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Archive for the ‘Volkswagen’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Staff Still Not Seeing Any Culture Changes Within The Company

Volkswagen’s attempt at improving its corporate culture has yielded no results, the company’s top later representative told Automotive News. According to works council chief Bernd Osterloh, a survey of more than 51,000 employees that was conducted in December 2017 revealed that almost two-thirds of the automaker’s staff admitted to seeing “no improvement” in Volkswagen’s corporate culture despite the automaker admitting to needing one after the fallout from Dieselgate.


Volkswagen Staff Still Not Seeing Any Culture Changes Within The Company - image 769615
“Volkswagen’s attempt to become a more transparent company is seen as one of the most important ways for the automaker to regain the trust and confidence its employees used to have”

Volkswagen’s attempt to become a more transparent company is seen as one of the most important ways for the automaker to regain the trust and confidence its employees used to have. A big part of that transparency was to improve corporate culture and a host of other elements related to it. Unfortunately, little has changed in that regard, according to works council chief Bernd Osterloh.

“Culture change for us remains a permanent work site,” Osterloh told Automotive News. Osterloh also said that Volkswagen workers remain critical of management’s internal communication skills, and that’s on top of similar concerns surrounding job safety and retirement conditions.

Volkswagen’s human resource chief, Karlheinz Blessing, added that there needs to be more support for this initiative before everyone starts seeing positive results. “We have been saying all along that a culture change cannot be implemented over the short-term and takes time and is also not the work of an individual or of individual participants,” Blessing said in a separate interview with Auto News. “All stakeholders are urged to bring about this culture change.”

“Volkswagen still has a lot of work to do to reinvigorate its workers, especially if two-thirds of 51,000 people admitted that corporate culture hasn’t improved in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.”

Blessing also admitted that the negative news flow that Volkswagen continues to attract is one of the reasons why morale within the company continues to trend south. “With the negative headlines that keep surprising us, it would be remarkable if the sentiment was not affected,” he said. “We can only apologize to the staff for what they have to put up with, even though we are not the originator of these headlines.”

The way it looks from the outside, it seems that Volkswagen still has a lot of work to do to reinvigorate its workers, especially if two-thirds of 51,000 people admitted that corporate culture hasn’t improved in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.

References


maker logos - image 744354

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S.

Volkswagen’s crossover and SUV lineup is potent enough as it is. It has the Tiguan and the Atlas here in the U.S. An all-new Volkswagen Touareg is scheduled to debut this year. It’s not coming to America anymore because it’s been replaced by the Altas, but the presence of two SUVs in this market should be enough, right? Well, it’s not, because Volkswagen is planning to introduce two new SUVs in the U.S. by the end of the decade.


Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S. - image 711920
“The plan to beef up its crossover and SUV offerings in America isn’t news itself.”

The plan to beef up its crossover and SUV offerings in America isn’t news itself. We’ve already known about VW’s plans since last year because it always talked about it. What we did get was confirmation from Volkswagen North America CEO Hinrich Woebcken at the recently concluded Chicago Auto Show. “We will bring another B SUV, another A SUV, besides the Atlas and the Tiguan,” he said. “We easily can bring a second midsize SUV and a second compact SUV into the market.” In other words, “we are doubling up in these strong segments,” Woebcken added.

These comments bring us to what exactly Volkswagen’s plans are. Late last year, the German automaker said that it was planning to build a family of crossovers and SUVs under the “Atlas” name. It didn’t specify anything more than that, but that admission was preceded by trademark applications the automaker made for the names “Atlas Cross Sport” and “Atlas Allsport.” It’s still unclear how Volkswagen plans to use these names, but they do fit into its plans to introduce new Atlas-based crossover and SUV variants into the fold. Volkswagen also applied to trademark the name “Apollo,” which could also turn into a crossover for the U.S. market.


Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough - image 730434
“Considering how much activity Volkswagen has had in the U.S. in recent years, it’s difficult to see how it’s going to deal with this crossover and SUV invasion”

Considering how much activity Volkswagen has had in the U.S. in recent years, it’s difficult to see how it’s going to deal with this crossover and SUV invasion. We do know that neither of the two models will be electric because VW has different plans for that with the 2020 release of the I.D. Crozz.

Regardless of where it is and where it wants to go, it’s clear that Volkswagen is keen on turning a new page in the U.S. To no one’s surprise, it’s using its lineup of current and future crossovers and SUVs to do that.

References


Volkswagen Has Eyes on Two More SUVs in the U.S. - image 711944

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.


maker logos - image 744354

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins?

Almost a year after making its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Volkswagen Arteon finally touched down in America when it was unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. If you’re wondering what caused the long delay of its U.S. debut, you’re better off channeling your curiosity somewhere else. The delay isn’t important. What’s important is that it’s finally here. If there is a question to ask about the Arteon, it’s this: is it worth it to get one?


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766404
“It looks like what a proper, all-new four-door sedan is supposed to look like.”

The optics of the Volkswagen Arteon are very promising. It looks like what a proper, all-new four-door sedan is supposed to look like. It has a fresh design that reminds of the Volkswagen Atlas. Both models depart heavily from VW’s current design language, and that’s precisely why they stand out. I suppose this was an intentional move by Volkswagen because it is putting a lot of eggs in the baskets of the Arteon and Atlas to be the models that will jolt some life to the brand after the debilitating fiasco that was Dieselgate.

On that end, Volkswagen scored big with the Arteon’s look. I’d say it’s worth it based on its design.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766398
“On the technical and mechanical fronts, the Arteon sits on Volkswagen's new MBQ platform.”

On the technical and mechanical fronts, the Arteon sits on Volkswagen’s new MBQ platform. It’s the same platform that a lot of new VW models are using, including the Atlas. It also happens to be versatile enough to be set up for use on a sedan. The new platform also helps VW fit its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four engine into the Arteon. This mill gives the sedan an impressive 270 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, much more than the 208-horsepower Volkswagen CC, the widely panned sedan that it’s replacing in the U.S. Once again, I’d say the Arteon is a good purchase based on its power and performance abilities.

Now, is it better than the competition it’s going to go up against? That remains to be seen, especially when you consider that the “competition” includes the BMW 320i, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Acura TLX, Buick Regal, and Volvo S60. That’s a lot of competition. It’s too early to say if the Arteon is as good as any of its worthy rivals, but it sure has its work cut out for it.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766402
“Ultimately, any questions related to the worth of buying a new car depends exclusively on how much the car is going to cost”

Ultimately, any questions related to the worth of buying a new car depends exclusively on how much the car is going to cost. Volkswagen has yet to announce the pricing details of the U.S.-spec Arteon, but there have been numerous reports that the sedan will command just under $40,000 for the base trim option.

If that’s the case, the Arteon would fall on the higher end of prices compared to the models mentioned above. Check out the table below to see what I mean.

