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Archive for the ‘Volkswagen’ Category

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car

This week has seen a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. While there are plenty of interesting aspects to the car, the overarching theme is practicality wrapped in a reserved package. Where most compact sedans use flowy lines and outlandish styling to attract attention, the Jetta remains straight-laced. This no-nonsense approach to styling carries over into the car, making it about as honest as a family sedan can get. For that, I’ve got to give it props.

The Jetta might be labeled a compact sedan, but it offers 94 cubic feet of passenger volume and 16 cubic feet of trunk space. Rear passengers enjoy 38.1 inches of legroom, 37.1 inches of headroom, and 55.2 inches of shoulder room. Though I’m not a tall guy, I had plenty of space sitting behind the driver’s seat set adjusted for me. Comparatively, the 2017 Honda Civic, one of the most popular cars in the segment, has 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, an equal amount of rear-seat headroom, 55 inches of rear seat shoulder room, and 37.4 inches of rear legroom.
The Civic sedan is down about one cubic-foot of trunk space, too.

In practice, the Jetta is roomy for four adults. The rear bench can seat three in a pinch, but two is far more comfortable. My five-year-old daughter’s booster seat fits nicely back here, as well, snugly nestled between the side bolster and the seatbelt latch. The seatbelt is easy enough for her to use and buckle by herself. She can even open and close the rear door on her own, making the school pickup line much less stressful. Despite the roomy feel, the Jetta is small enough mom and dad can reach back and touch the kids – either to hand them something or “administer a hand of justice.”

Mom and dad also have plenty of room up front with plenty of storage spots. Best of all, the 2018 Jetta SE comes at a bargain. My tester had no options, preserving its $21,245 MSRP. Volkswagen does tack on $850 for destination and delivery, but that’s a typical price for any new vehicle. The Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also inexpensive to fuel. The EPA estimates the Jetta with the five-speed manual to get 28 mpg city, an impressive 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined. I averaged right at 33 mpg during the week.

Stay tuned for the full, driven review of the 2018 VW Jetta and be sure to check out my other coverage of the car down below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car - image 738484

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.


How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better - image 738525

Read how the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better.

PostHeaderIcon How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better

This week I’m driving the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE – one trim up from the base model. It’s a no-frills sedan that doesn’t skimp on most modern “necessities” like power windows, keyless entry, and push-button start. There’s even a 6.3-inch touch screen with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. But one thing it’s missing is fancy controls for its HVAC system. Rather, this single-zone system has the three old-school knobs, three buttons, and nothing more. But you know what? It just works.

To understand my amazement of these simplistic controls, you’ve got to look at the Cadillac CTS-V I was driving last week. While I love that 640-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V-8, Cadillac’s CUE system spoiled my warm fuzzy feelings. Ask anyone and they’ll same the same – the CUE system is hard to use and requires taking eyes off the road and concentration in order to operate. Even the adjusting the HVAC’s temperature or fan speed settings is hard. The touch-sensitive, piano black surface of CUE sometimes didn’t respond to inputs and fingerprints were always visible.

Three minutes behind the Jetta’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, and I can operate the HVAC system without even looking. The knobs satisfyingly click as they rotate, making super simple to gauge how far you’ve turned them. What’s more, the direction and defrost knob allows for fine tuning between settings. For example, I can turn the knob one or two clicks towards the “feet” setting and still have the majority of air blowing at my face while my toes receive a slight breeze. It’s amazing.

So, here’s the thing. Automakers have a tendency to overcomplicate the little things. While this sometimes works in adding convenience, other times it only adds complexity and user frustration. I’d consider the Jetta’s HVAC controls more “luxurious” than the Cadillac’s CUE controls. Why? Simplicity wins out. Thankfully, Volkswagen’s upgraded HVAC controls with an automatic mode and dual-zone temperatures is just as simple to use, though it does lose out of the awesome adjustability between vent locations.

What do you think? Do you like simplicity over “high-tech,” yet complex controls? Do you consider simplicity a luxury? Let me know in the comments below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview

This week finds a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. No, it’s not a ground-breaking new model or even some mid-cycle refresh. Rather, the Jetta lives on unchanged for years past. For the most part, however, that’s just fine. In fact, I’ve quickly grown to appreciate the Jetta for its no-nonsense approach and impressive practicality.

This compact sedan offers some surprising features for being an SE trim, or in VW Jetta terms, one trim level up from the base S. It boasts keyless entry and go, and a respectability sized touch screen with a user-friendly interface. The system even includes satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Simple yet efficient HVAC controls and three-way heated front seats keep comfort levels high, though it’s missing dual-zone temperature controls and rear air vents.

Under the hood lies a 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder making 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission (yes, a five-speed) that powers the front wheels. Despite it missing a sixth gear, the EPA estimates the Jetta to get 28 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.

As for price, the 2018 Jetta SE with the standard manual transmission starts around $21,000.

Feel free to leave comments about anything you’d like to see on the Jetta or questions I can answer.

Overview Video

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

PostHeaderIcon Pour One Out For This Dearly-Departed Volkswagen Model

It probably lasted longer than it should’ve, but in the end, its time had finally come. The Volkswagen Scirocco is no more, ladies and gentlemen. It’s current form had a good nine-year run, but that run has come to an end after Car and Driver discovered that the German automaker had stopped taking orders for the sport compact coupe. There is, however, an unspecified number of models that are still in stock so if anybody’s keen on getting one before they’re all sold out, now’s the time to do it.

The status of the Scirocco shouldn’t have been in question to begin with. Despite its lack of fanfare, the sports compact coupe was as enticing an offering in its segment as any other model of its kind. But, the Scirocco never seemed to get out of the huge shadow cast by the vastly more popular Golf hatchback, which has become Volkswagen’s go-to front-wheel-drive vehicle. Compound the loss of appeal with Volkswagen’s idiotic Dieselgate scandal and the Scirocco suddenly became expendable in the eyes of the VW Group brain trust. So, is this the end of the Scirocco nameplate? It may as well be, although there’s a chance that the name could be brought back at some point in the future, albeit in a different package.

There have been rumors that VW was considering axing the current Scirocco and then bring back the name at a later date as part of its electric car lineup. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine such a scenario happening and there have even been whispers that a Scirocco EV is already in the works with plans to fit it with a number of different output options, including a range-topping unit that produces 300 horsepower. Think what you will of the gossip, but rest assured, the current iteration of the Volkswagen Scirocco is all but retired. It had a good run, though, so raise those glasses and toast to the dearly departed FWD sports compact coupe. It’s been fun.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

The Volkswagen Scirocco was a victim of circumstances that were out of its control


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542285
“Dieselgate is partly to blame for the Scirocco’s demise, but it’s not the only reason either”

Every decision that Volkswagen has made recently somehow finds its way back to the Dieselgate scandal. That’s how devastating it’s been for the German automaker, though, nobody’s going to throw it any pity parties. The punishments were well deserved and, while we’ve had to deal with the consequences ourselves, there’s nothing we – or Volkswagen – can do about it but look forward to the future.

