Category Archives: Volkswagen

2009 Volkswagen SportWagen TDI

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Volkswagen SportWagen TDI. In the pricing scheme of things the VW is the tops in the field listed here. In my opinion the Toyota Matrix doesn’t belong in this group. All the others are very nice products but I just like the Jetta best. It is simply a lovely car and it looks great while not “Badge Showy”.

The 2.0 liter engine feels much more powerful because of the Turbo and it is exhilarating with the 6-speed transmission. The only thing I would prefer to change if I could would be to make it Rear Wheel Drive. It is flat fun to drive and 0-60 mph is about 6.5 seconds.

General Info:

Parts –  Germany 35%; Mexico 30%; Engine and Transmission – Germany,

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class:  – Small Station Wagons

Cars: – CC, Eos, GLI, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, Passat Wagon, R32, Rabbit, Routan, Tiguan and Touareg2.

Handling & Performance:

Pretty impressive and you can’t help but like this car. It has all the performance without all the other badge trappings of over pricing and snob appeal. The car performed outstandingly in all conditions but especially good on the “Crest Test” mountain course “E” Ride travel between the desert and LA (which drops out in La Canada).

Fast and the frosting is that the fuel numbers are exceptional.

Styling:

Great design with very clean lines and it’s a ten (10) in my book.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Outstanding in class. All the others are much more money and no real distinction in all areas.

Consumer Recommendation:

I definitely would drive this as my personal car, and if you want a station wagon this sport model designing is classy. There is not a lot in class so here’s an opportunity to drive all small wagons to find the best of the best. For the money the Jetta Sport Wagen is my top pick. Matrix is way out of class and I wouldn’t bother testing that one.

Recognized Competition:

VW Jetta SportWagen $19-26,000, Saab 9-3 SportCombi $32-45,000,  Volvo V50 $30-36,000, Audi A4 Avant $34,850, BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon $35-37,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000.

Good News:

Nice styling, fast Turbo, fun to drive, great pricing and with rising gas prices the fuel economy is fantastic.

Bad News:

Nothing I didn’t like… only happy faces.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 140 hp 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine, 6-speed manual transmission, front wheel drive, power steering, anti slip, stabilization program, differential lock, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, front – side and side curtain airbags, LATCH system with child door locks, tire pressure monitoring system, climate air conditioning, leatherette seating, 8-way power driver seat, 60/40 split folding rear seating, rear seat arm rest and pass through, power heated mirrors, cruise control, tilt and telescoping steering column, in dash 6-disc CD player w/ MP3 format, Sirius Satellite radio, remote keyless entry, power windows, anti-theft alarm w/ immobilizer theft deterrent, trip computer and compass.

Gas Stats:

$2.69/ Gal avg. June 8, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

30 City and 41 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,870.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5 L (911)

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Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5 L. VW is Europe’s largest automaker and as you may know it is responsible for Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and VW cars. The Beetle only looks small and at about 3,000 pounds it is a solid automobile.

Perhaps the most interesting note about testing this car is that several people approached me to ask about it. A few parents told me their daughter wants one when she starts driving.

Since VW America landed in the US in 1955 it became the most talked about and sought after little car. And I’m sure that many like me were able to have inexpensive transportation to get them through school. In 1968 the movie ‘The Love Bug’   “Herbie” became a household word.

No matter the reasons it has drawn a passionate and almost ‘cult’ following in spite of the fact it was Hitler’s baby. It was originally simply named Volkswagen which means “the Peoples Car”. It had many other names here in America from the Bug, Beetle, V-Dub or even a Pregnant Roller Skate.

I suspect VW is the only good things that came out of World War II that has remained a stigma  on the German people even to this day. I used to work for a Jewish man who drove a Mercedes Benz and he used to say it was the German’s legacy to the Jews. If that is the case, it is also fair to say that the Beetle was the German’s gift to the common man. . . kinda like what Henry Ford did for the auto industry a few decades earlier with the Model A that virtually everyone could afford to own.

The 2012 Beetle offers two engines and transmissions: the 2.5 liter five cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic and the 2.0 liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a six-speed dual clutch automatic. Also five and six-speed manual transmissions are available.

Handling & Performance:

Solid and a delight to drive. it’s a big little car that is great to zip around town as well as heavy enough to feel safe on the highway and freeway speeds.

I had a friend while in college who’d tell the story of the earliest of V-Dubs that he encountered a very windy day going skiing where the wind actually picked up the car from one lane and dropped in the next. It is certain the early VW Bugs were very light but I always wondered how strong the wind was. As Richard says, “The story doesn’t have to be true to be good”.

Styling:

VW has stayed true to the original design and I believe that is the reason it has crossed generations and retained its popularity. In fact that crossover popularity was helped by the movie “The Love Bug” as future generations of drivers grew up having seen that movie.

The third-generation Beetle is longer, wider, and roomier than even the last car. The odd roofline and long dashboard are replaced by more conventional dimensions and proportions – a great improvement in my opinion. Nice job VW.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding.

Cost:

My test vehicle was over $23,000 but the base price is $18,995. It is worth the price of admission.

Conveniences and comfort:

Well, I’ve owned 4 VW’s including three Beetles and one Karmann Ghia in the 1960s. You got reliability and economy in the purchase price and operation, but nothing else. They didn’t get much more basic than the original. But today’s New Beetle is anything but basic. Great car around town, a great car for school driving age kids, but also great on the highway.

