Most automakers have some stuff in their past of which they’re rightfully proud. Certain landmark models are fondly recalled long after they’ve been relegated. Pristine examples of those beauties will often be rolled out and dusted off either during launches of new, tangentially-related models or during serious lulls in the product cycle where everything on lots is dull. Sometimes, these heritage cars will even be loaned to us journalists for a brief time.
Volkswagen has done this in the past - I’ve seen my colleagues joyously cruising in stunning Beetles and Microbuses. What’s remarkable is this 2022 Volkswagen Passat is nominally a new car, but it doesn’t appear on the Build-And-Price tool at vw.com. It seems to be a curious case where a brand new car has been prematurely shuffled off to the heritage fleet.
Last week, Volkswagen’s supervisory board reportedly told management that it needed to work on improving the company’s software division. Though that should hardly be surprising considering how often digital glitches have delayed product launches and forced the automaker to issue sweeping recalls.
Software gremlins stymied the launch of numerous ID-badged EVs, the Mk8 Golf, and a handful of other vehicles from VW Group’s many subsidiaries. But the issues have persisted, with customers citing electrical troubles and noting that the automaker’s novel touchscreen interfaces are brutally unresponsive. Some of the problems were deemed so heinous that the company eventually recalled literally every current-generation Golf sold within its native Germany. But it’s going to have to do a lot more if it’s serious about leveraging computer code as the cornerstone of an evolving business model and the board of directors seems keenly aware of that fact.
Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering reviving the Scout name for North America. Following the merger of trucking subsidiary Traton and Navistar in 2020, VW found itself in possession of the farm-focused International Harvester. While the brand technically hasn’t existed since 1985, the German company effectively owns its intellectual property — including the Scout name — and is keen to leverage some of its nostalgia for an alleged sub-brand specializing in sport utility vehicles.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has explained that the automaker would very much like to get back in to the United States’ good graces now that it has cut ties with Russia. With the future of Europe looking shaky, VW is hoping to maintain its position as the best-selling brand in China and start making inroads in America after burning a few bridges there.
Despite the Dieselgate scandal being seven years in the rearview mirror, the automaker is still coping with the resulting financial penalties and the resulting decision to scale back its U.S. aspirations a tad until its electric models hit the road. But the company has always had an issue understanding what American drivers wanted, resulting in boom and bust phases for the company until it manages to solve the puzzle. The most common issue was an inability to adhere to ever-changing emissions standards. But there are also periods where the manufacturer was snubbed for offering subpar electrical equipment or simply having a lineup that was out of sync with American tastes. But Volkswagen has historically enjoyed a resurgence after making the necessary changes and Diess is hoping for another comeback.
I’m well aware that I’m remarkably privileged to do what I do here at TTAC. I’m a car enthusiast, getting paid to go play with cars. Friends often will ask what I’m driving this week, rather than the usual small talk about the weather. A touch of envy seeps into the conversation when I reveal that I’m driving a high-end luxury car or some powerful sportscar.
When it comes down to it, however, I’m using whatever car arrives in my driveway that week as my primary driver: First, to properly evaluate it for you, dear reader, and secondly, to keep miles off the cars in my driveway. But I’ll always need my own cars, as I need to get to my office for the day job and I don’t always have media loaners upon which I can rely. One of my own cars, however, will be reappropriated soon as my eldest turns sixteen in about a week – and my other car – a vintage Miata – isn’t particularly suitable for year-round driving.
So, this is where my privilege comes in – I’ve been using this second career as an extended test drive to find my next daily driver. While those high-end luxury cars would be a lovely addition to the fleet, quite frankly they don’t pay me enough here. So, I’m looking toward more reasonably-priced ways to get where I’m going – and something that provides cheap thrills like this 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI might very well be the ideal choice.