Model Price ($)
Audi A4 $36,975
BMW 320i $35,895
Acura TLX $33,965
Buick Regal $27,990
Volvo S60 $35,095
Cadillac ATS $36,490
Infiniti Q50 $35,195
Lincoln MKZ $36,530
Volkswagen Arteon $37,000 (estimate)

So, the Volkswagen Arteon will undoubtedly sit on the higher-range of this segment. We won’t know for sure until Volkswagen releases the official price list for its models and trims. From the looks of it, though, you may want to stretch your funds if you want to get a hold of Volkswagen’s latest four-door sedan.

References

Volkswagen Arteon


2018 Volkswagen Arteon - image 707939

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon.


Is The Volkswagen Arteon Worth Your Hard-Earned Benjamins? - image 766398

Volkswagen Arteon Finally Makes U.S. Debut in Chicago!


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 744354

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People?

There’s something terribly wrong with the auto industry today! And reading this week’s news is enough to notice it. Assuming you’re a sane person that is! While the folks over at Jalopnik uncovered how Goodyear hid evidence of a tire that caused at least nine deaths over nearly 20 years, other outlets are reporting how certain German carmakers paid scientists to gas monkeys and humans with toxic diesel fumes. Yeah, I know, it sounds like an overinflated conspiracy theory, but it’s all true, unfortunately.

Goodyear, one of the world’s most biggest tire manufacturers, is now under scrutiny for an issue that dates back to the early 2000s and is linked to more than 40 lawsuits and at least nine deaths. In short, the brand approved the G159, a tire designed in the mid-1990s for lower-speed delivery vehicles, for motorhome use. Motorhomes usually run at higher speeds than the said tire can handle, which resulted in numerous crashes and deaths. On top of that, it turns out that Goodyear managed to keep complaints and claim data sealed from auto safety regulators for all these years. It’s only now, in 2018, that a proper investigation was launched. Check out Jalopnik’s story for the full details.

Then we have all the big media outlets reporting about German scientists having gassed human volunteers with toxic diesel fumes in tests funded by big car manufacturers. Commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), these tests were backed by Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. In the U.S., then monkeys were gassed with exhaust fumes from a VW Beetle in 2014 by the U.S.-based Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

The EUGT was dissolved in 2016, and it remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys and humans being gassed, or at least that’s what many reports claim. Be that as it may —, and I must say I have strong doubts that VW, BMW, and Daimler were unaware of what happened behind closed doors — it’s still a sick thing to do in the name of science. And the big problem is that the carmakers will get away with it.

Hurt Them Where It Matters Most


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868
“Carmakers don't get the punishment they deserve”

Yes, the “Dieselgate” scandal sent some high-ranking representatives to jail and forced Volkswagen to pay some serious fines, but hey, it’s been only a couple of years since the German firm admitted to using software to cheat tests and the Volkswagen Group is again the world’s largest automaker by sales. So nothing really changed outside the fact that regulators are more careful when certifying diesels. And that’s the biggest issue: carmakers don’t get the punishment they deserve.

You know what actually prompted Volkswagen to cheat? Becoming number one! Selling as many cars as possible and beating Toyota as the world’s largest manufacturer. It’s all about this race to gathering bragging rights. And as it turns out, automakers will do anything to get there. Anything! They will lie about their car’s emissions, they will gas animals and human beings, and, much like Goodyear did, they will use the law to prevent you from finding out that some of their products are crap. All this is possible because the penalties aren’t harsh enough.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765081
“Governments should put a ban on their sales”

So what if a couple of former Volkswagen executives have been sentenced to years in jail? Their lives have been destroyed, yet Volkswagen continued to sell millions of cars. So what if VW pays billions of dollars for recalls and compensation? It’s not like they won’t get it back by selling millions of cars every year. Not even the fact that the firm deceived its customers doesn’t matter much. Faulty cars are being replaced with vehicles from the same company and as it turns out drivers still want to buy Volkswagens in massive numbers.

The way I see it, there’s only one way to punish companies that do all of the above: governments should put a ban on their sales. The U.S. Government should have issues a stop-sale for al Volkswagen cars until all drivetrains were checked and all of their diesel models should have been banned. The same actions should have taken place in Europe. A stop-sale order for a couple of months would have been enough to dig a big hole in the VW Group’s finances, reducing profits by around 20 percent. As a big company, you only learn valuable lessons when you lose money. That’s when you realize that things must change and that you can’t lie and get away with it.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765080
“BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar way”

And yes, BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar manner. Halt diesel sales until the court figures out what happened and then hit them with a massive fine. Same goes for Goodyear, which shouldn’t get away with just fines and recalls. A measure that hurts the company’s sales will be the most efficient. The market shouldn’t tolerate thieves and liars and companies that hide behind court settlements to get away with selling faulty products. Hurt them where it matters most and they will their shit together. It’s either that or bankruptcy.

Yeah, I know this is a radical idea, and I’m pretty sure we won’t see it put into practice anytime soon, but is it really that crazy?

References


VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study - image 764208

VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868

BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research”


Pops' Rants: Cadillac Sucks, Ferrari Is a Hypocrite, Civic Si Gets Turbo for Nothing - image 712265

Read more Pops’ Rants news.

PostHeaderIcon Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People?

There’s something terribly wrong with the auto industry today! And reading this week’s news is enough to notice it. Assuming you’re a sane person that is! While the folks over at Jalopnik uncovered how Goodyear hid evidence of a tire that caused at least nine deaths over nearly 20 years, other outlets are reporting how certain German carmakers paid scientists to gas monkeys and humans with toxic diesel fumes. Yeah, I know, it sounds like an overinflated conspiracy theory, but it’s all true, unfortunately.

Goodyear, one of the world’s most biggest tire manufacturers, is now under scrutiny for an issue that dates back to the early 2000s and is linked to more than 40 lawsuits and at least nine deaths. In short, the brand approved the G159, a tire designed in the mid-1990s for lower-speed delivery vehicles, for motorhome use. Motorhomes usually run at higher speeds than the said tire can handle, which resulted in numerous crashes and deaths. On top of that, it turns out that Goodyear managed to keep complaints and claim data sealed from auto safety regulators for all these years. It’s only now, in 2018, that a proper investigation was launched. Check out Jalopnik’s story for the full details.

Then we have all the big media outlets reporting about German scientists having gassed human volunteers with toxic diesel fumes in tests funded by big car manufacturers. Commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), these tests were backed by Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. In the U.S., then monkeys were gassed with exhaust fumes from a VW Beetle in 2014 by the U.S.-based Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

The EUGT was dissolved in 2016, and it remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys and humans being gassed, or at least that’s what many reports claim. Be that as it may —, and I must say I have strong doubts that VW, BMW, and Daimler were unaware of what happened behind closed doors — it’s still a sick thing to do in the name of science. And the big problem is that the carmakers will get away with it.

