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, 03 Mar 2015 15:00:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Geneva 2015: Volkswagen Passat Alltrack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-volkswagen-passat-alltrack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-volkswagen-passat-alltrack/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:25:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012010 While some in the U.S. pine away for a brown manual diesel wagon, the Europeans will play in their Volkswagen Passat Alltrack estates. Based upon the standard Passat Estate, the Passat Alltrack is powered by either two turbocharged gasoline mills — generating 147 and 217 horsepower — or a trio of TDI diesels capable of […]

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While some in the U.S. pine away for a brown manual diesel wagon, the Europeans will play in their Volkswagen Passat Alltrack estates.

Based upon the standard Passat Estate, the Passat Alltrack is powered by either two turbocharged gasoline mills — generating 147 and 217 horsepower — or a trio of TDI diesels capable of 147, 188 and 236 horses, respectively. Stop-start and regenerative braking are standard.

Whatever power is chosen, it goes to all corners through the Alltrack’s permanent 4MOTION system, which aides in tackling trails with the help of electronic locking diffs and a 1.1-inch ride height increase over the Passat Estate. Stainless-steel underbody guard, modified bumpers, and ruggedized wheel arches and side skirts protect the Alltrack from the rocks and brush. Towing capacity is 4,850 lbs.

Other features include custom 17-inch wheels with optional 18- and 19-inch sets, HUD, front assist, emergency assist, rear traffic alert, and trailer assist.

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Geneva 2015: Volkswagen Sport Coupe GTE Concept Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-volkswagen-sport-coupe-gte-concept-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-volkswagen-sport-coupe-gte-concept-unveiled/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:21:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1010986 Not every vehicle at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show can be featured in the Robb Report, though the Volkswagen Sport Coupe GTE Concept might be as such if made. The Sport Coupe GTE’s power comes from a 3-liter turbo-six and two electric motors delivering a collective 374 horsepower to all corners. The turbo-six feeds its […]

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Not every vehicle at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show can be featured in the Robb Report, though the Volkswagen Sport Coupe GTE Concept might be as such if made.

The Sport Coupe GTE’s power comes from a 3-liter turbo-six and two electric motors delivering a collective 374 horsepower to all corners. The turbo-six feeds its power to the front via a six-speed dual-clutch auto, while the electric motors directly distribute their power to the back. Nil to 62 arrives in 5 seconds, while all-electric mode delivers a range of 32 miles, and the system combined can hit 118 mpg.

Other features include driver biometrics — allowing the car to pick a route based on how much excitement the driver desires — route data featuring weather and traffic info, as well as previews of a given route with Instagram, parented ambient lighting, and touchscreen controls for the rear occupants to handle music, climate and phone calls.

Were the MQB-based concept to hit the production line, Volkswagen says it would slot between the CC and Phaeton; no word on whether that will happen, however.

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Beshear To Transplants: Kentucky Is Not Tennessee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/beshear-transplants-kentucky-not-tennessee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/beshear-transplants-kentucky-not-tennessee/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006426 Unlike his Republican counterparts down south, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear says his state is not like Tennessee as far as attracting transplants go. Associated Press reports those remarks were first made during a recent recruiting trip to Germany and Sweden, the latter’s Volvo considering a factory in the Bluegrass State. Beshear reaffirmed his stance upon […]

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear at Churchill Downs

Unlike his Republican counterparts down south, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear says his state is not like Tennessee as far as attracting transplants go.

Associated Press reports those remarks were first made during a recent recruiting trip to Germany and Sweden, the latter’s Volvo considering a factory in the Bluegrass State. Beshear reaffirmed his stance upon returning home:

I’m not trying to tell Tennessee or any other state how to handle their economic development efforts. I can just say that in Kentucky we would welcome either type of situation, either companies with unions or without them. We have an open-door policy and welcome companies no matter what their desires may be in terms of labor-management relationships. We don’t try to dictate what that relationship should be. We think that’s up to the company and to the employees.

The comments come after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and his administration, as well as U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, did their best to persuade Volkswagen to reject the UAW’s offer to represent the transplant’s workforce in Chattanooga, including a $300-million incentive package that would be paid if labor talks were “concluded to the satisfaction” of the state’s interests.

Beshear adds that Kentucky can best attract economic development — whether from the auto or other industries — by not getting the middle of the labor negotiation process, noting that said lack of interference is “a positive sales point” for the state.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-r/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-r/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:53:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990738 The raindrops, small as #12 shot, plink against the glass, coating the pavement in a greasy film. Not ideal for a spirited drive in a nearly 300 horsepower hot hatch, even one with AWD, but Southern California needs the rain, even if it’s just a half-hearted attempt by the clouds. The ground is still parched, […]

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The raindrops, small as #12 shot, plink against the glass, coating the pavement in a greasy film. Not ideal for a spirited drive in a nearly 300 horsepower hot hatch, even one with AWD, but Southern California needs the rain, even if it’s just a half-hearted attempt by the clouds. The ground is still parched, the trees half blackened by the wildfires of the summer, while the remaining bark is a soft ivory like the leather in this Euro market test car, one of four examples that Volkswagen brought over with a manual transmission.

In my rearview mirror, the black and white Expedition from the San Diego Country Sherrif’s office fades away over the crest, and the two point oh tee mill pulls the car closer to 100 mph, exhibiting the kind of top-end torque that’s absent from its front-drive GTI sibling. But the 6-speed manual gearbox is the same, and all I can think is how much I’d rather have the DSG.

Since the manual won’t be available until 2016, Volkswagen supplied us with Euro-spec Golf R models with the big 19″ wheel package and the three-pedal transmission. Both of those sound like great ideas, but you’ll want a Golf R with 18s for the sake of ride quality, and the DSG because it’s so superbly matched to the rest of the car, that shifting your own gears detracts from the experience.

For one thing, the Golf R is quicker with the DSG. You can hit 60 mph in just under five seconds if you let the transmission do its work, but the manual adds an additional half-second. Shifts are quick, quicker when the car is in “Race” mode, but in normal driving, its tough to believe that just two generations ago, this was the same gearbox that would roll back on hills if you took your foot off the brake, and let you feel the clutch take up when rolling away from a stop light in first.

The second is that the manual gearbox isn’t that great. Having only driven the 6-speed manual in both the GTI and the R, one would find it perfectly acceptable. The throws of the shifter are light but precise, the clutch easy to modulate. But driven back to back with the DSG, it weakens the argument that “three pedals good, two pedals bad”. The fact that the pedals are spaced too far apart to execute a heel-toe downshift doesn’t help either. The only real benefit of the 6-speed manual is the $1100 discount off the $37,415 MSRP that the DSG version commands.