Consumer Recommendation:

German engineering from a company dedicated to excellence. I attended a press conference where the President of VW told us what the company’s philosophy is and I’m all in.

About half of the cars they produce in Europe are ‘clean diesel’ and faced with $8.00 a gallon fuel you know efficiency is important. I might suggest you look into VW products with TDI (Turbo Diesel) power.

VW says ‘Efficient TDI Clean Diesel Models Go on Sale in 2012, Expected to be the most Fuel-Efficient Beetle Ever’.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagen Beetle $23,000, Chevrolet Cruze $21,000, Fiat 500 $18,000, Ford Focus $18,000, Honda Fit $18,000, Hyundai Veloster $17,000, Kia Forte Koup $18,000, Mazda 3 $19,000, MINI Cooper $23,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution $34,000, Nissan Sentra $20,000, Subaru Impreza $19,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16,000, Toyota Yaris $16,000.

Good News:

It’s a VW that equals quality and reliability, great ride, fair fuel economy.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 horsepower, 6-speed automatic transmission front wheel drive, panoramic sunroof with power tilt and slide, leather wrapped muti-function steering wheel, keyless access and push button start, trip computer, Fender premium audio with touch screen and Sirius satellite, 18” alloy wheels, tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, cruise control, two power outlets, fog lights, power windows locks and mirrors, LATCH child seat anchors, manual 8-way adjustable front seats, front side and side curtain airbags, 50/50 split folding rear seat, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, speed sensitive power steering, anti-slip regulation, brake pressure distribution, stability control.

Gas Stats:

$4.25/ Gal avg. March 2, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,395.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Volkswagen GTI (898)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Volkswagen GTI 2-Door Sedan. . . meaning you can actually use the rear seat to carry passengers. If this were a Porsche, Mustang or Camaro I’d have to refer to it as a 2-door Coupe because the rear seats can hardly be used to carry passengers. Well, at least you can’t carry passengers with legs and feet, unless they are small kids or midgets.

Don’t get me wrong there isn’t a lot of room in the rear seat, but acceptable space to carry four  passengers, which is typical of the brand to make the most of the space available. By contrast, do you remember cars of the 1960s that looked to be way overweight. Bulky was in for a time in the US, but thankfully that has changed perhaps forever.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 1%,  Germany 75%; Engine – Hungary; Transmission – Germany

Assembly – Wolfsburg, Germany

Class  – Compact

Cars – Beetle, CC, Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagon, Passat, Passat Wagon, Routan, Tiguan, Touraeg & Touareg Hybrid.

Opinion:

When a driver pulls in between cars way to small to fit safely a few things happen:

1.     It is inconsiderate and ill advised.

2.     It pisses off the driver who is being cut off.

3.     It adds stress to all those around such dangerous drivers.

4.     Worse yet is the “Domino” effect it causes.

The car cut off generally applies the brakes, and each car behind apply their brakes in a delayed fashion so when a driver is distracted somewhere in the chain a CRASH is caused. The culprit of that multi-car crash is that one inconsiderate driver.

Why we get angry at that pushy driver is rooted in our youth and beyond as we wait in lines and someone walks up to the front of the line and cuts in. That’s war. Surely the solution is to make traffic flow more smoothly, but in the meantime it will be necessary to ignore those situations and slow down to the flow of traffic and help to avoid the effects of stupid drivers.

Handling & Performance:

Zippy. Fun to drive. But for greater performance I prefer the TDI engine.

VW says: “The TDI® Clean Diesel engine sips fuel at the wallet-friendly rate of 42 highway mpg. That’s up to 609 miles on just one tank. Impressive. The T in TDI stands for turbocharged, and this engine delivers 140 hp and 236 lbs/ft of torque for exceptional power. It’s a beautiful thing when a love of driving and a love for the environment coexist”.

Styling:

Styling – Not my style, but I am not the last word in style. . . in fact I’ve owned three V-Dubs over the years, two of which were Beetles (bugs). Who would have guessed young people in the 1950s and 1960s would embrace it… but we did. I believe it had more to do with economics for struggling students, mostly, because it was inexpensive to buy and operate.

Wheels – I have a bitch about the wheel design. When did design ignore practicality? Whoever thought up the design of the wheels to stick out beyond the tire should be fired. When you get too close to the curb, (and we all do) the wheel hits the curb instead of the tire. Scrapes will accumulate on the wheel and look terrible very quickly. Someone please tell me why so many car makers have adopted the design. I can’t find anyone who knows, and everyone agrees it is a dumb design.

Fit and Finish:

VW is always good workmanship.

Cost:

It is a little more than I would be willing to pay for a small compact commuter but it is a VW and that means quality to me. As mentioned, I’ve owned several VW’s and they are simply a lot of value for the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

A word about the tire pressure monitor system. I used to think I’d like the feature but over time it has been more of an annoyance than a help. I’ve found too many false readings on virtually all brands tested. My experience is that for no apparent reason the warning light comes on, but I’ve observed that happens especially in the morning after a cold night.

