By on May 6, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Image: VW Group

If you missed last week’s Volkswagen Golf kerfuffle, here’s a recap: a VW employee at a first drive event let slip that the basic (read: non-GTI, non-R) Golf and its SportWagen counterpart won’t make it to the U.S. after the eighth-generation model appears this fall.

Fake news, said VW.

Well, potentially inaccurate news, really. The automaker explained that, while the next-gen GTI and Golf R are indeed greenlit for the U.S., “other Golf models are under consideration for the North American Region.” While Golf sales figures — which are falling, by the way — are readily available from VW, when contacted for a breakdown in SportWagen sales, a not unsurprising figure emerged. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2019

2018 volkswagen golf family - image: Volkswagen

It sounds like something that should be taken with a grain of salt, though recent sales figures back up a report that claims the basic version of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf won’t make it to the United States.

The regular, non-performance version of VW’s long-running hatch wins praise for offering budget fun and above-par fit and finish, but the current generation’s replacement might not come here without GTI or R lettering on the back. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI

There’s a reason why the Volkswagen Golf GTI is fetishized by journalists and enthusiasts as perhaps the perfect daily-driver sporty car.

Because if it isn’t, it’s damn near close.

Changes for 2018 were minimal. The 2018 got a mild standard horsepower bump (assuming you’re using premium fuel) to 220, up from 210. Other changes included a reshuffled trim lineup, newly available LED headlights, larger infotainment, and driver-assist tech that was now standard on the SE and Autobahn trims. It also gained the Golf R’s brakes and an available electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

(Read More…)

By on December 27, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Golf S

Commuting sucks.

It’s especially bad at speeds below “parking lot.” Foot off brake, crawl, foot on brake, repeat. It’s even worse when you’re piloting a stick – shift to first, release clutch pedal, roll, brake, clutch in, shift to neutral. And repeat.

Not all commuting is that slow, of course. There’s also the block-to-block drag race. First to the next stop sign or stoplight wins. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit 30 mph and get to third gear before doing it all over again.

(Read More…)

By on December 10, 2018

The eight-generation Volkswagen Golf is on the way, but, with still roughly a year to go before its unveiling in Europe, the automaker needs to keep Golf fandom primed. Thankfully, VW’s been more judicial in its teasing than, say, Toyota or Fiat Chrysler. Like any great romance, the timeless art of seduction demands space between advances.

So here we have the latest — an elegant sketch that looks like the logo for a 1950s European air carrier. It’s the 2020 Golf. Yes, it’s hard to see the 48-volt mild hybrid system in that image. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2018

2018 volkswagen golf family - image: Volkswagen

Midst the turmoil of a diesel emissions scandal and the crisis that followed in late 2015, there was a quiet but striking development inside Volkswagen’s U.S. showrooms.

Americans were buying Golfs. A lot of Golfs. More Golfs than at any point since Ronald Reagan was president. Volkswagen Golf volume nearly doubled, year-over-year, in 2015, and Volkswagen nearly sustained that level in 2016 before rising to a 31-year high of 68,978 sales in 2017.

A trend it was not. Seven months into 2018, Golf sales are nosediving. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

Image: VW

Fans of the Golf R, a machine generally accepted as being the most serious car … in the world, will have the chance to jazz up their ride with VW’s Spektrum Program, now available on the Golf R.

The program will allow customers to choose from 40 custom order colors in addition to the five standard colors. Price for such largesse? $2,500.

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2018

Volkswagen’s Golf GTI isn’t a vehicle you hear people complain about very often. Bridging the gap between fun and functionality near perfectly, the hatchback delivers on every promise it makes. Still, detractors exist, and they’ll fixate on the GTI’s somewhat vague clutch pedal and lack of horsepower.

Both of these gripes are preferential problems. The car’s light clutch pedal can be a blessing in extremely heavy traffic and also totally optional, since the automatic is still highly enjoyable and shifts with greater speed. Horsepower is similarly subjective, since a lot of the car’s charm comes down to how it delivers power. The 2.0-liter turbo isn’t a heavy hitter but if feels like the right tool for the job most of the time.

However, there remains a subset of the enthusiast population that will look at the base GTI’s spec sheet and claim 210 hp isn’t nearly enough. VW has already introduced a solution to that by offering one of the better performance packages we’re aware of. Unfortunately, competition threatens to unseat the hot hatch king from his throne. The 275-hp Hyundai Veloster N is fast approaching North America and its entire existence revolves around taking sales away from the plucky little German. Volkswagen can’t have that , so it recently introduced the new GTI TCR Concept to level the playing field.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Golf, Image: VW Group

Audi is bullish on 48-volt mild hybrids, and its Volkswagen sister division is no different in wanting to see larger batteries take some of the load off of its internal combustion powerplants.