The rest of the package holds up its end of the bargain. The steering is just as crisp and direct as the GTI, and the flat-bottomed steering wheel is a nice touch. Compared to the most recent BMW 2-Series we drove, it makes The Ultimate Driving Machine feel like something from Toyota. The brake pedal feels a touch grabby, but its hard to fault the competence of the brakes themselves, which are the same as the GTI Performance Pack. For all the hype about the Haldex AWD system, the biggest positive attribute is the lack of torque steer when accelerating out of a corner – an affliction that affects the driving experience of the front-drive GTI. Otherwise, it was fairly transparent in its operation, which is to say it was hardly noticed at all. Perhaps a brisk drive in somewhere other than Southern California would have shown of its capabilities in a more demonstrative manner. Here’s hoping for a longer review during a Canadian winter.

Performance aside, the rest of the Golf R has all of the positive attributes of the other MQB based Golfs. The cabin seems impossibly spacious for a C-segment car, with ample space both fore and aft. The interior materials wouldn’t seem out of place in an Audi, but the current infotainment system is in desperate need of replacement – it doesn’t even have a USB port for your smart phone. Apparently, this, along with Apple CarPlay and Android integration will be available for 2016 as part of a revised infotainment system.

While VW is positioning the Golf R against the Subaru WRX STI and the BMW M235i, the real competition for this car is on VW’s showroom. There’s approximately $10,000 between the base price of a Golf GTI and a Golf R. Granted, a GTI 5-door with the DSG and Performance pack will narrow the gap some, but the biggest point of contention is that the GTI is just so good, even with front-wheel drive, that it’s hard to imagine making a case for the Golf R unless you must satisfy one of two criteria; you’re living in a snowy state where the AWD would be a benefit in poor weather, or you’re a member of the VW faithful who must have the uber-Golf, if only for internet bragging rights. Anyone else could get a nicely equipped GTI and an aftermarket ECU re-flash without ever regretting it.

 

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Volkswagen’s Outback Competitor – The One We Won’t Get http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volkswagens-outback-competitor-one-wont-get/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volkswagens-outback-competitor-one-wont-get/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 23:49:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004338 In North America, the Golf Alltrack will be Volkswagen’s sole offering in the “raised up station wagon” segment of pseudo-CUVs. Europe will get this Passat based version – but we got it first. Sort of. Back in 2012, VW previewed a Passat Alltrack in New York of all places. While the concept wasn’t as rugged […]

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In North America, the Golf Alltrack will be Volkswagen’s sole offering in the “raised up station wagon” segment of pseudo-CUVs. Europe will get this Passat based version – but we got it first. Sort of.

Back in 2012, VW previewed a Passat Alltrack in New York of all places. While the concept wasn’t as rugged looking, it followed the same formula; an Outback competitor with German engineering (namely a diesel and a DSG gearbox as well as Haldex AWD).

A range of gasoline and diesel engines will be available, and a 6-speed manual can be had on lower trim levels. Otherwise, a 6-speed DSG is standard. Haldex AWD with an “offroad” mode is also mandatory – though it’s hard to imagine that it will be terribly effective on anything more rugged than a gravel driveway.

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Anti-UAW Group Authorized To Represent Workers At Chattanooga VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/anti-uaw-group-authorized-represent-workers-chattanooga-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/anti-uaw-group-authorized-represent-workers-chattanooga-vw-plant/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003250 As part of a new arrangement, Volkswagen is allowing more than one group to represent VW workers at its plant at Chattanooga, Tennessee. And while the UAW has managed to secure that privilege, VW is also allowing another, small group to represent workers. The American Council of Employees (ACE), an anti-UAW union based in Chattanooga, […]

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As part of a new arrangement, Volkswagen is allowing more than one group to represent VW workers at its plant at Chattanooga, Tennessee. And while the UAW has managed to secure that privilege, VW is also allowing another, small group to represent workers.

The American Council of Employees (ACE), an anti-UAW union based in Chattanooga, has been allowed to discuss labor matters with management at Chattanooga. Reuters reports that the group has managed to prove to VW (via a third party auditor) that it represents at least 15 percent of Chattanooga’s work force. By contrast, the UAW has about 45 percent of the work force, and will get increased access to management compared to the ACE. Neither group has a monopoly on collective bargaining rights for the plant.

 

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Volkswagen To Invest $10M In EV Charging Infrastructure Through 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volkswagen-invest-10m-ev-charging-infrastructure-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volkswagen-invest-10m-ev-charging-infrastructure-2016/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996626 Hoping to encourage federal investment, Volkswagen is putting up $10 million for EV charging stations to be ready by 2016. Part of that investment includes the previously announced partnership with BMW and Chargepoint to install 100 DC Fast Chargers on the East and West coasts of the United States, where no two stations will be […]

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2015 Volkswagen e-Golf 3

Hoping to encourage federal investment, Volkswagen is putting up $10 million for EV charging stations to be ready by 2016.

Part of that investment includes the previously announced partnership with BMW and Chargepoint to install 100 DC Fast Chargers on the East and West coasts of the United States, where no two stations will be further than 50 miles apart to better facilitate increased use of EVs.

That said, Volkswagen of America vice president of product marketing and strategy Jörg Sommer would like to see “Federal financing support for establishing fast charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors” alongside the support automakers and other companies are already putting into place. Sommer adds that he’d like for state and federal agencies to adopt greater numbers of EVs and PHEVs into their fleets, as well as more congressional support of “the mid-term review of the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulation to extend the multiplier credits for plug-in vehicles beyond MY21.”

The $10 million investment is part of a so-called “holistic approach to e-mobility” surrounding the automaker’s 2015 e-Golf, which also includes providing customers with the opportunity to install solar and home charging systems from partners SunPower and Bosch.

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Jetta Volume Plunges In January, Volkswagen’s Modest Improvement Continues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/jetta-volume-plunges-january-volkswagens-modest-improvement-continues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/jetta-volume-plunges-january-volkswagens-modest-improvement-continues/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:36:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994346 Volkswagen USA reported a 59-month low in Jetta sales in January 2015, just the second four-digit Jetta sales month in the last four and a half years, and a narrow ten-unit year-over-year overall brand improvement. The Volkswagen brand sold 23,494 vehicles in January 2014, down 19% compared with January 2013’s output. January 2015 sales were […]

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2015 Volkswagen JettaVolkswagen USA reported a 59-month low in Jetta sales in January 2015, just the second four-digit Jetta sales month in the last four and a half years, and a narrow ten-unit year-over-year overall brand improvement.

The Volkswagen brand sold 23,494 vehicles in January 2014, down 19% compared with January 2013’s output.

January 2015 sales were up 0.04% compared with January 2014 – which was the tenth of 18 consecutive year-over-year monthly U.S. sales declines – but, rather obviously, were down 19% compared with January 2013 levels.

January is not typically a sterling month for the Jetta, nor for most any vehicle competing in the U.S. marketplace. January accounts for more than 8% of the calendar but little more than 6% of the new vehicles sold in America.

In the four Januarys leading up to last month, the Jetta lineup averaged 10,678 U.S. sales. January 2015 sales were down 16% from that average.