So, Dieselgate is partly to blame for the Scirocco’s demise, but it’s not the only reason either. Sagging interest for a car that was once named Car of the Year by Top Gear Magazine compounded the issues plaguing the sports compact coupe, as did new priorities within VW that looked into the future of the automaker as a whole. One could also argue about the car’s age as a reason behind its axing. The current generation has been around for nine years and has only had one facelift – back in 2014 – to show for it. In short, the Scirocco was long overdue for a makeover if it was to continue its role as the automaker’s entry-level sports coupe.


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542287
“The current generation has been around for nine years and has only had one facelift – back in 2014”

It just so happened that the rationale for developing one wasn’t all that attractive anymore. It certainly would’ve cost the German auto giant money to develop it with absolutely no guarantees that it could hold up for as long as the current-gen model has. So, instead of forcing it, Volkswagen smartly cut its ties on a car that wasn’t long for the world anyway.

The good news to all of this though is that the Scirocco name may not be dead very long, especially if rumors about Volkswagen bringing the name back end up being true. We know that the VW is planning and developing a new small coupe with its upcoming MEB platform. Could it be that this small coupe will take the name of the Scirocco once it’s launched? I wouldn’t put it past anything that it does. For now, we’re going to need to start getting used to a world without the Volkswagen Scirocco in it. The car may be relatively new in its current format, but in the space of nine years, it sure as heck made quite an impression on the thousands of people who proudly got the chance to own one.

References

Volkswagen Scirocco


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542289

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Scirocco.


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco R - image 542295

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Scirocco R.


1974 - 1992 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 240161

Read more about the first generation Volkswagen Scirocco.

PostHeaderIcon Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time

You can buy just about anything online these days including things like computers, firearms, food, and car parts. And, as sure as the sky is blue, it was inevitable that we would eventually be able to buy cars online too. Well, Volkswagen is looking to take that big first step in online car sales as it plans to cut down its dealer footprint in Europe and increase average dealer returns by as much as a whole percent.

So far little is known about the situation, but since the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen Automotive Group has been doing its best to cut down costs across all 12 of its brands. Ideally, the group’s new “future sales model” will increase profitability and efficiency of its dealer network by some 10 percent which, along with trimming costs, will allow higher returns to each distributor. For now, this move is limited to European dealerships and chances are that once the online portal – which is being developed through a collaboration between VAG and its distributor – is complete a number of dealerships will eventually be axed. But, if VW is looking to increase profitability and efficiency by 10 percent, one couldn’t be blamed for assuming that VW would cut down 10 percent of its distributor network. That could mean as many as 300 dealers across Europe will close their doors as online purchasing begins to increase.

Apparently, Volkswagen has gotten its hands on some new IT equipment as well, as the group is claiming that its use could cut the time needed to service cars by as much as 70 percent. With each dealer employing an average of around 35 employees each, a few of job loss could be looming, but VW is confident that it can cut its workforce down by at least four in each dealer, who will then be assigned somewhere else. Rumor has it that the birth of a new dealer contract in 2018 will include a clause that allows dealers to dictate their own workforce, and as such, the trimming of staff will fall on each dealership individually.

Now, the question is, will this online portal actually be used by those looking to buy a car, and if it is successful, can it work around the world? Keep reading to hear more about it.

Dealerships be Gone


Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time - image 737907
“I’m imaging a world where the technology like the internet and artificial reality will completely replace the car dealership altogether”

I’m imaging a world where the technology like the internet and artificial reality will completely replace the car dealership altogether. Ready for a new car? Just sit down at the computer, throw on your headset, and navigate to your favorite brand’s online showroom. With high-end graphics and technology that allows you to feel, taste, and sense what’s going on in the virtual world, you can take a virtual test drive, scope the car out, and enjoy it all right from your home office or even your bed. We might not be there quite yet, but they do have a technology that allows you to send tastes over the internet, and some high-end AR kits do include some form of sense displacement for realism. So, it’s only a matter of time really.

With the way we all naturally go online to buy anything, it’s almost guaranteed that online car buying will be a big hit. No dealing with salesmen, no gimmicks or nonsense, and the car can be delivered right to your driveway in a matter of hours if you’re close enough to a distribution facility. And, in time, manufacturers could even include trade in options that allow you to photograph your vehicle and take your trade-in deduction right on the spot.


Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time - image 737905
“Unless manufacturers really want to be greedy, they could even drop prices and still maintain the same profitability”

On top of that, unless manufacturers really want to be greedy (I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be) they could even drop prices and still maintain the same profitability – no dealer means no overhead costs for a sales front outside of the people that keep the current websites going anyway. No dealer also means no salesman to take commissions, no bonuses, and ultimately a lower price for us, hopefully. Can it work in the U.S.? it’s hard to say, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We’re even lazier than the folks across the drink so I’m sure we’d certainly love to take advantage of online car buying.

What do you think? Would you buy a car and complete the entire process online? Let me know in the comments section below.

References


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia

We knew it was coming sooner than later. Now that the women of Saudi Arabia are all set to be allowed to drive, automakers from all over the world have been quick to react to the ground-breaking news, celebrating the development on the social media with hashtags #SaudiWomenMove and #SaudiWomenCanDrive.

Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were the first automakers to post their congratulations and promote themselves to the women of Saudi Arabia, getting the word out early that they’re ready to welcome women drivers into the driver’s seat for the first time in the history of the Middle Eastern country. The quick response to the living of the driving ban was a smart move, particularly because of the business potential that it offers for a lot of these companies. Data gathered by The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association revealed that Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of vehicles and parts in the entire Middle East region. At the same time, data from LMC Automotive pointed to Saudi Arabia as the 21st biggest automotive market in the world, a figure that could go up with the potential of having more customers by virtue of lifting the ban. In total, Merrill Lynch estimates that as many as nine million potential new drivers could be in the hunt for new cars in Saudi Arabia, including 2.7 million resident non-Saudi women. With all these numbers being thrown out, it’s no wonder that companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were quick to roll out the carpet for Saudi women. It’s going to be great for business!

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Check out the social media posts from these automakers

Some might say that Ford, Nissan, and Volkswagen are simply taking advantage of the situation regarding the lifting of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. To that, I say the three automakers are doing exactly what everybody should be doing at this point. By all accounts, the Saudi Arabian market is one of the most lucrative auto markets in the world and the potential of it becoming more lucrative by introducing close to 10 million new drivers is a huge opportunity for automakers to expand their businesses.

Ford Middle East was one of the first to comment on the lifting of the ban with a smart and visually catchy post depicting a rearview mirror with a woman’s face on it. The surrounding area is all black, evoking an image of a woman wearing a niqab, a garment of clothing traditionally worn by Muslim women to cover their heads, leaving only a small slit for the eyes. The Ford post was accompanied by a simple “Welcome to the driver’s seat” message to go along with the hashtags #SaudiWomenMove and #SaudiWomenCanDrive.


