VW

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…)

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…)

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…)

Frankfurt 2015 – Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport

Hitting 40 is kind of big deal, so Volkswagen has decided to celebrate four decades of the Golf GTI in their usual style. Adding a little more power, some bigger wheels, and interior trinkets to create the 2016 GTI Clubsport.

2016 VW Golf GTI ClubsportVW showed off the Golf GTI Clubsport as a concept at the Wörthersee show earlier in the year, and the car has made it through to production format virtually unchanged. It’s hardly revolutionary, following a similar pattern to that introduced by the Mk4 25th Anniversary, but does make for a rather powerful GTI.

2016 VW Golf GTI Clubsport

Power is upped to 261bhp (265PS) from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s an output familiar to anyone who bought a SEAT Leon Cupra 265 SC, but makes this the most powerful production GTI to emerge from the Wolfsburg factory. There’s also the ‘over boost’ function which allows the Clubsport to produce 286bhp (290PS) but only for ten seconds at a time. Surely a quick remap will result in having all the power, all of the time.

Acceleration is improved over the regular GTI, with 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds for the DSG car, with the six-speed manual just behind at 6.0 dead. The DSG loses out by 0.3mph to the 155mph top speed of the manual car, but nobody is going to really mind. Well, except on internet forums, perhaps. Naturally as it’s not a Golf R power only goes to the front wheels.

2016 VW Golf GTI Clubsport

Externally Volkswagen claims there’s an entirely new bodykit with redesigned front bumper, rear diffuser and side skirts though it is hardly a dramatic change. The strakes on the front end now sit proud of the bumper, and get a gloss black finish. In fact VW has gone slightly mad with gloss back, using it on the wing mirrors, and bigger rear spoiler also. (more…)

Game On – Volkswagen GTI Supersport Vision GT

Gran Turismo 6 has been kicking around for a while now, with a next-generation console GT7 still some way off. As such, Polyphony is still encouraging manufacturers to add more content to the PS3 game in the form of ‘Vision’ concepts.

VW GTI Supersport Vision Gran Turismo

Volkswagen has already contributed to Gran Turismo 6 with the mental Vision Roadster from last year. But it’s decided to offer up another digital concept in the form of this GTI Supersport. Safe to say, it’s also pretty crazy.

VW GTI Supersport Vision Gran Turismo

With a 503PS turbocharged VR6 engine and a 7-Speed DSG gearbox, there’s no doubting the virtual firepower of the GTI Supersport Vision GT. Unlike a normal Golf GTI, there’s a 4MOTION 4WD system to keep all that power under control, and 20″ wheels to, well, just look cool! The 0-62mph sprint happens in just 3.6 seconds, and there’s a top speed of over 186mph.

Freed from the shackles of practicality and road safety laws, it’s also meant Volkswagen’s designers could really let loose with the bodywork. The GTI Supersport does, however, still maintain obvious Golf GTI cues like the red trim running through the grille and headlights, and the daytime running lights in the outer reaches of the front bumper. (more…)

Volkswagen Golf R Estate – Your new favourite wagon

Been wanting a performance estate car based on a mid-sized family hatchback? Not quite taken with the Ford Focus ST? Good news; Volkswagen has the answer in the shape of a 300 PS 4WD Golf R Estate, announced at the LA Auto Show this week. 

Der neue Volkswagen Golf R VariantThis one has certainly come out of the left field. Prototypes had been spotted testing around the world, but the idea of true fast Golf Estate just seemed a little… unbelievable? In the past there’s been the European-spec Mk3 VR6 Variant with 190 bhp, and 1.8T / 2.3 V5 versions of the Mk4 estate – both of which had 150 bhp – but there’s no real dedicated lineage for a quick Golf wagon.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Estate 002

Mechanically it’s identical to the normal hatchback, with the 2.0 litre petrol TSI engine making 296 bhp (300 PS) with a corresponding 280 lb-ft of torque. The 4Motion 4WD system is also borrowed from the regular R, although at present the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission appears to be the only option available for shifting cogs. (more…)

Paris 2014 – Friday Photo – The Volkswagen Polo GTI (again)

Full disclosure; we only featured the new Polo GTI as a Friday photo two weeks ago. But, to coincide with the full launch of the car at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen revealed more details of the baby GTI. Including one that’s very important to EngageSportMode.

Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, (right) Volkswagen board member for ‘Development’ is possibly our new favourite person.

The XL Sport may have stolen the show in Paris, but Volkswagen also used the French event to release more details about the new Polo GTI. Unlike EngageSportMode’s prediction, the new GTI doesn’t feature a 750 bhp V12 engine, 4WD, or ten-speed automatic gearbox. Well, we guess you have to save some things for the ‘R’ version…

What it will have, is a 1.8 litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 189 bhp – 12 more than the previous 1.4 TSI – and 236 lb-ft of torque. That’s sufficient for 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 147 mph; not bad for the smallest GTI in the Volkswagen family.  In fact, that’s only 0.2 of a second slower to 62 mph than the bigger Golf GTI. A six-speed manual gearbox now comes as standard, meaning buyers are no longer forced to endure a DSG transmission. The seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box does remain on the options list, however.

The biggest news, for ESM at least, is the optional ‘Sport Performance Kit’ that features a Sport button on the dashboard. Yes, the new Polo GTI will have a Sport Mode; we rejoice! Along with changing the stiffness of the optional ‘Sport Select’ suspension, the Sport button will also increase steering weight, sharpen the throttle response, and make the engine noise inside the car louder through the sound actuator. Quite frankly, Volkswagen has ticked every single box on the Sport Mode checklist when putting together the Sport Performance Kit, for which we’re truly happy.

They're not kidding!

They’re not kidding. Best VW switch since the Mk4 Golf ‘Funk’ button?

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Paris 2014 – Volkswagen XL Sport – News and Photos

Volkswagen’s XL1 eco-car is already a thing of wonder. So, how could you make the lightweight, low-drag, special even better? By slotting a 200 PS Ducati motorbike engine into it; that’s how.

For those unsure why an Italian motorbike engine is sitting in the rear of a German sportscar concept, it’s best to remind you that the Volkswagen Group bought Ducati back in 2012, through its Lamborghini subsidiary. So, in some respects, it’s just the same as that EA888 2.0 litre engine appearing in both a VW Golf GTI and the Audi S1. Kind of.

The engine in the XL Sport isn’t just any old Ducati unit though. It’s the 200 PS (197 bhp) V-twin 1,199cc motor taken from the limited edition Ducati Superleggera. It also happens to be the world’s most powerful production two-cylinder engine, and is capable of revving to 11,000 rpm, thanks to some trick titanium connecting rods. Torque is, inevitably, motorbike-engine low at just 99 lb-ft but what more do you need in a carbon-fibre monocoqued car weighing just 890kg?

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Volkswagen TRISTAR Concept

We don’t usually feature commercial vehicles here on EngageSportMode, but even we’ll admit that Volkswagen’s TRISTAR concept is rather cool. They’ve even painted it orange, so we’re pretty much inclined to like it just for that.

2014 Volkswagen TRISTAR Concept 001

Set to be officially premiered at the 65th IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover, the TRISTAR concept brings back a name used by Volkswagen in the 1980s whilst showing off the new design direction for the new T6 range.

2014 Volkswagen TRISTAR Concept 003

It actually looks rather good to our eyes, with the short wheelbase pick-up body mounted on suspension that’s raised 30mm. There’s also permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive and a mechanical locking rear differential to help out when things get really tough. Power comes from a 2.0 litre four-cylinder TDI engine with 201 bhp and 332 lb-ft of torque; enough to shove the TRISTAR to 62 mph from rest in only 10.0 seconds. It’ll also reach a top speed of 115 mph, so could easily mix it in the outside lane of a motorway! The TRISTAR concept is fitted with a very uncommercial vehicle like 7-speed DSG dual clutch transmission. (more…)