Practically every automaker on the planet has begun signaling a desire to change with the times by collectively revising their business strategies. The new hotness involves lower volumes, higher margins, and electric vehicles with the ability to push connected services allowing manufacturers to charge you piecemeal for just about every feature imaginable.
While Volkswagen Group has been at the forefront of those trends since the 2015 Dieselgate scandal helped force its hand, it often suggested that the shift to EVs would be a boon to low-income families. It was hardly the only automaker to make such promises, nor has it been the first to break them after deciding that perhaps there’s more money to be made with premium vehicles. VW has decided that its ideal strategy involves culling internal combustion vehicles by 60 percent over the next eight years and focusing on higher-margin products yielding superior profitability.
In some cases where a product is offered in a series, each successive generation is improved and is greater than the last. In other cases, the maker hits upon relative perfection early and later generations can never quite live up to the legend. In the arts, for example, while Indiana Jones fans can argue the merits of Raiders of the Lost Ark versus The Last Crusade¸ you won’t find any sane person suggesting that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is anything but a dank shadow of the past glories. Similarly, my fanatic daughter tells me that the third book (Prisoner of Azkaban) in the Harry Potter series is the best, and all other editions pale.
We are now looking at the eighth generation of hot hatches from Wolfsburg with this, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI. Is it the greatest GTI ever, or has Indy jumped into a lead-lined refrigerator with this latest redesign?
Volkswagen Group will be moving some of its European production out of the continent and into facilities located in China and the United States, citing the war in Ukraine as the largest contributing factor. Though if you’ve been following the company, it had already signaled a desire to raise its capacity in China ever since the region shifted into becoming its largest market.
In fact, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said during Tuesday’s press call that China will be taking precedence as the automaker reorganizes its manufacturing.
The final Volkswagen Passat has rolled off the assembly line in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ending the model’s extended run on the North American market.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and introduced in 1973 using the VW/Audi B1 platform, the Passat arrived in the United States as the Dasher and was sold as a midsized luxury vehicle to people in the market for an imported economy car. The model carried different names in other parts of the world and even saw a few unique monikers used in the U.S. (e.g. Quantum) to help differentiate between the hatchback, sedan, and wagon variants sold throughout the 1980s. But it was officially known as the (B2) Passat by 1990, regardless of format.
The North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit Auto Show, isn’t taking place in January anymore. It’s set for a move to September.
But that didn’t stop the traditional North American Car and Truck of the Year award ceremony from taking place at [s]Cobo Center[/s] Huntington Place this morning.
Let me start this by saying that I considered the previous Golf R to be the all-around best enthusiast vehicle available in its price range during its time on sale. That’s particularly high praise coming from someone whose performance tastes generally gravitate toward V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive coupes, but I think Volkswagen had achieved something remarkable with the Mk7. It was a car that had the dynamic chops to hang with some very serious hardware out in the canyons but didn’t need to shout about it from an aesthetic standpoint, and it also sacrificed very little in terms of daily drivability and practicality to get there.
Beyond the fundamentals, the Mk7 Golf R had other important elements sorted out too – solid interior materials in a well laid out and comfortable cabin, a class-leading infotainment system with a nice-sounding stereo – that sort of thing. Automakers can get away with phoning in some of that stuff when it comes to their top-tier performance cars because enthusiasts tend to have different priorities than mainstream buyers do, but Volkswagen didn’t half-ass it. This is all to say that the Mk7 Golf R set the bar pretty high.
Volkswagen cannot seem to get away from software issues on its newer vehicles. This problem botched the launch of numerous models, including the Mk8 Golf, and seems to have returned now that every single example of the car is being recalled in Europe.
Drivers have been reporting gauge clusters displaying incorrect data, infotainment systems going offline, keys failing, and advanced driving aids that are perpetually on the fritz. The latter issue has also resulted in Golfs engaging in some erratic behavior, like erroneously triggering their own forward collision-warning sensors. This has left more than a few drivers complaining about cars stopping randomly in traffic as the automatic emergency braking system came alive.