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736336

Note: photo of Ford’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

For their parts, Nissan Middle East and Volkswagen Middle East also posted about the lifting of the ban. Nissan threw in an image of a Saudi license plate with “2018” and “GRL” on it. That’s an easy nod to the year 2018, the year that the ban is expected to be officially lifted by the Saudi Arabian government. The “GRL” letters reflect a shortened version of “girl.”


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736337

Note: photo of Nissan’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

Volkswagen’s post also plays up the imagination with an image of a woman’s fists and the words “My Turn” between them. The image itself appears to hint at a woman holding the steering wheel of a car. The German automaker added a message on its post, telling future women drivers “It’s your turn; take over the driver’s seat.”


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736338

Note: photo of Volkswagen’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

Given how important this development is, I fully expect more automakers to follow soon with their own social media posts, welcoming Saudi Arabian women to live in the fast lane.

References


Dubai Takes Delivery Of Tesla Model S And Model X Taxis - image 732860

Read more Middle East news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen GLI – Driven

The Volkswagen GLI is kind of like the Volkswagen GTI hot hatch — only, no hatch. Instead of throwing a lot of go-quick goodies into a Golf, the VW skunkworks had its way with a Jetta. The result is a seriously fun compact sedan that won’t break the bank.

Just a few weeks ago, I drove the more pedestrian Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.4T with a five-speed manual transmission. The GLI I drove for this review was unfortunately an automatic, but in all other ways was quicker and more engaging to drive than its easygoing sibling — which is not to say I found the regular Jetta boring to drive. I might go so far as to say I preferred the Jetta 1.4T over most compact, front-wheel drive cars I have reviewed in recent years.

Among compact sedans with hotted-up chassis and engine components, the GLI might just make it 2-for-2 for Volkswagen.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735273

Volkswagen has a history of trendsetting design. While some reviewers say the brand’s current lineup is too conservative or boring, I think time is going to be far kinder to VW’s current designs than those of some of its competitors. In other words, as I said in my review of the Jetta, I think VW has picked designs that will age gracefully.

“The GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta and puts a little more attitude into it”

The GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta and puts a little more attitude into it. Lower body moldings make the car appear lower and more aerodynamic. Tasteful red accents outside (GLI badges, grille opening, brake calipers) and inside (dashboard accent, steering wheel stitching, door trim pieces) make it clear to keen observers that this is no ordinary Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735263

2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735264

Up front, the GLI has some GTI styling cues. The fog lights are surrounded by aero strakes, and the grille openings are filled with honeycomb plastic instead of VW’s usual horizontal bar motif. From the side, the GLI has all of the elements that make the Jetta pleasing to the eye, with additional ground-effects that make it look more speedy. At the rear, a subtle trunk lip spoiler, dual exhaust tips, and a small GLI badge tip off educated viewers to its performance credentials.

Bridgestone Potenza 225/40R18 Y-rated directional performance tires might also communicate the GLI’s intentions, for folks who take notice of things like that.

Interior Notes


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735261

The 2017 Volkswagen GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta SE and dials it up with slightly nicer trim and finishes. There was soft-touch injection-molded plastic in several places where the cheaper Jetta SE had hard-touch, scratchy plastics. The V-Tex leatherette seats were accented with sporty red stitching. In some places where the Jetta SE had piano black plastic trim, the GLI had metal trim — most notably, the bottom spokes of the steering wheel, which itself was laced with red stitching.

“Controls are simple and purposeful, and the design of the interior doesn’t try to distract the driver”

Everything else is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Jetta remains roomy inside, with 41 inches of legroom for front occupants and 38 inches for rear passengers. Controls are simple and purposeful, and the design of the interior doesn’t try to distract the driver — something that should be a priority for anyone claiming to build a “driver’s car.”


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735249

2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735254

If you’re like me, with two small kids to tote around in the back seat, you’ll appreciate the space the GLI offers for wee ones who are still traveling in car seats. Think of it as a GTI with more room in the back seat. The trunk is pretty huge too, at 15.7 cubic feet — plenty for toting travel supplies for the wee ones and a week’s worth of groceries at the same time.

Powertrain Notes


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735248

Sporting the 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine from the GTI, the 2017 VW GLI is making about 60 more horses than that 1.4-liter turbo in the Jetta SE I tested earlier. Output is listed at 210 horsepower at 5,300 RPM (on premium fuel) and 207 pound-feet of torque at just 1,700 RPM.

“Shifts were crisp when accelerating briskly”

In my test car, this smooth, torque-happy engine was paired with VW’s six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Shifts were crisp when accelerating briskly — which I did, a lot. But the transmission also proved smooth as silk during run-of-the-mill commuting while hauling the kids to school or doing the weekly grocery run. Admirably, there was no noticeable shuddering or clutch-slip feeling at low speeds — a problem that affects some dual-clutch automatics, in my experience.

A six-speed manual transmission is available, and to be honest, I would have preferred that. A car with the great engine and chassis of the GLI begs for it. I’m not saying the DSG was bad. It’s just not got enough pedals for me.

“The car uses VW’s XDS brake-based system that will selectively apply a little brake pressure to the inside wheels in a turn as weight transfers off of them”

Volkswagen does not include a true limited-slip differential in the GLI, but the car uses VW’s XDS brake-based system that will selectively apply a little brake pressure to the inside wheels in a turn as weight transfers off of them. This feels a little like a limited-slip diff to those of us driving well below the chassis’ limits on public roads, but would probably show its shortcomings on a track when compared to a true limited-slip or locking differential, where you want to save your brakes for, you know, braking.

The Drive


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735277

The Volkswagen GLI is a little heavier, with a little longer wheelbase than its GTI cousin, but the powertrain and VW’s excellent chassis tuning make it a lot of fun in the twisty stuff.

“The Volkswagen GLI is a little heavier, with a little longer wheelbase than its GTI cousin”

Steering feel is a notch above the already-excellent feel offered in the Jetta SE I drove previously, with a little more heft and feedback. However, the car will break traction a bit on the inside front wheel when cornering hard and hitting the gas with aggression. With traction control switched off, the steering wheel will fight you a little if you mat the skinny pedal. But for the majority of my spirited backroad driving, the GLI remained a courteous dance partner.

“Those 210 horses are ready to gallop at a moment’s notice”

When I had my wife and kids in the car, no one complained about a harsh ride or road noise. That can be a challenge for hotted-up family sedans, in my experience. It’s all the more laudable because of those 225/40R18 Bridgestone Potenzas.

Acceleration and braking were, of course, excellent. Those 210 horses are ready to gallop at a moment’s notice. They put a grin on my face a lot during the test week.

The Competition

Nissan Sentra NISMO


2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO - image 695518

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO - image 695524

Nissan decided to get into the hot compact sedan game with two models in the last year: First, the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo, which gave the Sentra the 188-horsepower turbocharged heart of the Nissan Juke along with some suspension and chassis tweaks to stiffen the car. Then they tweaked the suspension tuning and chassis bracing a bit more to give us the Sentra NISMO.

