The Nissan Versa sedan might be the cheapest car in the U.S., but it isn’t holding candle to the cheap lease rates available for the Volkswagen Jetta. Regardless of the almost $4,500 price differential between the two cars in base model trim, Jetta lessees are spending less than half each month compared to the Versa, as low as $39/month at one San Jose, CA dealership.
It’s all part of an effort to bring customers in now at a loss to have their attention three years in the future when the German marque has more compelling products to offer.
Old and new.
If you’re into Volkswagens – especially of the modified variety – Wörthersee is to you what Sturgis is for Harley riders or Carlisle to Mopar fans. Thousands and thousands of VW fans take over several small, quiet towns around a beautiful mountain lake and turn them into a festival of belly-scraping Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Škodas.
And there’s beer. Lots and lots of beer.
Although GTI sales are on an upward trend, the American hot hatch is a rare breed as there are just three options. We have the aging Ford Focus ST, and a new pair of hatches from Germany: the Volkswagen GTI and the MINI Cooper S. (Yes MINI fans, I’m calling the MINI German.) The last time I reviewed the GTI and Focus ST, the Focus came out on top despite the greater refinement Volkswagen offered. This time we have an all new GTI while Subaru has kicked the 5-door WRX to the curb, BMW has redesigned the MINI Cooper JCW and Ford has “gone Euro” by jamming a 2.3L turbo in the Mustang. Where does that leave the GTI?
This is not a GTI. This is not a GTI. This is not a GTI. Cross your tees and line your elles, this is not that darling of the #millennial boot-scoot generation: the My First Big Boy Car Volkswagen GTI.
It’s not a GTI with a trunk, either, despite everything you might think.
Reader iMatt shares his experiences with the Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special”
Is the old 2.0L engine really as bad as the internet believes?
I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d need to buy a second vehicle to compliment the Honda Fit shared by my girlfriend and I. That time finally came with a forced relocation at work and after taking many months to decide what I wanted in my next vehicle, I decided my top two priorities were value and comfort, neither of which being the focal points of the Fit.
Because I live in California, it seemed only fitting that my first taste of the new Golf arrived in electric form: the 2015 VW e-Golf. (Why e-Golf? Because “Golfe” just sounded silly.) The Golf isn’t just the first Volkswagen EV in the US, it’s also the first VW built on the new MQB platform which promises reduced weight and lower development costs. While MQB isn’t a dedicated EV platform like Nissan’s LEAF, it was designed to support electrification from the start rather than being converted like the Fiat 500e. While that may sound like a quibble, the difference is noticeable as the e-Golf feels like a regular VW that happens to be electric. The e-Golf also demonstrates just how rapidly EVs have evolved since the LEAF launched in 2010.
To say the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t about fuel savings is to miss the point. But to say it’s about all-around money-saving is to tell a lie.
If your only mission was to spend less money on personal transportation in the new vehicle realm, jaw-dropping highway mileage generated by a 2.0L turbocharged diesel is not necessarily the ticket to personal financial freedom.
• USD Price As Tested: $30,020
• Horsepower: 150 @ 3500 rpm
• Torque: 236 @ 1750 rpm
• Observed Fuel Economy: 44.4 mpg
There are much less costly ways of getting around town than in a highbrow Jetta like our test example, with its leather seating, navigation, upgraded audio, and Volkswagen’s dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox.
So why can’t the two objectives comingle? I’d argue that they can, that a new car buyer can enjoy the benefits of an upgraded, torquey, semi-luxurious, and spacious German compact car – and spend the money that’s required to do so – while also enjoying weeks of fuel tank range.
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.
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 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.
Now that the United Auto Workers have won full access to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. factory under VW’s community engagement policy, what will it do with its newfound power? Propose a works council, of course.
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 a 5-speed manual.
Is this progress? Strangely, yes.
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.
When I reviewed the most recent Passat 1.8TSI I confessed to liking the car, even if it wasn’t anywhere close to being the G.O.A.T. Therefore, when one of my driving students told me that he’d been unable to source my first recommendation for a non-premium trackday rental — the Camry SE — and had been stuck with a Passat instead, I was not immediately concerned about our prospects for the weekend.