Just like with the heavily updated Golf GTI, that’s cause for a sigh of relief.
Perhaps even more so, since the Jetta GLI doesn’t get the same high-falutin’ interior treatment. Thank God for keeping it old school.
If you’re a Volkswagen Golf GTI fan, you were probably worried that Volkswagen would screw it up as they refreshed it for 2022.
Here’s the good news – the company (mostly) didn’t do that. Especially when it comes to the most important part of GTI ownership – on-road driving performance.
The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R remains a potent backroad weapon – almost too potent.
I came to this conclusion while driving part of North Carolina’s famed Rattler highway. The Golf R, one of the hottest of hot hatches, was making me feel a bit like a superhero thanks to stout brakes, the ability to shorten straightaways, and firm and accurate steering that allowed me to place the wheels exactly where I wanted/needed them to be.
And all this while I was driving relatively conservatively because I was on a public road. Imagine this car unleashed on a track.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has been facing off with the company’s German workforce for weeks over the changing nature of the business. VW vowed to transition itself toward an all-electric lineup following the 2015 diesel emissions scandal. But the necessary steps to get there haven’t been universally appreciated.
The general assumption has always been that electric vehicles would result in massive layoffs across the industry by nature of their needing fewer parts than internal combustion vehicles. But Volkswagen seems worried that it’s falling behind smaller rivals and needs to take decisive action to make sure it’s not outdone by firms operating in the United States and China. The proposed solution is an industrial overhaul designed to fast-track VW’s electrification goals. Unfortunately, German labor unions are convinced that this plan would incorporate massive layoffs and have become disinclined to offer their support. The issue worsened in September when Diess told the supervisory board that a slower-than-desired transition to EVs could result in 30,000 fewer jobs.
For car freaks – and they don’t get any freakier than the B&B – a car is more than just a transportation appliance. We end up involved with our cars. We care for them. We worry about them. Some of us even name them.
My last car, a ‘15 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro, was Mitzi – petite, German, cute, fun … and not very easy to live with. If Mitzi had been a human female, she’d have been a blast in the sack and high-maintenance and kind of clueless the rest of the time. A great mistress and a lousy partner, if you will. The “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation had been coming for a while, and when used car prices went bonkers, it felt like the right time to kiss Mitzi on the forehead and say goodbye.
That’s how I ended up on a car-search journey that took several months and ended with one of the best hard decisions a car freak can be faced with: Choosing between a VW GTI or Jetta GLI. Which one won my heart? Read on.
Country Squire for the Modern Era
Coming off my second consecutive Buick Enclave lease, I decided it was time to add a smidgen of efficiency to the primary goal simply being roomy enough for the family. This is a car for my wife and her driving is skewed heavily toward city driving in congested traffic situations. I have three children who are all involved in year-round sporting activities and these days the miles are piling up fast.
The family hauler is used quite extensively, racking up about 20k miles per year. So, 15 mpg and 250 miles per fill-up just weren’t cutting it anymore. Interior space for my family of five, which includes giant offspring, is of course job one. My 14-year-old son is 6’2″ and my 11-year-old daughter is already 5’6″. They aren’t going to be shoehorned into the jump seats that some popular three-row vehicles pass off as being fit for human occupants … especially on multi-hour trips for travel sports, vacations, etc.
Like the rest of the world, the automotive industry is currently living in two distinct realities. Labor unions and part suppliers have been sounding the alarm that electric vehicles will require far fewer hands to manufacture and will ultimately lead to their demise. But battery firms, establishment politicians, and most automakers have claimed that transitioning to EVs is entirely necessary and will result in there being a surge of high-paying jobs to replace those lost.