Hurt Them Where It Matters Most


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868
“Carmakers don't get the punishment they deserve”

Yes, the “Dieselgate” scandal sent some high-ranking representatives to jail and forced Volkswagen to pay some serious fines, but hey, it’s been only a couple of years since the German firm admitted to using software to cheat tests and the Volkswagen Group is again the world’s largest automaker by sales. So nothing really changed outside the fact that regulators are more careful when certifying diesels. And that’s the biggest issue: carmakers don’t get the punishment they deserve.

You know what actually prompted Volkswagen to cheat? Becoming number one! Selling as many cars as possible and beating Toyota as the world’s largest manufacturer. It’s all about this race to gathering bragging rights. And as it turns out, automakers will do anything to get there. Anything! They will lie about their car’s emissions, they will gas animals and human beings, and, much like Goodyear did, they will use the law to prevent you from finding out that some of their products are crap. All this is possible because the penalties aren’t harsh enough.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765081
“Governments should put a ban on their sales”

So what if a couple of former Volkswagen executives have been sentenced to years in jail? Their lives have been destroyed, yet Volkswagen continued to sell millions of cars. So what if VW pays billions of dollars for recalls and compensation? It’s not like they won’t get it back by selling millions of cars every year. Not even the fact that the firm deceived its customers doesn’t matter much. Faulty cars are being replaced with vehicles from the same company and as it turns out drivers still want to buy Volkswagens in massive numbers.

The way I see it, there’s only one way to punish companies that do all of the above: governments should put a ban on their sales. The U.S. Government should have issues a stop-sale for al Volkswagen cars until all drivetrains were checked and all of their diesel models should have been banned. The same actions should have taken place in Europe. A stop-sale order for a couple of months would have been enough to dig a big hole in the VW Group’s finances, reducing profits by around 20 percent. As a big company, you only learn valuable lessons when you lose money. That’s when you realize that things must change and that you can’t lie and get away with it.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765080
“BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar way”

And yes, BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar manner. Halt diesel sales until the court figures out what happened and then hit them with a massive fine. Same goes for Goodyear, which shouldn’t get away with just fines and recalls. A measure that hurts the company’s sales will be the most efficient. The market shouldn’t tolerate thieves and liars and companies that hide behind court settlements to get away with selling faulty products. Hurt them where it matters most and they will their shit together. It’s either that or bankruptcy.

Yeah, I know this is a radical idea, and I’m pretty sure we won’t see it put into practice anytime soon, but is it really that crazy?

References


VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study - image 764208

VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868

BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research”


Pops' Rants: Cadillac Sucks, Ferrari Is a Hypocrite, Civic Si Gets Turbo for Nothing - image 712265

Read more Pops’ Rants news.

PostHeaderIcon Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People?

There’s something terribly wrong with the auto industry today! And reading this week’s news is enough to notice it. Assuming you’re a sane person that is! While the folks over at Jalopnik uncovered how Goodyear hid evidence of a tire that caused at least nine deaths over nearly 20 years, other outlets are reporting how certain German carmakers paid scientists to gas monkeys and humans with toxic diesel fumes. Yeah, I know, it sounds like an overinflated conspiracy theory, but it’s all true, unfortunately.

Goodyear, one of the world’s most biggest tire manufacturers, is now under scrutiny for an issue that dates back to the early 2000s and is linked to more than 40 lawsuits and at least nine deaths. In short, the brand approved the G159, a tire designed in the mid-1990s for lower-speed delivery vehicles, for motorhome use. Motorhomes usually run at higher speeds than the said tire can handle, which resulted in numerous crashes and deaths. On top of that, it turns out that Goodyear managed to keep complaints and claim data sealed from auto safety regulators for all these years. It’s only now, in 2018, that a proper investigation was launched. Check out Jalopnik’s story for the full details.

Then we have all the big media outlets reporting about German scientists having gassed human volunteers with toxic diesel fumes in tests funded by big car manufacturers. Commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), these tests were backed by Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. In the U.S., then monkeys were gassed with exhaust fumes from a VW Beetle in 2014 by the U.S.-based Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

The EUGT was dissolved in 2016, and it remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys and humans being gassed, or at least that’s what many reports claim. Be that as it may —, and I must say I have strong doubts that VW, BMW, and Daimler were unaware of what happened behind closed doors — it’s still a sick thing to do in the name of science. And the big problem is that the carmakers will get away with it.

Hurt Them Where It Matters Most


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868
“Carmakers don't get the punishment they deserve”

Yes, the “Dieselgate” scandal sent some high-ranking representatives to jail and forced Volkswagen to pay some serious fines, but hey, it’s been only a couple of years since the German firm admitted to using software to cheat tests and the Volkswagen Group is again the world’s largest automaker by sales. So nothing really changed outside the fact that regulators are more careful when certifying diesels. And that’s the biggest issue: carmakers don’t get the punishment they deserve.

You know what actually prompted Volkswagen to cheat? Becoming number one! Selling as many cars as possible and beating Toyota as the world’s largest manufacturer. It’s all about this race to gathering bragging rights. And as it turns out, automakers will do anything to get there. Anything! They will lie about their car’s emissions, they will gas animals and human beings, and, much like Goodyear did, they will use the law to prevent you from finding out that some of their products are crap. All this is possible because the penalties aren’t harsh enough.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765081
“Governments should put a ban on their sales”

So what if a couple of former Volkswagen executives have been sentenced to years in jail? Their lives have been destroyed, yet Volkswagen continued to sell millions of cars. So what if VW pays billions of dollars for recalls and compensation? It’s not like they won’t get it back by selling millions of cars every year. Not even the fact that the firm deceived its customers doesn’t matter much. Faulty cars are being replaced with vehicles from the same company and as it turns out drivers still want to buy Volkswagens in massive numbers.

The way I see it, there’s only one way to punish companies that do all of the above: governments should put a ban on their sales. The U.S. Government should have issues a stop-sale for al Volkswagen cars until all drivetrains were checked and all of their diesel models should have been banned. The same actions should have taken place in Europe. A stop-sale order for a couple of months would have been enough to dig a big hole in the VW Group’s finances, reducing profits by around 20 percent. As a big company, you only learn valuable lessons when you lose money. That’s when you realize that things must change and that you can’t lie and get away with it.


Why Are Automakers Getting Away with Cheating Devices and Gassing People? - image 765080
“BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar way”

And yes, BMW and Daimler should be held responsible for gassing people in a similar manner. Halt diesel sales until the court figures out what happened and then hit them with a massive fine. Same goes for Goodyear, which shouldn’t get away with just fines and recalls. A measure that hurts the company’s sales will be the most efficient. The market shouldn’t tolerate thieves and liars and companies that hide behind court settlements to get away with selling faulty products. Hurt them where it matters most and they will their shit together. It’s either that or bankruptcy.

Yeah, I know this is a radical idea, and I’m pretty sure we won’t see it put into practice anytime soon, but is it really that crazy?