Consumer Recommendation:

My favorite engine is the TDI Turbo Diesel… ‘clean diesel’ and is the direction VW has chosen. That is driven by the high cost of fuel in Europe and now spreading around the globe.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagen GTI $24,000, Audi A3 $27,000, BMW 1 Series $31,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Mazda 3 $15,000, Mazda Speed3 $24,000, Mazda RX8 $27,000, Mini Clubman $21,000, Mini Cooper $19,000, Mini Coupe $21,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution $34,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $17,000, Subaru Impreza $17,000, Subaru Impreza WRX $26,000, Volvo C30 $25,000.

Good News:

Very good fuel economy, VW quality, fun to drive with lots of power.

Bad News:

A little pricey, tire pressure system false warnings.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter, 200 horsepower 4-cylinder direct injection engine, power steering, stabilization program, electronic differential lock,  anti lock front and rear disc braking system with brake force distribution, 18” alloy wheels, front side and side curtain air bags, LATCH child system, tire pressure monitor, climate control, power heated mirrors, cruise control, trip computer, adjustable height and lumber seats, adjustable steering column, SIRIUS Satellite radio, remote keyless entry system, power windows, anti-theft alarm with immobilizer theft deterrent, fog lights, 60/40 split folding rear seat, heated front seats.

Gas Stats:

$3.49/ Gal avg. December 17, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

24 City and 33 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,749.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Volkswagen Routan SE w/RSE & Nav (888)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE w/RSE & Nav. In college and early marriage VW played a part of my transportation life, and you don’t forget that easily nor should you, I suppose. Your firsts of anything tend to be remembered long and if it was a good experience it will be a pleasant memory. It has been good and I’m all in for VW because they have earned my trust over the years.

General Info:

82% of Parts are from the US and Canada including the Engine and Transmission. It is assembled in Windsor, Canada. Class is MiniVan. Cars from VW – CC, Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta Sportswagon, New Beetle, Passat, Passat Wagon, Routan, Tiguan, Touareg & Touareg Hybrid.

Opinion: 

This car has a theft deterrent system. Well I’m here to tell you it doesn’t prevent a thief from entering your car and steeling all your stuff. Theft is a growing problem in the present failing economy in the US. I say present because I’m guessing it is more a problem today than it was say in the great depression where people were more self sufficient and self reliant and didn’t lean on the government as much. People helped others, had morals that were faith based. Today however the past couple of generations have become dependent on government that is ever more secular. The “Culture of Corruption” that Michelle Malkin’s book talks about is the result of the moral relativism that has emerged.

I had first hand I experience this past week when I was robbed. I’d be interested in your experiences and what you feel the reasons are.

Thieves do far more damage to victims personally than they do to the car, and in this case the VW Routan test vehicle. They simply shattered the passenger side front window and avoiding the alarm system reached into the car and shattered a small part of my life… in the form of my day timer, my $2,000 Nikon photo shoot camera, my $1,000 iPad and so much more. It is heart breaking and life disrupting to say the least.

I reflected on the fact that out of every bad thing comes some good. It occurred to me there were four copies of Calista Gingrich’s  children’s book “Sweet Land of Liberty”. I had just purchased four copies for my grandchildren. The good? – it is possible the thieves children will read about America’s religious heritage that they would never learn in our public schools. They may even learn something about values for their life.

Security systems: Since we’ve lost our moral compass in today’s world friend Richard and his wife discussed the failure of alarms on our cars. They suggested it would be better if the alarm sent an alert to your cell phone if someone is messing with your car? It would give you a chance to confront the bad guys – or not.

Handling & Performance:

Powerful and perfect size for a 7 seater that is easy to maneuver with a solid ride. Everything feels good but does have a fair amount of road noise.

Styling:

Very nice looking minivan, that I see more as a crossover from the very popular small SUV.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Not cheap, but competitive in class for noted features.

Conveniences and comfort:

The electronics are not as user friendly, which is typical of European cars, especially German built. I judge that on – can I set up every control in under 5 minutes. If I can’t, I’m not a happy camper. I do this every week on a different car, so I like quick. By contrast, Japanese cars are far more user friendly. Other than that this is a very comfortable and overall a wonderful car. I would buy one and just have some pre-teen help me set up all the electronics.  Another nice feature is the power sliding side doors and rear lift gate.

Consumer Recommendation:

I don’t need to trim down the field of competitors for you since this is such a small number you will want to test drive all of those listed in this class.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagen Routan SE with Nav $35,000, Chrysler Town & Country $33,000, Dodge Grand Carivan $31,000, Honda Odyssey $37,000, Kia Sedona $29,000, Nissan Quest $31,000, Toyota Sienna $32,000.

Good News:

 Powerful, comfortable, fair fuel economy for a van that seats 7.

Bad News:

Road noise that was unexpected, more complicated user interface of electronic components.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter 283 horsepower V6 engine, 6-speed auto transmission, 17” Alloy wheels, 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, power windows, locks & mirrors, power sliding doors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, climate control with separate driver /front passenger controls, audio with CD/DVD, second row sound controls & accessories, Navigation system, trip computer, tire pressure monitor, adjustable foot pedals, tilt steering wheel with mounted controls, cruise controls, leatherette, 8-way driver power seat, heated front seats, second row folding and removable seats, third row removable seats, load bearing exterior rack, seating for 7, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH system, theft deterrent system, touch screen Navigation system with SIRIUS, hard disc, Bluetooth and backup camera.