VW Jetta Golf Passat sales chartFortunately, on a year-over-year basis, the Golf family produced a 145% increase, equal to 2487 extra sales. Passat sales ticked up slightly, rising 1% to 6305 units.

But every other Volkswagen stumbled. Beetle volume slid 32%. Sales of the CC were down 40%. The nearly departed Eos was off the pace by 15%. The Routan disappeared. Tiguan sales fell 17%. Touareg volume was down 11%. Subtract the Golf from the equation and Volkswagen sales in America were down 11% in January 2015.

As for the Jetta itself, much of its decline can be blamed on the Jetta SportWagen’s forthcoming demise. (The next wagon will be a Golf.) SportWagen volume plunged 51% to just 649 units. Jetta sedan sales slid just 2%.

Yet viewed in the context of potential rivals, the Jetta’s numbers, at 8320 sedan-only units, are disturbingly low for a brand’s best seller, particularly when we realize that America’s car market expanded by more than 8% in January, especially when the brand has such lofty expectations.

Toyota Corolla sales jumped 20% to 27,357 units, outselling the Jetta sedan by more than three to one. The Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Focus all sold more than twice as often as the top VW. (The Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, and Nissan Versa were the other more popular small cars in January.)

Volkswagen
January
2015
January
2014
% Change
Jetta
 8,969 9,768 -8.2%
Passat
 6,305 6,236 1.1%
Golf
 4,199 1,712 145%
Tiguan
 1,473 1,777 -17.1%
Beetle
 1,389 2,034 -31.7%
CC
 531 881 -39.7%
Touareg
 482 544 -11.4%
Eos
 156 183 -14.8%
Routan
 — 359 -100%
Total
23,504 23,494 0.04%

Of course, the A6 Jetta is an aging car. Unfortunately, Volkswagen can’t rely on its newer model for significant U.S. volume, since the Golf is simply not capable of attracting a wide audience in America. The Golf family was outsold by the Camaro, Avalon, Challenger, Accent, and E-Class in January, and more than half the car’s sales were produced by the GTI and e-Golf. In other words, the mainstream Golf is rarely seen on Main Street.

It’s increasingly obvious that Volkswagen needs a CrossBlue-like family crossover to compete in America. But as we’ve mentioned before, even with such a model adding around 10,000 monthly sales – a positive forecast, indeed – Volkswagen would have only sold 33,500 vehicles in January. Or about 7300 fewer new vehicles than Subaru sold last month.

An affordably high-riding family vehicle is required, but it’s not the complete answer, not for the American marketplace.

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

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Dispatches Do Brasil: VW Gol, Still The One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dispatches-brasil-vw-gol-still-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dispatches-brasil-vw-gol-still-one/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 19:58:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994066 If the Volkswagen Gol is no longer Brazilians’ sweetheart after 27 long years as the most sold car in this market, there is another whole segment of automotive sales where the Gol unequivocally leads. That is that of secondhand car sales. Does this mean the Volkswagen is still favored by most Brazilians or is it […]

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If the Volkswagen Gol is no longer Brazilians’ sweetheart after 27 long years as the most sold car in this market, there is another whole segment of automotive sales where the Gol unequivocally leads. That is that of secondhand car sales. Does this mean the Volkswagen is still favored by most Brazilians or is it simply a reflection of the Gol’s lost, but decades old, sales crown?

According to FENAUTO (the national federation that congregates individual states’ associations of secondhand car dealers), the Gol tops by a wide margin the compilation of most sold used cars. All by its lonesome, close to 1 in 10 used cars sold in 2014 were of the model. 1,148,128 Gols of all vintages were sold (compare that to the slightly over 183,000 brand new Gols that left showrooms last year).

In all, more than 11 million used cars changed hands last year (compared to more than 3.5 million brand-new ones, more than three times more). In a faraway second place (a German advantage of more than 460,000), the Fiat Uno. 682,286 of one of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s most successful and acclaimed designs found new homes. In third, the Fiat Palio at 621,535. Adding up both Fiats, they outpaced the VW by more than 150,000 transactions. Though of course two different models, the Fiats were remarkably similar throughout their careers and though the Gol led for the better part of the last three decades, Uno and Palio together have always sold more then the VW since 1996 when the Palio was launched. The Gol, an all-Brazilian design and developed car, arrived in 1980, while the Uno has been doing battle with it since 1984.

In fourth and fifth the first Chevrolets appear, Celta and Corsa, both of which at over 370,000 sales. A bit further down, the first Ford in sixth (the Fiesta at 250 thousand). Another Volkswagen is the seventh, the Fox (245 thousand), while the first pickup, the Fiat Strada, is eighth (242 thousand). In ninth and tenth, the most commercialized sedans, the Fiat Siena (225 thousand) and the Chevrolet Classic (214 thousand).

Interestingly, the Toyota Corolla is in twelfth (170 thousand sales). It is the only representative of a non-Brazilian Big Four (Fiat, GM, VW and Ford) brand. And, iIn a testament of the segment’s growing strength in a market that has trebled in size, an “SUV” launched in 2003, the Ford EcoSport, is the fourteenth most sold (140,000).

Volkswagen do Brasil has sold over 7.5 million Gols since the 80s. Apparently, 6 million are still on the road though in what state is impossible to determine as there is as yet no vehicle inspection program in this country (though both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states check cars for emissions and some visually verifiable items like tires). This is surely one of the reasons thrifty Brazilians buy the Gol in greater numbers than any other. In this country, Volkswagen still maintains a reputation for reliability, the more so the further back you go.

As such, Gols command a slight price advantage over their main rivals in the secondhand market. In spite of that, the Gol is considered an easy sell. To have a Gol is having “dinheiro na mão” (money in your hands) and this reputation lives on.

Being that Brazil is a continental country, local variations abound. São Paulo inhabitants, known as “Paulistas” have more money than any other in the country. In terms of brand-new car sales, two decades ago Paulistas bought more than 40% of brand-new cars in the country. The state’s sales ranking does not reflect sales in Brazil at large. As an example, Fiat is only third in state rankings (GM leads and VW is second) and Hyundai outsells Renault (and encroaches on Fiat in the city of São Paulo). Nowadays, Paulistas buy a little over 3 in 10 cars sold. In this way, the Gol’s leadership as the most secondhand car sold in Brazil is secure. However, as Paulistas’ participation in total cars sales decline, so should the Gol’s.

Another reason the Gol outsells all others is ease of repair. Since it’s been here since the 80s and has sold in greater numbers than competitors, there is a huge aftermarket parts and accessories industry pumping out everything a Gol needs to keep running. Volkswagen’s dealership network is the largest in Brazil, though it is widely known that consumers in this country run from the dealerships as soon as their warranties expire. Nonetheless, some parts are easier to find at the dealers than anywhere else, so the more remote the region in Brazil, the greater likelihood a Gol will have better support than most rivals. Also, mechanics see a lot of them everyday and know their ins and outs better than other cars’.