References


VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study - image 764208

VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868

BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research”


Pops' Rants: Cadillac Sucks, Ferrari Is a Hypocrite, Civic Si Gets Turbo for Nothing - image 712265

Read more Pops’ Rants news.

PostHeaderIcon VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study

Earlier this week, we covered a story posted by The New York Times that revealed the big three German automakers (BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen) had funded research on the effects of diesel emissions, including an experiment that involved locking a group of monkeys in an airtight chamber and forcing the animals to breathe fumes. Now, it’s looking like a similar experiment took place that involved humans.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868
“In 2014, BMW, Daimler, and VW financed an experiment conducted in the U.S. that subjected research monkeys to exhaust fumes in an effort to prove the latest oil burners were cleaner than their forerunners. Now it's coming to light that the three automakers also funded similar tests involving humans.”

And the plot once again thickens.

The public image of diesel is in a bad way right now, and it’s only getting worse. To recap, let’s start with the Diesel Gate scandal. Back in 2015, Volkswagen received a notice from the EPA about a series of violations regarding several of its diesel-equipped passenger cars, alleging the German automaker had equipped millions and millions of vehicles with emissions “defeat devices” that essentially reprogrammed the ECU to create fewer emissions in testing, but emit upwards of 40 times more NOx on the street. Volkswagen eventually had to pony up $26 billion in fines.

All told, diesels aren’t looking so great at the moment, but the latest news casts the fuel in an even worse light. Last week, The New York Times broke a story that in 2014, BMW, Daimler, and VW financed an experiment conducted in the U.S. that subjected research monkeys to exhaust fumes in an effort to prove the latest oil burners were cleaner than their forerunners. As an added wrinkle, the car producing the emissions, a diesel-equipped VW Beetle, was equipped with the very same defeat device that landed the automaker in hot water a year later.

Following revelations of the emission monkey experiment, Volkswagen’s CEO made a statement condemning the trials, while the company’s chief lobbyist took a leave of absence so that VW could conduct an investigation into the matter. There were also political repercussions, with Germany’s government issuing further condemnation. BMW and Daimler distanced themselves from the experiments.


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“It's believed the experiment was conducted in an effort to make diesel seem cleaner and more appealing, but in the end, it seems to have done more harm than good.”

Now it’s coming to light that the three automakers also funded similar tests involving humans. Revealed in an article published by the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, the latest is that the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (or E.U.G.T., the same group funded by BMW, Daimler, and VW that financed the emission monkey experiment) also financed a similar experiment at the German University of Aachen which involved 25 human participants.

It’s believed the experiment was conducted in an effort to make diesel seem cleaner and more appealing, but in the end, it seems to have done more harm than good.

Nevertheless, according to Bloomberg, the human study followed all the correct procedures and ethics protocols.

BMW has distanced itself from the studies all the same, but did say that the human experiments were appropriately vetted prior to taking place. Meanwhile, Daimler says it is investigating the matter, while also stating it had no influence in the study.

“We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation,” Daimler said in a statement. “We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.”

References


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PostHeaderIcon Video of the Day: Immerse Yourselves In This 60-Second Time Lapse of a Lego Volkswagen Beetle Build

Time-lapse videos of LEGOs being built is nothing new. Remember the miniature Ferrari F40 that was built in 60 seconds thanks to the magic of computer editing? Well, we’re bringing you another one of these videos because, quite frankly, they’re enjoyable to watch. The subject of this LEGO build is a Volkswagen Beetle, which, judging by the presence of the surfboard and the water cooler, comes to us by way of LEGO’s Creator line.

The video starts as expected. The build starts from the ground-up with the frame and wheels being put together first. From there, the interior is added piece by piece, including the transmission tunnel, the dashboard and windshield, and the four seats. The doors, roof, and hood follow suit. We even catch a glimpse of the car’s LEGO-version engine and exhaust at the back, as well as the spare tire that’s tucked under the cargo space of the front trunk. The build concludes with the aforementioned surfboard and picnic basket, both of which are stowed in the roof rack.

We’ve seen plenty of time-lapse LEGO builds before, and every one of them were must-watch videos because of how mesmerizing they look when the builds are sped up. It’s no different this time with the Volkswagen Beetle. Kind of makes me want to go out, buy one, and build it myself.


References

Volkswagen Beetle


2012 - 2013 Volkswagen Beetle - image 399158

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle.


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PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Trademarks more I.D. Names: Freeler and Cruiser

Volkswagen’s future I.D. range of electric vehicles is beginning to take shape. We’ve already seen concept versions of the I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz make their debuts in the last few years. Now we can expect a few more to hit the stage after the German automaker announced the trademark of a couple of new names that are attached to the I.D. range — I.D. Freeler and I.D. Cruiser


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“Volkswagen didn’t specify how they plan to use these new I.D. names, but the best guess is that they’ll be used on concept vehicles similar to the I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz concepts”

Volkswagen didn’t specify how they plan to use these new I.D. names, but the best guess is that they’ll be used on concept vehicles similar to the I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz concepts. There’s already been a groundswell of anticipation surrounding Volkswagen’s plans for its new all-electric range, particularly as it relates to production versions of the I.D. Buzz and I.D. Crozz concepts.

Volkswagen design boss Klaus Bischoff has already gone on record saying that two I.D. SUVs will launch by 2020, one of which will be the production version of the I.D. Crozz concept. The identity of the other I.D. SUV is still unknown so there’s a chance that it could carry one of the two new names that VW has just trademarked. The I.D. Cruiser sounds like a good name for a concept crossover or SUV while the I.D. Freeler fits into the mold of an all-electric concept sedan, something that VW is reportedly keen on doing with the intention of eventually offering it in the Chinese market where electric cars are booming.


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“Volkswagen design boss Klaus Bischoff has already gone on record saying that two I.D. SUVs will launch by 2020, one of which will be the production version of the I.D. Crozz concept”

In the meantime, all we can do is wait for Volkswagen and see how it plans to use these two new trademarks. Both names obviously point to new models under the I.D. range, so expect a major announcement — or two — in the coming months. Who knows, Volkswagen could switch things up and use the I.D. Cruiser name on the production version of the I.D. Buzz Concept. We can dream, right?

References

Volkswagen ID


Volkswagen Trademarks more I.D. Names: Freeler and Cruiser - image 700707

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz.


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Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II


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Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz


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PostHeaderIcon Take That, Europe! Volkswagen Says The Jetta Isn’t Crossing the Atlantic

The all-new Volkswagen Jetta made a big impression at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. It has an all-new design, improved interior space, better fuel efficiency, and packs its fair share of tech and safety features. The new Jetta is expected to spearhead VW’s presence in the U.S., but don’t expect the same treatment over in Europe because the sedan isn’t headed there.


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“Volkswagen didn’t give a clear reason about its decision to keep the new Jetta away from Europe, but if you’re paying close attention, the answer to that reason is sitting right in front of you”

If you’re surprised by this development, don’t be. Volkswagen didn’t give a clear reason about its decision to keep the new Jetta away from Europe, but if you’re paying close attention, the answer to that reason is sitting right in front of you. It has everything to do with the Jetta itself, specifically its physical characteristics.

