“With this, we understood that it is impossible to work with top management to resolve the front-line problems,” Harayama told an off-guard Wittig, who insisted he hadn’t come to the meeting to negotiate with Harayama. “We want a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about whether we will hold joint discussions,” Harayama demanded before excusing himself to catch his flight home.

The conclusion of the failed alliance won’t be known until a decision is made by the ICC International Court of Arbitration. However, there are some interesting tidbits to take away from the report, such as Suzuki’s want for Volkswagen cars to badge as their own.

At one point in the negotiations, Suzuki hoped VW would supply its Jetta Hybrid sedan and other vehicles through Suzuki’s North American sales network, the documents revealed. Tweaking its own cars to meet American specifications increased Suzuki’s development man-hours by half.

“It is becoming difficult for Suzuki, a company focused on compact cars, to bring together a North American product line sufficient to continue operating a N. American sales network,” Suzuki said in one document before the tie-up that outlined the items it wanted incorporated into a VW agreement. “The development cost burden is heavy.”

If you have a chance (and a subscription to Automotive News), the report is worth a read. However, you might want to read Matt Hardigree’s take on reading business stories immediately after.

 

The post Suzuki Wanted to Sell Re-badged Jetta Hybrid in the US appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-wanted-to-sell-re-badged-jetta-hybrid-in-the-us/feed/ 6
Goodbye, Volkswagen 2.Slow; Oh, Hello New 1.4T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/goodbye-volkswagen-2-slow-oh-hello-new-1-4t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/goodbye-volkswagen-2-slow-oh-hello-new-1-4t/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133617 Volkswagen just took the wrapper off its 1.4-liter turbocharged four cylinder that will replace the 2-liter naturally aspirated noise machine in most of its Jettas, the automaker announced today. The engine will produce 150 horsepower (vs. 115 hp in the outgoing model) and will produce 184 pound-feet of torque (vs. 125 in the old engine) […]

The post Goodbye, Volkswagen 2.Slow; Oh, Hello New 1.4T appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
ea211_14_tsi_engine_5122Volkswagen just took the wrapper off its 1.4-liter turbocharged four cylinder that will replace the 2-liter naturally aspirated noise machine in most of its Jettas, the automaker announced today.

The engine will produce 150 horsepower (vs. 115 hp in the outgoing model) and will produce 184 pound-feet of torque (vs. 125 in the old engine) and highway fuel economy is expected to reach 39 mpg, the automaker said.

The engine uses a small, single-scroll compressor for its turbocharger and an integrated intercooler. The engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual (!) or six-speed automatic.

The small displacement, force-fed engine is roughly related to the EA111 engine, but features a smaller bore and longer stroke. The compact design saves weight and space and Volkswagen engineers hinted that the engine could see further boosting in different applications for the engine in the future.

According to representatives from Volkswagen, the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine should be appearing in dealerships toward the end of August or early September.

The post Goodbye, Volkswagen 2.Slow; Oh, Hello New 1.4T appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/goodbye-volkswagen-2-slow-oh-hello-new-1-4t/feed/ 86
Suzuki May Finally Climb Out From Under VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133577 Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting. The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign […]

The post Suzuki May Finally Climb Out From Under VW appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting.

The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign that a ruling following June’s completion of arbitration is imminent. For years, Suzuki remained “paralyzed” as the procedure slogged on.

Suzuki has a significant automotive presence in emerging markets and India.

Shares of Suzuki jumped in Tokyo trading on the news.

In 2009, when the alliance between Volkswagen and Suzuki was announced, both automakers stood to gain from each other — on paper. Volkswagen would benefit from Suzuki’s growth in emerging markets, including its relationship and distribution in India with Maruti Suzuki. The Japanese automaker could benefit from VW’s vast resources and technology. The relationship soured quickly after.

The remaining issue between VW and Suzuki could be the nearly 20-percent ownership stake the German automaker has in the Japanese automaker. According to Bloomberg, Suzuki may have enough cash on hand to buy back the remaining shares if a London-based arbitration court allows it, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Either way, we could be seeing a lot more of Suzuki — which is still Japan’s fourth-largest automaker, by the way — real soon.

The post Suzuki May Finally Climb Out From Under VW appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/feed/ 10
Ask Bark: Should I Lease a Jetta? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ask-bark-lease-jetta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ask-bark-lease-jetta/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131809 This week’s “Ask Bark” comes from a reader who wants to know if he should prolong his Volkswagen-related madness or start new Volkswagen-related madness. Bark, I have read your articles. I like your style. I know about the fact people ask you for advice on what car to get and then completely ignore it. You’ve […]

The post Ask Bark: Should I Lease a Jetta? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0703 (Large)

This week’s “Ask Bark” comes from a reader who wants to know if he should prolong his Volkswagen-related madness or start new Volkswagen-related madness.

Bark,

I have read your articles. I like your style. I know about the fact people ask you for advice on what car to get and then completely ignore it. You’ve said you won’t respond to that question anymore. I’m about to ask the same question. (WHY GOD WHY??? — Bark) But I really do want your answer.

Fine … here we go.

About me: I’m 32 years old. A lot of my friends and colleagues have BMWs (I’m a software engineer). Most of them don’t use their BMWs for all that they could be; it’s mostly a badge engineering thing.

I consider myself knowledgeable about cars, but fairly relaxed about them as well. I know how to drive a manual, but I’m not great at it.

I live near downtown Seattle and spend a lot of time in traffic commuting to work (20 minutes to an hour away).

I’m 6’3″ and 200 lbs with a physically fit frame. In cars, I tend not to be able to see traffic lights when I’m the first one in line. Trucks tend to not fit in the parking garages nearby me in downtown.

I’ve owned a lot of vehicles (some old and some brand new) and, while I’m very fiscally conservative, I find I go through vehicles every 3 years, so I haven’t really done all that well financially with automobiles. My cars in order have been a 1996 Prelude SI, a 2005 Acura RSX Type-S, a 2007 Toyota Tundra, a 1992 Nissan pickup, a 2007 Honda Pilot and a 2001 VW Passat GLX 4Motion. I liked the RSX the best as it was actually very roomy (love hatchbacks!) and the engine was great, but really didn’t have it all that long because I bought a boat that I needed to haul around. Then I lost my job and started over for a bit before buying the Pilot in an attempt to haul my boat but get better gas mileage (it didn’t). I went with the Passat because the Pilot was actually a lemon, the boat has long since been sold and I wanted something cheap that could get me to the mountains for snowboarding while I paid up my 401k.

Now onto my question (Whew, I was worried that I had missed it in there somewhere).

Fast forward to today, my 401k is happy with my current slot in life and I’m comfortable in the Passat, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. While it has been fairly reliable, unlike what most people think of when they think of VWs, it is still a VW and the maintenance is not cheap. I did the math and it has cost me $3,600 in maintenance over the last 12 months (an engine leak, new tires, spark plugs, wires, brake fluids, transmission flush and oil changes/filters at independent shops rather than the dealer). The previous 12 months (actually 15 months) I owned two vehicles so I don’t have good math as it wasn’t a daily driver. Over the next 12 months I expect a little less, but it’s coming up on needing new brakes all around and what if the old VW curse comes for me.

So, being a guy who likes to try new things, getting a newer car that costs the same or less than I’m spending already makes a ton of sense for me. I’ve come to the realization that I’m never going to be the guy that buys a car and keeps it for 10 years (me either). I’m too fickle for that. I’m not opposed to leasing but I’m also a cheapskate when it comes to leasing. I’d rather pay more a month to consider something mine and be able to sell it later.

I’ve heard multiple sources say you can lease a Jetta for $100 a month right now. A Jetta doesn’t really excite too much (AWD, hatchbacks, all electrics, roofless vehicles and Apple car play excite me much more), but it’s brand new, the reviews aren’t terrible on the 1.8T, the gas mileage is way better and the maintenance should be null. I’m really into the idea of the Model 3 coming out but that’s not for a while longer and I’m tired of being patient.

Doing the math of $100 a month plus a few grand down seems cost-effective from my current standpoint. So all this wordiness being said: Is the Jetta 1.8T with a few added options a better car than a 2001 VW Passat V-6 4Motion? Are there any other cars you would suggest based on my desire to own it for three years and keep the costs lower than $3,000 a year? Should I go buy another RSX and relive my ricer days without any mods this time around?

Sincerely,

A Man Who Should Be Committed (He has a real name, but that’s what I’ve decided to call him based on this letter)

All kidding aside, thank you for your e-mail, sir.

OK, there’s several things to consider here. First of all, thanks for demonstrating the reality of the Modern Day Car Shopper. You’ve owned a hatchback, a couple of pickup trucks and an all-wheel-drive, 14-year-old sedan. Now you’re considering an econobox, or maybe another older hatch. People think that most car shoppers have it narrowed down to just one or two models, but all of the research available today suggests otherwise. In fact, most people actually expand their search to more cars and models as they get closer to the actual purchase event — which is exactly what’s happening here.

Now, let’s talk about your actual question. Is the Jetta 1.8T better than a 2001 VW Passat V6 4Motion? Only in the sense that nearly any 2015 car is going to be better than a vehicle from 2001. The new Jetta is not a particularly fun car to wheel, but the 1.8T at least makes it bearable.

The problem is that I can’t find anything like a $100 a month lease on the 1.8T (I’m sure the B&B will prove me wrong immediately) — it’s the base 2.0 liter engine, manual transmission variety that has the $139 a month lease special with $2,199 down, $1,000 VW cash, and a dealer contribution of $2,167. Trust me when I say that you’re not going to want anything to do with a 2.0. I had that same motor in my MkIII Jetta back in 1994, and it’s not any faster today than it was then.