The automaker announced Thursday that its upcoming eighth-generation Golf will offer a low-cost alternative to purely gas- or diesel-powered motoring. The mild hybrid system appearing on that vehicle, due next year as a 2020 model, will soon spread throughout the VW lineup, the automaker claims. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Image: Nissan USA

I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.

That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).

Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2017

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, in the top three in many global markets, but is somehow a niche vehicle in the United States. With consumer tastes shifting to crossovers and SUVs, Volkswagen has continued to differentiate the Golf from its peers by offering six unique versions. The most notable addition to the seventh-generation Golf is the off-road focused Golf Alltrack. Volkswagen accomplished this by lifting the Golf Sportwagen, adding standard all-wheel drive, and slapping on some body cladding.

The result is an attractive and viable crossover alternative. However, it may give up something car buyers love about the Golf: how it drives. After driving the Golf, Golf Sportwagen, and Golf Alltrack, it was obvious that significant driving fun is lost in making the Alltrack a crossover competitor. In its basic hatchback form, the Golf is an excellent driving vehicle. The Sportwagen retains most of that fun-to-drive character. The Alltrack however, doesn’t feel nimble or precise.

Volkswagen used the slogan “Drivers Wanted” for a number of years, but the Alltrack isn’t what someone who prioritizes driving actually wants. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf, Image: VW Group

It has been 41 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States. The Giugiaro-designed replacement for the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle would go on to become one of the world’s most successful cars during that time. Now, the Golf finds itself in the middle of its seventh generation, and it’s time for a refresh.

During its lengthy existence, the Golf settled down and started a family. The Golf clan now contains six members — the standard Golf hatchback, GTI, Golf R, Golf Sportwagen, Golf Alltrack, and eGolf. While each model shares the same architecture, they all boast a unique identity. For the 2018 model year, the whole family is getting a new look. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatch - Image: SubaruThrough the first eight months of 2017, consumers across America have acquired 12 percent fewer new passenger cars than during the first eight months of 2016.

That’s a drop of 565,000 sales, a rate of decline that stands in stark contrast to the U.S. auto industry’s 4-percent year-over-year light truck improvement. Cars now account for just 37 percent of all auto sales, down from more than 50 percent as recently as 2012. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some auto brands are selling more cars this year than last, and a wide variety of cars are accelerating their sales pace. Subaru, for example, has already sold 17,981 more Imprezas in 2017 than in the same period of 2016.

So we’ve compiled a list of every passenger car that’s making meaningful headway in America’s anti-car market — the cars that are selling more and more often even as many of their competitors suffer under the weight of a pro-F150, pro-RAV4, pro-Escalade ESV wave.

The list is not very long. (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet - Image: VWIf it’s not Obama’s fault, then it’s probably Brexit’s.

Volkswagen’s sixth-generation Golf is destined to mark the end of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet run. The Mk7 Golf didn’t spawn a droptop variant and the United Kingdom’s shrinking car market has reportedly caused Volkswagen to cease development of the eighth-generation Golf’s cabriolet.

Of course, Volkswagen hasn’t sold a topless Golf in the United States since the 2002 model year, when an Mk3 Golf essentially wore the Mk4 Golf’s face. That’s a 15-year gap for topdown Golf motoring, a timespan which saw Golf Cabriolets disappear in other markets, as well. But five years after launching the Volkswagen Eos — a Golf-related convertible with a power retractable hardtop — Volkswagen brought the Golf Cabriolet back from the grave for the Mk6 generation. There was even a GTI.

With the Eos’s death, it appeared likely that the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet would be redeveloped yet again. But with a soft UK car market — a bizarrely convertible-hungry market, by the by — since Britons voted to sever ties with the European Union, Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess told Autocar, “We wanted to do a convertible now, but with the relatively weak UK market and the uncertainty about what will happen, we had to think against it.”

So, Beetle Convertible it is. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf - Image: Volkswagen UKThe Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling new vehicle in the United Kingdom in June 2017, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

So what, you say, the Golf is historically a European powerhouse, a fine car by all accounts, just one that’s not entirely suited to American sales success.

But for the Golf, typically a top five car, to earn outright best seller status in the UK, something had to give.

At just the right time, when the Ford Fiesta was at a weak point, the Volkswagen Golf stepped up with a 29-percent year-over-year increase despite shrinking demand across much of the UK market. The result: the Golf ended a Ford Fiesta streak that had been in good standing for 29 months.
(Read More…)

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