Then there are claims you can’t quite wrap your head around, like the one Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess reportedly made to the supervisory board in September. The Diess Man asserted that VW would lose 30,000 jobs if it transitioned too slowly to electrics, framing the situation around Tesla arriving in Germany and fresh competition from Chinese manufacturers. While it’s certainly possible that VW could take a hit as its rivals move on Europe, the premise that it’s going to cost the business jobs is sort of bewildering when just about every analyst agrees that electrification will result in a leaner workforce across the board.
When Volkswagen invited us to test drive the all-wheel-drive version of the ID.4 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I hesitated.
Fly all the way to Tennessee just for a slightly different version of a car I drove a few months ago? A place that’s been one of the worst COVID hotspots during the Delta variant surge, no less? Is it worth the time out of office, even if COVID wasn’t a thing?
Then it hit me as I blasted some forlorn backroad with Eddie Rabbitt’s “Driving My Life Away” – apt for an automotive journalist – blaring on the radio. I was thinking too old school.
Volkswagen is in the midst of remaking its SUV lineup.
Just in the past few years the company has added a five-seat version of the Atlas – the Atlas Cross Sport – as well as adding the Taos small SUV and the ID.4 EV. Now the venerable Tiguan, which was the veteran of the group, has gone under the knife.
There’s new hotness in the compact-car segment, especially among the sportier models.
Since Volkswagen has two compact models — the mainstream Jetta and the spiced-up Jetta GLI — it probably can’t sit idly by in a year in which Subaru drops a new WRX, the Honda Civic is all-new (with sporty versions coming soon), and Hyundai has taken the wraps off the Elantra N sport sedan. An Acura Integra is also on the way, and it might be priced in the same range.
That makes it time for a refresh.
If Tanner Foust was given the keys to a Volkswagen GTI or Golf R, and told to track it at Willow Springs, all while being filmed by Volkswagen, what do you think the VW-sponsored professional driver would say about it?
Yeah, exactly. Seems CarBuzz either didn’t know or flat-out forgot to mention that Foust is sponsored by VW when it wrote a quick piece on how Foust was touting the virtues of the two cars. A piece that appears to be based on a Volkswagen media release.
In the concluding chapter of the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen story the other day, I was asked by a frequent commenter to share some of the things I liked or would miss about the Golf now that it’s gone away. I’m thinking of those things now as I view its dealer listing, recently updated with many photos. They never did replace the cargo area trim panels, I can see the scratches from here!
The 2022 Volkswagen GTI and Golf R have been unveiled in the flesh (or sheetmetal, as it were) at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show.
The appointment was made, and the Golf was in the shop for the headliner fixes and trim panel repairs after a most irritating morning appointment to trade keys. The same thoughts kept returning to mind continually, forcing me to consider a salient point: Did I want to continue with this sort of ownership experience years into the future?
Short answer? No.
Last we left off in the Golf Sportwagen Ultimate Decision story, the appointment was set for corrections on the headliner and panel issues I’d pointed out as a result of the headliner service. A late June morning, already a hot and muggy day. Your author is seen waiting by the door.
Badge engineering! Always near the top of my search list when poking through car graveyards, obscure examples of marketing-inspired rebadgitude will jump right out from the ho-hum ranks of Elantras and LaCrosses in any yard. I haven’t managed to find a discarded Suzuki Equator yet, sad to say, but I have documented such rarities as a Mitsubishi-badged Hyundai Excel, an Isuzu-badged Chevy Colorado, and a Dodge-badged Renault 25. Today we’ll visit one of the most puzzling examples of badge-engineering history in the North American automotive marketplace: the Volkswagen Routan.
Hello! We’re back again with another installment of the Golf Sportwagen Follies. In our last update, I’d dropped off the Golf for its second new headliner after a sunroof drainage issue caused some considerable water damage. Just under two weeks later (this past Friday), I received the “All finished!” call from the dealer and went over to pick it up a couple of hours later.
What I found afterward was less than impressive. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Today’s review is brought to you by water: Water! It’s moist. The other day when I handed over the keys to the Golf Sportwagen, my dealer’s service department loaned me this base model 2021 Tiguan S 4Motion. There’s no glass on the roof so it’s almost certain not to leak water, but what about its other characteristics?