Finally, there is the historical weight of the 27 years of leadership and a presence of 35 years in the market. Having been the favorite for such a long time means there is a wellspring of goodwill and fondness for the model. Many parents will undoubtedly buy their scions Gols when they come of driving age as they recall their own cars lovingly. Those spending their own money will also tend towards the Gol remembering Gols in their pasts, owned by friends and family and, taking into consideration reliability, ease of repairs, availability of parts, and wide array of selection, will outright buy or finance a used Gol as it’s surely a “safe” bet. The sheer numbers sold guarantee that in used car dealer lots across the country, a potential buyer will see more Gols than other cars and will be able to pick and choose among a wider offering.

Over the Gol’s career, the Brazilian brand-new car market has gone from under one million sales a year to highs of 3.7 million two short years ago. The used car market has of course followed this exponential growth. That means that the car is becoming a true mass market product in Brazil (and according to some reports, in some regions, car penetration has achieved European levels, being that the one car for roughly every 2.5 inhabitants in São Paulo city is similar to some Western European countries’ levels). So more Brazilians than ever buy cars, brand-new or secondhand. For them, the Volkswagen brand offers a degree of psychological comfort as they reflexively buy the car that has been the market favorite and has become a synonym, wrongly or rightly, with what is considered true “brasilidade” (Brazilian-ness).

unnamed (3) unnamed (4) unnamed (5) Gol GT 1984 e Gol GTi 1990 _7_

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Volkswagen Moving Ahead With New Phaeton Despite Itself http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989922 Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest. Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the […]

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Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest.

Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the face of a pledge by VW to cut production costs and non-profitable models in order to save €5 billion ($5.6 billion) annually by 2017. He adds that the Phaeton — the €1 billion ($1.13 billion) pet project of Chairman Ferdinand Piech that has lost €28,000 ($32,000) per unit sold between 2002 and 2012 alone — is “the most irrational project” as far as budgeting goes, yet lives on because Piech and CEO Martin Winterkorn “cannot let go of their fondness for luxury products.”

Additionally, the Phaeton would not only have a hard time doing battle against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series as far as sales go (85,000 units annually for the S and 64,000 for the 7 compared to an estimated 11,900 for the new model between 2017 and 2020), but it would also struggle against its own stablemate, the Audi A8. U.S. sales are another likely challenge, as well, considering the automaker’s own struggles in understanding the U.S. market.

Nonetheless, VW is preparing the second-gen Phaeton for its showroom debut between 2017 and 2018, with a PHEV version coming down the pipe, as well.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Volkswagen’s Inferno and the Gol’s Fall from Grace http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:27:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989258 How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away? Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is […]

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How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away?

Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is facing. Not being Brazilians’ favorite brand for 13 years now, falling away to third place, watching General Motors taking second and Fiat pulling away ever more in first, VW must now confront the reality it cannot even claim the most sold car title either. Costing them it is, after all the Brazilian press is having a field day analyzing Volkswagen’s fall from grace. It must also smart that the Palio edged the Gol by a little under 400 cars, while GM managed just 2,000 more sales overall than the Germans.

After 27 years as the most sold car in Brazil, the Volkswagen Gol ceded the crown to its main rival, the Fiat Palio. Not only that, the German company saw its participation shrink more than the others who make up the Brazilian Big 4 (Fiat, GM, VW and Ford). In traditional fashion, not recognizing their mistakes, Volkswagen do Brasil released a statement trying to explain:

“the Gol is a winner, having been the favorite of Brazilians for 27 years in a row. It is the most produced (more then 7.5 million units), sold and exported (more than 1.2 million units to 66 countries) car in the history of Brazil. Even in 2014, the model was chosen by 183,367 clients, a difference of only 0.2% (even with the exit of the G4 version from the market) in relation to its competitor (that is still maintains two versions of the car under the same name in its line: the old and the new one.”

This statement hides as much as it reveals. With the beginning of 2014, all cars in Brazil had to be sold with double frontal airbags and ABS. As such, all companies had to revise their strategies and Volkswagen started the year confident that the new up! would be more than enough to buoy the brand and take sales from the Uno, while the Gol would go head-to-head with the Palio. Fiat meanwhile took a different route, being that the old Palio Fire was a much more modern car than the its own old Uno Mille and VW’s Gol G4, it decided to go on building the old Palio with the mandated equipment, dressed it up in it pseudo-off road aventureiro decorations. It also revamped the new Uno, especially in its interior.

While both companies lost sales in a declining market, Volkswagen lost market faster than Fiat. While critically acclaimed, including by yours truly, the up! could not maintain the same fleet sales as the old G4. Fleet buyers became increasingly interested in the Palio Fire as it sported the same basic architecture as it always had and made use of time honored engines. VW meanwhile was launching a new three-cylinder engine with the up! and fleet buyers showed hesitation to fully embrace the new engine, as recent VW engine launches have been fraught with trouble.

Private buyers also balked at the new VW launch. The up!’s design was deigned to dainty for a Volkswagen and while it brought some conquest sales surely, VW-loyalists rejected the car.

Just as importantly, Volkswagen, making use again of their own time-honored tradition of not heeding to the market and not learning from the mistakes of the past, refused to acknowledge the emergence of the new Brazilian consumer who rejects entry-level cars. Aiming straight at that new figure, Chevy’s Onix and Ford’s Ka had a very big year and seemingly took more sales from the Gol than the Palio. They did so by offering more equipment for the same price and putting in some wow-me technology, equipment and better finished interiors (all of which is optional on ups!).

Fiat was quick to acknowledge this new reality. The Uno got a pretty thorough re-design on the outside and a completely new and better interior, not to mention new equipment and technologies as standard, leading the model to have a year of growth. The Palio did likewise, and in the new Palio line, extra equipment was added without raised prices, while the old Palio Fire got a new interior, some new exterior touches, and the all-important aventureiro dressing (plastic cladding, an extra inch or two of height, bigger wheels and tires, stickers, etc.).

As the year of 2014 progressed, the market increasingly saw Volkswagen in trouble. The up! was off to a slow start. The Gol’s redesign seemingly didn’t work (as VW should have known it wouldn’t if they were paying attention) because what the market was buying was equipment. The Palio was growing month over month. The Uno reclaiming its traditional top spots. Even better for Fiat the Strada was having a banner year taking the sales crown in February (the first time ever a pickup achieved this in Brazil) and finished the year in third place, the highest place a pickup has ever managed in the history of Brazil.

After the middle of the year the race between Gol and Palio reached a fevered pitch, with the Palio winning every month and outpacing the Gol’s sales by ever larger margins. As November ended, the Palio had managed a YTD advantage over the Gol of over 1,800 units. In a desperate measure and going against previously revealed plans for the nameplate, VW launched the Gol Special, special in its 2-door nothingness. Stripped to its utter bare bones to entice back fleet buyers, the Gol Special is in effect VW’s Palio Fire model.