The 1.8T looks closer to $197 a month with $2,000 down (which is the approximate value of your trade). To get it down to the magic $100 a month, you’re going to have to float a couple grand of additional cash above and beyond your trade. However, VW dealers aren’t exactly ringing the register with any great regularity nowadays, so they might be willing to increase their dealer contribution a little more than usual.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of putting money down on a lease. I’ve done three leases in my day, and I never put down a single dime above and beyond whatever customer cash and/or rebates were available at the time. There’s not much, if any, financial advantage to doing so unless you’ve come into some money and you’re prone to letting cash burn a hole in your pocket. I’d put your trade on the table (or, if you’re not in a hurry, sell it privately for a few hundred more) and that’s it.

The second part of your question: Are there other, better cars that would cost you less than $3,000 a year for the next three years? Abso-effing-lutely, especially given your preference for hatches. At the very same lot where they’re struggling to pay the electric bills, the Golf 1.8T is leasing for $219 a month with the $1,999 down. If you like hatchbacks and VWs, why not get the Golf?

Or how about a Focus? They’re putting $2,000 on the hood right now. You can get a Titanium hatch for less than three grand a year with your trade-in. In fact, you can damn near get an ST. Or, if you’d rather buy, you can get a Focus SE hatch for about $235 a month on a 0 percent, 72-month buy (which is exactly what I’d probably do — whine away about long-term loans, haters).

So here’s the Tough Love portion of this post: Life is too short and money is too precious to spend a freaking cent of it on a car that “doesn’t excite” or of which the reviews “aren’t terrible.” You make good money, you have a good job — why are you punishing yourself? Spend some of that money on something that does excite during that dreadful Seattle commute (my office used to be in Bellevue, so I totally get it). You’re going to be in your car upward of two hours per day sometimes. You like hatchbacks. Why not get one? Besides, the Jetta interior is not a particularly pleasant place to spend that much time, even if it does come with modern conveniences like Bluetooth. Your purchase history doesn’t suggest that you’d be happy in one.

Regarding your RSX idea: When I was your age, making what was probably similar money to what you make now, I realized that I needed to grow up a bit and get a sedan. So I bought a Pontiac G8 GT. If I’d had even the slightest bit of patience with that car, I could still be driving it now and it would still be worth about what I got when I traded it. Alas, I wasn’t. Sometimes I see a G8 GT on the road and I get a little sad that I don’t have one — until I remember that it had major mechanical issues that caused me to be without it for months at a time. Yet, the further I get away from actually having had to drive a Chevy HHR rental for a month because of a parts availability issue, the more I romanticize the idea of the G8 in my mind. Sigh.

Where was I? Oh, right. Buying an RSX. Yeah, don’t do that. The amount of money those things pull on the used car market is downright mind-boggling. Your monthly payment over 36 months for what is now a 10-year-old car would be equal to or greater than a 36-month lease payment on any number of hatches that are just downright better. Yes, at the end of it, you would own it, but at the end of it, you’d also now own a 13-year-old car.

So, here’s the Bark-approved final answer: Don’t get a Jetta 1.8T. Don’t get another RSX. I am really trying hard not to recommend leasing a Fiesta ST, mostly because I don’t think you’d enjoy the harsh suspension and the manual transmission on that commute. So here’s what I’d do: Go drive both a Golf 1.8T automatic (since you apparently have a little VW thing going on) and a Focus Titanium automatic — which are two very different cars — and pick whichever one suits your driving style better. Or, if you can’t stomach the idea of leasing a car for that much money, drive the Focus SE hatch and work the numbers on buying one of those over 72 with 0-percent financing.

Over to you, B&B!

Send your “Ask Bark” questions to barkm302@gmail.com. Bark really has nothing else better to do than answer your questions. I mean, there’s the whole “parenting” thing, and there’s also his actual job. So, maybe he has couple of better things to do than answer your questions, but he’ll do it anyway.

The post Ask Bark: Should I Lease a Jetta? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ask-bark-lease-jetta/feed/ 85
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review (with Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767697 Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system […]

The post 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review (with Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0611

Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system is around $2,600-$3,000 effectively making the Subaru a much better value than the base Volkswagen that is front-wheel drive with a manual. This value proposition is the key to understanding Subaru in general and the Legacy in particular.



By making AWD a core Subaru value, and therefore standard on almost every model, certain costs are unavoidable. How then (or why?) does Subaru give you $3,000 more drivetrain for almost the same base price? Excellent question. The reason is simple: the average shopper has troubles with the concept of value. To be competitive Subaru has to keep their pricing in line with the FWD competition. It’s easier to say “my car has AWD for the same price” than “I know it’s $3,000 more, but we give you AWD and they don’t.”

To keep the MSRP competitive on billboards and pop-up ads, Subaru makes up the difference elsewhere. Building any car in the mainstream segment involves what I jokingly refer to as “cutting corners.” Cash can be saved by strategically placed hard plastics, by skipping a little trim in the trunk, making features optional or streamlining common parts. The trick in this segment is knowing what “corners to cut” and those to leave alone. This is a game that Subaru has been quickly learning. Standard AWD and pricing aside, there’s more about the Legacy that marches to a different drummer.

IMG_0625

Drivetrain
For the uninitiated, almost every modern engine is either an in-line design where the cylinders are lined up in a row, or a “V” engine design where two banks of cylinders interact with a crankshaft at an angle that is either 60 or 90 degrees. Except Porsche and Subaru. Mainly as a nod to nostalgia and uniqueness, these two brands have a dedication to the horizontally opposed, boxer engine. In a boxer design, cylinders are 180 degrees apart in two banks. Four-cylinder boxers are approximately half as long as an inline-four, but considerably wider. Although the boxer design is better balanced than an I-4, the prime benefit to this design has more to do with  the short overall length. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer is good for 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque while the optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer bumps that to 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. The 2.5-liter engine is right in line with the competition but the 3.6-liter lags behind most of the V6 and turbo-four options from the competition. For 2015, both engines are mated to a CVT, although the 2.5 and 3.6 use slightly different transmission internals.

Subaru_Boxer_1

Subaru’s AWD system has more in common with Audi’s traditional Quattro system than the optional AWD systems you find in the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. That’s because the Legacy is the only car in this segment with a longitudinally mounted engine, a mounting choice normally associated with rear-wheel drive vehicles. Like Quattro, Subaru integrates the AWD system and the front differential into the same case as the transmission meaning that the engine and torque converter are entirely in front of the front axle. So, although this layout resembles a RWD layout in a BMW, the weight balance hovers around 60/40 front-to-rear. Subaru likes to advertize the Legacy’s low center of gravity when it comes to handling, but in my opinion the front-heavy weight distribution has more of an impact on the handling than anything else. On the flip side, the overall dimensions of the drivetrain allow the front wheels more room to turn enabling a tighter turning circle than most midsized sedans.

Previous Legacy generations used different AWD systems depending on the transmission and engine choice but 2015 standardizes on Subaru’s latest multi-plate clutch design. Like other systems in the segment the system can lock the clutch pack to send power 50/50 front/rear with no slip and it can direct up to 90 percent of the power to the rear if slip occurs up front. What’s different is the “beefiness” of the clutch pack, this system is designed to send 40 percent of the power to the rear most of the time, while Chrysler’s 200 disconnects the rear axle as often as possible to save fuel and the Ford system defaults to a near 100/0 power split unless slip occurs.

Oil Consumption
Subaru’s new 2.5-liter engine has been the focus of conspiracy theories about oil consumption. Over my nearly 800 miles of driving, the oil level on the dipstick didn’t budge, but I don’t doubt consumption can be higher than some engine designs. First off, the new 2.5-liter engine uses low friction rings and very low viscosity (0W-20) oil. These two design choices invariably lead to higher efficiency and — you guessed it — higher oil consumption. All things being equal, if you add thinner oil and lower friction rings to any engine design, higher oil consumption is a likely byproduct. In addition, the very nature of a horizontally opposed engine may be a causal factor as well. However you feel about the Legacy’s appetite for dinosaur juice, the resulting fuel economy is undeniably high at a combined 30 mpg in the EPA cycle and a very respectable 28.8 mpg in our actual driving sample. Despite being four-wheel-driven, the Legacy is just 1-2 mpg lower than the thriftiest entries in this segment.

IMG_0613

Exterior
Form ultimately must follow function. Even though the Legacy uses longitudinally mounted engines and transmissions, the exterior still sports a long front overhang (like Audis) because of the engine’s location. Thanks to the “squatter” engine design, the hood slopes gently toward the front improving forward visibility. If you notice something un-Subaru in the side profile, you’re probably noticing that this Legacy ditches the frameless window design long associated with Subaru for a more traditional design. The change has a positive impact on wind noise in the cabin.

Borrowing a page from the Fusion’s design book, Subaru decided to give this Legacy a sportier profile with a roofline that starts plunging just after the B-pillar and extends behind the rear wheel. Like the Fusion and 200, which use similar design cues, this style has a direct impact on rear seat headroom. Overall this generation Legacy is far more mainstream than my neighbor’s Legacy GT with the hood scoop and rear wing.

IMG_0618

The rear bumper is a perfect place to see one of the trade-offs for the standard drivetrain. Many vehicles that have single and dual exhaust options use two different bumper moldings but Subaru saves some cash by just using one and inserting a blank in the four-cylinder model. In my mind this is the kind of trade-off that’s worth making for two reasons. The blank is well done (as you can see above) and should you for some reason want to have an exhaust shop upgrade you to a dual exhaust tip look, it’s easier than a bumper swap. In addition Subaru saves a little cash by giving base models steel wheels instead of the alloys found on most base midsize sedans.

IMG_0648

Interior
The same kind of trade-offs can be seen inside the Legacy’s cabin. Base and Premium models lack rear seat air vents, automatic climate control and you’ll find a hair more hard plastic in the cabin than in some of the newer competitors. That said, this Legacy is a definite improvement in terms of interior refinement compared to the last model.

