Following closely on the heels of sister division Audi and its recent unveiling of the lightweight TT Ultra Quattro Concept, Volkswagen has revealed that it will be bringing a more potent version of its GTI hatchback to the annual Worthersee Volkswagen Tuning Group Festival later this month.
Today in New York, Volkswagen hosted the North American debut of the seventh-generation Golf lineup. We’ve seen photos of these cars online before, but it’s nice to see them in the metal. Built on VW’s new modular MQB platform – which I firmly believe is VW’s not-so-secret weapon for its designs on dominating auto industry profits, the new cars are larger but lighter than the models they replace.
Bob King, the current president of the large-but-shrinking United Auto Workers (UAW) union, has said repeatedly that his union needs to unionize an auto transplant plant in the southern U.S. in order to stem the UAW’s membership losses of the past few decades. Such a move would be a huge moral victory for the beleagured union, which has lost 75 percent of its membership from its 1979 peak, going from 1.53 million members to just 380,719 as of the end of 2011 (I couldn’t find 2012 year-end numbers on the UAW’s website). So far, his organizing goal has been elusive, but there may be some help from the UAW’s brothers in Germany.
Hey, have you heard that Volkswagen wants to dominate the auto industry by 2018? It wants a million sales in the U.S. (between itself and Audi) by 2018? We said that it was going to be tough to reach, basically increasing sales fourfold from their 2008 pace when the goal was announced. But now that VW is among the fastest-growing brands in the U.S. (and just wrapped up its best sales year here, ever, even higher than the 1970 Beetle-fueled peak), maybe fewer pundits are laughing at them.
Sometimes things sound better on paper than they do in the real world. Take the Pontiac Aztek, for instance.
Autosavant was invited to the global media launch for the all-new 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible in Los Angeles. As an east coast dweller, the notion of visiting sunny Southern California in late November certainly had appeal. Plus, I’d have the opportunity for my first-ever visit to the Los Angeles Auto Show if I could work out my schedule. Well, everything worked out schedule-wise, but the sunny weather turned into an uncharacteristically long wet spell for the area. I never bothered to check the weather forecast before departing; I just assumed that Santa Monica and Malibu would have beautiful convertible weather. Or not.
A university project I am working on recently got me reading about Ferdinand Piëch, the venerable chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG. One of the man’s radical ideas was that Volkswagen was to build a luxury saloon that can rival the best of any of its German rivals, but is understood never to be able to make any money. The Phaeton, as it was called, was to be the flagship of the company, the car to create the halo for the rest of its products, the car that the average Golf owner would aspire to.
Differentiating the good from bad in modern cars today has become increasingly difficult. The playing field has improved to the point that it’s the details and available features that make the difference when deciding what automobile deserves your 60 monthly payments. One of those areas that has always swayed my purchase decision is the quality of the stereo that comes with the car. As a result, we have started to ask manufactures that have specialty branded audio systems to have a chance to review them on their own. Recently, we asked Volkswagen to sample their Fender branded system as the word on the street was it was a solid system for a reasonable price. Read on to find out if it lived up to expectations.
The Hyundai Veloster’s nontraditional styling, clever packaging, and cheeky driving dynamics impressed us when we first drove one earlier this year. Not quite a coupe, and definitely not a hatchback in the mainstream sense, the Veloster impressed us with its versatility and economy, as well as its ability to make an impact wherever it goes. Naturally, then, when Hyundai announced plans for a Veloster with the power to match its unique looks, our interest was piqued.
My wife doesn’t know a lot about cars, but she does humor me from time to time when I excitedly share car industry news with her. “Hey, remember the A7 that I tested last summer? They’re going to have an S8 that has the same gorgeous body, but a twin-turbo V8 under the hood. Sweet, right?” “If that makes you happy, then I guess that’s good, dear.” Yet I often find her perspective to be valuable as a second opinion or a gut check when I am evaluating a car. She has very different priorities and a very different perspective on vehicles than I do. I love to drive; she tolerates it. I love performance; she loves fuel economy. I told her that Volkswagen is trying to pitch its 2012 Beetle as more masculine; she said “it’s cute.”
Millions of dollars in market research, engineering, design, all thrown out the window. It’s still a “chick car.”
Being a car guy, my automotive interests are actually mostly focused on two very different ends of the spectrum. I love high-performing, high-horsepower cars. Cars like the Audi R8 and Corvette ZR1 bring a huge, stupid grin to my face. On the other end, however, I’m a student of vehicles that are small on the outside but fairly spacious inside. In other words, I can appreciate a good packaging job more than the next guy. I’ve been following the excruciatingly long gestation period of the Scion iQ for years, and was delighted to have the chance to drive a very different, but almost similar, Volkswagen Up! at a recent media event.
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