In December, an orgiastic climax was reached. Volkswagen pulled no stops. As the first fortnight of that month ended, sales numbers revealed the Gol was edging out the Palio again. This was done with non-stop production at VW factories, writing off cars to dealerships as sold, huge discounts for fleet buyers of Gol G6 and Special models, exceptional financing opportunities to consumers and cash on the hood offers. Fiat reacted, and made use of much of the same tactics to defend the Palio’s lead. Both Fiat and Volkswagen have huge distribution channels in Brazil and both pumped out the cars in ever increasing numbers, saturating the market with officially sold cars that languished at dealers.

On December 31, 2014, the race ended. When the numbers were tallied a couple of days later, December went down into the history books as the third best selling month in the history of the automobile in Brazil. So much so that in a market that was plummeting by a little over 9% throughout the year, finished with a softer loss of 6%. More importantly, the Palio, old and new, had sold 183,744 cars. Volkswagen’s Gol moved 183,366. A difference of 378 cars. 378.

Overall, Fiat finished in first with 21% of the market and a total of 698,255 sales. Volkswagen had a participation of 17.3% and 576,635 units moved, which was good for only third place. General Motors managed second place on the strength of it almost all knew GM Korea line and sold 2,167 more cars than VW and had a market participation 0.1% greater than the Germans’.

As 2015 begins, January’s first fortnight numbers are available. The Palio, now that the market is cleansing itself of the dirty tactics of the last month of the previous year is kicking the Gol’s ass. It outsold the Gol by a large margin (7,600 to 4,500 in a very bad month), as did the Onix, second this month, the Strada in third, even Hyundai’s HB20 beat the Gol and is in fourth. The mighty, 27-years-in-a-row-leader Gol managed just fifth this month.

The week started off with Fiat announcing that the Uno and Palio will all offer air-conditioning in all versions, besides power steering, power locks and of course the mandated equipment, making them even more attractive to the more discerning Brazilian consumer. General Motors is pumping out the Onix and Onix-derived Prisma sedan in high number and is enjoying seeing its sedan outselling both Fiat’s Siena and VW’s Voyage. Ford is tweaking the Ka and watching its sales grow, planning for extra production capacity as the Ka gains more and more participation. Volkswagen is busy explaining the Gol’s demise and claiming no errors.

2015 will surely be fun. Except maybe for the Germans.

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Editorial: Nissan Is Not Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988858 Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path? If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading. News of […]

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Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path?

If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading.

News of the indefinite delay of exciting products like the Nissan IDx concept and the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prompted the usual wailing/gnashing of teeth from Jalopnik.

In an editorial titled “Nissan Steps Back From IDx And Q50 Eau Rouge To Focus On Boring Junk”Patrick George suggests that Nissan’s decision to focus on the core products in their lineup is a bad one.

“Ugh. Basically, their plan is to shy away from compelling products and double-down on boring ones to chase volume. That’s awesome. That’s what the world needs. It’s worked so well for Volkswagen, hasn’t it?”

We can go right past the long-beaten dead horse of “enthusiast cars don’t make money, nobody buys them, boring sells”, pass go, collect $200 and hone in on the Volkswagen analogy. It is wildly inaccurate.

As it stands now, Nissan is on a tear. The Altima, Versa and Rogue are strong sellers, at or near the top of their respective segments. The Juke isn’t a particularly strong seller in the United States, but it’s a global success. Even the Sentra, which is a particularly dreadful car to drive, does well. Nissan has a large dealer network, a long, successful history of manufacturing cars in the United States and a full lineup of passenger cars, trucks, SUVs, CUVs, commercial vehicles and sports cars.

Volkswagen has…none of that. Its history in the United States consists of the Beetle, Microbus and then a long history of mis-steps and an utter failure to understand the American marketplace, let alone even market vehicles that Americans want. The prior generation of Euro-oriented Passats and Jettas didn’t move the needle with the American public. Neither did this generation of Americanized cars. That doesn’t mean that Nissan’s approach to future strategy is *anything* like VW.

Not that it’s even about America. Lost in all the pandering and faux indignation is the fact that this is a globally-focused move, one that will help Nissan (and Renault and Dacia and Samsung) compete with VW in world markets, where Volkswagen is supposedly hoarding its best products. While VW is stumbling in the dark, Nissan is busy working on their own modular platforms, and they’re not keeping them away from North America either. The new CMF platform that underpins the Rogue is the same as the European X-Trail. Expect more of that in the future.

Aside from the lore of the Z-Car, the SE-Rs and the 240SXs, Nissan had a tumultuous experience in the 1990s, prior to Carlos Ghosn’s ascension to the throne. Despite being one of the more interesting Japanese performance car manufacturers, the company was a mess financially and organizationally. Ghosn turned the company around, at the expense of a lot of the interesting product that we fetishize.  Not pursuing the I is a good move – one look at how well the Scion FR-S is selling and you’d have to be delusional (or willfully ignorant in the pursuit of pageview clicks) to suggest a similar model for Nissan. As for the Q50 Eau Rouge? The lack of Sebastian Vettel and any coherent direction for Infiniti likely had more to do with that decision than anything else.

By focusing on the volume product, Nissan is sticking with what works – and perhaps, it will get better in terms of driving dynamics, styling, interior quality and the other metrics we value. At least we’ll see a good mid-size truck out of it.

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BMW, Volkswagen Team With ChargePoint For Bi-Coastal Network http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987810 More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint. The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. […]

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BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf DC Charging

More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint.

The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. Each station will have up to two 50 kW DC Fast or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers for most EVs like the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, as well as Level 2 chargers for all EVs. Access to each location is granted by a ChargePoint or ChargeNow membership card.

The new stations will be in metro and intercity locations — such as restaurants, malls and rest stops — spaced up to 50 miles apart for long-distance travel, joining a network of over 20,000 ChargePoint stations throughout the United States. The first location is online now in San Diego County, Calif., with the other 99 expected by the end of 2015.

Express Charging.Infographic.300dpi

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Toyota No. 1 Global Automaker In 2014, Volkswagen Close Behind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987066 Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown. Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a […]

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Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown.

Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a single year. Volkswagen took second on the podium with 10.14 million, and General Motors took third with 9.92 million.

2014 marks the second consecutive year Toyota has held the top spot, having regained it from GM in 2012 after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami greatly hindered production for the majority of that year. The automaker originally took the top spot from GM in 2008, the latter having dominated the podium for 80 years prior; Toyota also held the title in 2009 and 2010.

As for 2015, Toyota is forecasting deliveries of 10.15 million due to decreased demand at home and in emerging markets, as well as from falling oil prices and Japan’s increased national consumption tax. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is ahead of schedule as far as taking the crown goes, CEO Martin Winterkorn stating such a thing would occur by 2018 at the earliest before 2014’s results showed otherwise.