It’s time once again for an update in the Golf Sportwagen’s precipitation issue. Last we spoke, I’d noticed an initial musty smell in the Golf, and considerable headliner staining shortly thereafter.
After some delays in the service appointment process, my local VW dealer has a solution for me.
Standing outside a building that typically hosts weddings in downtown Chelsea, Michigan, a fellow auto journalist and I chatted through our masks about how it’s getting harder and harder to write about crossovers, because so many of them are just in that happy middle – not particularly great, and certainly not bad.
Add the 2022 Volkswagen Taos to that list.
The Volkswagen Tiguan isn’t about to take a back seat to the Taos.
While the latter is going to make a lot of news as a new small crossover in the brand’s lineup — indeed, I will have my first sampling next week, with a review later in May when the embargo lifts — the already-existing Tiguan isn’t going anywhere. And VW is using a refresh to remind us of that fact.
Well hello! It’s been over a year since we’ve had an update on the 2019 VW Golf Sportwagen seen here. In our last installment, I was filled with optimistical-ness at the prospect of years of trouble-free ownership. After all, surely all the kinks were worked out on this end-of-model Golf that was in production since 2013.
Spoilers: I was wrong.
Volkswagen sold the air-cooled Beetle in the United States all the way through 1979, amazingly, overlapping Dasher and Rabbit sales by more than you’d have expected. By that time, the only air-cooled VW left standing here was the Beetle convertible (if you want to get nit-picky, that car was really a Super Beetle, since the last year for the original not-so-super Beetle was 1977 here and all the Beetle convertibles were Supers after 1971). I’ve never found a ’79 Beetle in the junkyard, though I’ve tried my best, but here’s the next-best thing: a ’78 in a Denver self-serve yard last year.
Unveiled at the Shanghai auto show, Volkswagen’s ID.6 is reportedly ready for the Chinese market as the manufacture strives to present itself as an EV firm. Originally known as the spacious ID Roomzz concept, the three-row crossover will be the VW’s largest product on the Asian market and come in two distinct flavors — each the offspring of separate joint ventures required by the Chinese government.
The ID.6 Crozz (shown in orange) will be produced at the FAW-Volkswagen facility in Foshan while SAIC Volkswagen will be responsible for manufacturing the ID.6 X (purple) at its plant in Anting, near Shanghai. Regardless of which model customers go with Volkswagen is promising a vehicle “tailored specifically to the needs and wishes of Chinese customers in terms of space, functionality, design and, in particular, user experience.” While we may eventually see a version of the ID.6 coming to North America, China is Volkswagen’s largest individual market and ranks higher in the manufacturer’s list of priorities.
One of Volkswagen’s joint ventures in China has reportedly offered to purchase regulatory credits from Tesla in order to adhere to the regional environmental ascendancy. While VW may be doing everything in its power to swap over to an electric-vehicle manufacturer, it’s apparently falling short of government dictums.
FAW-Volkswagen — which shipped a little over 2 million automobiles in Asia last year — happened to be one of the biggest polluters of 2020 according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. As it turns out, selling internal combustion vehicles consumers actually want to purchase in large quantities has some kind of environmental cost. Fortunately, it’s one regulators think can be solved by buying green credits from rivals who do all of their polluting during the initial assembly process and launder any future emissions through the national energy grid.
So I figured that while journalists, academics, and others can make their opinion known on Twitter, I’d ask y’all what you think.
As you know by now, Volkswagen pulled the wool over the eyes of the automotive media, the business media, and the general public in a terribly executed April Fool’s Day prank over the past few days.
The company may have done more than anger a few people — it may have run afoul of regulators.
Late yesterday, news dropped that Volkswagen planned to change its name to Voltswagen. A lot of automotive journalists noted the date and called out the announcement as a premature April’s Fool prank, but further reporting seemed to confirm that the name change was indeed real.