Gas Stats:

$3.67/ Gal avg. October 11, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $34,750.

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI 4-door (812)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI 4-door compact sedan. You gotta love the European approach to car making. They are different from American made cars. They build with an eye to ‘substantial’ and make things that last a lifetime. They engineer components to last longer than they need to. American car makers engineer components to last just long enough and therefore are generally more profitable.

Asian made cars tend to be “knock-offs” or clones of American cars. Think about it. Some believe Asian cars are more thoughtfully put together, but even that may have been true 30 years ago but not today. Cheaper labor doesn’t mean better labor.

European and American products have always been higher quality in most everything that has been or IS made today. But probably not with Will be made in the future because that will change over time and even third world countries will continue to develop and come closer together with other artisans of the world. Not in your lifetime but eventually they will become industrialized and look just like the Western World. . . God help us, because I’m not sure Western Culture is better just because it is different, or rather because it is more progressive and aggressive.

I spent 4 years in the Navy and so I understand living life with less restraint. I understand when some use the term “like a drunken Sailor” to embellish or explain in fewer words “Wild and Crazy” behavior. It happens and that is what I mean by ‘less restraint’. Well, that’s the difference in Eastern and Western cultures when it comes to “Consumption”. And frankly I’m not sure such a life style is an enviable quality of Western Culture. Yea we all like more, bigger, better but there’s the rub, eh!? Is all that “Better”? Well, I’m not crazy. I’m not going right out and buy a bicycle or ride in a rickshaw to the office.

 

General Info:

Parts – US/Canada 1%, Germany 75%

Assembly – Wolfsburg, Germany

Class:  – Compact Cars

Cars: – CC, Eos, GLI, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta Sports Wagon, New Beetle, Passat, Passat Wagon, R32, Rabbit, Routan, Tiguan and Touareg 2.

Opinion:

Driving on our highways is generally a wonderful experience. But studies are being done on what keeps traffic moving smoothly. Those studies have shown ONE distracted driver can tie up traffic for miles around him or her.

You can help traffic move smoothly and better if you use Cruise Control and set your speed at the general flow of traffic. Thoughtful drivers also move to a slower lane if they are moving slower than the flow in their lane. The guideline here is that if people are passing you on the right, you might want to move over to the slower lane. It’s the polite thing to do. It doesn’t matter why traffic at that time and place insists on traveling faster than you. Suck up your pride and move over.

Consider it is not only the right thing to do it will prevent you from being involved in a needless accident or be a victim or cause of ‘roadrage’. Better yet, when you do allow faster drivers to go ahead of you they will be the ones who attract the CHP and a ticket for their speed if it exceeds or ignores safety under the conditions.

Handling & Performance:

It is amazing what power and performance VW can get from 2.0 liters. Ok, so it’s only 140 hp but because of the Turbo, this diesel will knock your socks off. You will definitely notice the impressive acceleration when you enter a freeway and need to merge into fast moving traffic.

What this also means is that when you set the cruise control it will pull on the hills with ease. Even more amazing is that it does “everything” you need in a commute and more with MPG numbers of 41 mpg highway. I’m really impressed with that.

Styling:

You’ll be the judge on this one. It is better looking than the Toyota Prius and does it all better. Those German’s are good.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Really tough to beat.

Conveniences and comfort:

European cars absolutely do the best job when it comes to making compact cars roomier inside than most other cars in the world, and give up little in comfort. I’ve never been a fan of German, and particularly VW seat adjustment mechanism’s. I prefer almost any other design.

Carefree maintenance service and 24-hour roadside service is covered at no cost for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

Visors don’t extend and that bugs me.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagon Golf $18-23,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Ford Focus $16-19,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Honda Fit $15-19,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-18,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16-20,000, Kia Forte $14-17,000, Kia Forte Koup $17-18,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, MINI Clubman $20-31,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $21-33,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15-27,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-20,000, Toyota Corola $15-20,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000.

Good News:

Well made, priced and performance doesn’t get any better.

Bad News:

Visors that don’t extend,

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 140 horsepower Inline 4-cylinder turbo clean diesel engine, 6-speed manual transmission, electro mechanical power steering, independent front and rear suspension, front side and side curtain airbags, Electronic Stability program, anti-slip regulation, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, LATCH child safety system, tire pressure monitoring system, power mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, remote keyless entry, anti-theft alarm with immobilizer deterrent system, air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows, 60/40 folding rear seat, touchscreen audio with 6-CD changer w/ SIRIUS satellite radio w/ 6-month subscription, fog lights, 17” alloy wheels

Gas Stats:

$3.00/ Gal avg. May 15 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

30 City and 41 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $21,990.

2010 Volkswagon Golf (804)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Volkswagen Golf 2-door as seen by friend and colleague Merkel Weiss. I don’t always agree with him but I do agree this is a very nice automobile. For those who know Merkel you know he doesn’t say nice things easily.

For those who read my column you will know I quote Merkel on occasion because he adds balance from a design engineer’s point of view.

He’s a member of the Motor Press Guild. Professionally he is a Mechanical Engineer and was a member of the design group at Chrysler Corp. Equally important is that he was a professor of automotive engineering and design at the famous “Art Center College of Design” in Pasadena, California for many years. Some of Professor Weiss’s students went on to become famous as  designers of such cars as the PT Cruiser and Chevrolet HHR to name two.