We know now that the Jetta is longer, wider, and taller than the model its replacing. In other words, it’s a much larger model that measures a little too close to the European-spec Volkswagen Passat sedan. If Volkswagen brings the Jetta to Europe, there’s a possibility that both models could cannibalize sales from each other. That may not be a big deal if sedans are selling like hot pancakes in that region, but the opposite actually rings true.

Sales of sedans are falling all over Europe. As such, it won’t make sense for Volkswagen to bring the new and bigger Jetta to that market and turn it into a competitor to one of its own models. Fortunately, the new Jetta is headed to China where it will carry the name “Sagitar.”


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“The U.S. is the sedan’s biggest and most important market”

If you’re also wondering why Volkswagen chose the Detroit Auto Show as the place to launch the all-new Jetta, there’s your answer. The U.S. is the sedan’s biggest and most important market. In the course of its life, more than 3.2 million units of the Jetta have been sold in this market alone.

Those numbers, combined with the potential of the all-new model, should once again make the Jetta one of the more sought-after compact premium sedans in the U.S. The model goes on sale in the second quarter of 2018. Four trim levels — S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium — will be offered, with prices starting at $18,545.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


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Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.


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New VW Jetta Bows in Detroit, Redefines Compact Segment with Premium Features


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PostHeaderIcon The Next-Gen Volkswagen Jetta is Loaded To The Brim With Tech Features

The sedan market in the U.S. is teetering on the ropes, struggling to keep its share of the automotive sales pie amidst the rush of crossovers and SUVs that have been selling like hot pancakes. Volkswagen isn’t immune to this shift in perception. Thankfully, it still has the Jetta to keep it relevant in this changing times. The compact sedan remains VW’s best-selling model, and the German automaker’s all-new Jetta has the makings of a model that can help stem the tide for #teamsedan.


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“The most prominent tech addition is the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Display, a new interface that provides unprecedented reconfiguration capabilities”

There are so many things to discuss regarding the new Volkswagen Jetta. Every single element of it is worth mentioning. That includes the sedan finally — finally! — getting acquainted with Volkswagen’s all-world MQB platform. But we’ll save the assembling of all pertinent details to the review. For now, we’re putting a spotlight on one of the most underrated aspects of the new sedan: the tech features.

To say that the Jetta is loaded with tech bits is a massive understatement. It’s overflowing with them.

The most prominent tech addition is the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Display, a new interface that provides unprecedented reconfiguration capabilities, allowing drivers to view useful bits like navigation or vehicle settings, all of which can be viewed directly in the speedometer display. Of course, you’re going to have to pay a premium to get the Digital Cockpit Display as standard equipment. It comes standard on the SEL and SEL Premium trims, the two higher trim levels among the four trim options that Volkswagen is offering for the sedan.


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“In addition to the Digital Cockpit Display, the all-new Jetta also gets VW’s Car-Net system, which unlocks the sedan to a world of connected vehicle services”

In addition to the Digital Cockpit Display, the all-new Jetta also gets VW’s Car-Net system, which unlocks the sedan to a world of connected vehicle services, including App-Connect technology. If you want smartphone integration on your Jetta, App-Connect is your calling card. The Car-Net system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. In the world of “firsts”, the Jetta is also the first Volkswagen model in the US to offer Beats Audio’s 400-watt audio system.

The Jetta also isn’t lacking in safety goodies. You might have to pay extra for some of them, but if you’re looking to turn the sedan into a cocoon of safety, you can get anything from forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is set to become available later this year. Four trim levels — S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium — are available, with prices starting at $18,545.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


The Next-Gen Volkswagen Jetta is Loaded To The Brim With Tech Features - image 758222

Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.


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Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


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Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


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Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Passat GT

Launched all the way back in 1973, the Passat is one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models, up there with the Golf and the Beetle. But unlike the Golf, the midsize has yet to gain a higher performance GTI version. Even the tiny Polo got the infamous red stripe, but for some reason, VW kept the Passat away from this badge. It doesn’t really seem as this would change anytime soon, but Volkswagen just introduced something similar in the United States. Developed based on extensive feedback from U.S. customers and dealers, the Passat GT is pretty much a GTI model without the massive power and the chassis upgrades.

Visually, the GT is heavily based on the Golf GTI. Not only it sports the iconic red stripe on its front grille, but it also has a number of blacked-up out features that give it a more menacing look. The interior was upgraded too and received quite a few extra standard features. Things aren’t as spectacular under the hood, where we can find the same VR6 engine as in the regular range-topping model, but the Passat GT benefits from a retuned suspension for a sportier ride. Based on the R-Line version, the Passat GT is a limited-run model, but Volkswagen had nothing to say about production figures. Let’s find out more about it below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Passat GT.

What makes the Volkswagen Passat GT special

  • Red stripe on the grille
  • Standard LED lights
  • Blacked-out features
  • R-Line bumper
  • Read spoiler
  • Dual exhaust
  • Piano black trim
  • Fake carbon-fiber
  • Heated seats
  • Leather steering wheel
  • 3.6-liter VR6 engine
  • 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet
  • Sporty suspension

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“While most special-edition Volkswagens barely stand out from the pack in terms of exterior features, the Passat GT has quite a few extra features to brag about”

While most special-edition Volkswagens barely stand out from the pack in terms of exterior features, the Passat GT has quite a few extra features to brag about. The first thing that catches the eye is the red accent stripe on the upper grille and headlamps. Reminiscent of the iconic Golf GTI, the stripe also adorns the lower frame of the grille. The front fascia also sports a honeycomb grille with a “GT” badge and a bumper from the R-Line model, which features black accents and sportier side intakes. Additionally, it gets standard LED headlamps and daytime running lights.

Onto the sides, there’s black window trim and black mirror caps, as well as two-tone multi-spoke wheels. The red brake calipers add a dash of color from behind black-and-silver rims. The lowered ride height gives the sedan a sportier stance. The rear section received its fair share of upgrades too, starting with the black spoiler and the smoked LED taillights. The bumper comes with slim black trim, just like the lower door sections, while the standard exhaust pipe was replaced with a dual configuration. Four exterior colors are available for this model: Pure White (pictured), Reflex Silver, Platinum Grey, and Deep Black.


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“The sporty theme continues inside with piano black trim on the center console and fake carbon-fiber on the lower dashboard”

The sporty theme continues inside with piano black trim on the center console and fake carbon-fiber on the lower dashboard. The headliner is also black for an almost all-black layout. The aluminum door sills feature “GT” badges. The seats are wrapped in black leatherette (yup, that’s not real leather unfortunately) with Moonrock Gray inserts and white contrast stitching. Extra standard features compared to the regular Passat include a leather steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and heated mirrors

The 6.3-inch infotainment display comes standard with Bluetooth, voice control, and Volkswagen’s Car-Net App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Under the hood, the Passat GT packs the company’s familiar 3.6-liter VR6 engine. The unit cranks out a solid 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful Passat available in the United States. All that oomph travels to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Despite being this powerful, the GT still returns good economy, being rated at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. A sportier suspension setup provides a more dynamic experience behind the wheel.