The NISMO’s primary differentiating factor from its SR Turbo sister is its borderline tacky body trim. If the folks in Yokohama really wanted to compete with the GLI, they should have given the Juke engine the same 215-horsepower tune found in the Juke NISMO RS. As it is, the GLI is much, much more powerful both by the numbers and by the seat of your pants. Let’s not even talk about the Xtronic CVT in the Sentra NISMO. It can’t hold a candle to the driving feel offered by the DSG automatic in the GLI, for those who choose shiftlessness.

“If the folks in Yokohama really wanted to compete with the GLI, they should have given the Juke engine the same 215-horsepower tune found in the Juke NISMO RS”

There are good things to note about the Sentra NISMO. Alcantara NISMO sport seats are excellent, and Alcantara on the steering wheel feels great. Like the GLI, backseat legroom is prodigious, and the trunk is cavernous. It’s a good choice for those who have a family but don’t want to drive one of the many numb, uninspiring entries in the compact or midsize sedan segments.

The primary advantage the Sentra NISMO holds over the GLI may be real-world transaction prices. Nissan has always prided itself on offering a strong value quotient, and the Sentra NISMO is no exception. A base Sentra NISMO starts at $24,990, which undercuts the base GLI by nearly $3,000 before dealer discounts. Usually, it will be easier to get a Nissan dealer to discount the Sentra NISMO than it will be to get a VW dealer to discount the GLI.

It bears mentioning the GLI has more standard equipment, including Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility that is not available in the Sentra NISMO at any price.

Read our full review on the Nissan Sentra NISMO.

Hyundai Elantra Sport


2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682259

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682244

The Hyundai Elantra Sport is Korea’s take on a hot compact sedan. Its 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is plenty strong, but lacks the GLI’s refinement. The Hyundai’s engine sounds thrashy and unpleasant at higher revs.

“Where VW’s DSG is silky smooth at all speeds, the Elantra Sport’s transmission exhibits plenty of clutch-slip at low speeds”

Hyundai falls short on its dual-clutch automated manual gearbox, too. Where VW’s DSG is silky smooth at all speeds, the Elantra Sport’s transmission exhibits plenty of clutch-slip at low speeds. I noticed that a lot when parking or backing the Elantra Sport, making parking lots and parallel street-parking spaces a chore.

The Elantra Sport also tended to plow into turns more than the GLI, and its ride was harsher. All in all, it felt like a good effort, but lacked the polish of the VW GLI.

Where Hyundai beats VW is, of course, warranty. The Elantra Sport gets a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty just like all Hyundais. Hyundai also offers real leather, if VW’s V-Tex leatherette bothers you.

Hyundai also beats VW and even value-oriented Nissan on pricing, with Elantra Sport ringing in at $21,800 for a well-equipped base model. While it’s a little less rambunctious than either car, it’s also a lot cheaper.

Read our full review on the Hyundai Elantra Sport.

Ford Focus ST


2015 Ford Focus ST - image 696645

2015 Ford Focus ST - image 696626

The hottest competitor in this race may be Ford, whose Focus comes in both ST and RS flavors. The RS really is a trackable car, ready to take to the autocross or your local track day at the weekend. But the ST is the livable, street performance car — and it’s putting down a lot more power than the VW GLI, at 252 horses and 270 pound-feet of torque.

The caveat: Ford only offers the Focus ST in hatchback form, so it’s kind of the oddball in terms of styling, among this group. But in all other ways, it’s clearly aiming for the GLI and its cohort — right down to its starting price of $24,775.

“Its legroom is a far cry from the GLI, at just 33.2 inches in the rear seat.”

What may hurt the Focus is its tight interior confines. Its legroom is a far cry from the GLI, at just 33.2 inches in the rear seat. So if your passengers are on the taller side, your front-seat room may be compromised.

If passengers aren’t a priority, however, the Focus ST offers decent cargo space — with 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and 43.9 cubic feet behind the first row with the back seats folded. It would be a fun way to get to band practice.

Read our full review on the Ford Focus ST.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735271

I’m the perfect candidate for these cars. I’m married, I’m past the age where insurance would kill me if I owned a “performance” car, and I have two fast-growing kids. But I don’t want to get a fun car only to have to feed it copious amounts of unleaded. These relatively fuel-efficient cars with warmed-up powertrains and nice handling offer a good combo of practicality and driving engagement that hits me right in the bullseye.

“The GLI made a strong play for my emotions”

The GLI made a strong play for my emotions. It returned just shy of 30 MPG even though I drove it pretty hard and did a lot of idling during photos. It made me happy just to drive my kids to school and do random errands for the family. Need milk? Sure! No problem! I’ll drive to the next town — it’s cheaper there!

I admit, I’m a Nissan fanboy, and the Sentra NISMO makes me swoon a little, even though I’m not crazy about the boy-racer body trim. But the fact that Nissan could have easily tuned the engine for GLI-competitive power frustrates me as an enthusiast.

I’ve also owned Fords, so I have a soft spot for the Focus ST. But There’s so much I don’t like about the Focus. I feel like it’s a compromised choice, for me. The interior feels too claustrophobic. I detest Ford’s distraction-filled interior design, too.

The Hyundai Elantra Sport doesn’t do much to stir my blood compared to the GLI, Sentra NISMO, and the Focus ST, but I admire its warranty and value.

“I place the GLI at the top of the segment”

I place the GLI at the top of the segment. Its combination of refinement and user-friendliness is unmatched, even if the Focus ST is faster, the Sentra NISMO is flashier to look at, and the Elantra Sport has a longer powertrain warranty and cheaper price.

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

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729227

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.4T


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Keep Your Beer Chilled with the Volkswagen Microbus-Inspired Fridge

First launched in 1949, the Microbus is now one of Volkswagen’s most legendary creations, alongside the equally iconic Beetle. So it’s far from surprising that the German firm is planning to offer a new retro-looking van under the same name by 2022. Just like it’s not surprising that many people got really excited at the thought of being able to buy a modern Microbus in the near future. The only downside is that we’re almost five years away from seeing it in the metal. So just in case, you can’t handle the long wait, here’s a cool fridge you can buy.

“Did you say fridge?!” Yup, that’s what I said. You’re probably wondering what a fridge got to do with the Volkswagen Microbus. Well, Gorenje’s latest Retro Special Edition is inspired by the Volkswagen Microbus. More specifically, its design resembles that of the 1960s Microbus’ front fascia. Both the two-tone finish separated by the big V-shaped chrome trim and the “VW” emblem are there, while the handle that looks as if borrowed from the van adds to the effect. Oh, and the one used in all the commercial is painted is a gorgeous aqua blue that’s as vintage as they get. Obviously, you can also have it in red.

Continue reading for the full story.

