Ever since I was a kid, American car companies in general, and GM in particular always seemed to be whining about one thing or another. To hear them tell it, it would be the end of the company if the government mandated seatbelts & safety glass (‘they’ll think our cars aren’t safe!’) or, like in the early 70s, when the first emission regs came into being (‘American’s don’t want small cars! We can’t make cars that are clean and give performance!’), and yet outfits like Toyota and Honda were able to do both. Another thing you’ll notice about GM is that at the end of the war, they were THE preeminent manufacturing concern on the planet; the #1 industrial company on the planet AND the largest automaker in the world. Yet despite having access to resources and engineering talent that were the envy of every other car manufacturer out there, Read the rest of this entry »
It’s Friday, so why not have a little fun, huh? SEAT, Volkswagen’s auto concern in Spain recently came out with this apparently nifty racing game that runs on the latest iPhone and touch-screen iPods (I say apparently cause I’m too cheap to own either yet).
The game is reminiscent of a BMW app that was floating around a short while ago, and it take advantage of the iPhone/iPods tilt sensors; tilt right and the car turns right. And the car in question is pretty interesting, especially if you like hot Euro hatchbacks. It’s SEAT’s Ibiza Cupra, that features a 180HP 1.4-liter four banger that’s get this, turbocharged AND supercharged. Tell me that doesn’t sound like fun.
Crisis? What crisis? Or at least that seems to be what Volkswagen is not only thinking, but also acting on. Reports are that the German auto giant will have TWENTY new models in show rooms by 2010. That’s next year.
Prof. Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of VW AG, said during a speech at the Volkswagen Group’s Annual Media Conference and Investor Conference on March 12, that the automaker will rollout more than 20 completely new models worldwide by 2010. This is not to say that there will be 20 new VWs out there, but 20 new models across all of VW’s brands, including Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, SEAT, Skoda and VW CV,
CEO Winterkorn said that among the cars that will roll out will be the sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI in 2009 and the New Small Family based on the Up! Concepts, which will debut in early 2010. The New Small Family cars will be available for both urban drivers in the West and for the emerging markets.
He also added that the further optimization of the TDI, TSI and TFSI turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines is on the front burner for VW, as the company believes that combustion engines will remain the dominant technology for the foreseeable future. “We will break new ground and also introduce SUVs and large saloons with modern turbo- and supercharged 4-cylinder engines,” said Winterkorn.
Cool, cool and most definitely cool. This is cool news for car fans that are also environmentally aware. Recently Volkswagen rolled out a new drivetrain, dubbed BlueMotion, which was a leaner & cleaner diesel. Not only was it 50 state legal (we’re looking at you Cali), but they also dropped it into a devastatingly neat mid-engined drop top “show car”, the BlueSport Roadster, that was sort of like a cheap, green version of Porsche’s Boxster. Now comes word that BlueMotion will also find its way into more VW models.
The BlueSport Roadster concept, from the last Detroit Auto Show, featured a 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel engine that got 35/62 mpg in the European Combined Cycle ratings. Now, reports from the U.K.’s Evo magazine are that VW is working on a production version of the BlueSport concept for 2011. Before that model hits the market, the BlueSport name may be applied to a performance-minded diesel version of the European Scirocco and possibly an oil-burning GTI as well.
Yes please! There’s no reason a car can’t be better for the planet AND fun to drive at the same time. As a matter of fact, I’d like to think that doing that is pretty damn imperative. Doing something because “you have to” is never that much fun, now is it? ‘Eat your broccoli, it’s good for you,’ never really would cut it for me when I was a kid, and it doesn’t really make it for other people when they hear, ‘You should drive XXX car, because it’s good for the environment.’ Make a car that’s fun AND good for the environment, and everybody wins.
Here’s the upcoming VW Polo, which just bowed at the Geneva Motor Show. Why is that important you ask, what’s the big deal about a Euro debut for a Euro car? Because VW recently announced that they will be bringing the Polo, long a standard in Europe, to these shores soon.
So, the new 2010 model which you see on the Geneva show stand is the same model that you will be seeing on the showroom floors and streets of America sometime soon. VW has been cagy about exactly when the U.S.-bound Polo will grace these shores, but all indications point to it coming in sometime later this year, or perhaps early next year (as a half year model, a la the first Mustang).
The Polo originally started out as a sub-compact model, sized, engined and optioned bellow the Golf. VW at first thought it was too small for the North American market (and they were probably right, about that), but as the Golf has grown and grown, so has the Polo. So the 2010 model is currently about the size of a Gen II or III Golf. Which ain;t that bad, or that small.
Actually, it’s kind of good. Small means light, for one thing. And that means better handling, and better overall performance. Especially when you consider that there already is an in house performance variant, the Polo GTi, and there’s already a Euro aftermarket for these things.