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“The Passat GT is expected to arrive at dealers in the second quarter of 2018 with a start price of $29,090”

The Passat GT is expected to arrive at dealers in the second quarter of 2018 with a start price of $29,090 (not including the $850 destination fee). That’s a $6,095 premium over the base model, but at the same time, it costs $2,560 less than the range-topping Passat SEL Premium.

References

Volkswagen Passat


2016 Volkswagen Passat - image 647574

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat.


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Read our full driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line.


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PostHeaderIcon States Will Use V.W. Dieselgate Settlement Funds to Cut Dependency on Diesel Fuel

Volkswagen is on the hook to pay U.S. states $2.8 billion stemming from the Dieselgate scandal involving the German automaker. With the money scheduled to arrive as early as June 2018, states are already figuring it on how they plan to spend their share of the pie. In the irony of ironies, most states plan to use their allocation from Dieselgate to help reduce diesel pollution in their borders.


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“Each state will get a different amount, ranging from $8 million to $423 million.”

The funds from the Dieselgate payout are scheduled to be distributed depending on the number of diesel Volkswagens that were sold in each state. That means that each state will get a different amount, ranging from $8 million to $423 million. Regardless of the amount their getting, a lot of U.S. states have already committed to spending most, if not all, of the funds on flushing out diesel vehicles and introducing more efficient forms of transportation within their jurisdictions.

In South Carolina, for example, the Department of Education wants to use its entire $34-million payout to replace its 5,600 diesel buses. It’s the same story in New Mexico, where a group of voters are clamoring for the state to spend its $18-million settlement on purchasing zero-emission school buses. Then there’s California, which has $423 million in settlement money headed its way. It’s the biggest chunk of the $2.8 billion settlement, and according to California Air Resources Board spokesman David Clegern, the state is already planning to spend it on existing programs that will reduce diesel emissions in neighborhoods near warehouses, industries, and seaports. Included in these programs are vouchers that will help offset costs of businesses that will buy hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses.


“Other states are also planning to spend a percentage of their payouts to subsidize the construction of public charging stations for electric vehicles”

Other states are also planning to spend a percentage of their payouts to subsidize the construction of public charging stations for electric vehicles. These charging stations come on top of Volkswagen’s separate vow to spend $2 billion of its own money to build similar charging stations and another $10 billion to buy back defective diesel-powered VWs from consumers.

With the money still on its way, there’s still the possibility that priorities could change depending on the state. But given the narrative state leaders are throwing out there, it’s likely that the money coming from Volkswagen will have a bigger effect than just replacing today’s crop of diesel vehicles with hybrid and electric cars. It’s going to create interest among state agencies to push for more clean-vehicle technologies in the future once they see the benefits of having them today.

References


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PostHeaderIcon Pops’ Rants: The Automotive Sausage Fest Is Real!

And how are you folks doing in the new year? Any new year resolutions for 2018? Nah, don’t bother, I don’t care. It’s not like these resolutions last more than a few weeks anyway. But hey, since we’re allowed to make wishes I’m gonna blow the candles and say it: I wish automakers would stop making all their cars look the same. I hate the corporate look strategy. I used to only hate Audi for doing it, but this thing spread like the Black Plague in recent years. Mercedes is also doing the “same sausage, different lengths” thing and BMW is very close to implementing it across the range. It will be complete once the 6 Series is phased out. It’s a sausage fest I’m telling you, and it just got worse!

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“What was once an Audi thing, spread like the plague throughout the group.”

Have you seen the sketches of the upcoming Volkswagen Jetta? If not, check out our review, I’ll give you a few moments. Looking good right? I no longer feel like I want to kill myself when I look at it. Sure, the front end is taken off the Passat and it’s not very inspiring but I don’t mind. I get the marketing behind the corporate look. But that rear end has Audi A4 written all over it. Just like the Passat looks like a poor man’s A6. And how the Toledo looks like the A4 and the Leon X-Perience looks like the A4 Allroad.

Yup, not only have most Volkswagen Group brands adopted the “same sausage, different lengths” approach on their own, but they’re actually using it as some sort of group identity. What was once an Audi thing, spread like the plague throughout the group. And it sucks! While I’m not a fan of products from the dirty VAG, I always loved the fact that the Seat Leon is significantly different from the Volkswagen Golf it was based on. Or that the Audi R8 has its own identity, despite sharing underpinnings with the Lamborghini Huracan. But, everything else has become increasingly diluted in recent years and it appears to be getting worse.

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“We're an inch away from getting perfectly identical cars that are only longer and wider depending on the segment they're competing in”

It’s not only Volkswagen that is being moved closer and closer to Audi up the premium ladder, but it’s also using more and more styling cues from its Ingolstadt cousin. Just look at the Passat, Arteon, and now the Jetta. Even Seat models are starting to look more and more like their Volkswagen counterparts, also getting Audi bits here and there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the next-generation Touareg is a rebadged, poor man’s Audi Q7, either.

We’re an inch away from getting perfectly identical cars that are only longer and wider depending on the segment they’re competing in. Damn, even “The Flintstones” animated series had more exciting cars than Volkswagen. Footmobile power!

References


Pops' Rants: Cadillac Sucks, Ferrari Is a Hypocrite, Civic Si Gets Turbo for Nothing - image 712265

Read more Pops’ Rants news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Jetta

The latest-generation Volkswagen Jetta was launched in 2010 and production for North America began the same year in Puebla, Mexico. Larger than its predecessor, the sixth-gen Jetta was relegated from the premium segment into the same market as the highly popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. In order to keep costs down, Volkswagen removed the leather seats option and the multi-link suspension from the American model. Come 2018, and the German firm launched brand-new model that aims to move the Jetta closer to the premium market again.

Unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with the company’s recent corporate design, seen on the larger Passat and the Arteon sedans, the new Jetta is a significant departure from its predecessor in just about any department. Fresh and sleek on the outside, the four-door pack more technology than ever and Volkswagen claims that it’s loaded with premium features. It also rides on a new platform, switching to the flexible, all-popular MQB after two generations on PQ35 underpinnings. Let’s find out more about these changes in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Jetta.

Exterior

  • Sportier design
  • Passat-inspired features
  • What’s with the Audi A4 rear end?
  • Longer and wider
  • Massive grille
  • Sleek roofline
  • LED lights standard

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“The new Jetta is a significant departure from the old model, but its styling is far from revolutionary”

A quick glance at the compact is enough to notice that Volkswagen has put a lot of effort in redesigning the Jetta. Almost eight years old, the previous Jetta was pretty dated and obviously boring design-wise, especially when compared to the company’s more recent products. But while the new Jetta is a significant departure from the old model, its styling is far from revolutionary. Much like Audi, VW has taken the “same sausage, different lengths” route in recent years and the Jetta is no exception from this rule.