It’s Modern Too

This fridge may look vintage, but it’s pretty modern on the inside. It comes with DynamiCooling, an advanced fan system that evenly distributes the temperature throughout the refrigerator, and IonAir technology, which enriches cool air with extra negative ions that prevent unpleasant odors from spreading inside. Besides preventing leftovers from taking over the inside of the fridge, it also helps food retain its minerals and vitamins for longer. Pretty cool. And, pretty much just like I expect the new Microbus to be: vintage on the outside, modern on the inside.

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ - image 700714

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


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven

Crossovers and SUVs might be the hot-ticket item these days, but sedans still hold an extremely important part in the automotive landscape. Mid-size sedans, especially, continue to post impressive sales numbers. Back for the 2011 model year, Volkswagen decided it needed a bigger slice of the American pie, so it introduced a version of its popular Passat build especially for the U.S. market. A refresh for 2016 brought sharpened body lines, a more chiseled face, and a slightly reworked interior. Now, a year later, the 2017 Passat soldiers on with nary a change. But, is this mid-size sedan got what it takes to rival the segment stalwarts, namely the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord?

To find out, I recently spent three weeks behind the wheel of a Passat R-Line. What’s the R-Line, you ask? It boils down to a dolled-up version of the base Passat. It comes with larger wheels, a more up-scale front fascia, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Better yet, the swankier trim doesn’t come with a massive price tag. It’s only $1,535 more than the base Passat S and retails for $23,875. And thanks to its 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and FWD, it’s frugal at the pump, too, returning an EPA-estimated 34 mpg on the highway. Nevertheless, both the Camry and Accord are completely new for 2018 and will be stiff competition for this Tennessee-built car with German roots.

Continue reading for more on the Volkswagen Passat R-Line.

Video Review

Exterior


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568
“The Passat is low-key without being low-buck.”

Volkswagen’s refresh of the Passat for 2016 brought some welcomed changes. First, the rounded edges seen in the front fascia and taillights have been completely eliminated. In their place are crisp lines and sharp angles complemented by a reserved use of chrome accents. The new look certainly gives the Passat a more upscale yet not over-hyped appearance. It’s low-key without being low-buck. Well, at least looking low-buck.

The Passat R-Line is technically a base-level Passat with some fancy design upgrades to make it more attractive. For $1,535, the R-Line brings some healthy additions, including the trim-specific bumpers, the 19-inch alloy wheels found on higher trim levels, and the VW Car-Net App-Connect within the infotainment system. Side by side, the Passat S looks like a fleet-based rental car, while the Passat R-Line looks like your bosses ride. That’s definitely worth the extra scratch to many folks.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733555

2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733550

Adding to the stately nature of the Passat R-Line’s aesthetics is the available Platinum Gray Metallic paint seen on my tester. The hue is almost matte, though it has a perfectly shiny clear-coat. It’s not a paint type seen many places in the automotive industry. That worth something. Five other colors are available on the R-Line and none of them are designed to call attention to the car – well, save for maybe Fortana Red Metallic, a deeper shade of red but that isn’t quite burgundy.

“About the only major option available on the Passat R-Line is the R-Line Lighting upgrade – $1,095 worth of LED headlights and daytime running lights”

About the only major option available on the Passat R-Line is the R-Line Lighting upgrade – $1,095 worth of LED headlights and daytime running lights mixed with a more modern appearance over the halogen-based headlights that come standard. My tester skipped this upgrade, but the halogen headlights did just fine, though the low-beams seem to be aimed a bit too close.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733564

Holistically, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line can be described as a self-respecting car that doesn’t need flashy curves or intricate designs that attract attention. No, if the Passat garners attention, its thanks to the minimalistic approach VW designers took to vehicle design.

Interior


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733541

Volkswagen’s minimalistic theme carries into the Passat’s interior. Everything wears a reserved and non-offensive style that creates a feeling of usefulness without excess. There is no swoopy dashboard or outlandish contrast stitching. Chrome is kept to a minimum and creature comforts are restricted to what most people these days would consider basic. The R-Line comes with dual-zone climate controls, heated front seats, basic power adjustments in the driver’s seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. There’s only one USB port, there are no rear HVAC vents (but are included in higher trims), and the “leather” seats are actually leatherette, or in other words, a soft vinyl.

“The Passat R-Line feels handsome and not over-burdened with technology that could break in five years”

Yet because of this design approach, the Passat R-Line feels handsome and not over-burdened with technology that could break in five years. Better yet, it keeps the cost down. (We’ll get to more on pricing later.) What you get is a roomy four-door sedan with generous room for four regular-sized people or five should the three in the rear seat not mind getting closely acquainted. Let room is surprisingly abundant in all but that unloved rear-middle seat.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733537

2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733539

The Passat offers versatility, too. The rear seatbacks split in a 60/40 style, allowing for larger cargo to be hauled. I dropped the seats to bring home a few eight-foot-long strips of wood from the home improvement store. The trunk is also huge at 15.9 cubic square feet. It boats a handy cubby for things like a gallon of milk, while smaller items like ice scrapers and gloves can be stored in the spare tire compartment. The only downside to the Passat’s trunk are its exposed trunk lid hinges. They present the risk of crushing luggage or groceries should the trunk be packed too full.

“The software just feels aged and its menus aren’t as friendly to navigate”

Behind the wheel, the driver enjoys a leather-wrapped, three-spoke wheel with multi-function controls and paddle shifters. Analog gauges display speed, engine revs, fuel level, and coolant temperature, while a digital driver information screen shows more detailed vehicle stats. It’s not the most modern of gauge clusters, but the classic style should stay looking undated for a while. The same can’t be said for the 6.3-inch infotainment system. The software just feels aged and its menus aren’t as friendly to navigate. But thanks to the Car-Net system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present. I found myself using CarPlay more often than no, despite its inherently finicky operation.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733525

Overall, the Passat R-Line offers tons of space for passengers, plenty of legroom and headroom for taller folks, a generous amount of cargo space, and a design theme that most will find soothingly simple.

Drivetrain


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733547

The 2017 Passat is available with two engines: the 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder and the 3.6-liter VR6. Not surprisingly in these days, the V-6 is limited to the SE w/ Technology and SEL Premium trims and only if customers want it. The four-cylinder comes standard everywhere else.

The 1.8-liter uses an older iron-block design, but cuts some weight with aluminum cylinder heads. Dual overhead camshafts control 16 valves (four per cylinder) and direct fuel injection keeps fuel usage to a minimum. Interestingly, the TSI engine does not have variable valve timing.

“Horsepower is rated at 170 at 6,200 rpm and torque comes in at 184 pound-feet at only 1,500 rpm”

Horsepower is rated at 170 at 6,200 rpm and torque comes in at 184 pound-feet at only 1,500 rpm. And torque is what this engine loves to deliver. Just off idle lies a generous supply of twist, enough to move the Passat through city traffic with ease. Merging onto the Interstate takes a bit more planning, however. The 1.8-liter and its six-speed automatic transmission are programmed to keep the turbo away from boost unless absolutely needed. In fact, a detent at the far end of the accelerator’s travel must be passed in order to wring the most from the engine. The transmission does have a sport setting, though it doesn’t change the shifting characteristics as drastically as many sport modes do on modern vehicles. Of course, you can shift yourself with the paddles or slap-stick gearshifter, but plan on a one-second delay between the request and action.