In hindsight, that was probably incorrect.
Ah, the Volkswagen Phaeton. Everyone has an opinion about it. It epitomized Piech’s hubris. It is an unmarketable $100,000 Passat. It is essentially a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, but without the bling. It is the greatest car man has ever conceived.
Like Alfa Romeo, there’s always a rumor that the Phaeton 2.0 will be returning to the U.S. of A. in “a few years”. Again, this week, there is a lot of talk about it coming back.
There is a lot of conjecture and Monday morning quarterbacking about the Phaeton. But what is it really like to own one? TTAC’s own Jack Baruth had two. I, a new TTAC contributor, also owned one. I thought it would be fun to answer questions you have always had about the Phaeton. So ask away!
The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with Fiat’s Strada dominating the segment. Since that time, nearly every challenger has been vanquished by the Strada’s unquestionable longevity – except for Volkswagen’s Saveiro.
Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon
Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended up in a MkVI Jetta Sportwagen. It isn’t brown and it doesn’t burn diesel, but after four years and 51K miles of ownership I can understand some of the fervor of wagon fans here on TTAC. There is just something so fundamentally sound and good about the way this car drives, the way it goes down the road, and the surprising utility it offers. With the recent ascension of the Volkswagen Golf to the MQB platform and the 1.8TSI engine on North American shores, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my longer-term ownership experience of the outgoing platform.
There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the Recaros, grey wheels and Performance Blue paint. And then I got a phone call from Volkswagen, offering me the chance to drive the brand-new, MK7 GTI.
Who buys one of these things instead of the brilliant GTI? Sure, in Europe the Golf is a default-mode transportation device the way the Corolla is in the United States — but that doesn’t change the fact that anybody who buys a German(-branded) hatchback on this side of the Atlantic is trying to make a statement, the same way that anybody who eats “Pocky” in the United States is trying to make a statement.
Perhaps the Mk7 Golf TSI, particularly in the metallic blue exterior/cream interior variant we drove in San Francisco, makes the right kind of statement to the right kind of people. The one that says, “I’m not a GTI racer wannabe, I just want to drive exactly what someone in our perfectly enlightened and cultured and correct mother continent of Europe would drive.” Driving a GTI is kind of like eating a salad with a lot of dressing — there’s a suspicion that you might not be into the spirit of the thing. Driving the TSI, on the other hand, is much like telling everybody that you don’t own a television.
All the way from Santiago, Chile, reader Carlos Villalobos invited us to drive his Skoda Octavia vRS. Sadly, none of us could make the 12+ hour flight to the other end of the globe, so Carlos sent us his review instead.
Lusting after forbidden fruit isn’t a concept known only to North Americans, salivating over diesel hatchbacks and hot VAG variants. Here in South America, we also are afflicted with the same problem every other human being has: wanting what they can’t have.
Except in my case, I am lusting after a Jetta GLI.
Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years.
Though the seven-passenger SUV based upon the CrossBlue concept is ready to be built, Volkswagen is being pulled by incentive offers in the two locations fighting for the right to build the SUV: Mexico and Tennessee.
What a long, strange trip it’s been! By the year 1999, the VW GTI had been a flop with the critics for fifteen of its seventeen years in the market. Yet the car still had credibility with the people who actually bought it, and it was still considered to be a desirable, premium vehicle. More importantly than that, the hardcore fans had noted the release of the G.O.A.T. and expected that the Mk4 Golf would feature the same helping of Piech magic.
It did—sort of.
All the stereotyping of Germans as uncompromising people dedicated to engineering ideals and whatnot aside, it’s slightly terrifying to see how willing the automakers of the Fatherland have been to adjust their product and presentation to fit customer misconceptions. Example Zero: The “E” at the end of Mercedes model designators like “280E” meant Einspritz. Fuel injection. This was meant to distinguish Benzos with injection from the sad-sack 230 and 250 models, which despite costing as much as a house in a decent neighborhood failed to ingest their fuel under any pressure beyond that of gravity.
