Volkswagen

Opinion – Why the Volkswagen Jetta should be missed

The recently departed ‘Golf with a boot’ deserves more recognition says ESM’s editor.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

Last week’s news that the Jetta saloon would not longer feature on Volkswagen’s UK price list was hardly met with grief and distress. Nobody will be building statues to commemorate its passing, and no national day of mourning will be declared. Yet I think the humble Jetta deserves a better legacy than what it currently has.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘other Volkswagen saloon’ has bitten the dust in the UK. Four-door versions of C-segment hatchbacks have always been a relatively niche market, with neither Ford nor Vauxhall offering saloon versions of the Focus or Astra respectively.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

The constant march of the crossover SUV won’t have helped, with a sensible sedan never going to win in a battle of desirability against the Tiguan or new T-Roc. (more…)

Gallery Feature | Fifty Shades of (automotive) Grey

Over 17% of new car buyers picked grey last year, and it’s now the third most popular tone in the UK. But how many different types of grey can there really be? Quite a lot, actually.

50 Shades of Grey

For reference ESM’s Editor has never actually seen Fifty Shades of Grey, or read any of the books. However, he surmises that the plot revolves around a man who treats his interior designer quite badly, whilst she struggles to pick the right grey tones for his house. Plus, the lead character insists on one room painted red, in a tribute to Changing Rooms from the 1990s. Beyond that, who knows what happens, other than inspiring us to seek out fifty shades of grey paint offered on new cars.

We’ve taken these directly from the configurator websites for the respective manufacturer. As a result, the quality of some images is not the best. In the case of Skoda, it’s truly dreadful; like 8-bit Nintendo retro. We’ve tried to accommodate as many different brands as possible, but other greys are available. We’re also not sure how some of these can even be classed as grey in the first place.

Shades 1 to 10

Tasting Notes: (more…)

1999 6N2 Polo GTI

Back Catalogue | Volkswagen Polo GTI

With a new Volkswagen Polo GTI announced, we’ve taken a look back at the previous versions of Wolfsburg’s supermini that have worn the fabled hot hatch badge. And not just because ESM’s editor has owned two of them…

VW Polo GT

Ok, maybe the ownership history plays a small part in it, but there’s also the motivation to raise the profile of the Polo GTI and its ancestors. Having spent some 19 years living in the shadow of the bigger Golf GTI, we think it’s only fair that the Polo gets some attention. There were fast Polos before the GTI, but here we’ve stuck with the six that were given the GTI badge.

1998 – 6N Polo GTI


Until 1998, the most powerful version of the third-generation 6N Polo was the 1.4-litre 16V model with 100hp. Things changed in 1998, with the introduction of a limited edition GTI, boasting a 1.6-litre engine producing 120hp. Suspension lowered by 15mm, a set of 15″ BBS RXII alloy wheels, uprated brakes, and a standard Electronic Differential Lock were the other mechanical changes.

Inside was a leather-wrapped steering wheel, with sports seats and red-edged floors mats also part of the package. Only 3,000 cars were produced, and all in left-hand drive, meaning the UK would have to wait slightly longer for a Polo GTI.

 

1999 to 2002 – 6N2 Polo GTI

1999 6N2 Polo GTI

ESM’s editor had one. He still talks about it now. A lot…

As part of a comprehensive mid-life facelift, Volkswagen made the Polo GTI a permanent fixture on the 6N2 price list. Much was carried over from the 6N GTI including the same 1.6-litre engine, but with power boosted to 125hp. This drove the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, which gained a reputation for failure at high mileage. Something the 6N2 GTI owned by ESM’s editor fortunately managed to avoid. 0-62mph needed 8.7 seconds, with a top speed of 127mph, meaning performance was more warm than boiling.

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2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

New Metal | 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The all-new sixth generation Volkswagen Polo was revealed to the world last week, along with an enhanced GTI model. Yet certain things have left ESM feeling slightly bittersweet about it all.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

With a life spent living in the shadow of the bigger Golf GTI, it’s unprecedented for Volkswagen to announce a new Polo GTI at the same time as the regular supermini. In fact Polo GTI models have often felt like something on an afterthought, tacked on partway through a lifecycle. Not so with the new sixth-generation Polo, which will be available in cooking GTI specification from the outset.