Now sporting a clean look with angular lines front and rear, the Jetta is obviously inspired by the larger Passat, and I can even spot some Arteon cues in there. But this isn’t a bad thing, as all these new styling cues make the new Jetta sexier than ever. On top of that, it’s very elegant for such a small four-door and sportier than expected, even without the sleek R-Line package.


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“It has a new, bold front fascia with one of the largest grille ever seen on a Volkswagen”

It has a new, bold front fascia with one of the largest grille ever seen on a Volkswagen. The angular headlamps give the car an angry look, despite seeming a bit too large for the design. Slimmer light would’ve been perfect. The look is completed by a sculpted bumper with big daytime running lights at the corners and a wide intake placed just above the splitter.

The profile is also surprisingly sporty, blending a coupe-like roof, short overhangs, and a protruding beltline. The latter isn’t very original, as it resembles the character line of the BMW 3 Series, but it’s a cool addition and a big improvement over the previous, featureless Jetta.

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“The rear fascia is fresh and sporty, but it looks an awful lot like the Audi A4”

But there’s a bigger issue around back. While the rear fascia is fresh and sporty, it looks an awful lot like the Audi A4. The long and slender, two-piece headlamps, the trunklid spoiler, and big license plate recess are only mild interpretations of those seen on the premium A4. Even the bumper configuration is similar, with the thin, red lights placed just above the large exhaust pipes. Granted, some A4 models have round tips, but I’ve seen a few with trapezoidal units as well. The huge amount of A4 details prevent me from enjoying the Jetta as much as I should. It’s a shame that Volkswagen wasn’t able to come up with a more original design, although I have a feeling that this won’t bother the usual customers too much.

The sedan is also longer and wider, with the short overhangs providing a longer wheelbase too. Finally, full LED lights are standard front and rear, an exclusive feature in this segment. Yes, Volkswagen is moving the Jetta closer to the premium market again.

Interior

  • Clean dashboard design
  • New infotainment system
  • New, softer materials
  • Optional leather seats
  • 10-color ambient lighting
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • New driver assistance features

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“The seats and door panels have been redesigned and come wrapped in new upholstery colors”

While not yet dated, at least when compared to other vehicles on the market, the outgoing Jetta’s interior was incredibly boring. Sure, the same was available for almost every other affordable compact a few years ago, but the Jetta needed a drastic makeover to bounce back. And Volkswagen delivered by creating a modern, fresh-looking cockpit for a four-door that’s supposed to tackle the upper market of the affordable compact segment.

The dashboard is no longer flat, now employing various angular lines and a more pronounced two tier design. The new infotainment display sits at the top, with the trapezoidal HVAC vents moved lower in the center stack. The control layout is much cleaner, while the new storage console is large enough to fit a standard iPad. The instrument cluster area feels sportier. The steering wheel is the only element that remained unchanged, with just minor upgrades to the control section.


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“New options include 10-color ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats”

The seats and door panels have been redesigned too and come wrapped in new upholstery colors. Volkswagen claims that it used higher quality and softer materials in the new Jetta. While this is evident in the photos, I can’t say it’s on par with other compact premium cars.

New options include 10-color ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory function, leather upholstery, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The infotainment screen is also new, making all vehicle information easily accessible. The Driver Personalization setting with up to four driver setting is standard and includes setups for driver seat memory, driver assistance system preferences, temperature, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement (if equipped), ambient lighting color, radio presets, and navigation view.


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“It's the only Volkswagen available with a 400-watt audio system in the U.S.”

The new Digital Cockpit instrument cluster is optional on the base model and standard on SEL and SEL Premium trims. It comes with a reconfigurable display and the possibility to position navigation data in front of the driver. Features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink integration, as well as the 400-watt Beats Audio sound system are optional. The latter makes the Jetta the first Volkswagen in the U.S. to offer such a powerful audio system.

There’s bigger news in the driver assistance department, with new technology available. The rearview camera is standard on every model, while the options list includes Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, High Beam Control, and Lane Departure Warning.

Drivetrain

  • New MQB platform
  • turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine
  • 147 horsepower
  • 184 pound-feet of torque
  • New six-speed manual
  • Optional eight-speed automatic
  • Start/stop system

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“The big news under the skin is that the Jetta adopted the flexible MQB platform”

The big news under the skin is that the Jetta finally ditched the old PQ35 platform, used since 2005. The sedan will now ride on the flexible MQB platform, shared with the Audi A3, Volkswagen Arteon, Atlas, T-Roc, and Polo, among other vehicles.

Volkswagen didn’t have much to say about the drivetrain, but it did confirm that the new compact uses a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. The unit cranks out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. That’s a three horsepower decrease compared to the outgoing 1.4-liter mill, but it keeps the Jetta at the top of the compact class output-wise.


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“The 1.4-liter unit cranks out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet”

But while the engine didn’t change much, it mates to a new six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic is offered optionally on the base model and standard on the higher trims and includes a start/stop system for improved fuel economy. There aren’t any EPA estimates yet, but the new platform, the revised engine, and the new transmissions should make the new Jetta more efficient that the previous model. The outgoing sedan returns 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, so it’s safe to assume that the redesigned model will surpass the 40-mpg mark on the highway.

Prices


2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 760125

The new Volkswagen Jetta will retail from $18,545. That’s a $100 drop compared to the outgoing model. The range-topping model will cost around $30,000 before options. Each car will come with the new People First Warranty with 6-years/72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) coverage. The new-generation sedan will be offered in the same four trims as the previous model: S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium, with an R-Line model to join the lineup at launch. Expect to find it in showrooms in the second quarter of 2018.

Competition

Toyota Corolla


2014 Toyota Corolla - image 509684

The world’s best selling nameplate since the 1990s, the Toyota Corolla is the car to beat in this segment. Introduced in 2013, the latest-generation Corolla may be a little old for the upcoming Jetta, but it’s still the most popular choice in most markets. However, it’s interior doesn’t feel as fresh and its limited drivetrain choices in the U.S. doesn’t make it as appealing to customers who want a bit more oomph. The compact is available with just one engine here, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, rated at either 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque or 140 horses and 126 pound-feet. The CVT transmission is standard, but Toyota also offers a six-speed manual. Mileage varies between 27 to 28 mpg city and 35 to 36 mpg highway depending on drivetrain. Pricing starts from $18,550 for the base model and goes up to $22,730 for the range-topping trim.

Read our full story on the Toyota Corolla.