This makes perfect sense, but to Americans who never saw the carbed models in showrooms, “E” came to mean mid-size. Like 300E, 500E. The proper response to this blithe country-club idiocy would have been to complete the Amerika Bomber and to use it to saturate America’s upper middle class with leaflets and/or cluster munitions, whatever worked better to drive the correct usage home. Instead, however, the men of Mercedes-Benz simply decided to create the “E-Class”, which is why the automobile that should be known as a 460E TURBO is currently mis-badged “E550”. What a disgrace.
Example One: the worst GTI in history.
(Sorry for the stock photo — had some camera issues during this trip — jb)
Moby Dick. Beethoven’s Ninth. Led Zep’s debut album. As much as we’d like to think that greatness is immediately recognized when it appears, the truth is that most of the time it’s widely pilloried. Such was the case with the second-generation Golf, which was widely considered to be absolute junk for most of its production run yet is now considered by many to be the apex of Volkswagen’s water-cooled production.
Though Volkswagen had plans to move 800,000 units annually out of U.S. showrooms by 2018, the automaker may now opt to dial back its ambitious plan in light of slow growth and falling sales.
In a couple of days I’ll have a review of the US-market seventh-generation GTI. Spoilers for that review can be easily obtained by checking out my drive of the Euro GTI from last fall. I’ll also have two articles on the new “TSI” 1.8-liter base Golf and the next-generation TDI, all from the same drive event.
VW’s eager to emphasize the history of the Golf in America, and part of their plan to do so involved having examples of all six previous GTIs available to drive for short loops. Naturally, I started at the beginning.
Volkswagen enthusiasts could soon have a 10-speed transmission to go with their 10-speed bicycles, as the automaker released more details on its 10-speed DSG unit currently in the works during this year’s Vienna Motor Symposium.
The Huffington Post reports the United Auto Workers has withdrawn its petition with the National Labor Resources Board challenging the results of the February 2014 election regarding organization of the workforce at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.
As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.
Angered by the decision made by the National Labor Relations Board to allow anti-UAW Volkswagen workers to defend the results of an election held last month at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. on whether or not to be represented by the United Auto Workers, the union has vowed to appeal.
Five workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Auto Workers’ challenge to invalidate the outcome from this month’s three-day election, which saw the union fail to win the right to represent the plant’s workers in a close fight.
The United Auto Workers union has filed an appeal this day with the National Labor Relations Board over the results of the three-day organization election at Volkwagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant held last week, citing outside intimidation from anti-union groups and individuals.
Should Volkswagen’s workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. not be allowed to unionize — with or without the United Auto Workers — the automaker’s works council may veto any plan to expand VW’s presence in the Southeastern United States.
Following the 712 – 629 decision against representation by the United Auto Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the union may be forced to throw in the towel on foreign-owned auto factories as the automaker’s works council vow to press forward with plans to establish their brand of representation in the plant.
Following the same road map that led to the ongoing organization efforts at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers have allied with German union IG Metall and Daimler’s works council on their march toward Mercedes-Benz’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala.
Outgoing United Auto Workers president Bob King admitted that his timetable for a swift unionization of one of the auto plants in the Southeastern United States was overly optimistic.
The United Auto Workers will, for the first time since 1967, ask their membership to pay a 25 percent increase in dues to the union in order to shore up their strike fund and fight for better contracts, a move outgoing UAW president Bob King believes the membership will overwhelmingly support.
Once of the most frequent car advice emails I get is from consumers looking to cut down their fuel bills while still hanging on to a family sedan. Until recently, this question narrowed the field down to a few hybrid sedans and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. Today, there are more hybrid options than ever and soon Mazda’s diesel powered Mazda6 will enter the fray. While we wait for the Mazda’s new SkyActiv diesel to ship, I picked up a Volkswagen Passat TDI to find out if a little diesel could bring some cost reduction to my commute.
With plans to give the world more of their wonders, such as the XL1, Twin Up! and Jetta, through 2018, Volkswagen has opted to shield their product spending from cost-cutting.