Turns out that it really is an April Fool’s prank gone awry.
It’s no secret that we here at TTAC don’t agree on everything when it comes to cars, culture, or politics (Or sports. Using memes to troll staffers who cheer for rival teams is a favorite pastime in our Slack channel).
We don’t speak as one editorial voice, nor do we practice neutral news reporting — we allow for editorializing, analysis, and commentary/opinion, as long as we’re fair, factually accurate, honest, and upfront about any potential biases. It’s one thing I love about working here — I can, if appropriate, put a little commentary into a news post. Overall, I try to allow everyone to be free to express themselves.
Yet, for all our various viewpoints, sometimes we agree on something. And I was right there with Matt yesterday when he fumed about Volkswagen becoming Voltswagen. The change is official, by the way — VW confirmed it.
Remember the all-electric Microbus successor Volkswagen was chirping about a few years ago? If you don’t, you can be forgiven. Despite the model receiving loads of press after the automaker acknowledged it would indeed be coming to North America, reports on its progress started becoming incredibly rare by 2019. With #VanLife trending inside the United States, VW would be an absolute fool not to start offering something trendy to fit the bill and the horribly named I.D. Buzz seems an ideal candidate. However, it feels as though the company has forgotten our market while it preps the model for Europe.
There’s reportedly no reason to worry. Volkswagen has confirmed that the model will be showing up on our shores in 2023 after it’s made a splash across the pond. But there will be a few stipulations.
The electric-vehicle revolution keeps chugging along, one small crossover at a time.
Last month, the Ford Mustang Mach-E graced my garage. This week, I got about 48 hours, give or take, in the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4.
The two aren’t really the same, but they are similar – both are crossovers, both are EVs, and both are key early, if not first, steps taken by their respective manufacturers into the world of mass-market EVs.
Volkswagen’s strategy chief since 2015, Michael Jost (59), has announced that he will be departing after more than a decade with the company. While the cynics among us will undoubtedly jump to conclusions about the botched launches of VW Group’s new EVs and the all-important Mk8 Golf, the man himself claimed that his primary reason for leaving is to ensure the wellbeing of his family.
Jost confessed via his website that he’s only been spending weekends with his kindred since 1996 and would ideally like to make that a full-time position. A year under COVID restrictions apparently made the man reassess his life, resulting in his decision to abandon his demanding role at VW.
Several years ago now, I called the Volkswagen Atlas three-row “ German comfort food.” It remains that – a boxy, slightly bland crossover that nonetheless does the basics well.
Enter the Cross Sport, which is supposed to liven things up, at least a little, by being lowered and shortened, while losing the weight that comes with the nip/tuck and the removal of the third row of seats (at least in theory. With all-wheel drive, the 2.0T is a skosh heavier than a four-cylinder, three-row Atlas. Generally, however, the two-row is lighter.). The front facelift that matches the larger Atlas is also meant to make things more interesting.
These changes only go so far. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here we have a vehicle that is smaller but no less comfortable, and as you will see, that is just fine.
The Rare Rides series featured a Passat wagon once before, in the long ago time of 2018. It was a 1992 G60 with all-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and supercharged engine. Staying true to quirky form, today’s newer and more luxury-oriented Passat pairs its all-wheel drive grip with an eight-cylinder engine.
Do you ever get the feeling that everything even remotely fun and interesting is being thrown on the pyre of progress so we can collectively live safer, duller lives? Case in point, Volkswagen is dismantling its racing operations so the 169 people it employed can be reincorporated. Responsible for the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R racer that showcased some of the performance advantages of EVs to attentive audiences around the globe, the team will now be responsible for building ID models intended for mass consumption.
While we’re sure spreading their engineering prowess around will benefit VW’s core brand, it’s unfortunate that it came at the expense of the brand’s motorsport activities — modest as they might have been in 2020.