Merkel and I talk on occasion and try to inspire each other and critique each others work. We’ve met on many fields of battle which often come out a draw but when it comes to engineering I can’t argue with the man.

I am happy to share Merkel’s observations once again on this VW Golf.

The Volkswagen that I Have Come to Love
By Merkel Weiss

I just drove a new VW Golf and I find myself again, in love with the car. There is a lot to love about the Golf /GTI line, especially with a starting price of $17,620. The ingress and egress is every bit as graceful as I have come to expect from VW over the years. The size of the door and the threshold height are nearly perfection. You drop right into a nicely sculpted cloth seat which is nicely bolstered but not confining in the Mk 6 Golf. The center console seems a bit too wide, and I find that the outside of my right thigh tires from leaning on the console incessantly, however. The instruments are near perfection and the back seat is also relatively habitable, all this in a car only13.7 feet long. The ride is quiet, compliant, and highly civilized. Handling is crisp in the finest European style.

There is a difference in the connectedness with which the Golf conducts itself which separates it from the Mk 5 Golf and most others back to the early Mk1 GTI. The slightly damped steering imprecision of earlier Mk3 through Mk5 Golf has been replaced with a more direct, more responsive system which at once filters out the unwanted road irregularities while at the same time provides adequately tactile road surface information. Perhaps this is why the Golf has always been such a big player in Europe.

Go into a VW dealership anywhere here in the US and ask for a Golf, I dare you. Then watch the fireworks while the sales staff does everything humanly possible to have you drive out in a Jetta. It’s almost uncanny how they don’t seem to be able to ever put their hands on a Golf that meets your requirements, while there is a near-perfect match in a Jetta warming up right outside the door. And if you were to throw in the magic word TDI Golf, there is nearly no possibility on this green earth that you could find one with the options you want. These cars are scarce and highly sought after. The patience of a saint really pays off if you want a TDI Golf, but hang in there because it’s worth the wait. Of course if you were to accept any color and any option package, they might be able to find one for you…just don’t ask for the manual transmission or…

The standard 2.5 liter 5-cylinder engine works well, thank you. It revs very nicely and pulls as strongly as any passenger car. It’s complaint free and in the manual transmission model, the shifts are short, accurate, and positive. In short, this is a driver’s car that doubles as a competent family car for not a whole lot of money. The only operational down side to the Golf is the fuel economy. Since the car has porked out to 2968 pounds, the EPA fuel economy is 22/30 mpg, city/highway. This figure does not represent the finest efforts being put forward worldwide in the area of efficiency, but it is at least in line with the weight and performance level of the car. The TDI will do a bit better, namely 30/41 mpg. You may recall that previous generation Golf’s were able to get along quite well with the 4 cylinder powerplant, but at this point even though it’s a bit lighter that last year, the slow middle-aged doughnut about the mid section has taken its toll. You’ll be happy to hear that like most German designs, the car carries its heft very well and at no time is there any indication that the car is anything but alive in your hands.

The ignition key is now a laser cut device like BMW and Lexus that will cost you big if it’s lost or damaged. That’s progress for you. Similarly, the electronic key fob locks and unlocks the entire car. There is a redundant lock switch on the drivers’ door. There is however, no key receptacle in the hatch lid so you have to unlock it using the key fob. Then you pull on the hugely oversized round VW moniker handle to open the hatch. There is no mechanical cable release unless you crawl back into the rear and pull the emergency release. I mention this because, like so many other modern electronically assisted cars, when the battery goes dead you’ll lose more than your radio presets.

The back seat is an adequate space for adults so long as the drive is not too long, and children will do just fine there. It’s a light and airy environment with reasonable comfort and good seatbelts. This is a genuinely useful car whether you choose the 2-door or 4-door model. High quality materials abound and it seems a great deal more solid and rattle free than some past models. I admire this base car for what it has and for what it costs, if not for its efficiency. Should you want it all (and hey, why not?) then gather up all your patience, go down to the VW dealership and offer them the $21,990 for the TDI. You won’t regret it.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagon Golf $18-23,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Ford Focus $16-19,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Honda Fit $15-19,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-18,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16-20,000, Kia Forte $14-17,000, Kia Forte Koup $17-18,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, MINI Clubman $20-31,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $21-33,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15-27,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-20,000, Toyota Corola $15-20,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000.

Gas Stats:

$2.97/ Gal avg. March 15 ‘10
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

22 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,490.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2008 Volkswagen Jetta SE (762)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5 which is a substantial little compact that borders on being a luxury car relative to the competition. The Audi and Acura, although listed as competition, are over priced and cost to benefit suffers. However some people are more concerned with looking rich than concerned about cost per mile they pay to chug around in traffic with absolutely no opportunity to show off their high performance automobile.

Jetta gives you a better feeling for driving a more fuel efficient, lower cost buy in commuter. Fact is the last time I tested an Audi on the highway it turned out to be an expensive experience when pushing the limits resulted in a speeding ticket. I had the same problem in Austria testing a Mercedes Benz on the wide open road where motorcycle cops are just as devious as they are here in America. But there you pay on the spot. I have always wondered if the fine ever made it from his pocket to his employer. More importantly, was he really a police officer? Why not just forget the ticket and call it a tip.

