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Volkswagen Lures Media to Playboy Mansion

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Ah, those wiley Volkswagen PR Folks
Lured to the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles, automotive journalists arrived with visions of Playmates dancing in their heads. Disappointed! None to be seen. Would have cost VW $7,500 more to have Playmates strolling around during the event… heck, I would have paid it! Of course, VehicleVoice fell for it and treked up to Holmby Hills for the show.

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Anyway… there was a business purpose to the event. Volkswagen was introducing four special edition cars and announcing a special promotion for the 4th Quarter of 2006. The special editions included a high value Wolfsburg Edition Jetta, two Fahrenheit models – a GTi Fahrenheit and GLi Fahrenheit, and a triple white New Beetle.
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All of these special editions are low volume models intended to increase the visibility of the Jetta, GTi and New Beetle through the middle of 2007.


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2007 Volkswagen Eos Driving Impressions

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What a sweetheart!

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Finally an affordable sporty car with a retractable hardtop!
Volkswagen has just introduced its new Eos sporty car. They call it a CSC or “Convertible Sunroof Coupe”. VehicleVoice got the first opportunity to drive the Jetta-based Eos at a Volkswagen-sponsored event in Portland, Oregon. This was a really risky proposition for the VW PR folks… having a convertible launch in one of the dampest areas of the country. But the weather cooperated and we missed the rain.
Eos – Affordable Aspiration
The Eos is a very pleasant small car. Volkswagen PR folks describe it as affordable aspiration and it fills the bill. Priced at $27,990 for the base car, it can be equipped to just shy of $40,000 when all the boxes are checked on a 3.2L V6 version.
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While Volkswagen contends the Eos is not a chick’s car, it certainly is. The old VW Cabriolet had about 80% female ownership. Southern California was crawling with young blonde girls driving Cabrios… see my car, see me. Remember the movie Clueless?… yep, VW Cabriolet. Now, VW says that there will be a 50/50 split between genders. We don’t see it. Chick car all the way.


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Volkswagen iroc – Next Scirocco – VW Gets Revival Bug

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Volkswagen has revealed their latest concept car, the Iroc. Dressed in Viper Green metallic paint, a color pulled from the 1976 Scirocco range, the model is our first look at the direction Volkswagen will go in developing a new-century Scirocco, as well as new take on the evolution of the VW corporate face and the company’s intent to use grille shape to differentiate models. Volkswagen had already confirmed a Scirocco revival for the 2009MY. We don’t know if VW needs another hot hatch, with the GTI admirably filling that role, but it could make for an interesting proposition.

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While Chevrolet and Dodge race to revive storied muscle cars from the late 1960s and early 1970s, VW is planning to revive the Scirocco coupe. The first Scirocco was introduced thirty-three years ago, and was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
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The Iroc is a three-door hatchback with a coupe-like stance, a long roof, and a steeper rear window; the result is optimized interior space wrapped in a sporty appearance. A pillars are hidden behind an unusually wide windshield. The concept looks to revive the idea of the first Scirocco rather than an idealized version of its specific form. The first formula was a front-drive, performance-oriented, four-seat sports coupe. There is seating for four and room for weekend luggage.
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The concept shown held VW’s new TSI gasoline four-cylinder, available in Europe but not yet offered in the States, though the U.S.-spec car could offer a V6 instead. The 1.4L DOHC 16v I4 engine gets diesel fuel economy from gasoline, and VW is developing this engine in several outputs and levels of assist, ranging from 150HP to 210HP. The TSI, or twincharger, engine employs both turbo and supercharging to maximize output from a small, fuel-efficient engine. The transmission, of course, is the VW-Audi DSG automated manual. As was true of the first Scirocco, the version due to arrive Stateside for 2009MY will be based on the most recent Golf platform.


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Let's Talk Cars: Test Drives – Chevy HHR, Nissan Pathfinder, and 6-speed Volkswagen Passat

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Welcome to Let’s Talk Cars

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, more from our slew of new car reviews, walk arounds and test drives – Chevrolet HHR, Nissan Pathfinder, and a base-model Volkswagen Passat with a peppy 6-speed manual transmission.

First, VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett climbs inside Chevy’s take on the PT Cruiser. The HHR has a lot of great things going for it, including its fun, retro looks, but a lack of horsepower and some styling issues come up in our review.

Next, host Cameron Barrett brings you this week’s Rev It Up – with 90-seconds on the Nissan Pathfinder. This medium-sized SUV isn’t afraid to get its wheels dirty or its tow ring used.

And finally, we drive a base model Volkswagen Passat, one of the best values out there for your money. But the excellent 6-speed transmission causes some heartache because of its lack of availability in higher end models. The Passat won AutoPacific’s coveted 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Cars.