Since Volkswagen clearly traded a sporty driving nature for a more fuel-frugal tune, the Passat 1.8 offers respectable fuel economy. The EPA estimates 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Oddly, these numbers are less impressive than the 2016 Passat equipped identically. Last year, the 2016 Passat 1.8 was estimated to achieve 25 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.

“The EPA estimates 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined”

I averaged 27.9 mpg during my extended, three-week loan where I drove just over 1,000 miles in mixed conditions.

For customers wanting AWD or a hybrid powertrain, the Passat simply can’t deliver. It’s only available in FWD and with the two aforementioned gasoline engines. And of course, there isn’t a turbodiesel option either.

Behind The Wheel


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733545

Sliding into the driver’s seat, I quickly noticed a few negatives. First, the steering column doesn’t extend far enough toward the driver. It will push almost all the way towards the dash – you know – to accommodate grandma and her short legs. This made my reach to the steering wheel feel excessive and meant I had to roll my seat forward. However, by doing so, the majority of the center armrest resides behind the seatback. That meant I had very little armrest to use when properly arranged behind the wheel. What’s worse, the armrest’s leading edge is sloped and smooth. Wearing a long-sleeve dress shirt makes it darn near impossible to keep an elbow firmly planted on the armrest without it uncontrollably sliding off.

Those ergonomic complaints aside, the Volkswagen Passat offers a clean dashboard with logical placements of buttons and controls like the HVAC system. Large cup holders makes it easy to bring the Big Gulp and storage compartments ahead of the gearshifter and in the door pockets offer plenty of space for odds and ends. Naturally, there is also space under the center armrest. Volkswagen also puts a conveniently fold-out tray just under the headlight controls.

“The Volkswagen Passat offers a clean dashboard with logical placements of buttons and controls like the HVAC system”

Driving down the road, the Passat handles as well as a non-sport sedan can be expected to. Body motions are controlled over bumps and through turns. Road noise can get loud on rough pavement, but is otherwise not an issue. I did find the Passat to become a bit floaty at highway speeds when hitting undulating bumps and expansion joints. It’s not a big deal, but was a noticeable characterizes I don’t find in many of my test vehicles.

Nevertheless, I can’t complain too much about the VW Passat. It does its job of A-to-B transportation without issue and its German feel imparts a sense of luxury not found in other brands. It’s a comfortable cruiser and a practical grocery getter with plenty of room for families under five members

Pricing


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733561

Perhaps the Volkswagen Passat R-Line’s greatest attribute is its reasonable price tag. The 2017 model starts at $23,975, which is only $1,535 more than the base Passat S. The R-Line also undercuts the SE trim by $1,520, making a good middle-ground for price-conscious shoppers. Of course, if you’ve got money to burn, Volkswagen will happily sell you a Passat V-6 SLE Premium for $33,995. That trim brings a Fender audio system, lane departure warning, and leather seats, on top of the upgrades found in the SE w/ Technology trim. Those include the upgraded infotainment system with Discovery Media, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Park Distance Control.

My R-Line tester came with zero options, so the $820 destination fee is the only add-on cost. That brought the total price to $24,795.

The Competition

2018 Honda Accord


2018 Honda Accord - image 723400

2018 Honda Accord - image 723396

Honda has brought some major changes to the Accord for 2018. The family sedan moves into its 10th generation and wears all-new styling inside and out. The wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer and the body is constructed of more high-strength steel, contributing to a more taut chassis.

A pair of turbocharged four-cylinders are avaiable under the hood. The standard mill is a 1.5-liter unit with 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Customers can opt for the 2.0-liter derived from the powerhouse used in the Civic Type R and delivers 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the Accord. Sadly, the venerable 3.5-liter V-6 is no longer an option. Honda offers three transmission choices. The 1.5-liter can be paired with a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.0-liter can get the manual, too, or as most buyers will choose, with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of engine, transmission, or trim level choice, the 2018 Accord has a two-setting drive mode selector. This offers Normal and Sport settings, with changes taking place within the steering feel, (automatic) transmission shift points, and throttle response. Active dampers are available on some trims, too, and change firmness between the driving modes. Those wanting a hybrid model will be happy to know Honda offers that trim for the 2018 Accord.

Pricing for the 2018 Honda Accord hasn’t been released as of this review, but I’m not expecting Honda to raise its prices too much. Expect the MSRP to begin around $23,000 and cap out around $36,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Accord.

2018 Toyota Camry


2018 Toyota Camry - image 703838

2018 Toyota Camry - image 703839

Equally new for 2018 is the hot-selling Toyota Camry. Toyota has completely reworked this mid-size family hauler into a more athletic, fun-looking ride that is a drastic departure from the yawn-inducing Camrys of past generations. It’s also longer, wider, and its roofline has a more coupe-ish slope. A heavily updated interior includes Toyota’s latest 3.0 Entune system, though oddly it doesn’t include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The swoopy dash looks like it came from Lexus and the two-tone leather seats in the upper trims might make some believe Toyota actually borrowed from its luxury division’s parts bin.

Under the hood are three available powertrain options, all of which are new. The standard engine is a revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Optionally, a new 3.5-liter V-6 brings more power with 301 horses and 267 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission designed for better fuel efficiency. If it’s maximum fuel-sipping you want, a hybrid powertrain delivers an impressive 51 mpg city and 53 mpg highway with the LE trim. All hybrid Camrys use the 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a CVT transmission.

Pricing for the 2018 Toyota Camry starts at $23,495 and can grow to around $35,000 when fully decked out in the XSE V6 trim.

Read our full review on the Toyota Camry.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733564

The Volkswagen brand has been about creating cars for everyday people for as long as it’s been around. Its name quite literally describes that. The Passat does a great job at embodying this philosophy by offering a sedan with plenty of room for four adults and their cargo, wrapped in an attractive yet not overstated package, all at a reasonable price. It’s hard to argue against the practicality of that.

While I did find the Passat’s telescoping steering column to lack enough adjustability which led to a somewhat uncomfortable diving position, it wasn’t enough to quench my respect for the car. Especially in the R-Line, the Passat just works as a no-nonsense machine with just the right amount of character. There is certainly a lot to be said about that.

  • Leave it
    • Odd relationship between steering column, driver seat, & center armrest
    • Drivetrain tuned for only comfort
    • Stiff competition

References

Volkswagen Passat


2016 Volkswagen Passat - image 647574

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Passat.

Volkswagen Passat 1.8T


2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T – Driven - image 697349

Read our full driven review on the Volkswagen Passat 1.8T.