So look at the North American version of the Polo this way: It’s like a 2010 version of a Golf III that will be efficient, easy on the wallet and fun to drive. What’s not to like?
Dear God, that’s a lot of horsepower for a car this small. Not to mention it’s all going through the front wheels. The torque-steer must be massive … and fun! What we have here is VW’s latest Scirocco that has been tuned by a Swiss outfit by the name of Sportec. So much for the Swiss being a bunch of buttoned down boring bankers huh?
Does this sound boring:
A sports suspension, alloy wheels rims and engine upgrades that boost the 2.0-liter turbocharged output from 240HP to 350HP. And the torque? How about a massive 354 lbs/ft in the top of the line version?
Sportec’s engineers modified the 2.0 TFSI’s supercharger, ran some updates to the ECU and ditched the stock exhaust system with one that breaths better. for looks, they added a carbon-fiber engine cover . On the handling front, they developed an in house sports suspension that drops the coupe 35 mm, and stuffed 20-inch alloy wheels shod in 245/30 high-performance sport tires into the wheel wells.
Of course they fiddle with the interior. 4-part floor mats made of soft velour and a multi-part carbon interior with the Sportec logo, nice, but it doesn’t make the car faster.
So, fill me in VW, have you made up your mind about bringing the Scirocco to our shores? It’s on again, off again, on again … I can’t keep track. If you’re not, you should. And if you do, send me the contact info for Sportec, will you?
Can it get any better than a Volkswagen GTI? They’re a hoot to drive, they’re practical, they get great mileage and are reliable. Really, can it get better than that? Yes, yes it can. Say hello to the Volkswagen GTI R- Series.
Car and Driver says that VW will bring the R-Series to America, along with a rumored name change to R20, that will feature the mill from the Audi S3. Said engine should crank out around 270 horsepower from the 2.0L turbo engine, which is a 70-horsepower improvement over the standard GTI — something we like. You get to choose from either a standard 6-speed stick or dual clutch DSG transmission that sends power to the front wheels. As you would expect, we’re really big fans of the DSG box and would go that route. The GTI R-Series also features an electronic differential that will try and cope with the inevitable torque steer.
So, we have a nice choice of gear boxes, and going with a turbo four cylinder versus putting something bigger in means that the balance will be better, the overall car will be lighter (which will help with the MPGs) and it will probably be more rev-happy.
Let’s hope this rumor turns out to be true.
Here’s some serious German technology coming to our shores (after production starts in 2010): Volkswagen’s upcoming Touareg with a supercharged V6 and hybrid drivetrain cranking out 374 HP and giving back 26mpg. Those are some impressive figures, especially for a big and heavy SUV.
The upcoming Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid uses VW’s new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 TSI petrol engine producing 333HP that is combined with a 52HP electric motor installed between the V6 TSI and a newly developed 8-speed automatic transmission. Curiously, this contrasts with the Touareg ‘s mechanical sibling, the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid that features a normally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 FSI. There’s no word on what the other corporate triplet, Audi, is planning to do with its SUV, the Q7 and whether that will feature a hybrid drive system at all.
Anyway, back to the technical goodies in the Touareg.
This is the kind of rumor from the Detroit show we like to spread: Word has it that the Volkswagen Bluesport, the drop-top mid engine sports car motivated by the 180 HP diesel that gets 57 miles per gallon will be produced and imported into the U.S..
It was plain to see that the Bluesport was essentially production-ready, and that got our mouths watering. And then to fan the flames of our hopes, two VW execs have given indications that a road-going version is on the way. In Auto Motor und Sport, VW’s Ulrich Hackenberg said the Bluesport was headed to production, and also gave a price quote for the roadster: between €22,000 and €24,500, depending on engine options. Also, VW engineer Thomas Inglenath backed up Hackenberg, saying the Bluesport could be in showrooms as early as 2012.
The Bluesport was shown in Detroit with a diesel, but Hackenberg said the production car would be available with a range of engine options, in addition to the company’s TSI powerplants. Also, VW’s dual-clutch semi-auto transmission would be part of the mix.
Finally, Volkswagen is going to bring their Polo sub-compact to the US. This is a good thing on several fronts. First off, it’s good because although the Polo is labeled as a sub-compact, it’s not all that small. The polo is about as big as VW’s Golf from a couple of gens ago. Meaning, from an enthusiast’s perspective, we have a car that’s smaller and lighter and therefore, much more tossable and fun to drive.
Also, since it’s smaller & lighter, it will drink less gas, or, in the case of the available diesel, drink less oil.
So we get a fun car that’s cheap to run, and that’s always a good thing.
No word from VW yet about when it will show up on these shores, or what Euro aftermarket goodies we’ll be able to get (hopefully all of them), but VW has given us something to look forward to.