Category Archives: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Unveils 2016 Passat, New Styling And Technology Highlight Updates

Looking to breathe new life into the Passat’s sluggish sales numbers, Volkswagen has unveiled the updated 2016 Passat which brings bolder styling cues and a whole suite of new technology that aims to help it stand out better when viewed against rivals from Honda and Toyota

The exterior styling for example ditches the current model’s bland but understated cues and adds a dose of much needed aggression and boldness to the package. Volkswagen claims that virtually every piece of sheet metal is all new and that only the roof, doors, and2016_passat_5399 the sides of the car are carried over from the old model. The front fascia serves as a key example of this newfound freshness and features crisper headlights that allow the Passat to fall in step with the company’s current design language while an all new three slat grille and rippled hood help add a hint of sportiness to the Passat’s mug. The rear fascia also benefits from the updates and features new tail lights and a redesigned trunk lid.

Buyers looking for a more performance oriented experience will be pleased with the R-Line package (pictured). Following the same script as other R-Line models, it features a tweaked package exclusive front bumper that incorporates GTI inspired black accents, side skirts, a rear diffuser, and 19 inch alloy wheels shod with ZR rated Continental tires that promise more grip than the standard all season tires.

The interior (a favorite target of critics due to its cheap plastics and bland design) has also been reworked to appeal to more younger buyers. A new steering wheel greets the drivers 2016_passat_5381hands, while an updated instrument cluster and a slicker center console round out the changes and incorporate several new technologies to enhance the driving experience further.

Our favorite bit of technology is the all new MIB II entertainment system that is fully compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. This is a pleasant change from older Volkswagen’s which were only compatible with Apple products and forced Android users to buy a costly adapter before hooking their products up to the stereo. A rear view camera is also standard issue and should please safety conscious buyers.

Speaking of safety, Volkswagen engineers have equipped the 2016 Passat with the company’s all new Automatic Post-Collision Braking System which applied the brakes after the initial impact to reduce the damage from a secondary collision. Other welcome safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, a lane departure warning system, and autonomous emergency braking capability.

Performance hardware for the 2016 Passat is largely carried over from the old model with the 1.8 liter turbocharged four cylinder continuing its service in the base model Passat, with higher trims featuring a 280 horsepower 3.6 liter VR6. A 2.0 liter TDI turbodiesel is also 2016_passat_5392available but look for that particular engine to make its debut much later thanks to the effects of Volkswagen’s rapidly growing emissions scandal which has resulted in the company not being able to sell its diesel products due to an ongoing ban. The 1.8 liter and the 2.0 liter TDI can be ordered with either a manual or an automatic transmission, but the VR6 is only available with the company’s dual-clutch transmission.

Look for the 2016 Passat to begin arriving in dealer lots later this year with a base MSRP of $22,440. Volkswagen is keeping the rest of the pricing ladder under wraps though expect that particular bit of information to be revealed when the Wolfsburg based firm opens up pre-ordering for customers.

 

 

Volkswagen Unveils Redesigned 2017 Tiguan

With the 2016 Frankfurt Motor Show currently underway, Volkswagen has released new details regarding the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan while also showcasing the higher tier GTE trim.

The revised SUV would be the first non car product built on the company’s MQB platform an incredibly flexible architecture that has already proven to be a nifty piece of engineeringtiguan_european_model_5346 in the Golf and GTI hatchbacks and is expected to eventually be incorporated into other VW and Audi products.

The exterior styling seen here is for the European market, but look for the U.S. bound Tiguan to retain much of its Cross Coupe concept inspired styling as well as the availability of an optional CC (Cross Coupe) model. The styling itself does look a bit bland from certain angles, but it still retains a subtle hints of handsomeness especially at the rear of the Tiguan.

The interior of the Tiguan also showcases Volkswagen’s attempts to rectify it’s biggest weakness its relatively small size. While it’s compact oriented design was loved in Europe, it proved to be a big handicap on U.S. soil where it’s predecessor was outclassed by many rivals in its segment. This forced the Tiguan to compete with smaller SUVs that were often tiguan_r-line_european_model_5332lighter and had a lower price point. For 2017, Volkswagen aims to end this trend by offering two different seating configurations for the first time ever. Buyers can choose from either two or three row variants that will allow the Tiguan to be more of a contender in its segment especially in passenger space. It is currently unknown if Volkswagen will take a page out of Hyundai’s playbook and market both the standard model and the CC under one model name (similar to the Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport.)

Speaking of passenger room, it has grown substantially thanks to the extra 2.4 inches on length that the MQB platform provides as well as its 1.3 inches of extra width. These changes along with an extra 3 inches on the wheelbase help increase cargo capacity by 2 cubic feet, and also helps improve headroom and legroom especially in the rear a key weak spot in the last generation Tiguan.