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Volkswagen Eyeing Golf R400, Van For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-eyeing-golf-r400-van-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-eyeing-golf-r400-van-us-market/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986674 Aside from its crossover-SUV expansion, Volkswagen has some plans for its overall United States lineup, including the possibility of seeing the Golf R400 and a van in the showroom. Automotive News reports the automaker is close to making a decision on producing the 395-horsepower concept, which made its debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show […]

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Aside from its crossover-SUV expansion, Volkswagen has some plans for its overall United States lineup, including the possibility of seeing the Golf R400 and a van in the showroom.

Automotive News reports the automaker is close to making a decision on producing the 395-horsepower concept, which made its debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show last April. The move to press forward, however, depends on “good conditions,” per development boss Hans-Jakob Neusser.

As for the van, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn says either the Caddy or next-gen Crafter are likely candidates to take on the likes of the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster City.

Meanwhile, a few models will be cast into the crusher of history to further VW’s crossover/SUV-heavy strategy, with the Eos — which made up 1 percent of the automaker’s 2014 U.S. sales with 3,411 sold — high on the list.

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

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

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

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

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

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NAIAS 2015: Volkswagen Previews Midsize SUV With Cross Coupe GTE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volkswagen-previews-midsize-suv-cross-coupe-gte/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volkswagen-previews-midsize-suv-cross-coupe-gte/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 23:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=975897 Taking a step closer toward a production midsize SUV for its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, Volkswagen is unveiling its Cross Coupe GTE at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The two-row, five-passenger hybrid crossover concept takes its styling from both the CrossBlue Concept from 2013’s Detroit Auto Show, and the CrossBlue Coupe from the Shanghai Auto Show […]

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Taking a step closer toward a production midsize SUV for its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant, Volkswagen is unveiling its Cross Coupe GTE at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The two-row, five-passenger hybrid crossover concept takes its styling from both the CrossBlue Concept from 2013’s Detroit Auto Show, and the CrossBlue Coupe from the Shanghai Auto Show that same year. The design language will, in turn, be carried over unto the seven-passenger SUV set to leave Tennessee beginning at the end of 2016.

Powering the MQB-platform crossover is 3.6-liter VR6 FSI and two electric motors. The direct-injection V6 provides 276 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to all four corners, augmented by the 54 horsepower/162 lb-ft electric motor up front, and the 114 horsepower/199 lb-ft unit in the back. Both electrics are linked to a 14.1 kWh compact lithium-ion pack in the center tunnel. The total results are 355 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque, 70 MPGe, 130 mph top speed, and nil to 60 in six seconds; a six-speed DSG handles everything.

The Cross Coupe GTE can be driven electric-only for up to 20 miles, default to Hybrid mode on start-up, use all of its power in GTE mode, and in Off-Road mode, the front motor becomes a gasoline-driven generator for the rear motor, providing AWD even when the hybrid’s battery is low.

Inside, the driver and front passenger have access to a 10.1-inch touchscreen display that can also be operated with gesture controls. Meanwhile, the driver’s 12.3-inch, 1,440 x 540 px instrumentation display provides navigation and driver assistance, and changes graphics depending on the driving mode chosen. Other features include Wi-Fi, attachments for tablets in the rear-seat headrests, leather, and a 60/40-split rear bench for increased cargo space.

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Connected-Vehicle Tech Takes Center Stage At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972098 You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas. Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at […]

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MirrorLink VW CES

You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at CES 2015 with a demo in its e-Golf. The system also works with MirrorLink, found on smartphones like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Sony Xperia Z. Other demos involving the EV itself included its Intelligent Charge wireless charging system, and the Perfect Parking autonomous parking feature.

Sticking with VW, future BlackBerry spinoff QNX announced it would partner up with the brand in providing its technology for new 2015 models, including the Touareg, Passat and Golf. The system supports 3D Google Earth and Google Street View, and offers real-time traffic information, reverse camera display, and four-zone climate controls among its array of features. QNX is also in use by parent company Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche brands.

QNX also unveiled its latest concept car at CES 2015. Based upon the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the Snapdragon 602A-powered QNX Quattroporte Technology Concept Car introduces the company’s take on autonomous driving. The concept uses ultrasonic radar, LIDAR and cameras to navigate and anticipate obstacles, as well as provide warning to those inside via its high-res touchscreen display from the CLA 45 AMG QNX Concept. QNX also brought an updated version of its Jeep Wrangler Technology Concept Car to demo the company’s technologies via a virtualized driving environment.

Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone. Valeo’s InBlue technology uses Bluetooth to not only accomplish said task, but to also unlock doors, allow for secure vehicle sharing, and access vitals like fuel level and where your car is among the many silver-backed crossovers in the mall parking lot. InBlue is also compatible with smartwatches, and could hit the market as early as 2016.

Finally, 100 select BMW i3 owners in northern California will take part in a pilot program by Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW to study electric-vehicle charging time management, with the aim of improving the grid and reducing total cost of ownership of EVs. The target is to give PG&E 100 kilowatts of capacity at any time, even while groups of EVs recharge their batteries; BMW will determine when an i3 is charged, though owners can override via the i3’s smartphone app upon notification. Each participant will be paid a $1,000 incentive for their time.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-gti/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970185 This is all very normal. I exited my driveway, turned left at the end of our cul-de-sac, then right onto our village’s main two-lane, low-speed thoroughfare, shifted into third and fourth, turned up the satellite radio’s volume, switched the driver’s heated seat on full blast, and finally came to a stop a few kilometres later […]

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2015 volkswagen golf gti redThis is all very normal. I exited my driveway, turned left at the end of our cul-de-sac, then right onto our village’s main two-lane, low-speed thoroughfare, shifted into third and fourth, turned up the satellite radio’s volume, switched the driver’s heated seat on full blast, and finally came to a stop a few kilometres later at a red light.

I’m waiting for the light to turn green, thinking that I must remember my excuse (crackers and hummus?) for leaving the house at 9pm at the end of a busy day just so I could drive this bright red, 4-door, 6-speed manual, 210-horsepower, 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. But it’s an awfully normal car. It’s not barking or bellowing or champing at the bit. Any gear will do. It’s not announcing the roughness of our coastal roads. I can see out of it. It’s completely tractable. It’s just a Golf.

Only a few weeks prior, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8TSI left me impressed, led me to believe that it was a terrific foundation for a GTI, and generated many more smiles per mile than I anticipated. Now, in mid-December, a week-long Christmas present from Volkswagen Canada seemed very much to be that first car, but with plaid seats, an upgraded equipment list, an extra cog in the gearbox, bigger wheels, and slightly sportier exterior styling.

Yes, it’s all very normal, this seventh-generation GTI. When you want it to be.