I should know better than to drive that way on a public highway anyway. Since I test drive most all cars on the race track I shouldn’t have to do any of that foolish stuff on the highway. Shame on me. Quite frankly I’m more ticked off that I got caught. Let’s be honest here.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 13%, Germany 40%, Mexico 35%

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class:  – Compact Cars

Cars: – Eos, GTI, Jetta, New Beetle, Passat, Passat Wagon, R32, Rabbit and Touareg 2.

Observation:

Remember discussing fuel economy and world price of gas? Well consider that in Europe where fuel per gallon is about $8.00 Europeans are more conscious of driving clean diesel fuel efficient cars that get at least twice the fuel economy as do American cars. Thus they pay the same per mile as do American drivers. My question to you who are in the know about the auto and oil companies is – why haven’t we adopted that driving philosophy in America? Write me and provide credentials and I will publish your answer.

Handling & Performance:

The average fuel economy for the compact class in the US is 29 mpg and this US version of the Jetta is below average at 24 mpg.

Styling:

This Jetta reminds me of the ever popular BMW and Acura which I always enjoy driving. But I have found many people go for “ugly”, by most standards, such as the Scion from Toyota or the Element from Honda (I’ve come to like the Element). I think the popularity of such cars is because we like to be different from the crowd. So in the scheme of things this Jetta is pretty conventional in design even if many simply say it is too much the same as the majority of cars on the road and thus boring and uninteresting. I call those “Cookie Cutter” cars, but Jetta is a rather sporty commuter and well done in my opinion.

 

Fit and Finish:

Jetta is thoughtfully put together and overall quite nice. I favor the bulky and solid built feeling you get from cars like this Jetta and tend to shy away from the dainty cars like Jaguar for example, which explains why Jag is a “Chick” car.

Cost:

Pricing is slightly over the average of the competition.

Features and Conveniences:

Wow … for the MSRP pricing this puppy is pretty well endowed. But I have to tell you standard or optional I find some things are not only unnecessary luxuries they can be down right nuisances and worse. The anti theft locks on the wheels sound good but that’s what we have insurance for. Just get a flat, when you’re in a hurry, and can’t find that special key to unlock the lugs… know what I mean?

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

If you want the sportier, well equipped, well assembled, this is a good choice and less money than the higher priced near luxury competition.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagen Jetta $17-24,000, Audi A4 $29-48,000, Ford Focus $14-17,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $14-22,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-16,000, Mazda 3 $14-20,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Subaru Impreza $17-35,000, Saturn Ion $12-20,000, Chevrolet Malibu $20-27,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $23-24,000, Nissan Sentra $16-20,000, Kia Spectra $13-16,000, Suzuki Forenza $14-15,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $14-18,000, Acura TSX $29-32,000, Scion tC $17,000.

Good News:

Nice to drive and well equipped and good utility of engine and design.

Bad News:

Plain styling, only fair fuel economy for this class and I read about reliability and good dealership service issues.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 hp inline 5 cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic trans with paddle shifter, front wheel drive, variable assist electro-mechanical steering, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, with engine braking assist, stability program, differential lock, front and side airbags and side curtain head airbags front and rear, child LATCH system and child safety rear door locks, daytime running lights, tire pressure monitoring system, climate control, power heated mirrors, intermittent front wipers with heated washers, cruise control, 60/40 split rear seat, tilt and telescoping steering column, remote keyless entry system, power central locking system, power windows, heated, height and lumbar adjusted front seats, rear seat armrest with storage and pass through, anti theft alarm with immobilizer theft deterrent system, 6-in dash CD changer with MP3 format, Sirius Satellite radio (3 mos included), power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, 16” alloy wheels with anti-theft locks.

Options: Tiptronic shifter for auto transmission and I Pod adapter. $1,274.

Gas Stats:

$4.50/ Gal avg. June 11, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 29 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov  or   888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $19,760 – with options $21,674.

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S (757)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S SUV. I took this on a road trip for a thorough testing and found it to be worthy of my trust. Highway as well as dirt roads, but I did not give it an off road test because it is not a 4-wheel drive.

For the road it is impressive with the “Turbocharger” for 200 horsepower from a 2 liter engine. Getting a 100 hp per liter has not typically been a characteristic of American cars, but is more typical of European cars.

For an extensive look at Tiguan go to this link. Very interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Tiguan

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 1%; Germany 70%; Engine – Hungary; Transmission – Japan.

Assembly – Wolfsburg, Germany

Class:  – Compact SUV

Cars: – CC, Eos, GLI, GTI, Jetta, New Beatle, Passat, R32, Rabbit, Routan, Tiguan & Touareg.

Opinion:

Well, Chrysler has now filed for Chapter 11 reorganization as you probably know, but what you may not know is that the taxpayers will fork over several billion to Fiat to manage it. Not a dime out of their pocket. Time will tell if we get any of that money back but I fear if it does come back the taxpayers will never see it.

However there is some hope. Fiat is a master builder of smaller cars. When in Poland for example I think at least every other car was a Fiat. They routinely get fuel economy up to 50 mpg. Poland has emerged as a capitalist success story ever since they abandoned their Socialist Communist system back 17 years ago. I suspect in the future you’ll see more luxury cars but the point is when food and housing is more important than the car you drive you find more inexpensive forms of transportation.