Performance hardware for the 2017 Tiguan will depend on what market it is being sold in. But look for the U.S. version to feature a 1.8 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that tiguan_european_model_5343will see duty in base models as well as an optional 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder for higher trims. A seven speed DSG gearbox will most likely be the only transmission choice avalible with front wheel drive standard. Buyers in snowy locales can opt for the avalible all-wheel drive system that allows the Tiguan to stay sure-footed even in the toughest of weather conditions.

 

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In addition to the standard Tiguan, Volkswagen also showcased an eco-friendly concept of the Tiguan that will share the stage alongside the production version in Frankfurt.

Known formally as the Tiguan GTE Concept, Volkswagen undertook a multi pronged effort when it came to constructing this concept  versus what has been seen with past plug-in tiguan_gte_european_model_5324 (1)hybrid models. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for ( a 150 horsepower gasoline engine, a 13 kWh battery pack, and an electric motor,) But Volkswagen has raised the bar a few notches by going the extra mile when it comes to recharging the vehicle thanks to a roof mounted solar panel that helps boost the conventional AC charging system.

While this is not the first time that solar panels have been seen on hybrid vehicles, Volkswagen’s application allows drivers to complete roughly a mile or so of commuting without plugging the GTE into the wall, or using a single gallon of gasoline. Of course, drivers will have to avoid using any accessories to maximize range but a Volkswagen representative revealed the full potential of this setup stating

“Under ideal conditions, the energy that it generates annually is sufficient to add up to 1,000 km of driving range (Germany 500 km, Southern Europe 800 to 1,000 km) depending on the regional solar radiation power.” When converted to imperial measurements, this translates to 320 miles on the low end, and 620 miles when pushed to maximum range.

When it is not being used for maximum MPG’s, the GTE can also transform into a potent performance CUV thanks to all the electrical components being designed to moonlight as tiguan_gte_european_model_5326 performance enhancers. This occurs when the driver selects GTE mode, and allows this unique Tiguan to use all the system power for maximum acceleration. As a result, Volkswagen claims that the GTE concept is capable of hitting 62 mph in 8.1 seconds which is quite commendable for a hybrid SUV.

It is unknown if this latest iteration of the hybrid power train will ever make it into production, but looking back on the lukewarm reception that greeted the now discontinued Touareg Hybrid. It is possible that this model would meet the same fate, and prove to be unfavorable to U.S. buyers. However, there is a slim chance that it could make an appearance as a Europe only offering thanks in part to that market’s higher gas prices.

Volkswagen Introduces Golf GTI Dark Shine Concept

Showcasing the high level of talent that exists within the company’s arsenal of young designers, Volkswagen has formally unveiled a new GTI based concept ahead of the company’s annual gathering in Worthersee Austria.

Built by 13 young apprentices in Wolfsburg Germany, the one-off GTI showcases the GTI’s ability to be customized by young buyers. Volkswagen claims that the apprentices were tasked with the challenge of Woerthersee 2015 Golf GTI Dark Shinedesigning a brand new concept car from the ground up withthe team only given a bare GTI body shell as a template. Completed in less than nine months, the Dark Shine stands out by featuring a slick two tone yellow and black paint job as well as Dark Shine exclusive black alloy wheels with yellow inserts, as well as a slightly tweaked body kit which appears to be more for aesthetic effect versus outright performance.

The interior of the Dark Shine embodies a performance inspired theme and features leather Recaro bucket seats, an Alcantara appointed multi-functiDB2015AL03454_largeon steering wheel with contrasting yellow trim, and yellow trim on the center console and the instrument panel. Audiophiles looking for a music experience that matches the Dark Shine’s performance styling will be pleased to hear that the apprentices have installed a powerful 3,500 watt sound system into the car which features a specially designed tablet that allows occupants to fully control the sound system via wireless signals.

Performance for the Dark Shine comes from a tweaked version of the GTI’s familiar 2.0 liter TSI four cylinder turbocharged engine which produces 388 horsepower in this particular Woerthersee 2015 Golf GTI Dark Shineapplication. This is roughly twice as much as a stock GTI, though it is still a bit shy of the 415 or so horsepower that will be wielded by the upcoming Golf R 400. The engine also produces an equally stout 359 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a heavily revamped version of the company’s tried and true six speed dual -clutch DSG gearbox. A hand-built exhaust system as well as a lightweight carbon fiber air box round out the package and allow the Dark Shine to be a fully rounded package.

The Dark Shine is just the latest GTI based concept car that the company has brought to the event and represents a tradition that has dated back to at least 2008. Like the other concepts that proceeded it, look for the Dark Shine to be a purely one-off affair with no plans for official production in its current form. However, the Dark Shine could possibly play an indirect role in inspiring a future design oriented trim package for the GTI that is catered towards younger buyers looking for a distinct styling statement.