I found front seat comfort to be slightly below average in the base model with the 6-way manual seat, and above average in the 10-way power seat found in Premium and Limited trims. You will find more comfortable seats in the Accord and Altima, but these seats are on par with the Fusion. Another area where costs were recouped is the front passenger seat which is 4-way adjustable only and notably less comfortable than the right seat in top-end trims as a result.

IMG_0657

Because of the roofline’s plunge toward the trunk, headroom is just about as limited as the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. (In other words, if you want AWD, be prepared for a height-restricted back seat.) At 6-feet tall, I had to slouch slightly in the rear to keep my head from touching the ceiling. This profile seems to be a trend in this segment and fewer and fewer midsized sedans have the headroom for six-foot-plus folks in the rear, the Accord and Passat are notable exceptions.

At 15 cubic feet the Legacy’s trunk is a hair smaller than the Camry, Passat, Accord, 200 and Fusion. However, Subaru uses a hinge design that doesn’t consume any trunk space meaning the slightly smaller hold is actually more practical. The Altima still takes top honors in this segment for swallowing multiple 24-inch carry-on sized roller bags in the vertical position.

IMG_0632

Infotainment
The Legacy debuts Subaru’s all-new StarLink infotainment software running on either a 6.1-inch or 7-inch LCD depending on the trim level. The new software brings expanded voice commands, finger gestures, climate control integration, improved USB/iDevice integration and optional navigation. The entire interface is snappier and more refined than Subaru’s previous software, although it still lacks direct voice control over your connected media library a la Ford’s SYNC or Toyota’s Entune. The optional StarLink app for your Android or iOS phone enables streaming audio and unlike some of the competitive apps, it doesn’t make you register and create an account in order to work.

One of the more interesting features of StarLink is unfortunately not supported in the United States: MirrorLink. you can think of MirrorLink as the more open alternative and precursor to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sadly MirrorLink looks to be something consigned to the dustbin, but hopefully this means Subaru will support the other two standards at some point soon. (Note: Although Subaru does not support it in the USA, Subaru owners tell me it does work with a limited number of Android devices.)

IMG_0621

Drive
The Subaru AWD system has a distinct impact on the Legacy’s road manners. Because the system sends 40 percent of the power to the rear without wheel slip, the Legacy is easily the most surefooted and confident on slippery surfaces. [Edit: Shoppers should know that when the temperature drops below approximately 40 degrees fahrenheit winter tires are recommended for optimum traction. AWD does not improve braking or neutral handling but appropriate winter tires will. A FWD car with winter tires will our brake, out handle and likely out accelerate a comparable AWD car with all-season tires in the snow.]

The boxer engine may drop the center of gravity, but it also makes the Legacy just as front-heavy as a V-6 Accord. Like that Accord and every other V-6 front wheel drive sedan, the Legacy feels heavy and reluctant to turn in neutral handling (power-off) situations. Apply power in the corner, and the Legacy feels more neutral and predictable as the car shuttles power to the rear wheels, but the Subaru AWD system does not torque vector in the rear so it’s never going to rotate like a RWD car or an Acura with SH-AWD. The previous generation Legacy 3.6R used a mechanical center differential to give it a slight rear bias, but that has been removed for 2015 in the name of fuel economy.

IMG_0621

Speaking of fuel economy, the Leagcy’s numbers are unexpectedly high. Over the course of a week, I averaged 28.8 mpg in mixed driving with plenty of hill climbing as my commute involves a 2,200-ft mountain pass. Looking back on the recent sedans I’ve tested, the Legacy beat the four-cylinder Camry, tied with the 1.5-liter Fusion, was 1-2 mpg lower than the Passat 1.8T, Altima 2.5 and 4 mpg lower than the Accord with a CVT.

The high fuel economy comes at a slight cost. Subaru’s CVT has a ratio spread of 5.8 (that represents the spread of ratios from low to high, the higher the number the bigger the difference between high and low) which is narrower than most of the other transmissions in this segment. This means that when picking a final drive ratio Subaru had to chose between low end acceleration and fuel economy and they chose the latter. The resulting 14:1 starting ratio is notably higher than the 17.6:1 ratio we find in the four-cylinder Chrysler 200 and explains the Legacy 2.5’s leisurly 8.3 second 0-60 time. Some folks have incorrectly assumed the 2.5-liter boxer is “guttless” at low RPMs, but it really has more to do with this ratio and the torque converter design, as evidenced by the 3.5 second 0-30 time (longer than a Prius). Opting for the 3.6-liter engine certainly adds some scoot, but the big boxer is notably less powerful than the V-6 engines in the competition. Couple that with a tweaked CVT and an even higher starting ratio of 12.8:1 and 3.6R Limited is decidedly sluggish compared to the Fusion’s 2-liter turbo and especially the Chrysler 3.6-liter V-6.

IMG_0636

Subaru’s revised suspension in this generation of Legacy has improved the road manners. While not as soft as the Altima, the Legacy proved to be a smooth highway companion and never seemed upset over broken pavement. This year’s cabin is notably quieter than before in both wind and road noise. This softer side of Subaru translates to plenty of body roll and tip and dive when you’re out on your favorite mountain road, but the Legacy is still firmer than the Altima. The steering rack isn’t as responsive or direct as the Mazda6, Fusion or Accord Sport, opting instead for a middle-of-the-road feel. Subaru has tweaked the suspension further for 2016, but I did not get a chance to sample the change. Although the Mazda6 is not one of the faster options in this segment, it is still the most fun out on a winding road.

In terms of AWD competition, for the 2.5-liter model there simply isn’t any. Ford’s requires you to select the SE or above trims and the 2-liter turbo engine in order to add four-wheel motivation to the Fusion. As a result, the least expensive model is $27,810. Not only is that $6,000 more than a base Subie, the EPA says it’ll cost you $300 a year more to run. Chrysler only bundles AWD with their 3.6-liter V-6, which drops fuel economy to 22 mpg in combined driving and bumps the price tag to $29,562, which is $8,000 more than the base Subaru. On the filp side, the 200 AWD will hit 60 in under 6 seconds, more than a full second faster than the Legacy 3.6R.

IMG_0618

Thanks to high fuel economy and a well chosen feature set, the Legacy 2.5 is a solid alternative to the FWD competition with only few caveats. The 3.6R is another matter. The top end Legacy will set you back 30-large and adding push-button start and navigation bumps this up to around $34,000. For that price, the Chrysler adds real wood trim, ventilated seats, better handling, better performance, heated steering wheel, more comfortable seats, auto high-beams, autonomous parking and a partial LCD instrument cluster.

Taken out of context, the Legacy could seem less than competitive. If you’re looking for the best rear seat accommodations, the highest fuel economy, the best performance or the most luxury features, your future lies elsewhere. But it’ll cost you more and it won’t have AWD. The interesting twist is that even if AWD isn’t terribly important to you, there is little penalty at the pump and almost no price premium at purchase. That means that whether you’re above the snow-belt or not, if you’re looking for one of the best buys in the CamCord segment, drop by your Subaru dealer. If you want the “best AWD family hauler” however, that’s at the 200C AWD from Detroit.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.5

0-60: 8.3

1/4 Mile: 16.2 Seconds @ 87 MPH

Average Economy: 28.8 MPG

IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0610 IMG_0611 IMG_0612 IMG_0613 IMG_0618 IMG_0619 IMG_0621 IMG_0624 IMG_0625 IMG_0626 IMG_0629 IMG_0631 IMG_0632 IMG_0634 IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0639 IMG_0642 IMG_0643 IMG_0648 IMG_0650 IMG_0653 IMG_0657 IMG_0658 IMG_0659

The post 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review (with Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/feed/ 95
Volvo Bringing New V40, S60L to United States http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-bringing-new-v40-s60l-united-states/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-bringing-new-v40-s60l-united-states/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130217 Volvo will bring its smaller, compact-sized V40 wagon, its related crossover and long-wheelbase, Chinese-built S60 sedan to America, Autoblog is reporting. The newest generation of the Volkswagen Golf-sized V40 wagon is being built with the U.S. in mind, Volvo senior vice president Alan Visser told media in the Netherlands. The earliest it could reach the United […]

The post Volvo Bringing New V40, S60L to United States appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Volvo V40 R-Design - model year 2016

Volvo will bring its smaller, compact-sized V40 wagon, its related crossover and long-wheelbase, Chinese-built S60 sedan to America, Autoblog is reporting.

The newest generation of the Volkswagen Golf-sized V40 wagon is being built with the U.S. in mind, Volvo senior vice president Alan Visser told media in the Netherlands. The earliest it could reach the United States would be 2017.

Visser also said the XC40, a compact crossover based on the V40 Cross Country, would make its way to the States shortly after the V40.

It’s unclear what engine would power the V40 in North America. Worldwide, the V40 is powered by a inline, four-cylinder diesel- or gasoline-powered engine. Visser told De Telegraph that the V40 would also be available as a hybrid.

The company also said that it would make available its long-wheelbase version of the S60. The Chinese-built S60L would go on sale later this year in North America and Russia, according to Reuters.

The post Volvo Bringing New V40, S60L to United States appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-bringing-new-v40-s60l-united-states/feed/ 35
Volkswagen Bringing Safety To The People For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-bringing-safety-to-the-people-for-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-bringing-safety-to-the-people-for-2016/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128569 Volkswagen has announced sweeping changes to their suite of tech-driven safety features for the 2016 model year, making a vast array of options available on almost every model within its range. The features, which are currently only available on the Touareg, will trickle down to a number of other models including the Beetle, CC, Jetta, […]

The post Volkswagen Bringing Safety To The People For 2016 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Der neue Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen has announced sweeping changes to their suite of tech-driven safety features for the 2016 model year, making a vast array of options available on almost every model within its range.

The features, which are currently only available on the Touareg, will trickle down to a number of other models including the Beetle, CC, Jetta, Passat and Golf in all its flavors.

Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); the Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist); and an active Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist) system” are all mentioned in the release sent out today by Volkswagen of America.

The changes are also part of a planned upgrade to infotainment systems in Volkswagen vehicles for 2016. The new infotainment system, dubbed MIB II, will bring with it an improved touchscreen display and USB ports to Volkswagen’s most popular models.

You can check out the full changes to Volkswagen’s safety features on their media portal.

The post Volkswagen Bringing Safety To The People For 2016 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-bringing-safety-to-the-people-for-2016/feed/ 31
Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126585 Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting. Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and […]

The post Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting.

Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent for Toyota and VW respectively.

GM was the third-largest automaker with 4.86 million vehicles.

Volkswagen capitalized on a growing European market to help offset softening Chinese sales. Passenger-vehicle sales fell for the first time in two years in China as that country’s economy responds to market volatility.

Sales slumped in South America, some Southeast Asia markets and sales in Russia have dramatically declined, the story points out.

Deliveries in North America increased by only 4.4 percent, the smallest margin since the economic recovery began in 2009.

The report is the latest in the saga of “Who Wants To Be The World’s Largest Automaker?” with VW on pace to take the crown three years before their executives forecasted. In May, it looked as if VW would take silver thanks to its ongoing leadership shuffle, but a resurgent European market may help. Meanwhile, Toyota may make up ground after a 10-percent gain in China in the first half, according to the report.

The post Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/feed/ 21
2015 Volkswagen Jetta TSI SE Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-vw-jetta-tsi-se-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-vw-jetta-tsi-se-review/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1122369 In the space of 48 hours last week, I saw a first-generation Jetta plying its rusty way down the middle lane of a freeway near Columbus, Ohio and I saw some spiky-haired hipster girl driving a fourth-gen Jolf on Interstate 75 north of Lexington, KY. It was a reminder of the Jetta’s uneasy position in […]

The post 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TSI SE Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0703 (Large)

In the space of 48 hours last week, I saw a first-generation Jetta plying its rusty way down the middle lane of a freeway near Columbus, Ohio and I saw some spiky-haired hipster girl driving a fourth-gen Jolf on Interstate 75 north of Lexington, KY. It was a reminder of the Jetta’s uneasy position in the Volkswagen hierarchy. On one hand, it’s the uncoolest of the watercooled VWs, the American-market special loathed by the kind of Euro-fanatics who make up the vast majority of the company’s loyalists in the United States. They view the existence of the Jetta as an open expression of German contempt for Baconator-eating Americans, and the sharp divergence between Jetta and Golf that took place in the sixth generation hasn’t exactly poured oil on the waters.

On the other hand… it’s been the best-selling VW in this country more often than it hasn’t. It’s the official VW of sorority girls, single moms, adventurous empty-nesters, and rental fleets. It’s the Volkswagen we deserve, because we sign on the dotted line for it more often than we do the Golf and the GTI and the Tiguan combined. As such, it deserves a full slate of TTAC reviews. Our Managing Editor, Mark Stevenson, had kind things to say about a loaded-up Jetta TDI, and our good friend and itinerant contributor Blake Z. Rong was less complimentary about the GLI. Which leaves just the infamous “2.slow” 115-horsepower base model and the newly-remixed 1.8 TSI mid-ranger.

I chose the latter for a cheerful little 514-mile jaunt the other night, from just south of Asheville, NC to just north of Columbus, OH. It rained for much of the drive. There was fog. I witnessed the aftermath of three massive accidents, including one semi-trailer that had skidded sideways across one of Interstate 40’s most treacherous segments then flopped over in the median. I had some nontrivial time pressure and I’d already been awake for fifteen hours when I got in the car to begin the trip. Lousy circumstances, to be certain. So how did the Jetta do?


IMG_0705 (Large)

Over the past forty years, VW has become infamous for its Brokeback Mountain-esque inability to quit its old platforms. The Beetle stuck around until 2003, the Mk1 Golf was produced until 2009, the second-generation Passat (Quantum to us) continued to dazzle Chinese buyers until, um, the year before last. No surprise, then, that VW’s decision to continue the Golf unto the seventh generation has yet to apply to the Jetta. Instead, there’s a mild facelift both inside and out for 2015. Perhaps the more important change happened in 2014, under the wide, flat hood: the 170 hp @ 6200 rpm/184 lb-ft@1500-4750 1.8 TSI that shines in the Golf TSI is now standard with the SE trim level. It’s $20,915 as I drove it with the six-speed auto, or $19,815 with a manual transmission.

IMG_0708 (Large)

That’s two or three grand cheaper than a Camry or Accord, and you’ll still get heated cloth seats, Bluetooth capability, sixteen-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, and cruise control for the money. What you will not get is the room and interior furnishings of even the most basic mid-size Japanese-brand car. The Jetta is adequately spacious front and back, and VW’s managed to do a decent job with the steering wheel and the center stack, but there’s no premium feel here. Everything’s bolted together pretty solidly, however, and if a few of the details (like the seat adjuster) feel deliberately cheapened there’s nothing that requires apologies at this price level.

IMG_0716 (Large)

As I headed north from Asheville, I figured that I needed to average just over 70 mph for the entire trip to avoid being late for work the next day. Unfortunately for me, that section of 40 runs through the mountains, and there was heavy rain mixed with sections of thick fog. Traffic was light, but it wasn’t breaking the double-nickel in most places. Immediately the 1.8 TSI earned my affection as it chugged up a succession of four-thousand-foot climbs, usually without requiring the transmission to select fourth. The steering in this car is supposedly electric power assist and it’s fairly light, but I found that incipient scrub against wet pavement was telegraphed pretty well, allowing me to run remarkably quickly through the long, damp curves. A few times I got a bit too enthusiastic and felt the front end slip, but this wasn’t too alarming. Simply reducing throttle caused the car to find its line again.

Down the long hills, I used the indifferent Tiptronic selector to maintain speed, but once I realized how well the brakes were holding up I stopped being so deliberate about shifting. Plus, the Jetta has reasonable grade logic built in and it will avoid upshifting all the way if you’re on a nine-percent hill or similar.

IMG_0715 (Large)

In circumstances like these, the Jetta has some clear advantages over something like an Accord. It’s a bit smaller, a bit more manageable, it has 205-width tires that cut standing water pretty well, the turbo engine/six-speed combination feels more enthusiastic and flexible than the big-bore four/CVT setup you get with a Honda or Nissan. I don’t think I could have made the same kind of time in a Camry or even (shhhhhhh) something like a 535i. So as the road flattened out and I saw the signs for Knoxville, I was feeling good about the Hecho-In-Mexico compact VW.

On a straight and dry freeway, however, the Jetta’s absolutely miserable stereo threatened to erase a lot of that good will. The single-zone climate control that seemed incapable of making subtle adjustments didn’t help either. And though there’s very little aero noise in this car, there’s no shortage of tire rumble, mechanical noise, and booming resonance at various rev ranges. All of a sudden, the extra money for something like an Accord EX seems like a solid return on investment. But the Jetta is no penalty box; it’s simply not quite up to the standards set by larger, more expensive competition.

IMG_0706 (Large)

Over the course of the next three hundred miles I came to respect this car despite the above-mentioned flaws. The ergonomics are correct. The controls respond with appropriate weighting and feedback. The cruise control offers adjustment in both one-and-five-mile-per-hour increments, and though it’s not quite as slick as the way Mercedes-Benz does it, at least the feature is present. The seats look like an experiment in using recycled garbage bags to wrap around low-density foam molds but they failed to aggravate the back injury I suffered at Laguna Seca a few weeks back. Compared to the much more expensive seats in the brand-new Porsche 911 I’d been driving earlier in the day, these cheapo buckets were positively delightful. This kind of stuff matters, you know. Like my old 1990 Fox, the Jetta has the basics right and that shines through despite the low-cost execution.

IMG_0711 (Large)

I would be remiss if I did not mention another particular excellence of this automobile: fuel economy. In the mountains, with full throttle the order of the day far more often than would occur in normal driving, the Jetta TSI reported 34.5 mpg. On the long run from Lexington to Columbus, it reported 38.9. These numbers were approximately confirmed when I refueled over the course of the trip. Given that I was running a flat 85 mph most of the time, that’s positively parsimonious. No Accord or Camry is going to turn in numbers like that unless it has the word “Hybrid” somewhere on the rear fascia. I’d be surprised if the Golf TSI could match it; there’s something to be said for the aerodynamics of three inches more wheelbase and quite a bit of trunk to smooth out the airflow in back. Keep in mind, too, that I never self-consciously drove for fuel economy. Operated in the same fashion, my Accord V6 six-speed typically returns about 25 mpg. Hell, my Honda VFR800 can’t return much better than 40 mpg at a steady 85 mph. So this is a big deal and if gasoline returns to four bucks a gallon outside California — you’ll see people taking it into account.

Thanks in large part to the Jetta’s long range on a single tank, I got home a few minutes earlier than I’d planned, letting me catch a quick nap before work. I felt reasonably rested and pain-free despite the length and conditions of the trip. I couldn’t think of another twenty-grand vehicle that would have done any better in this assignment — but I also didn’t feel even a twitch of joy or delight regarding the 2015 Jetta SE TSI. I’d rather have had a new GTI, but there’s six grand of difference between a stick-shift TSI Jetta and the GTI. At that point, if you’re willing to spend real money, you might as well go the whole hog, import a new Phaeton in a container, and rivet on the VIN from some junkyard’s 2005 basketcase W12. Am I right? Of course I’m right.

If we ever get a Mk7 Jetta, if there is even such a thing in the works, it will no doubt be a better car than this is. For today, however, the price is fair and the performance is more than adequate. So what if it’s the “American VW”. This is America. And for my American road trip, this Mexican VW was just fine.