The biggest news is under the bonnet, where the 1.8-litre TSI engine found in the current 6C Polo GTI is dispensed with, and in comes a new 2.0-litre unit. In world where everything seems to be about downsizing, there is something refreshing about a manufacturer upscaling an engine instead. Power raises slightly to 197hp, marking a minor increase of 8hp over the outgoing model, whilst gearbox choices remain as a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch. With an increase in size of the new car, we would imagine performance things to be pretty much on par with the existing Polo GTI.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI

What has clearly changed are the dimensions, with the new Polo substantially bigger by almost every marker compared to the fifth-generation. The new model is so big that Volkswagen have actually chosen to compare it to the Mk4 Golf – a measure of the expansion in supermini scale over the past two decades. Greater interior and luggage space is the reasoning for this, and it does make you wonder just how people even managed to fit inside cars from the 1990s, let alone even be comfortable within them… (more…)

New Metal | Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

We seem to have been teased for years about a possible hot version of VW’s city car. Finally, we’re almost there, with the announcement of this production-ready concept.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

The ‘concept’ tag needs to be taken pretty lightly. From the details released, and the photos supplied by Volkswagen, this thing looks as close to being fit for human consumption as possible. Come 2018 you’ll be able to take home an Up GTI from your local VW dealership, and we’ll be very surprised if it looks different to this. We’re still mildly disappointed that Volkswagen didn’t take our suggestion of naming it the ‘Power Up’ though.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Power comes from a tuned version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine used in the normal Up. However, it’s been boosted to deliver 113hp and 148lb-ft of torque. Granted in 2017 that doesn’t sound like a great deal for a hot hatch, when the latest Mk7.5 Golf GTI packs almost 227hp, and the Golf R is endowed with over 305hp. So why would we be getting excited about a city car with so little power, even if it does have a six-speed manual gearbox?

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Volkswagen is keen to play up the similarities between the Up GTI and the original Mk1 Golf GTI. That 1976 car used a 1.6-litre engine, producing 110hp, and was able to do 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, plus a top speed of 113mph. By contrast, the Up GTI is even quicker, doing 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, and topping out at a claimed 122mph. On paper at least, it therefore beats the most thumbed page in the Volkswagen GTI history book. A low weight of 997kg for the Up GTI compares favourably to a Golf from 40 years ago, which tipped the scales at just 810kg. (more…)

Opinion | Are new cars actually getting more expensive?

The new Volkswagen Golf, and the excellent revised GTI in particular, got us wondering. Just how much more expensive are new cars compared to their predecessors? 

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Having already won rave reviews from both print and online media, the Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI is already attracting attention. Yet a lot of the Internet comments seem to take umbrage at one particular fact – the cost. To clarify, the new Golf GTI has a list price starting at £27,865. As with any modern car, there is the huge temptation to run wild with the extras, but that basic amount will get you a brand-new three-door GTI, with a manual gearbox. No options, no fancy technology packages, not even metallic paint. Signature GTI colours like Tornado Red will add an extra £250, with metallics needing £570. In short, it’s rather easy to spec’ a GTI which costs over £30,000. Shock, horror, Internet outrage.

The most recent time a new Golf GTI garnered such positive attention was with the introduction of the Mk5 in early 2005. After the lacklustre Mk4 effort, the all-new GTI was an absolute revelation. Tartan seats helped, too. Yet when first introduced, the new Mk5 GTI had a starting price of just £19,995. Yes really, less than £20,000, and although the amount did rise shortly afterward, that’s the value we’ve used for comparison.

2005 Volkswagen MkV Golf GTI

A difference of £7,870 equates to a substantial sounding 39.4% increase in those twelve years between 2005 and 2017! On the other hand, horsepower has gone from 197hp in the Mk5 GTI, to 230hp in the Mk7.5, a jump of only 17%. If it had followed the same pattern as pricing, new GTI models should be rolling out the factory with 274hp. So have Volkswagen left new GTI buyers shortchanged?

Well no, actually. Inflation on the cost of goods and services in the UK has risen on average by around 2.9% each year. That 2.9% figure is based on the Bank of England’s CPI information, and there is little difference when using inflation calculators that rely on RPI data instead. We’re not going to delve into A-Level economics and debate the differences here – this is a car blog, not the Financial Times.

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Inflation between March 2005 and March 2017 totals roughly – wait for it – 39%. Meaning a new Mk7.5 Golf GTI costs within £75 of what the financial data tells us it should do in 2017. It also means we’re getting a better deal in 2017 with 230hp, and the continuous improvement in technology and specification that has taken place in the last decade. So the next time someone exclaims the new Golf GTI is far too expensive, feel free to shut them down with data.

We couldn’t just leave it at one car, however. The Golf GTI may happen to be a freak automotive bellwether, so we checked out the new Golf R, just to be sure. But this time we went even further back with our research. All the way back to 2002, and the introduction of the Mk4 R32. (more…)

Editorial | Volkswagen to end World Rally Championship commitment

Another week, another Volkswagen Group motorsport project gets canned. After the end of Audi’s Le Mans campaign, now comes the closure of VW’s highly successful rally programme. ESM’s Editor reflects.

VW Polo R WRC

Just three days after winning the 2016 Rally GB, along with more World Championship titles, Volkswagen officially that there will be no 2017 WRC campaign. The official reason is that the brand must ‘realign’ priorities in the face of enormous challenges. Whilst the statement from Volkswagen is at pains to avoid any reference to last year’s emissions scandal, this is clearly a knock-on effect from dieselgate.