Handling & Performance:

Turbochargers make the driving experience exciting for performance lovers which is the best way to excite smaller displacement engines when the power is needed. Fuel numbers are good and the head jerking acceleration is really impressive.

Styling:

A good utility vehicle with nice lines.

Fit and Finish:

VW Quality that is always good.

Cost:

A little pricey, but fair in class. Look for softer prices in the new car market but used inventory is at the top of the Kelly Blue Book.

Conveniences and comfort:

Well appointed and very comfortable for the 1500 mile trip I put this friendly traveler to the test with me for the week. Never a complaint – from either of us… me or the car.

Consumer Recommendation:

Competitively priced with great safety features included. Choosing among the competition will come down to personal preference of style but you won’t do any better in the area of comfort and performance in my opinion. It’s at the top of the list for me. For an SUV it is classed as a compact but it feels more mid size but would not be a good fit for larger families. Son Mike with 4 kids would not do well in this size SUV because of 3 child car seats. His choice was a Chevy Tahoe because of the need. We need to keep ‘Want’ out of the equation and ‘Need’ foremost when making a buying decision.

Test driving is an obvious, but I suggest you consider renting ones of interest for the next several week end outings.

Recognized Competition:

VW Tiguan $23-31,000, BMW X3 $39,700, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-26,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Mazda Tribute $20-28,000, Dodge Nitro $22-29,000, Ford Escape $20-28,000, Jeep Compass $18-25,000, Jeep Patriot $18-24,000, Lexus RX 350 $37-38,000, Mercury Mariner $23-28,000, Pontiac Torrent  $25-31,000, Saturn Vue $23-31,000, Kia Sportage $17-23,000, Nissan Rogue $20-23,000, Hyundai Tucson $18-26,000, Honda CR-V $21-29,000, Chevrolet Equinox $24-31,000, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara$18-26,000.

Good News:

Not a lot to complain about, comfortable ride and a good road car as well as around town.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy because you can get as good fuel performance out of a large Chrysler Aspen hybrid for example.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter inline turbocharged 200 hp engine, 6-speed auto trans, power steering, front strut and rear independent suspension, electronic stability program, anti slip, electronic differential lock, electronic brake force distribution with anti lock braking system, front, side and side curtain air bags, LATCH anchors and tethers and child safety locks, tire pressure monitoring system, climate control, in dash CD player, 8-way driver and passenger seat adjustment with driver lumbar, 60/40 split folding and reclining rear seat, anti theft system, remote keyless entry, power windows, power heated mirrors and trailer hitch preparation.

Gas Stats:

$2.29/ Gal avg. April 18, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,300.

2008 Volkswagen Jetta SE (705)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5 which is a substantial little compact that borders on being a luxury car relative to the competition. The Audi and Acura, although listed as competition, are over priced and cost to benefit suffers. However some people are more concerned with looking rich than concerned about cost per mile they pay to chug around in traffic with absolutely no opportunity to show off their high performance automobile.

Jetta gives you a better feeling for driving a more fuel efficient, lower cost buy in commuter. Fact is the last time I tested an Audi on the highway it turned out to be an expensive experience when pushing the limits resulted in a speeding ticket. I had the same problem in Austria testing a Mercedes Benz on the wide open road where motorcycle cops are just as devious as they are here in America. But there you pay on the spot. I have always wondered if the fine ever made it from his pocket to his employer. More importantly, was he really a police officer? Why not just forget the ticket and call it a tip.

I should know better than to drive that way on a public highway anyway. Since I test drive most all cars on the race track I shouldn’t have to do any of that foolish stuff on the highway. Shame on me. Quite frankly I’m more ticked off that I got caught. Let’s be honest here.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 13%, Germany 40%, Mexico 35%

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class:  – Compact Cars

Cars: – Eos, GTI, Jetta, New Beetle, Passat, Passat Wagon, R32, Rabbit and Touareg 2.

Observation:

Remember discussing fuel economy and world price of gas? Well consider that in Europe where fuel per gallon is about $8.00 Europeans are more conscious of driving clean diesel fuel efficient cars that get at least twice the fuel economy as do American cars. Thus they pay the same per mile as do American drivers. My question to you who are in the know about the auto and oil companies is – why haven’t we adopted that driving philosophy in America? Write me and provide credentials and I will publish your answer.

Handling & Performance:

The average fuel economy for the compact class in the US is 29 mpg and this US version of the Jetta is below average at 24 mpg.

Styling:

This Jetta reminds me of the ever popular BMW and Acura which I always enjoy driving. But I have found many people go for “ugly”, by most standards, such as the Scion from Toyota or the Element from Honda (I’ve come to like the Element). I think the popularity of such cars is because we like to be different from the crowd. So in the scheme of things this Jetta is pretty conventional in design even if many simply say it is too much the same as the majority of cars on the road and thus boring and uninteresting. I call those “Cookie Cutter” cars, but Jetta is a rather sporty commuter and well done in my opinion.

Fit and Finish:

Jetta is thoughtfully put together and overall quite nice. I favor the bulky and solid built feeling you get from cars like this Jetta and tend to shy away from the dainty cars like Jaguar for example, which explains why Jag is a “Chick” car.

Cost:

Pricing is slightly over the average of the competition.