The post 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TSI SE Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-vw-jetta-tsi-se-review/feed/ 102
Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-2003-vw-passat-w8-4motion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-2003-vw-passat-w8-4motion/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123809 The longstanding joke around modern Volkswagens stems from the widespread illumination of the Check Engine Light — CEL, for short. Forums lament the seemingly overwhelming complexity of the modern People’s Car, all the while mocking. The four-cylinder volume models tend to get the bulk of the bashing, but when VW adds valves and cylinder heads, the complexity goes […]

The post Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
1a0d5137b6854a0bb888d2cfdc707766

The longstanding joke around modern Volkswagens stems from the widespread illumination of the Check Engine Light — CEL, for short. Forums lament the seemingly overwhelming complexity of the modern People’s Car, all the while mocking. The four-cylinder volume models tend to get the bulk of the bashing, but when VW adds valves and cylinder heads, the complexity goes up exponentially.

Certainly, Meatloaf sang of a Mk3 Jetta in his timeless classic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” even though the Dasher was on the showroom floor when the record hit shelves.

It’s a shame, really. Modern VeeDubs are wonderful driving cars when working right. Jack loved the big Phaeton so much he owned two. This Passat calls to me. $5500 for a midsize, all-wheel-drive wago, with an eight cylinder engine? This dad would love heading to soccer practice in the big VW, especially with a custom exhaust fitted like the one below:

Of course, if I were feeling particularly flush, this thirty-thousand-mile example for $20,000 would be tempting.

Alas, these big, complex engines come with a price. Maintenance is, at best, pricey; at worst, debilitating. Take a look at the timing chain setup. Theoretically, timing chains should require less work/maintenance than a belt, but the plastic tensioners wear. Note that this view is typically right against the firewall, meaning the engine needs to come out.

TimingChain-W8-sm

The newest cars, especially those on the MQB platform, seem much improved. Ditto the oilburners — they don’t seem to be plagued with the problems of petrol-powered Volkswagens. But, every time I’m tempted by the stunning looks of an older VW, I’m reminded of the below flowchart, found on yet another forum.

The post Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-2003-vw-passat-w8-4motion/feed/ 103
2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI Review – Hold Right There http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-tdi-review-hold-right-there/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-tdi-review-hold-right-there/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1122873 Great. Another diesel Volkswagen. This time it’s the Golf SportWagen — a car every enthusiast said, “I’d buy that with real, non-Internet money.” We all know exactly how this is going to go: The Golf is better than the Jetta. The Golf SportWagen is better than the 5-door Golf if you have two kids and […]

The post 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI Review – Hold Right There appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (1 of 14)

Great. Another diesel Volkswagen. This time it’s the Golf SportWagen — a car every enthusiast said, “I’d buy that with real, non-Internet money.”

We all know exactly how this is going to go:

  • The Golf is better than the Jetta.
  • The Golf SportWagen is better than the 5-door Golf if you have two kids and a dog.
  • The 1.8 TSI is more fun than the 2.0 TDI.
  • The 2.0 TDI is more efficient than the 1.8 TSI, but not enough to justify the increased MSRP when fuel prices are low.
  • You should get the manual if you can.
  • Stop buying Tiguans and get the Golf SportWagen instead. (Never mind. Nobody’s buying Tiguans.)
  • You should also buy this if you care about manuals and wagons and diesels, especially as a package. (Brown is for Luddites.)

It’s with these points in mind I plunged into a week-long test of the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen — just a mere two weeks after driving the Jetta TDI.

And as much as I like it — really, really like it — the long-roof Golf is hard to justify for exactly two reasons.


The Tester

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI SEL [USA]/Sportwagon Highline [Canada]

Engine: 2-liter DOHC I-4, turbodiesel with intercooler, direct injection (150 horsepower @ 3,500-4,000 rpm, 236 lbs-ft @ 1,750-3,000 rpm)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, DSG with Tiptronic

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 31 city/42 highway/35 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 39.9 mpg, approx. 70-percent city driving with a light foot

Options (U.S.): Lighting Package, Driver Assistance Package.
Options (Canada): Multimedia Package (includes bi-xenon headlights with AFS, 5.8-inch touchscreen audio with navigation, 8-speaker Fender premium audio, forward collision warning system, LED daytime running lights).

As Tested (U.S.): $33,995 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $38,120 (sheet)


But, before we get to that, let’s talk about the car in a vacuum.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (8 of 14)

Exterior
The Golf SportWagen (U.S., in Canada it’s called Golf Sportwagon … like the actual word … in English) replaces the Jetta wagon in Volkswagen’s American lineup. The wagonified compact earns its new name by being more closely related to the Golf than the Jetta this time around. Underneath its sheet metal is Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform shared with the current 3- and 5-door Mk7 Golf and Audi A3.

Thanks to a more modern platform, the Golf SportWagen is roughly 134 pounds lighter than the outgoing Jetta Wagon — and that’s with a longer, wider body. The long-roof Golf is 1.1 inches longer and 0.7 inches wider than the Jetta it replaces, though Volkswagen does make a point to mention the new wagon’s roof is 1.1 inches lower than its predecessor, possibly reducing the car’s frontal area.

The execution of the Golf SportWagon is at odds to the Charger I drove the week before. The Dodge looks completely different from its predecessor despite using the same platform, while the Volkswagen somehow looks more similar to its predecessor even while riding on a whole new platform.

Up front, the SportWagen is all Golf. Put the two side by side and there isn’t much difference. The headlights in our tester were fitted with LED daytime running lights that show up much better in person than they do in pictures on a rainy day. Below the bumper skin is a tiny square, hidden away, that houses the radar gear needed for the adaptive cruise control and other semi-autonomous and safety features. I must say that Volkswagen does a hell of a lot better job at hiding their new-fangled techno gear than most others (FCA and Hyundai, I’m looking at you two).

Around back, the SportWagen receives its own sheet metal and taillights that are tenfold more appealing than the old Jetta wagon. The taillamps festooned to the rear of the Jetta were quite rounded off and lacked even a modicum of personality. The new SportWagen says, “Yes, I’m practical, but I’m oh-so sharp at the same time.”

From the side, the SportWagen does the long-roof body style justice by keeping the D-pillar fairly upright and the lines as simple and cohesive as possible. This is no Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon and it shouldn’t pretend to be. The bright, deep shade of Silk Blue Metallic paint is enough to call attention to this long-wheelbase Golf. Other than the color, the Golf makes no sporting boasts, though the wheels are a tad much.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (11 of 14)

Interior
Inside is the same as any other Golf — good materials, well-planned design, simple dials, decent controls, all wrapped around a cheap infotainment display with crummy navigation and limited media input options — but more on that later.

When you run through a new car every week and have to wash each one, you notice some cars are much, much easier to keep tidy than others. The SportWagen only asked for a simple microfiber cloth to bring luster to the shiny plastic bits and dusting the remaining dash was a breeze.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (12 of 14)The instrument panel is clear and easy to read — thank you, Volkswagen, for getting rid of the stupid, retina-searing blue lighting accents that left ghosts in our vision — and the driving position was perfect for my 6-foot-1-inch frame. The seats are comfortable but nothing to write home about.

But, if there’s one gold star to be given to the SportWagen — and this applies to the Jetta and Golf as well — it’s for visibility. Volkswagen has figured out how to keep passengers safe without lifting belt lines to a driver’s pupils, and that’s doubly important when driving a low vehicle with a large interior volume and a rear window that’s seemingly eleventy billion feet away from your rear-view mirror. This enhanced visibility also contributes to a very open, airy feeling in the cabin.

Infotainment
Remember when I said there are two reasons that make justifying a Golf SportWagen difficult? This is one of them.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (14 of 14)I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you have a modern phone that doesn’t use the old-style iPod/iPhone connector and you don’t need a Volkswagen right freakin’ now, wait until next year. There is supposed to be a better infotainment system and actual, honest-to-goodness USB ports.

Let me be clear: If you buy a Jetta, Golf, or any Volkswagen with this red-headed stepchild combination of haphazard technology and later complain about how much it sucks in the comments, I will link to this review each and every time screaming, “I told you so!” before throwing you to the rest of the B&B. The combination of no USB ports and a sub-par infotainment system in a modern car, especially one in the $30,000 range, is inexcusable in 2015.

Another niggle is the process you’re forced to go through to pair a phone or media device via Bluetooth. You, the driver, must use the steering wheel controls and instrument panel display to pair phone and audio devices instead of the center touchscreen used by every other automaker. Before you say, “Mark, I only ever paired my phone to the car once … when I first bought it,” this design introduces a problem for those of us who have passengers who want to connect their own devices as the driver is then forced to perform pairing process. Expect to see this functionality move to MIB II’s center touchscreen for MY2016 — though, by then, you won’t need it because Volkswagen will finally provide USB ports along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Drivetrain
Just like the diesel Jetta from weeks ago, diesel hesitation from a standing start is evident in the Golf SportWagen as well. Thanks to almost no initial torque from Volkswagen’s turbocharged compression-ignition four cylinder, the Golf is slow off the line until the snail starts to spin. It’s unnerving in the beginning, but you can compensate for it after a couple of days.

The six-speed DSG automatic is the same as the Jetta TDI, too. Crisp shifts are the norm and there’s no driveability issues outside of those detailed above.

The fuel economy surprised me. Even with all the additional weight of the wagon metal, the Golf still nearly crested 40 mpg with minimal effort.

However — and this is a big however — I’d still have the turbocharged, gas-fed 1.8 TSI instead. Unless you are clocking massive mileage or have an unrestrained desire to burn fryer fat on Oregon, the 1.8 TSI is more fun, delivers improved driveability and costs less initially. Also, I’d have the manual, just because.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (7 of 14)

Drive
You know what? As much as journalists admonish the Jetta and heap praise upon the Golf, Volkswagen has taken strides in making the refreshed Jetta a much more compelling proposition. So much so that — and I expect to get a bit of flack for this — the Golf isn’t really that much better than the Jetta, or at least not enough to justify the higher price.