And when you don’t, the 2015 GTI maintains its disdain for MazdaSpeed 3-like raw exuberance while expressing itself instead through polished, refined, measured, soul-stirring performance; conducting itself with the grace and poise one expects from a far pricier German performance car.

2015 volkswagen golf gti reviewPricier? In Canada, it’s not as though the 4-door GTI is among the most affordable hot hatches. In a sense, VW Canada charges CAD $4900 to double the number of entry points as the CAD $34,290 4-door GTI is only available in Autobahn trim. (The 2-door GTI Autobahn starts at CAD $33,390.) Fortunately, Volkswagen’s American clientele need only pay an extra $600 for the rear doors. In the U.S., the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic is an $1100 option. Our Canadian-spec 4-door Autobahn tester was optioned only with a CAD $695 technology package which included forward collision warning and sat-nav.

The cabin, replete with a properly large sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, 8-speaker Fender audio, and keyless access, creates an overall impression of solidity, high-grade material quality, and relative simplicity. I love the plaid seats; my Mazda 3-driving neighbour was disgusted by their retro vibe. The rearview camera is easily washed out and offers little assistance at night. The infotainment unit’s graphics and speed are comically outdated. A marginal increase in rear seat legroom would be welcome even at the expense of cargo capacity. And of course, seats folded, the GTI becomes a delivery van, with 53.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Volkswagen’s own Tiguan offers only 2.4 extra cubic feet of total cargo space.

2015 volkswagen golf gti redThe GTI’s knack for swallowing a new dishwasher during a Boxing Day sale or assisting with a cross-town move is appreciated all the more because it’s still a small car. Yes, Golfs have grown. A lot. But the new GTI is only 168 inches long. That’s 16 inches longer than a Mini Cooper S and 8 inches longer than a Ford Fiesta ST, but it’s 14 inches shorter than Volkswagen’s Jetta GLI and nearly two feet shorter than the Volkswagen Passat.

Consequently, the MK7 GTI feels delightfully small to toss down an empty rural road, but it has the decorum of a much larger car when traversing rough city streets and cruising down the highway on a long journey. Ride quality is firmer than what you’ll encounter in a conventional Golf, but only moderately so. Meanwhile, the degree of steering and handling sharpness acquired by the GTI in its transition out of the Golf’s cocoon is palpable the moment you apply a bit of pressure.

The regular Golf, remember, is a fun car to drive quickly. It’s like playing intramural basketball: watch me drop a couple three-pointers before clanging one off the front of the rim and I don’t care since we’re just messing around and we’re all enjoying ourselves at this pace aren’t we? The GTI locked in a college scholarship in its junior year of high school with a killer crossover, a deadly fadeaway jumper, a solid defensive game, plenty of offensive rebounds, and a few crowd-silencing dunks. All modestly celebrated, of course. It’s a GTI, after all. Mature, prudent, sophisticated.

2015 volkswagen golf gti interiorThis latest GTI masks its front-wheel-drive nature remarkably well by quelling understeer, remaining relatively neutral regardless of what kind of stupid mid-corner lift-off or downshift or sudden braking or surprised squirrel avoidance maneuver you throw at it. That’s in Normal mode.

Press a button beside the shifter to choose Sport settings and the car tenses up in all the right places. The electric-assist steering could still be a bit quicker to react, but that hardly noticeable deficiency may be due to the winter tires more than any of the GTI’s inherent trait.

That the new GTI could readily amaze with its on-road behaviour is a testament to both the quality of its Continental ContiWinterContacts and the car’s own beautifully modulated suspension setup. Sure, the Volkswagen GTI is blissfully dull and cordially mundane when you’re driving your mother-in-law’s aunt to church. But 258 lb-ft of always-on torque, a short-throw shifter and a clutch with a clear point of engagement (which may be too high for some) come together with a perfect driving position, small car tossability, sports car grip, and grand touring unflappability to create a car that you can use to scare your nephews.

mk7 golf gti plaid seatsBest of all, you can enjoy the GTI in between those two extremes. It’s not so fast that you can’t floor the throttle without breaking laws in 31 states. The turbo 2.0-litre’s growl is pleasant, but not attention-grabbing. 25 mpg (observed) in mostly city driving is more than tolerable for a car driven enthusiastically on more than three or seven occasions. The GTI is flexible enough to be left in third gear all day long. And there’s feedback from the chassis at six-tenths, so you don’t need to rent a track and drive flat-out in order to feel like you and the car belong together.

The GTI, perhaps now more than ever, overcomes class distinctions. This Mk7 GTI’s performance goes beyond what its specifications suggest. Both in terms of style and texture, the interior possesses the aura of a car priced in excess of $40,000. As befits its mission, the latest GTI caters to all the priorities of its targeted buyer, and it does so without compromising on one front or another. It is a performance car, and it is a small family car, and it is not less of a performance car because it’s a small family car, nor is it less of a small family car because it’s a performance car.

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

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VW Inches Closer To Badly Needed Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/vw-inches-closer-badly-needed-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/vw-inches-closer-badly-needed-crossover/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:15:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958305 After throwing enthusiasts a few wagon-shaped bones at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is set to debut the long-roof product that really matters for the auto maker’s American division: a crossover. A concept version of a future Tennessee-built crossover is set to debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the high-end Touraeg and the […]

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After throwing enthusiasts a few wagon-shaped bones at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is set to debut the long-roof product that really matters for the auto maker’s American division: a crossover.

A concept version of a future Tennessee-built crossover is set to debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the high-end Touraeg and the compact Tiguan, the future CUV will be a traditional five and seven seat affair, like a Ford Explorer or a Honda Pilot.

A VW CUV may be anathema to the enthusiast idea of VW as a purveyor of Euro-diesels and GTI hatchbacks, but the CUV represents a way to fill a glaring hole in VW’s American lineup, which is not getting much traction in a constantly-growing American car market.

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Volkswagen Unveils Plans For 5 Series/E-Class Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957841 The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton. AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets […]

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The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton.

AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets receiving the sedan while the Europeans can buy either style.

Regarding platforms for the sedan, VW is considering either its MQB architecture — following the next-gen Passat in 2017 — or Audi’s MLB platform, which underpins the A6. Power is expected to come from four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and would be linked to all four corners via DSG and Audi’s Quattro AWD system.

The proposed base price for the model would begin at €37,500 ($46,500 USD), and would be assembled in either China, Mexico or North America. The new model would go on sale sometime near the end of this decade.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Manual http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:31:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950089 13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower. In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower.

In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used a 5-speed manual.

Is this progress? Strangely, yes.

To begin with, the horsepower comparison is deceiving. The new car makes way more torque: 185 lb-ft at 1600 rpm compared with 173 lb-ft at 1950 rpm. There’s also progress in the form of efficiency: It travels 25% farther on a gallon of fuel, according to EPA testing procedures. On regular fuel. The old car drank premium.