With litigation and product recalls requiring Volkswagen to set aside billions of euros, continuing an expensive motorsport campaign in the WRC becomes a difficult thing to justify. In addition, it may well be that the Volkswagen brand wants to keep a low profile until the fall-out from dieselgate is completely sorted. It’s worth noting that VW-branded cars didn’t appear in this year’s latest Forza Horizon 3 game on the Microsoft Xbox, due to undisclosed licensing issues. Having been paraded through the global media as a cheat, perhaps Volkswagen wants to avoid rubbing noses in the dirt. Literally.

VW Polo R WRC

What’s more depressing is that Volkswagen Motorsport’s campaign with the Polo R WRC has been nothing short of flawless. From entering in 2013, to now, Volkswagen has taken 42 rally wins from 51 entries – that’s more than 83%! It means the Polo R WRC has notched up four drivers’ titles with Sébastien Ogier, four co-drivers’ titles with Julien Ingrassia, and four Manufacturers’ championships. Whilst cynics and critics will point to contemporary WRC being at its lowest ebb in generations – they’re not wrong – it’s still an amazing performance.

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Twin Test Review | VW Polo GTI vs SEAT Ibiza Cupra Black

On paper these two VAG family cousins share many similarities but, peel back the surface, and you’ll discover that things aren’t quite so homogenous. Which Spanish-built supermini wins out though?

SEAT Ibiza Cupra vs VW Polo GTI

If you’ve read our review of the SEAT Ibiza Cupra you’ll know there is a lot to like about this condensed hot hatch. However, sharing a powertrain and platform with the Polo GTI, through Volkswagen’s tried and tested badge-engineering, opens up obvious comparisons. We’ve broken our review down into several key areas, and found that things aren’t quite as predictable as you might imagine. Let’s get down to it:

Styling

This is evidently a subjective area, and neither Cupra nor GTI could be considered unattractive designs. Whether you prefer the basic Polo or Ibiza shape is personal taste, so we concentrated on the actual effort made to transform regular supermini into a hot hatch.SEAT Ibiza Cupra vs VW Polo GTISo what sets the GTI apart is the fact it looks more bespoke compared to the rest of the Polo range. From the red trim running across the grille into the headlights, to the honeycomb mesh and the GTI branding, it feels more special. Yes, it might be a scaled-down pastiche of the Golf GTI, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

On the other hand, the Ibiza Cupra struggles to separate itself from the hundreds of FR-badged imitators. Where it does differ is often through fussy styling, like the trapezoidal centre-exit exhaust or fake vents in the rear bumper. It’s still a good-looking car, but doesn’t quite do enough to make things feel distinctive. (more…)

Photo Gallery – 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed – Paddock Action

Despite weather that threatened to make Goodwood seem more like Glastonbury at times, the 2016 Festival of Speed proved to be as impressive as ever. ESM was there, for two days this time, getting up close and personal with as much of the machinery as possible. We could write 1,000s of words but, instead, we’ll give you the pictures first. 2016 Goodwood Festival of SpeedTrying to pick which photos to feature isn’t easy given the ridiculous selection of race and road cars on offer at the Festival of Speed. To try and keep things simple, we’ve broken it down into three galleries: the highlights from the paddock, what the manufacturers brought to the motor show, and cars in action tackling the hill climb. In this first gallery we’ve covered our favourites from the various paddocks at Goodwood, where it’s possible to be inches away from priceless racers and motorsport icons. We’ve also included what we found after the (long) trek to the rally stage at the top of the hill, and a special feature on BMW.

2016 Festival of Speed – Main Paddock

BMW Paddock Highlights
BMW was the featured marque at the Festival of Speed, so the brand accounted for a lot of the cars on display. Including one particular car that’s very dear to ESM’s heart.  (more…)

New – Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S takes Nürburgring record

Did you honestly think everyone had forgotten about hot-hatch Nürburgring lap times, after Honda’s Civic Type-R effort last year? No, of course not. So what better way for VW to celebrate 40 years of the Golf GTI than by setting a new Nordschleife record of 7:49.21.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S We’ve already seen the regular GTI Clubsport, and it’s actually on sale now, but the ‘S’ version has been cranked up to 11 to ensure it can beat that pesky Civic around the ‘ring. That means more power, less weight, and a special Nürburgring mode for the driving profile selector. Yeah, we’re not convinced ‘engage Nürburgring mode‘ is quite catchy enough for us to consider rebranding. Sorry, Volkwagen. However, we can say the S has cured the slight indifference we felt  from first reading about the normal Clubsport when announced last year.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S The Nürburgring mode tunes the suspension, engine, steering, and exhaust to best suit attacking the twisty German circuit. Racking up a decent ‘ring lap isn’t all about rock-solid suspension, due to numerous bumps and dips littered along the 12.9 miles of tarmac.  (more…)