If you were led to each car, the Golf SportWagen TDI and Jetta TDI, blindfolded, and asked to rate which one is better, 95 percent of the buying public would simply shrug and say, “They’re both good to me.”

The Golf SportWagen TDI suffers from the same off-the-line latency as its diesel sedan counterpart. They both have competent suspensions, but both feel a bit heavy, probably due to the big diesel lump at the front. Both testers had brakes you needed to lean on before they’d really grab those discs.

And this is a great segue into the second reason to not get a SportWagen.

Unless you really, really want a wagon, get a Jetta. Now, you probably noticed I didn’t say Golf, and there’s a reason for that, too.

The Golf SportWagen is, like DR Period says, “money”. One cannot simply ignore the massive bargain for which a Jetta can be had. If you are looking to get a car today, go out and lease a cheap Jetta for next to nothing, wait out the term, and go back to the Volkswagen dealer to see what improvements have been made in three years. This is a good solution for the aforementioned infotainment/USB problem above, as well. It gives you the car you need now — even though it might not necessarily be the one you want — and you bridge the gap to newer, better product at a cost that amounts to lint-covered pocket change.

So, there you have it: the best Golf SportWagen TDI is a diesel Jetta. You’re welcome.

The post 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI Review – Hold Right There appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-tdi-review-hold-right-there/feed/ 104
Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118545 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality. Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors. FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, […]

The post Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
FCA US HQ

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors.

FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, including the Fiat 500 and 500e; Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango; and, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

While FCA took the top spot this year, General Motors and Volkswagen followed closely behind, tying for second place, one point behind FCA on a 1,000-point scale.

According to Strategic Vision, 46,000 consumer responses were used for the study, which rated consumer satisfaction along with problems in each vehicle. The Mini Cooper Roadster earned the highest score among new cars. Land Rover was tops among luxury automakers, Ram was first among non-luxury automakers.

BMW had six segment winners including the i3, 3-Series Wagon, X4 and X5; Mini Cooper Roadster and Countryman.

According to the Detroit News, the Total Quality Index study comes out less than a week before the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout survey that last year ranked all FCA brands below industry average.

Of course, TTAC has never really been a big fan of the report anyway.

 

The post Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/feed/ 62
What A Short, Strange Truck It Was – Air-Cooled VW Pickups http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/short-strange-truck-air-cooled-vw-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/short-strange-truck-air-cooled-vw-pickups/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114441 It’s funny how it sometimes takes a while to recognize something familiar. In the mid-1980s, when my daily driver was a slightly hi-po’d 1972 VW Type 2, I was driving a work vehicle from the Detroit area to Toledo to pick up a part. As I drove down I-75 and got closer to Ohio, I noticed one […]

The post What A Short, Strange Truck It Was – Air-Cooled VW Pickups appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0069

It’s funny how it sometimes takes a while to recognize something familiar. In the mid-1980s, when my daily driver was a slightly hi-po’d 1972 VW Type 2, I was driving a work vehicle from the Detroit area to Toledo to pick up a part. As I drove down I-75 and got closer to Ohio, I noticed one Volkswagen Bus traveling north in the opposite direction — and then another. “That’s unusual,” I thought. By then air-cooled Vee Dubs weren’t terribly common, and *Transporters were less common than Beetles. Then a Vanagon passed by, but, as I said, this was the 1980s and Vanagons were still being sold new and didn’t think much about it until I saw a few more Type 2s, including some older split-windows. Was there a VW club convention going on? I once drove to Cincinnati and I passed a large group of MG enthusiasts on their way to a meet.

I didn’t reach facepalm status till I’d gotten off the interstate onto a county road to my destination. That’s when I saw a wildly painted, 1950s vintage International Harvester school bus — also traveling north — festooned with big decals of roses, broken wheels and skulls. Not fast enough to keep up at highway speeds, it was using the slower two lane roads. “Ah, that’s right, we have tickets to see the Grateful Dead at Pine Knob tonight.”

IMG_0078

That night, when we pulled into the parking lot at the concert we parked amidst a row of Buses. Over in the part of the Dead parking lot scene called Shakin’ Street, where all the T-shirts, food and chillum vendors were, even more Type 2s were parked. I’m guessing that the guy who managed to shoehorn a propane-fired commercial pizza oven into his Bus back then may now be operating a food truck in San Francisco, or he’s retired.

IMG_0079

Over the Independence Day weekend just past, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead put on a series of farewell concerts at Chicago’s Soldier Field, so maybe this is an appropriate time to do a post on VW Type 2s. Say the phrase “hippie bus” to someone and they’re more likely to visualize a VW Bus than something like Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ Further, kin to that IH struggling to make it out of Ohio. Pixar’s animated “Cars” movie features a VW Bus named Fillmore, a hippie voiced by George Carlin. The VW Bus was so closely associated with the Grateful Dead and its fans, that when Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack (while in rehab for his longtime heroin addiction) in 1995, Volkswagen published memorial advertisements featuring a drawing of a split-window VW Bus shedding a tear.

volkswagen-jerry-garcia-small-20486

Jerry Garcia was still in elementary school when Dutch VW importer Ben Pon originated the idea of a van based on the Type I Beetle. Postwar Europe was rebuilding and there was a need for small commercial vehicles. The Type 2 was introduced in 1949 in both panel van and passenger “Kombi” versions. In 1952, a single cab pickup was introduced. The sides of the pickup bed were hinged, to aid in loading and also let it function as a flat-bed if needed. There was additional enclosed storage under the bed, in front of the rear mounted powertrain. In 1956 the double cab pickup was added to the lineup, later to be followed by one with a wider bed. All in all, more than 30 variants of the Type 2 were made.

IMG_0167

By the time members of Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions morphed into the Warlocks and then started playing in the band known as the the Grateful Dead in 1965, those commercial VW vehicles were becoming rare. Kombis and Westphalia campers were as popular as ever, but VW was scaling back on its commercial vehicle sales in the United States. That’s because in the early 1960s, to protect their domestic farmers, France and Germany enacted tariffs on chickens imported from the United States. At the time, Volkswagens were some of the more visible German imports in the States so in late 1963, President Lyndon Johnson retaliated with tariffs on brandy to get back at the French and on light commercial vehicles to get back at the Germans. Also, the UAW lobbied for the so-called “Chicken Tax” as a way of reducing competition with trucks made by their members. Within a year, VW commercial vehicle sales in the U.S. dropped by two-thirds. By the end of the decade, VW stopped importing non-passenger Type 2s entirely.

A generation of shade tree mechanics learned to wrench from How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. Here, an owner shows how easy it is to replace an exhaust gasket.

A generation of shade tree mechanics learned to wrench from How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. Here, an owner shows how easy it is to replace an exhaust gasket.

As a result, air-cooled Volkswagen panel pickup trucks are pretty rare on this side of the pond these days, particularly the pickups. The “bay window” versions introduced in 1968 are even rarer. Well, that is, unless you’re at a vintage Volkswagen show. The annual Vintage VW show held in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park is one of those events that’s penciled in for my attendance every year, otherwise I’d lose some oddball car cred. This year, instead of checking out grey-market Mexican Beetles, I concentrated on the pickups. My intention was to write about how rare they are but in reality they were far from the rarest vehicles there. The show had only one Type 34 Karmann Ghia on display while there were about a half dozen different pickups, single and double cabs, including a 1968 double cab, which has to be very rare in the United States

Deadheads and movies like “Little Miss Sunshine” and the aforementioned “Cars” have kept the iconic vehicle, well, an icon. A 23-window, split-window Samba sold for over $200,000 at Barrett-Jackson a few years back and ever since then VW Buses have started fetching silly money. A 21-window 1960 Kombi sold for $150,000 in February in Australia.

IMG_0172

Even vintage commercial VW vehicles are appreciating in value. You can probably expect to pay five figures for a vintage VW pickup in nice shape. If  you’re just looking for something fun to play with you can find a driver with some rust for much less. This very rare ’74 DoKa (for DoppelKabine, double cab) on Hemmings’ site looks to be a very nice 65K survivor with a rebuilt engine, but it’s also almost $23,000. This ’68 double cab at eBaymotors with an as-yet uncompleted restoration has a buy-it-now price of $22K.

*About nomenclature. Officially it was the Type 2, the Beetle being a VW Type 1, and VW called it the Bulli when it was introduced, and that applied to both passenger and commercial versions. It seems that Kombi was used for passenger versions. Samba was a high-trim version of the 21- and 23-window Buses. Transporter was also used, though that nameplate has lived beyond the Type 2, with both the Vanagon and Eurovan wearing that designation.

(Author’s note: It’s off topic to this post, but there’s another automotive connection to the Grateful Dead. In the song Sugar Magnolia, lyricist Robert Hunter wrote the lyric, “jump like a Willys in four-wheel drive.” Bob Weir always sings it the way most people pronounce Willys, like Will-ease, but Willys founder John Willys is said to have articulated his name as Will-is.)

Photos by the author. You can see the full galleries here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options.

 

The post What A Short, Strange Truck It Was – Air-Cooled VW Pickups appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/short-strange-truck-air-cooled-vw-pickups/feed/ 24
Contrast: Volkswagen’s U.S. Outpost Struggles As Volkswagen Canada Booms http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/contrast-volkswagens-u-s-outpost-struggles-volkswagen-canada-booms/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/contrast-volkswagens-u-s-outpost-struggles-volkswagen-canada-booms/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1111905 Following 18 consecutive months of year-over-year decline, U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand have improved in six of the last nine months. Yet those U.S. sales improvements send up deceiving smoke signals. While Volkswagen’s volume increased 6 percent in June, for example, the brand’s 30,436-unit total represented an 18-percent drop compared with June 2013 and […]

The post Contrast: Volkswagen’s U.S. Outpost Struggles As Volkswagen Canada Booms appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
02 Volkswagen Golf family

Following 18 consecutive months of year-over-year decline, U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand have improved in six of the last nine months.