2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI - image 731366

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II Concept

Volkswagen is taking the shift to electric vehicles very seriously, and as such, it has been flooding us with concept after concept that features futuristic looks, new technology, and all-electric drivetrains. We’ve seen the I.D. BUZZ, the new Microbus, and the I.D. CROZZ – an all-electric SUV with coupe-like proportions and a desire to drag you over to the green side. When the doors to the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show kicked off, VW was there with the I.D. CROZZ II, and reinterpretation of the original that “points the way more strongly to the production vehicle.” With that in mind, there isn’t a lot going on here that separates the CROZZ II from the original CROZZ concept. VW claims it has revamped the front and rear sections of the vehicle, while the interior has been refined just a little bit. The 21-inch wheels are a little more production ready, but far from what we’ll probably see on the production model. VW promises 310 miles of range on a single charge, a top speed of 111 mph, and quick charging to the tune of 80 percent in just 30 minutes. Not bad.

With all of this in mind, the CROZZ II isn’t exactly a huge departure from the previous example and still features some pretty futuristic features. It’s still rocking the side view cameras, and unique interior, and the same general exterior look. It does appear to be a little bit longer, but even that could be our eyes playing tricks on us. What’s more important is that this model should be seeing its way to the market as a full-fledged, all-electric model by the turn of the decade. So, before we start seeing spy shots of the production model prototypes, let’s take a closer look at this concept and talk more about it.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Polo GTI

Volkswagen’s most iconic model after legendary Beetle, the Golf became a performance hatchback all the way back in 1976, only two years after the nameplate was introduced. A popular model since day one, the Golf GTI inspired Volkswagen to design a higher performance version of the smaller Polo too. Although the first Polo GTi didn’t arrive until 1995, the model can trace its roots back to the first-generation G40 version. Following a limited-edition introduction in the 1990s, the GTI has become a regular member of the Polo family, and 2017 brought the latest-generation hatch into the spotlight.

Launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the latest Polo GTI is based on the latest, sixth-generation subcompact, also unveiled in 2017. Built on a new platform, it uses an updated design language based on the latest Golf and a redesigned interior that moves the new Polo into a higher class, closer to the premium market. More importantly, the new GTI gained a 2.0-liter engine instead of the old, 1.8-liter unit. On the flipside, if you were expecting a new Polo GTI with significantly more power, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. But more about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Volkswagen Polo GTi.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Polo GTI is an Attractive Reminder of Why Volkswagen is King of the Hot Hatch Market

The Volkswagen Polo isn’t exactly a spring chicken, gracing various markets of the world since 1975. In the 47 years the Polo has lived, it’s seen a number of different versions, including the Polo Fun, Polo Soho, Polo Vivo, Polo Dune, and even the funky, jacked up Cross Polo. Come 1995, and the Polo (in Mk3 form) was finally all grown up and was christened with its very first GTI badge, a model that was produced in just 3,000 examples. Since then, the Polo GTI has gotten better and better as it shifted into the Mk4 and Mk5 generations, but come 2017 and Volkswagen was proud to announce the newest, Mk6 Polo GTI– a model that sports GTI-specific bumpers, exclusive 17-inch wheels, large brakes, twin exhaust, sport steering, lowered suspension, and the 2.0-liter from the Golf GTI that has been slightly detuned to 200PS, the most power ever offered by a Polo GTI and the equivalent of 197 horsepower for those of you not on the metric system. 18-inch wheels are also available as an option, and the largest wheel offering in the history of the little hatchback.

On top of all of these GTI extras, the Polo GTI is based on the sixth-generation, 2018 Polo, which means it gets all of the fresh stylings inside and out to go with some standard safety features like front collision detection, blind spot assist, and even automatic emergency stopping. The base model is even available in 14 different exterior colors while the dash inside is customizable with any one of 17 different color options. When you add the extra power, the new styling, the standard safety systems, and the ability to choose from a wide array of different colors inside and out, this is by far the best Polo GTI to date. Let’s give it a quick once over and talk about all the goodness that comes with the sixth-gen GTI before we get to the full review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn’t Enough

Most big automakers are pushing EVs like they are going out of style (were they ever even in style? Hmmm) and VW is one of those brands, promising as many as 30 new electric vehicles by 2025 and the production of one million I.D. vehicles a year by then as well. As such, we’ve seen a number of electric concepts, one of which was the I.D. CROZZ that was unveiled in Shanghai in 2017. As the doors to the Frankfurt Auto Show open, everyone will be greeted with a near identical concept called the CROZZ II, which is said to me a more-production-ready version of the original concept, and the basis for the car that will be hitting dealers as early as 2020, according to Volkswagen.
So what did VW change about the CROZZ to make it more production ready? Well, VW claims it has refined the headlights and even revamped the front and rear sections of the vehicle. But, if you really look at it, nothing has changed aesthetically aside from an increase in length, making the front end a bit longer. The front bumper is a little more defined, the LEDs in the headlights are a shade larger, and the VW emblem is cleaner to look at. Even the lower portion of the fascia is pretty much unchanged aside from the little fins on the skid plate and the body-colored horizontal louver that sits a quarter-inch higher than on the first CROZZ.

New 21-inch wheels bring it a little closer to production, I suppose, but they are still nothing like what we’ll probably see on the production version. The concept is still void of side view mirrors and typical door handles, and features the same side view cameras that split between the door and the front fenders. The side profile is virtually unchanged aside from the extension of some body lines and some horizontal cuts in the side skirts. The rear as a built-in fin that’s a little more obtrusive than on the first concept. The roofline, C-pillars and even the taillights are the same. The rear fascia got the same treatment as the front, so that horizontal louver is now body colored and just a tad bit higher. But, what about the inside and under the skin? Perhaps VW did something new there, so let’s check that out…

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Losing Love For The Volkswagen Passat

A 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line finds itself in my driveway this week. This mid-size family hauler offers tons of interior room for four people, or five in a pinch. The trunk is massive, too, holding 15.9 cubic feet of cargo. Mix that with the handsomely minimalistic exterior, an as-tested price around $24,000, and 34 mpg on the highway from its 1.8-liter turbo-four, and the VW Passat makes a strong case for itself. I even sang high praises for the upper-trimmed Passat I drove at its launch event in Vermont and the last time a Passat spent time at my house. But somehow, this go-round has me falling out of love. It mostly centers on the Passat’s ergonomics behind the wheel and a brake feel that’s less than ideal.

Hoping in the driver’s seat for the first time in my tester quickly revealed the negatives. First, the tilting and telescoping steering column doesn’t extend far enough out. Adjusting the seat to where my feet and legs are properly positions on the pedals leaves my arms extended to reach the wheel. That means I have to scoot the seat closer to the dash, which decreases my leg room and moves the center armrest further away from my elbow. With a dress shirt on, my arm constantly slides off the armrests tapered front edge. And no, the armrest doesn’t extend forward. This basically leaves me in a less than comfortable seating position without a center armrest and reaching for the steering wheel like I’m too young to drive.