Though it’s not a spec-sheet superstar, the new 1.8T is still a very quick car when mated to the 5-speed manual. And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios, shift quality is excellent. The clutch is friendly, with no learning curve required.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSIOver the course of a decade and multiple generations, the Golf has made gains. Not in terms of outright power, but in overall refinement and the quality of the driving experience. These upgrades are unlikely to change the fact that most American small car buyers won’t consider a Golf. Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.

This four-door, manual-shift Golf, loaned to us for a week-long visit by Volkswagen Canada, would carry a USD base price of $21,515, delivery included. As a mid-grade Comfortline example with one option package, this Golf featured a sunroof, leatherette upholstery, and dual-zone climate control. Absent the optional Fender system, audio quality was still more than acceptable. Volkswagen’s 2.0L turbodiesel adds $1300 or less to the cost in the United States. In Canada, where the price of diesel fuel is more closely comparable to the price of regular gasoline, it’s a $2500 upcharge.

With fuzzy carpeting spread across the front doors’ storage compartments and a dash covered in material so squeezable I expected fruit juice to come pouring out, there’s no doubt that the Golf’s perceived quality quotient tops the class. The infotainment system, on the other hand, lags — both in actual use and behind the segment leaders like Mazda Connect. It’s not a terrible system to use – I liked how it allowed me to scroll through satellite radio stations without actually selecting one – but the graphics and operational speed are behind the times. The 5.8-inch screen also seems too small for a proper backup camera, or is it just that the camera isn’t a particularly good one, washed out as it was in daylight and too dim later in the day?

Golf (13 of 13)Comfort is a key Golf edge, with first-rate seats and a huge range of adjustment for both seats and steering wheel. Wind and road noise is just something the owners of other small cars encounter; the Golf offers a proper luxury car ambience, only decontented.

Rear seat space doesn’t impress, however, as the placement of the especially narrow Diono Radian RXT carseat in the middle position required adults alongside to slam the door directly into their hip. Sure, it’s a small car, but many small cars these days offer more usable interior width. Hatchback versions of the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and Subaru Impreza all have more overall space for humans.

The Golf does possess a bit more space behind the rear seat than the 3 and Impreza, however, and the cargo area is shaped like a box with little intrusion. Seats-down capacity beats the Elantra, as well. Of course, all are surprisingly practical cars, yet they also help to clarify the appeal of small crossovers, as our Baby Jogger Summit X3 needed its wheels removed if it was to fit under the cargo cover in the Golf. Where’s the Golf R wagon when you need it?

Like virtually all continuing nameplates, the Golf has certainly grown over the span of generations. This Mk7 car is 167.5 inches long on a wheelbase of 103.8 inches; 2.6 inches longer than the Mk4 car we mentioned earlier with a wheelbase that’s been stretched nearly five inches. Yet the growth has been contained. Relative to modern machines, the current Golf is just under two feet shorter than a new Toyota Camry and just 7.5 inches longer than the 2015 Honda Fit. It’s 14.7 inches shorter than the latest Jetta, with slightly less wheelbase and slightly greater width.

Golf (3 of 13)Those tidy dimensions are central to the Golf’s on-road appeal. It’s as tossable as a properly set-up subcompact but as unflustered as a much larger car. Mid-corner pavement protrusions don’t bother the Golf even when you’re driving as enthusiastically as you might in its GTI sibling. The Golf’s brake pedal could be firmed up, but the weight of other controls is in keeping with the car’s mission. It’s not a hot hatch, but there’s no mistaking this ordinary Golf (on unaggressive 205/55R16 Continental ContiProContacts) for anything other than the foundation of a great hot hatch. With quicker turn in, sharper throttle response, and just a little more stiffness in the suspension, it would be a wonderful all-rounder. It is not crying out for more torque.

A Mazda 3 offers much of the Golf’s driving appeal but lacks its hushed cabin and always-serene ride quality. Subaru’s Impreza does not come close to matching the Golf’s upmarket interior but offers Vermont’s favourite all-wheel-drive system. It’s obviously difficult for the Golf to match the value and content of the Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5, but the driving experiences between those cars and the remarkable Golf are worlds apart.

Over the course of the last ten months – but not in the last two – the Golf lineup has been outsold in the U.S. by its own offspring, the GTI. With the Mk7 now widely available, the non-GTI/R/E Golf lineup doubled its U.S. October volume. Yet at 2351 units, it was by no means a popular car in America. According to HybridCars.com, diesels account for 41% of the non-GTI Golfs sold this year. The Golf family is Germany’s best-selling vehicle line, the UK’s fourth-best-selling vehicle, and Canada’s tenth-best-selling car in October.

2015 Volkswagen Golf cargoAside from a frumpy radio and a sunroof visor which crudely slides back and forth, the Golf is an impressive piece, not just lacking in glaring faults but full of admirable elements. One might wonder why Americans are so indifferent, until one realizes that this compact hatch costs about as much as a base Camry. The Golf 1.8 TSI is a car I want, it’s just not a car I want to pay for, not with these interior dimensions and not on this continent. Not when this car travelled 28 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving while the last Golf TDI we tested did 41.

Oh, summon a little compassion for the well-behaved gas-fired Golf. Even when reviewed positively, the whole story deteriorates into praise of its oil-burning sibling. We might as well pile on by mentioning the superior styling of the Mk1’s round headlights.

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

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen LT 28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-lt-28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-lt-28/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950569 As far as I know, the Volkswagen LT van was never sold new in the United States, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in an American wrecking yard. At first glance, I assumed it was some sort of Grumman or specialty body on a Big Three chassis. But as soon as I […]

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18 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs far as I know, the Volkswagen LT van was never sold new in the United States, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in an American wrecking yard. At first glance, I assumed it was some sort of Grumman or specialty body on a Big Three chassis.
09 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut as soon as I saw this VW/Audi four-cylinder in the front, I knew I was looking at something German (and incredibly, dangerously slow).
06 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt makes sense that someone in the San Francisco Bay Area would want to drive a European-market box truck, and it has the stickers to suit that image.
10 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like a very useful vehicle for urban deliveries, though extended highway drives must have been pretty miserable with double-digit horsepower moving this big box.
15 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of cargo space.

01 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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

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2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (4 of 30)

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

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (28 of 30)

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (17 of 30)

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

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (6 of 30)

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (14 of 30)

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

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

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VW Bringing Golf SportWagen 4Motion, Alltrack To US In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949993 Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016. Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike. The Alltrack variant, unveiled […]

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Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016.

Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike.

The Alltrack variant, unveiled at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, will be paired against the Subaru XV Crosstrek with the aim of capturing a piece of the U.S. small crossover market, gain more overall U.S. market share, as well as using more of the Puebla, Mexico factory where the Golf is assembled now.

As for the standard SportWagen, FWD versions will arrive sometime this coming spring, while tooling for the AWD 2016 model is beginning to be installed. Horn expects the SportWagen to make up 50 percent of all Golf sales once VW completes its lineup expansion.

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