Yet those U.S. sales improvements send up deceiving smoke signals. While Volkswagen’s volume increased 6 percent in June, for example, the brand’s 30,436-unit total represented an 18-percent drop compared with June 2013 and a 20-percent decrease compared with June 2012.

In fact, on the six occasions during the last nine months that U.S. Volkswagen-brand sales improved, sales were lower — distinctly lower – than they were at the same time two years ago. Statisticians may call it a dead-cat bounce or a return to the norm. You can call it a 3 percent year-over-year decline through the first-half of 2015 and U.S. market share of just 2 percent.

Elsewhere in North America, the story is markedly different. Volkswagen is a hugely forceful brand in Mexico, where VW’s market share through the first five months of 2015 stood at 14 percent. Across the northern border of America, Volkswagen is the fastest-growing volume brand through the halfway point of 2015. Volkswagen sales in Canada are up 21 percent so far this year, and the brand’s market share is precisely twice as strong in Canada as it is in the U.S.

Comparisons with the Mexican market are indirect at best. The product lineups don’t actually line up, for starters, and the industry is, on a per capita basis, comparatively tiny. But there are great similarities between the U.S. and Canadian markets, including the product portfolio in VW showrooms on both sides of the border.

So how does Volkswagen Canada fare so much better than Volkswagen of America? Ignoring the obvious themes of pricing schemes, general acceptance in the populace, and demand for diesel (topics we’ve touched on in the past), consider the achievements of specific vehicles which now propel VW Canada to new heights and fail to do anything of the sort for VW USA.

The Jetta, Golf, and Tiguan produce 84 percent of Volkswagen’s sales in Canada. In the U.S., that figure is 20 points lower, and the Tiguan is barely Volkswagen’s fourth-best-selling model.

Keep in mind that the U.S. new vehicle market is nine times larger, as is the SUV/crossover market, but the U.S. passenger car market is nearly eleven times larger than Canada’s.

01 Volkswagen Jetta

THE JETTA
As it is the United States, the Jetta sedan is Volkswagen’s best seller in Canada. But the Jetta is only America’s 20th-best-selling car — it ranks sixth in Canada, where all of the midsize cars which outsell the Jetta in the U.S. are far less popular. But Canadian Jetta volume is falling. Sales are down 8 percent this year. That’s in keeping with market trends, as seven of Canada’s eight-best-selling cars are in decline.

A total of 15,053 Jettas have been sold in Canada so far this year. Jetta sedan sales in the U.S. are 4.3 times stronger at 64,578 units. (Volkswagen USA has also sold 2,440 Jetta SportWagens as the wagon transitions to the Golf family, a nameplate it already wore in Canada.) Jetta sedan sales in the U.S. are down 2 percent after rising 0.1 percent in 2014, falling 4 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2012. In Canada, 2014’s record-setting performance marked the Jetta’s fifth consecutive year sales improvement.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI white

 

THE GOLF
Golf sales in the U.S. have steadily increased since the Mk7 car was introduced last year. It’s true: demand for compact cars is certainly greater, per capita, in Canada. U.S. compact car volume is only 6.6 times stronger, a much smaller differential than we see in the car market as a whole. But total Golf sales aren’t quite three times as strong in the much larger U.S. market than they are in Canada, where the Golf is now the eighth-best-selling car.

Only 2.5 percent of the new cars sold in the United States are Jettas and Golfs. The same two cars produce 6.7 percent of the Canadian car market, more than any other car save for the Honda Civic, Canada’s best-selling car in each of the last 17 years, and the Toyota Corolla. Volkswagen USA only sells around 3,240 non-GTI Golfs per month. In the much smaller Canadian market, that figure falls just 54 percent.

03 Volkswagen Tiguan

THE TIGUAN
SUV and crossover sales are booming on both sides of the border, but the Tiguan is a niche player in the United States and an increasingly popular component in the Canadian SUV/crossover sector. Every month, Americans buy approximately 483,000 utility vehicles, of which 0.5 percent are Tiguans. U.S. Tiguan sales have declined in each of the last two years after peaking in 2012 at a paltry 31,731 units. So far this year, Tiguan volume is up, but only to the tune of 4 percent. U.S. Tiguan volume is just 2.4 times stronger than Canadian Tiguan volume.

In Canada, the Tiguan’s share of the SUV/crossover market is nearly four times stronger than it is south of the border. Tiguan sales have increased in Canada in each of the last three years, reaching an all-time high of 10,096 units in 2014. 5,613 have been sold in the first-half of 2015, a 10-percent increase compared with the first six months of 2014. The Tiguan is Canada’s 15th-best-selling utility vehicle through the first-half of 2015; it ranks 51st in the United States.

THE OTHER STUFF
As for VW’s other models, Beetle volume matches the size of the respective markets, with U.S. sales nine times greater than in Canada.

Passat/CC sales are 14 times stronger in the U.S. than in Canada, but the U.S. midsize car market is actually 20 times the size of Canada’s.

Touareg sales are only three times stronger in the U.S.

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 and on Facebook.

The post Contrast: Volkswagen’s U.S. Outpost Struggles As Volkswagen Canada Booms appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/contrast-volkswagens-u-s-outpost-struggles-volkswagen-canada-booms/feed/ 76
Volkswagen Wants to Combine Valet Parking and EV Charging [Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-wants-combine-valet-parking-ev-charging-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-wants-combine-valet-parking-ev-charging-video/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 19:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115249 In its quest to take over the world, Volkswagen wants to automate parking and charging your electric vehicle at the mall and other public places where searching for a spot to put your car is an absolute pain. Dubbed V-Charge, which is short for Valet Charge, it’s a collection of technologies — including your smartphone — […]

The post Volkswagen Wants to Combine Valet Parking and EV Charging [Video] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Volkswagen V-Charge Valet and Charging

In its quest to take over the world, Volkswagen wants to automate parking and charging your electric vehicle at the mall and other public places where searching for a spot to put your car is an absolute pain.

Dubbed V-Charge, which is short for Valet Charge, it’s a collection of technologies — including your smartphone — that allows you to pull up to the door of your favorite shop, tell your car to go park itself and then have it retrieved automatically with a (nearly) full charge (depending on how many pairs of shoes the missus tries on).

The project has six German and international partners, says Volkswagen, and could be implemented at current car parks with minimal work.

In short, the vehicle is dropped off in a valet area where the driver would then tell the car to drive into the car park and find a spot. The V-Charge infrastructure would then direct the vehicle to a spot with inductive charging if it needs an electrical top-up. Once fully charged, V-Charge would direct the car to another spot within the building to free up the inductive charging space for another car needing electricity.

The concept does make one assumption: that we still value car ownership and we want the same one back.

The post Volkswagen Wants to Combine Valet Parking and EV Charging [Video] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-wants-combine-valet-parking-ev-charging-video/feed/ 2
Hunt for New VW Chairman May Go into 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hunt-new-vw-boss-may-go-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hunt-new-vw-boss-may-go-2016/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 16:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114585 The search to replace former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech may stretch into next year, Reuters is reporting. Piech left Volkswagen in April after a showdown with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, who is still a candidate for the top position. Piech led VW for more than two decades and is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Interim chairman Berthold Huber is expected to […]

The post Hunt for New VW Chairman May Go into 2016 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ferdinand-Piech

The search to replace former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech may stretch into next year, Reuters is reporting.

Piech left Volkswagen in April after a showdown with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, who is still a candidate for the top position. Piech led VW for more than two decades and is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.

Interim chairman Berthold Huber is expected to remain in the position at least until the end of 2015.

Reuters detailed the list of candidates who may ultimately replace Piech after the search is over.

Alongside Winterkorn, Ferdinand Oliver Porsche — great-grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, and nephew of supervisory board member Wolfgang Porsche — is also considered to be a candidate for Volkswagen’s top spot.

Wolfgang Porsche reportedly removed himself from consideration for the job, as did works council president Bernd Osterloh. Osterloh recently called for a slimmer management structure at the massive German automaker.

Huber is not considered to be in the running to permanently replace Piech. 

The post Hunt for New VW Chairman May Go into 2016 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hunt-new-vw-boss-may-go-2016/feed/ 8
2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-beetle-1-8t-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-beetle-1-8t-review-video/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1103201 Once upon a time, Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle sold primarily on its low sticker price, durability reputation and ease of maintenance. VW’s new Bug, however, sells on retro style and a healthy dollop of nostalgia. The Bug before us today is the second generation “New Beetle” first resurrected in Europe as a 1998 model based on VW’s […]

The post 2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Review (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-003

Once upon a time, Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle sold primarily on its low sticker price, durability reputation and ease of maintenance. VW’s new Bug, however, sells on retro style and a healthy dollop of nostalgia.

The Bug before us today is the second generation “New Beetle” first resurrected in Europe as a 1998 model based on VW’s Golf and A3 platform. It was then redesigned for 2012, sharing its bones with the MK5 Golf and Jetta.

Redesigning retro is always tricky. This explains why the original Bug barely changed over the years and why the other retro-flashbacks like the PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR turned into one-hit wonders. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade Herbie in for a new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. Either way you slice it, retro comes at a cost.