Features and Conveniences:

Wow … for the MSRP pricing this puppy is pretty well endowed. But I have to tell you standard or optional I find some things are not only unnecessary luxuries they can be down right nuisances and worse. The anti theft locks on the wheels sound good but that’s what we have insurance for. Just get a flat, when you’re in a hurry, and can’t find that special key to unlock the lugs… know what I mean?

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

If you want the sportier, well equipped, well assembled, this is a good choice and less money than the higher priced near luxury competition.

Recognized Competition:

Volkswagen Jetta $17-24,000, Audi A4 $29-48,000, Ford Focus $14-17,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $14-22,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-16,000, Mazda 3 $14-20,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Subaru Impreza $17-35,000, Saturn Ion $12-20,000, Chevrolet Malibu $20-27,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $23-24,000, Nissan Sentra $16-20,000, Kia Spectra $13-16,000, Suzuki Forenza $14-15,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $14-18,000, Acura TSX $29-32,000, Scion tC $17,000.

Good News:

Nice to drive and well equipped and good utility of engine and design.

Bad News:

Plain styling, only fair fuel economy for this class and I read about reliability and good dealership service issues.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 hp inline 5 cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic trans with paddle shifter, front wheel drive, variable assist electro-mechanical steering, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, with engine braking assist, stability program, differential lock, front and side airbags and side curtain head airbags front and rear, child LATCH system and child safety rear door locks, daytime running lights, tire pressure monitoring system, climate control, power heated mirrors, intermittent front wipers with heated washers, cruise control, 60/40 split rear seat, tilt and telescoping steering column, remote keyless entry system, power central locking system, power windows, heated, height and lumbar adjusted front seats, rear seat armrest with storage and pass through, anti theft alarm with immobilizer theft deterrent system, 6-in dash CD changer with MP3 format, Sirius Satellite radio (3 mos included), power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, 16” alloy wheels with anti-theft locks.

Options: Tiptronic shifter for auto transmission and I Pod adapter. $1,274.

Gas Stats:

$4.50/ Gal avg. June 11, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 29 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov  or   888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $19,760 – with options $21,674.

2008 Volkswagen New Beetle S (668)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle S coupe. But I have to bitch about the “dumbly engineered sun visors”. The windows are unusually large and the engineers and test drivers (yea right) went brain dead when they ignored the need to cover more of the window for side sun. Ok, so they may not have sun in Michigan.

General Info:

Parts – US/ Canadian 17%, Germany 35% and Mexico 35%. Transmission – Argentina.

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class:  – Subcompact Cars

Cars: – Eos, GTI, Jetta, New Beetle, Passat & Wagon, Rabbit and Touareg.

Observation:

I’m sure we all have observed the movement of traffic on most of our highways and how it fluctuates because there is no way to determine the average speed of that flow. Therefore drivers speed up until all lanes are bunched up like an accordion. Then as panic radiates from a rapidly moving flash of red lights our hearts pound from near misses or worse . . . “CRASH”. Then everyone is inconvenienced by slowly clearing crash scenes that back up all lanes with nowhere to go like parking at the big game – but no entertainment.

Well – what if there were strobe lights that blink at the average rate of speed of traffic for a specified number of miles ahead. That would provide a way to synchronize your cruise control to allow a smooth flow of travel. We all know that makes for more comfortable transportation.

Handling & Performance:

Impressive, especially if you’ve ever driven earlier year models – like in the 60s.

Styling:

V-Dub has become an Icon of our time. It was perhaps the first of the economy cars and simply a part of our driving experience. I appreciate the fact it has changed little in its dress and I also appreciate the conveniences and comfort designed into this old friend. It even has changed its anatomy and where you always found the engine you find a trunk – although small it is larger than the tradition of the past. But they have built in the ability to fold down the rear seat back that gives a good deal of cargo space.

Fit and Finish:

Outstanding.

Cost:

Acceptable since they give a lot of hidden quality of all manner of control features to make your driving experience safer.

Conveniences and comfort:

The list below is also impressive as standard. And what you see is what you get – everything is standard.

Consumer Recommendation:

It would be an easier decision if it were better on the fuel consumption. 35-40 mpg is what I’d expect because this is a good commuter and shouldn’t be just for fun driving.  In fact, even though it is not on the competition list, I’d look at the Toyota Yaris if you want a commuter with about 40 mpg for about $14,000 – and it’s not a hybrid.

Recognized Competition:

VW New Beetle $17-26,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $15-29,000, Mini Cooper $18-25,000, Scion tC $17,000, Ford Focus $, Kia Spectra5 $15,995, Mazda MX5 Miata $21-27,000, Pontiac G5 $15-19,000, Chevrolet HHR $16-20,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $14-19,000, Toyota Matrix $16-17,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000.

Good News:

Great high tech features for handling and safety,

Bad News:

Tiny sun visors, low fuel economy for this class car.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 150 hp inline 5 cylinder engine, 5-speed manual trans, power assist rack and pinion steering, electronic stability program, anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock, electronic brake force distribution, anti-lock disc brake system, front and side airbag, daytime running lights, side impact beams, tire pressure monitoring system, air conditioning, power heated mirrors, intermittent wipers / washers, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, remote trunk and fuel cap, folding rear seat, 12 V power outlets, anti theft alarm with immobilizer, in-dash CD player, and 16” alloy wheels with anti-theft locks.

Gas Stats:

$2.71/ Gal avg. Sept 11, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,365.