Adding to my frustration, the Passat’s brakes are annoyingly sensitive when coming to a stop. At highway speeds, it’s fine. Smoothly depressing the pedal results in a decent initial feel and stopping force, say when adjusting to traffic speeds. Trying to smoothly decrease braking pressure below 20 mph, however, is met with an inconsistent braking force and within roughly a half-inch of pedal travel. It’s near impossible to accomplish a smooth stop. Being stuck in stop and go traffic only made my frustration grow.

While the 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line does have its annoying qualities, it still represents a good value stuffed in a classy wrapper. Of course, I’ll have more to say about the Passat in my full driven review coming soon.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Exclusive Concept

Launched in 2010, the Amarok is Volkswagen’s first mid-size pickup truck. A global vehicle, it’s currently being built in three factories in Germany, Argentina, and Algeria. However, despite being sold in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa, the Amarok is not available in the United States, despite rumors that Volkswagen could bring it here as a competitor for the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. On its way to a redesign, the Amarok is still being used to showcase near-production concept cars at auto shows in Europe. The latest example is the Amarok Aventura Exclusive concept, which previews the company’s brand-new diesel engine.

Finished in a special paint and fitted with bespoke interior appointment, the Aventura Exclusive concept signals the introduction of a new range-topping engine. Based on the existing 3.0 TDI, this new V-6 delivers significantly more power and will essentially give customers access to a sportier version of the pickup truck. Alongside the new turbodiesel, the concept truck also previews new exterior and interior production features. There’s no timetable as to when these will become available, but until we have more information, let’s check out the concept truck in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Exclusive concept.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Jetta SE – Driven

The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is a little different from its competition. In America, the Jetta’s compact sedan segment is dominated by players from Japanese, Korean, and American makes: Cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, and Chevrolet Cruze sell well here and put up a good fight for a competitive portion of the market.

Compact sedans are popular with a wide cross-section of shoppers, and for good reason. They’re big enough nowadays that a young family can easily haul a couple of kids in the back seat. They have trunks large enough to accommodate an occasional run to Costco or Sam’s Club to buy a bulk load of peanut butter and breakfast cereal. They’re easy to own because they don’t drink a lot of fuel and they don’t have high maintenance requirements. Also, they’re easy to park.

The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is a very European take on the compact sedan. It hasn’t always fought for buyers by trying to match prices with the competition. Previous generations of the Jetta were marketed as kind of a near-premium alternative to the usual compact sedans here in the States. But when the latest generation of the Jetta (and its big sister, the Passat) debuted in America a few years ago, that changed. Now you can buy a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE like the one I tested for well under $20,000 at most VW dealers. It’s price-competitive with just about everything in the segment, when optional equipment is considered.

I hear long-time VW fans saying it now: “Yeah, but they gave up a lot to compete on price.” Sure, some things changed, mostly under the skin. My test car’s suspension wasn’t as swift as the independent-rear-suspension Jettas of yore. Its interior materials weren’t as nice as Jettas I remember from the 2000s. But there’s still enough Germanic charm in the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE – particularly in my five-speed manual transmission test car – to make it stand out from the pack.

PostHeaderIcon Official: 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc

The wait is over and the Volkswagen T-Roc is finally revealed in production trim. The new compact crossover sits below the Tiguan in the range and competes in the €20,000 crossover segment. It counts on its blend of practicality, features and style to win customers over. 

The design of the 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc is aggressive without being too in-your-face. Some might even call it conservative. It is roomy, though. If all five seats are occupied, luggage space when loaded up to the top edge of the rear seat backrests totals 445 litres. Features and equipment are among the other strong points. The T-Roc comes with high-tech systems such as Front Assist area monitoring with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and the lane keeping system Lane Assist in all models.

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Available with a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive, 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc can be had at launch with three petrol engines (TSI) and three diesels (TDI). The car also benefits from adaptive chassis control DCC and progressive steering, so it should also be pretty nice to drive. The long list of features, depending on the model, include items such as adaptive cruise control (ACC), Rear View reversing camera, the lane change system including Rear Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitor, lane keeping system Lane Assist, Park Assist including manoeuvring brake function, Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist.






The post Official: 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Camper XXL Concept

Summer is as good a time as any to go out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s just too bad that the Volkswagen California XXL Concept isn’t a real thing yet; it would make an incredible companion for a weekend of camping. It’s unlikely to be made available anytime soon, however, but that doesn’t mean can’t wish for it to arrive in some form at some point in the future. For now, we’ll have to be content seeing the concept motorhome at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf later this month. Who knows, if the concept’s reception ends up being as good as we hope it is, Volkswagen may end up green-lighting the possibility of offering conversions like it for the Crafter.

Before I start getting ahead of myself, it’s important to establish what the California XXL Concept is first. It’s basically a Volkswagen Crafter, the same vehicle that VW launched in 2006 as a commercial van to compete against the likes of the Ford Transit and the Nissan NV400, albeit one that has gone through a massive transformation courtesy of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It even takes the look of the Volkswagen T6 California now, but even that isn’t the biggest talking point about the concept. It’s everything else about it, really, and the final product speaks to the potential of the Volkswagen Crafter as more than just a commercial van. Apparently, it can be turned into a hotel on four wheels, too.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen California XXL Concept

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf R – Driven

The Volkswagen Golf R is not the paper champion of the hot-hatch segment. Others in the field might make more horsepower or put down a faster quarter-mile drag time. That could lead some bench-racers to opine that VW needs to ante up and “fix” the Golf R by adding power or decreasing weight. But those armchair critics miss the point of the Volkswagen Golf R. It’s a solid-feeling, rip-roaring hot-hatch, sure. But it’s also easy to live with on a daily commute — something others in this class may not excel at.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf R.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen T-Roc

Remember back in 2014 when Volkswagen put the T-Roc Concept on display at the Geneva Auto Show? Well, you should, because it was one of the few VW concepts that we could actually appreciate and the one that we really looked forward to seeing in production form. Fast forward to today, and VW has decided to spill the beans on the all-new T-Roc just a month before it’s set to make its first major appearance at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Billed as an innovative compact crossover, the T-Roc boasts a large number of standard features, a sporty exterior design, lots of cargo room for its size, and a massive list of drivetrain options. Driver assistance features fill the list of standards as well, while there are enough options to make the T-Roc customizable to just about any taste, whether your bland and boring or like to stick out like a sore thumb. Three trim lines make up the T-Roc family tree, with the base model offering a good, affordable starting point, while the upper two trim levels – Sport and Style – bring lots of personalization and stand-out options that are exclusive only to those trim levels.

As an all-new model, that we really haven’t known too much about until now, we truly have a lot to talk about. But, you can rest assured that Volkswagen wasn’t playing games or being lazy when it came up with this compact crossover. It’s very well thought out, full of all the goodness that should drive sales and should certainly stand out in the very crowded segment for which it now resides. So, with that said, let’s dive on in and talk all about it – you never know; this just might be your next new car.

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