Exterior
The original “New Beetle” rocked cutesy-bubbly good looks, headlamps that screamed for aftermarket eye-lashes, tail lamps that begged to be flower-powered and a bud vase built into the dash. VW’s second take on the retro-bug is deliberately more masculine, or so I’m told. The classic fender bulges and retro-inspired wheels are still here, but this bug is longer, wider, and lower than ever before. Making this profile semi-circular like the last gen model would have been tricky since it’s nearly half a foot longer, so they didn’t even try. Instead the engineers penned a kink where the windshield meets the roof for a more traditional roofline up front. The changes make Herbie look like a bug that’s been stepped on slightly or stretched in the middle — take your pick.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-006

The 2015 model is still instantly recognizable as a Bug, but I think I actually miss the “cutsey” new bug’s overall style. The new front bumper seems especially out-of-place as it exaggerates the front overhang and the crisp creases don’t jibe with the oval lamps and bubbly fenders. The design struck me as a paradox: It is as conservative as we expect from Volkswagen, but slightly discordant with the rest of their product line. For a manufacturer known for elegant, restrained and monolithic styling, the Beetle strikes me as almost cartoonish. Almost. VW offers a fix, however: the Beetle drop-top. By removing the lid, the Beetle loses the “squashed” look and somehow gains rear headroom as well.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-007

Interior
The interior borrows parts from the corporate bin and wraps them in retro styling. We get plenty of painted plastic trim and two glove boxes as a nod to the past. If you’ve recently taken VW’s new Golf out for a spin, you should know that this Beetle is related to the 2015 Jetta, not the 2015 Golf and Audi A3. This means you find plenty of hard plastics inside, and the cabin doesn’t have the “discount Audi” feel you find in VW’s hot hatch. Is that a problem? Not necessarily. The Golf has an unusually nice interior for its base price tag and the Beetle is merely class average. Of course, the Beetle is also an odd product to classify as its only real retro competition comes from the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.

Even on our loaded 1.8T tester ($27,805), VW decided not to borrow the Jetta’s power seats or automatic climate control. Although I found the front seats comfortable for my body shape, the range of motion is limited compared to other compacts. The Bug’s rear seats have become a tad more spacious in this generation, but should still be considered “emergency” seats due to limited leg room. Headroom is tight in the rear, but suitable for folks under 6-feet tall. Compared to the internal competition, you’ll find about 4-inches more rear legroom in the 3-door Golf and nearly 8 inches more in the Jetta sedan. If that surprises you, then you may also be surprised to hear that the Fiat 500 actually gives you more rear legroom than the VW, although cargo room is unquestionably more limited.

Once upon a time, you couldn’t get leather in your Beetle and we’ve come full circle to your choice of cloth or V-Tex leatherette — VW-speak for pleather. Of course, the Beetle is all about retro styling and that’s most apparent in the Classic trim, which is well equipped, bargain priced, and comes upholstered in checkered cloth and brown pleather.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Infotainment

Infotainment
No, our tester didn’t come with a CB radio, but there is something retro about VW’s long-serving infotainment systems. Base models get an AM/FM radio, single CD player, Bluetooth and VW’s MDI interface for iDevice/USB integration. In an odd twist, the new Beetle Classic trim and the top-end trim get VW’s touchscreen navigation head unit while the middle two models do not.

The 5-inch touchscreen is shared with the Jetta and, at this point, is far from a spring chicken. Compared to the latest offerings from the competition, VW’s nav system is slow, less polished, less intuitive and the screen is small. Although the 2015 Golf uses a newer system, the one you really need to wait for is the 2016 “MIB II” system with its larger screen and thoroughly modern software package — but it is expected to feature on other VW models before the Beetle. On the bright side, the optional 9-speaker Fender audio system is totally groovy.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8L Turbo Engine-001

Drivetrain
I never really minded the odd-ball 2.5L five-cylinder VW used to put under the Beetle’s hood, but there is no denying the new 1.8L turbo is a huge improvement. Also found under the hood of the Golf, Jetta and Passat, the 1.8L engine cranks out a respectable 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. Making the 1.8T even more attractive, all 184 lb-ft happen at just 1,500 RPM. Classic models come only with an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transaxle while other trims start with a five-speed manual. Opting for the slushbox will give you the best gasoline fuel economy at an EPA rated 25 MPG city and 33 highway.

Also shared with the Jetta is the Beetle’s refreshed 2.0L turbo diesel, good for 160 horsepower and 238 lb-ft of torque. Although it’s a little slower than the 1.8L gasoline turbo, acceleration is aided by a standard six-speed manual and an optional six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (DSG) transmission.

If neither of those drivetrains float your boat, you can still get the Beetle R-Line with the last generation GTI’s 2.0L turbo engine with 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of twist. All those ponies are routed to the front wheels via the same six-speed DSG as the TDI model or a slightly tweaked six-speed manual.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Backup Camera

Drive
Out on the road, the differences between the Jetta, Golf and Beetle are readily apparent. The Beetle is noisier, more softly sprung and slightly slower than the all-new Golf hatchback. Comparisons to the more closely related Jetta are again a little more appropriate than with the Golf. When driven hard, the Beetle exhibits predictable dynamics with plenty of body roll and protest from the tires. At just under 3,000 pounds, the Beetle isn’t a heavy car for the 21st century, but neither is it overly light. A similarly equipped Jetta is a hair lighter despite being longer and the new VW Golf weighs about 100 lbs less. To put that in perspective, the Fiat 500, which could be seen as the only real competitor in this price bracket, is nearly 500 pounds lighter. (The Fiat is, of course, much smaller.) Handling improves on the top-end 1.8T model thanks to wider 235/45R18 tires all the way around, but you’ll need to step up to the R-Line before suspension changes address the soft springs our tester wore.

Acceleration in the 1.8T model is excellent for any car in the $20-26K range with 60 happening in 7.5 seconds, notably faster than the old 2.5L five-cylinder model. Although I wish VW had paired this engine to their six-speed manual, the base five speed is well matched to the engine. Shifter feel is excellent, shifter travel is moderate and the clutch pedal had a linear engagement we’ve come to expect from the Germans. The turbo engine’s low-end torque makes hill climbing a breeze and if you get the manual there’s less gear shifting than a comparable naturally-aspirated engine. Steering feel is average for the compact segment with moderate steering effort.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Instrument Cluster

The 2.0L R-Line model I sampled briefly from a local dealer seemed underpowered compared to the modern crop of direct-injection 2.0L turbos on the market, but it is notably faster than the Fiat 500 Abarth. Additionally, the six-speed DSG is a dynamic partner on your favorite winding road. The downside to the R-Line is that it isn’t the same engine you get in the current GTI. The new GTI 2.0L turbo has considerably more torque, a bit more horsepower and it all comes to the boil a little sooner than the old engine. That means the R-Line is not the Beetle-GTI hybrid you may be hoping for. It’s also a little rough around the edges thanks to less sound deadening material in the Beetle.

After a week with the Beetle, which happened to be shortly after my spin in a 2015 GTI and 2015 e-Golf, there’s just no way to sugar coat it: The Jetta and Golf are better options unless you value style over practicality, efficiency and performance. The Beetle is unquestionably more car for your dollar then you’ll find at the Fiat dealer, with more luggage room and a snazzier stereo. The problem is the new Golf is sitting right next to the Beetle on the lot. The Golf is more efficient, roomier, has a bigger trunk, handles better, it’s slightly faster and has a much more premium interior. For about the same price.

Now there is a twist here, and that is the VW Beetle Convertible. At $25,595, the Beetle convertible is better looking than the hard top beetle and it’s one of the best drop-top deals in the USA. VW also offers a 2.0L R-Line convertible and a diesel convertible with a six-speed manual. If you’re contemplating a Beetle and want style, there’s nothing wrong with the hardtop — go right ahead. If you’re on the fence, take my advice and either get the Golf or drop a few more bills and get the Beetle convertible.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.6 Seconds

0-60: 7.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.6 Seconds @ 92 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 28.2 MPG

2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8L Turbo Engine 2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8L Turbo Engine-001 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Backup Camera 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Cargo Area 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-001 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-002 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-003 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-004 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-005 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-006 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-007 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-008 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Infotainment 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Infotainment-001 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Instrument Cluster 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-001 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-002 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-003 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-004 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-005 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-006 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-007 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Interior-008

The post 2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Review (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-beetle-1-8t-review-video/feed/ 43
Subaru’s 2015 Sales Already Surpass All of 2011 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subarus-2015-sales-already-surpass-2011/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subarus-2015-sales-already-surpass-2011/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 20:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109321 Subaru has already sold as many cars in 2015 as they did in all of 2011, according to the company. Last month, Subaru recorded its 16th-consecutive month of increasing sales, selling more than 44,000 cars in the U.S. The Forester and Outback were Subaru’s best-selling models. In 2011, Subaru sold 266,989 cars according to the automaker. […]

The post Subaru’s 2015 Sales Already Surpass All of 2011 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Subaru Outback

Subaru has already sold as many cars in 2015 as they did in all of 2011, according to the company.

Last month, Subaru recorded its 16th-consecutive month of increasing sales, selling more than 44,000 cars in the U.S. The Forester and Outback were Subaru’s best-selling models.

In 2011, Subaru sold 266,989 cars according to the automaker. At the end of June 2015, they had already sold 272,418.

Emerging out of the recession, Subaru’s growing pace could easily be described as meteoric. The small Japanese company outsold Volkswagen in the U.S. last year, and so far the company is on pace to sell more than 500,000 cars in the states this year.

According to Michael McHale, director of communications for Subaru, the company is targeting 545,000 U.S. sales this year, which is partially limited due to production capacity.

Subaru’s portfolio in the U.S. is relatively small compared their sales. The Impreza-based XV Crosstrek, WRX, Forester and Impreza are imported from Japan and Subaru builds the Legacy and Outback in Indiana. Subaru will build the Impreza in Indiana next year. The BRZ is jointly produced with Toyota.

The company is widely expected to announce a three-row crossover soon, and Subaru recently announced it would sell the Levorg in Australia because we can’t have nice things.

The post Subaru’s 2015 Sales Already Surpass All of 2011 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subarus-2015-sales-already-surpass-2011/feed/ 64