 

 

Ferdinand Piech Resigns From Volkswagen, Key Mistake Ends Historic Era At Wolfsburg

It is once said that great empires are forged out of brilliant leadership and an empire’s ability to stay relevant during its time in history. In the case of Volkswagen, much of its recent successes can be attributed to the iron fist style rule of Ferdinand Piech who helped transform the company into a formidable powerhouse that aimed to become the world’s biggest automaker. However a key strategical blunder by Piech late last week not only forced him out of his own company, but also caused him to leave before his grand vision was complete ending a historic era of growth and change at the Wolfsburg based automaker.

A grandson of Ferdinand Porsche — the man who founded the company and developed the original Beetle compact car during the dark era of the Nazi regime, Piech devoted every aspect of his life and 51 year career in the auto industry to the goal of making Volkswagen the number one car manufacturer in the world. Piech developed a reputation for not only his strict rule over the company, but also a high level of perfectionism that was evident in some of Volkswagen’s recent models including the technologically advanced but slow selling Volkswagen Phaeton sedan which was rumored to be developed based on several requirements that were passed down by Piech himself to company engineers .

On Saturday, Volkswagen revealed that the 78 year old chairman had resigned which helped end a two week long crisis in the company’s management that began with comments issued by Piech in regards to current Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn. In those fore-mentioned remarks, the VW chairman revealed that he had “distanced” himself from Winterkorn, and many in the industry saw this move as an attempt by Piech to squash any chance that Winterkorn had at succeeding him as chairman when his contract expired in 2017. However unlike other times where Piech deployed this tactic and succeeded with support from his allies, the tables were surprisingly turned when those very allies abandoned him, leaving the embattled patriarch isolated internally which might have played a role in his decision to resign Saturday.

Piech’s stint in the company will certainly be remembered for the rapid level of growth that Volkswagen experienced in recent years. In fact during his nine year reign as CEO and 13 years as chairman of the supervisory board, the strong willed Austrian spearheaded an ambitious expansion campaign that eventually allowed the company to transform into a 12 brand automotive giant that has over 118 plants in 31 countries, and boasts a formidable workforce of over 600,000 employees. Piech’s rise to the top of Volkswagen’s hierarchy began in 1988 when he took the helm at Audi, and helped the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer ditch its reputation for producing bland and uninspired vehicles such as the 100 sedan and the Fox coupe and instead embrace edgy design and state of the art technology. Speaking of technology, Piech also helped create the iconic Quattro all-wheel drive system which allowed Audi to effectively go toe-to-toe with BMW and Mercedes Benz in the luxury sales race.

Later when he was CEO at Volkswagen, Piech led a strong push towards broader sales dominance with an ambitious shopping spree that saw the company snatch up ultra luxury marques such as Bentley and Bugatti as well as Italian sports car manufacturer Lamborghini.  In addition, Volkswagen also aimed for the mass market adding Skoda and Seat  to its brand lineup while unveiling the New Beetle which was a modern interpretation of his grandfather’s original creation.

However Piech was also responsible for making several questionable decisions during his tenure that would backfire on him in later years. One of these was approving production of the aforementioned Phaeton flagship sedan, a 1 billion Euro investment that aimed at making Volkswagen more upscale to consumers. Piech as well as Volkswagen’s executives predicted that the Phaeton would achieve a solid sales base among wealthy customers, however the Phaeton’s state of the art plant in Dresden Germany operated below full capacity from the very beginning, and Volkswagen was eventually forced to withdraw the model from the U.S. in 2006 after it failed to meet sales projections there.

In addition, Piech’s iron grip on control also allowed him to routinely hand pick and fire executives with Piech pushing out Winterkorn’s predecessor Bernd Pischetsreider half a year after his contract was extended by the company. This was due to Pischetsreider ordering the Phaeton to be pulled from the U.S. as well as a disagreement with Piech over other company matters. Piech would resort to this tried and true method of corporate execution several years later when he fired Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking in the aftermath of Porsche’s ill timed, and ultimately doomed effort to take over Volkswagen by using share options to buy up Volkswagen stock.

While Piech will still undoubtedly be known as one of the best tactical minds in the automotive industry, his attempt to blunt Winterkorn’s momentum may have sped up an event that he tried so hard to avert. According to multiple analysts, Winterkorn (who worked with Piech back in the 1980’s) is a leading candidate for the chairman position and is seen as a favorite among many in Volkswagen’s inner circle.  With Piech’s departure from the company, Winterkorn could potentially nab the position earlier, and be given an opportunity to mold the company’s future in his own image.