Honda Civic


2016 Honda Civic - image 651097

The Civic is yet another compact that Volkswagen wants to steal customers from. Unlike the Corolla, the Civic sedan is brand-new for 2018 and boasts a sportier appearance. It’s notably larger than its predecessor and the Si model looks aggressive even when compared to the Jetta sketches above. Motivation comes from three different engines, starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. More oomph comes from the more expensive trims, which get juice from the turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-pot with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet. The tiny powerplant is found in the Si model too, rated at 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. The Si also enables Honda to better compete with the GLI version of the Jetta. Pricing starts from $18,840 for the base model, while the Touring trim retails from $26,700. The higher performance Si fetches $24,100 before options.

Read our full review of the Honda Civic and Honda Civic Si.

Chevrolet Cruze


2016 Chevrolet Cruze - image 634990

The Cruze also received a significant redesign recently, being only two years old for the 2018 model year. Now sporting a more upscale look and a premium-oriented interior, the current Cruze is being praised for its attractive cabin, appealing convenience and technology packages, and ample rear-seat legroom. The standard turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine, rated at 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet, returns solid fuel economy at 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. And unlike the competition, Chevy offers a diesel option in the form of a 1.6-liter EcoTec four-cylinder that cranks out 137 horses and 240 pound-feet of twist. The oil burner returns 30 mpg city and 52 mpg highway, the best mileage in this comparison. The Cruze is also the most affordable option, retailing from $17,850. In diesel trim, pricing starts from $22,195.

Read our full story on the Chevrolet Cruze.

Conclusion


2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 760122

The new Volkswagen Jetta is definitely an exciting car. Especially when compared to the outgoing model. The previous sedan was not only dated technology- and feature-wise, but it was also pretty boring to look at. Volkswagen fixed all of that and then some. I’m not a big fan of the Audi A4 rear end and the BMW-esque beltline, but I agree that the new design gave the Jetta a much-need refresh. I doubt it will raise above the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic sales-wise anytime soon, but it should attract more customers into Volkswagen dealerships.

  • Leave it
    • * No power upgrades
    • * No diesel option
    • * Most premium features are optional

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Coming Soon: VR6-Powered Volkswagen Arteon R

The Volkswagen Arteon sits on top of VW’s range, but for whatever reason, the flagship sedan tops out with a 2.0-liter TSI variant that pumps out 276 horsepower. That’s actually a decent number, but not for a car that’s supposed to have the status of the Arteon. Fortunately, good news is on the horizon, though, because Volkswagen is actually preparing a more potent VR6 version that could have as much as 400 horsepower at its disposal.


2018 Volkswagen Arteon - image 707904
“The plan is to give the sedan a 3.0-liter turbocharged VR6 engine that will sit above the current 2.5-liter version”

Speaking with Car Throttle, Volkswagen’s product line spokesperson Martin Hube confirmed the company’s plans for a V-6-powered Arteon. According to Hube, the plan is to give the sedan a 3.0-liter turbocharged VR6 engine that will sit above the current 2.5-liter version. In doing so, it will assume the role of the flagship version, one that will reportedly carry around 404 horsepower. Even better, Volkswagen already has a working prototype of the model so we can at least expect to see it soon, possibly as early as next year.

Hube added that the new engine will be complemented by the latest version of VW’s Haldex four-wheel drive system, allowing drivers to enjoy the sedan and get a good amount of oversteer. “This is a real agile, powerful car,” Hube said. “I’m totally convinced that this combination is extremely nice.”


2018 Volkswagen Arteon - image 707907
“Volkswagen already has a working prototype of the model so we can at least expect to see it soon, possibly as early as next year.”

As exciting as the thought of a V-6-powered Arteon is, not every market is expected to get it once the model is launched. Volkswagen UK has already said that it’s unlikely that the sedan will make it to the UK for a “variety of reasons.” Likewise, a US-spec version isn’t in the cards at the moment. It could still change in the future, but, for now, consider it a long shot, at best, that we’ll see a 404-horsepower Arteon in our shores.

References

Volkswagen Arteon


Coming Soon: VR6-Powered Volkswagen Arteon R - image 707939

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon.


maker logos - image 744354

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020

Volkswagen has made several I.D. concept vehicles over the years, but it seems one is finally in the works. The automaker’s I.D. Crozz Concept made its U.S. debut at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show after its initial debut last April at the Frankfort Motor Show. VW says the I.D. Crozz Concept will birth a production version, which will be the first of VW’s new generation of electric vehicles. What’s more, VW is promising (again) that its iconic Bus will be reborn for 2022. While hippies and Baby Boomers will approve, this isn’t the first time VW has made such a promise. Still, the Crozz seems more probable since it falls into the red-hot crossover category. VW says a total of 15 new EV vehicles are planned.

Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, says, “The I.D. CROZZ-based electric vehicle will be an affordable and stylish electric SUV.” It will be roughly the size of the 2018 Tiguan, but with a coupe-like shape. Power comes from an 83-kWh lithium-ion battery and is expected to have a 300-mile range. The part-time AWD crossover uses two electric motors – one on each axle – for a total output of 302 horsepower. VW says the Crozz will change to 80 percent in only 30 minutes using a 150-kWh DC charger. Self-driving technology is planned for 2025, too, so we could expect that to accompany the Crozz’s mid-cycle refresh. That’s just speculation, of course.

Continue reading for more on the 2020 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept.

From dirty diesels to self-driving electric vehicles


Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020
- image 749096
“Volkswagen is working hard to rid itself of the soot stains from Dieselgate, and the I.D. concepts are proof of that.”

Volkswagen is working hard to rid itself of the soot stains from Dieselgate, and the I.D. concepts are proof of that. These 15 new fully electric vehicles will have zero local emissions, after all. Besides what Tesla sells, electric vehicles are battling against the SUV craze and low fuel prices. Volkswagen is hoping to sway consumers toward its EV products with snazzy features and bright lights. Literally, they’re using lights.

Walk up to the I.D. Crozz Concept, and an LED light show emanates from the badges and headlights. The doors electrically open, with the front swinging a full 90 degrees and the rear door sliding open like a minivan. The absent B-pillar and glass roof makes the cabin feel extra large and inviting.

The rest of the interior takes a futuristic, minimalistic approach. LED lights illuminate the space, an infotainment screen is basically the only interface on the dash, and the steering wheel looks like something from TRON. A digital gauge cluster resides behind the wheel in a sort of form-fitted, metallic pod behind the wheel.


Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020
- image 749099
“The electric motors work independently of each other, with electricity sent to the rear-axle motor during normal driving conditions”

The electric drivetrain is also futuristic. The electric motors work independently of each other, with electricity sent to the rear-axle motor during normal driving conditions. The driver can engage the AWD and the front motor turns on. The 101-horse front motor and 201-horse rear motor combined for a total of 302 horsepower. VW didn’t announce a torque figure but count on it being pretty high.

Of course, pricing wasn’t discussed, but Woebcken did promise the Crozz would be affordable. We’d guess it’ll start in the lower $30,000 range. Then again, 2020 is still a long ways off.

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept - image 713927

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept.


Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough - image 730419

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ II Concept.


2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – Visitor's Guide - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

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