Show Rundown
00:47 Chevrolet HHR: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor
10:05 Rev it Up: Nissan Pathfinder: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars’ Host
11:22 Volkswagen Passat: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor


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Tiguan: Volkswagen Small SUV

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Just how do you pronounce a fake word?
It seems that after more than 100 years of building automobiles, the industry gets ever-more clever (or desperate) to find names for the proliferation of new models. And while an excellent product can overcome a bad name, a difficult or unfamiliar name can make getting the message across to potential new buyers more difficult. The latest new name announcement has come from Volkswagen. The name Tiguan will be proudly worn on an upcoming small SUV due to be found at VW dealers worldwide in 2008.

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Looking to readers of the German magazine AutoBild to help make the final decision, the upcoming small SUV from VW will be called Tiguan. This is, according to a press release from VW, a name made up by VW Marketing and that will be associated with travel, adventure, and excitement.
Maybe Tiguan Sounds Good in German
We’re not sure it sounds exotic as VW claims and wish VW would have included a pronunciation key with the release. Maybe it sounds great in German, but how does it sound in English? We also wonder how exotic this name will sound being slaughtered by people all over the world making their best guess. Touareg required educating buyers and potential buyers on how to say it, but at least Touareg is an actual word.
More than 350,000 readers weighed in on the name choice, and VW reports that Tiguan received a clear majority of the votes. The names that lost were Nanuk, Namib, Rockton, and Samun. While Nanuk is a variation of the Inuit name for a polar bear (first spelled nanuq and nanook), Namib is a real word (a desert in Namibia), and there is at least one U.S. city named Rockton, Tiguan and Samun are made-up words. Though the readers polled presumably would claim German as their first language and may disagree, to us Tiguan looks the most difficult of the choices to pronounce. At one point, it was said that VW was considering calling this the Beduin. Here at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice, we’re of the opinion that Beduin is far better than any of the five options.
And how excited can you be about a car that you have to teach all your friends how to say? Buyers will get to make that choice in a few years, but what do you think?
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The look of the small SUV was previewed at the 2006 Geneva auto show, in the Concept A.


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2007 Volkswagen Eos Pricing Announced

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This Fall, $28,000 Gets You 200HP, Retractable Hardtop, and VW Badge
Though you can’t buy one until this fall, Volkswagen has announced pricing on its new touring convertible, and VehicleVoice and AutoPacific are here to report our first reactions. While the $27,990 base price sounds reasonable, including as it does the 200HP turbocharged four-cylinder engine that helps make the Audi A3 such a pleasure to drive and the expensive roof, jumping to the 250HP V6 model means you must spend at least $36,850. Between those extremes is a 2.0L I4 model with some extra amenities for $31,065.

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Standard equipment includes the retractable hardtop roof with its panoramic sunroof, power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, and ESP. The mid-range price point moves automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a twelve-way power driver’s seat, windblocker, center armrest, trip computer and headlamp washer nozzles. When you step up to the V6, you get the mid-point equipment plus wood trim, a multi-function steering wheel, HomeLink, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and satellite radio.
Options available on either model include a premium sound system, DVD navigation, bi-Xenon headlights with dynamic cornering lights, parking assist, and eighteen-inch wheels. It will not be too difficult to get the Eos to a price above the $40,000 mark.
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Where Does Eos Fit in the Competitive Landscape? Is It Overpriced?
If you’re thinking of the Eos as a replacement for the long-gone Golf cabrio, you’re not in the right frame of mind. VW has the New Beetle convertible priced more near the old Cabrio’s lot in life, with a base price just under $23,000. A quick look at pricing for 2006MY four-seat convertibles puts some perspective on the issue of a VW convertible running the range from a base $28,000 to likely $40,000 with liberal option-box checking.
(Note: Following this discussion is a list of base prices for various models, according to Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) as of May 19, 2006.)
VW offers a base Eos to go up against the Pontiac G6, Toyota Camry Solara, and Chrysler Sebring, while also offering a top-end Eos that more accurately competes with the Saab 9-3 and Volvo C70. Eos is more expensive than base Ford Mustang or Mitsubishi Eclipse, but those two have more sporting than touring personalities and offer base models within reach of younger buyers.
If the Eos delivers on uplevel materials and fit and finish, providing a model Everyman can afford has the potential to convince buyers that VW offers premium vehicles worthy of a luxury price point. Though the Phaeton was a wonderful automobile, the brand’s image in the States didn’t support a $90,000 price level that was also inaccessible VW’s traditional buyers. The Eos price ladder can put it on the radar for buyers shopping Volvo and buyers shopping Pontiac. The trick is to convincing buyers at both ends of the range that they are getting a higher-quality vehicle than the price reflects.
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AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Results – Japanese Brands On Top

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The AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards honor products in nineteen categories or segments. Nine categories are cars and ten are trucks.
Overwhelming Win by Japanese Brands in Satisfaction by Vehicle Type
Overall, owners of Japanese brand vehicles rate their cars or trucks at the top of their category in ten of the nineteen categories. Owners of European brand vehicles rated their vehicle tops in two categories – Volkwagen Passat in the Premium Mid-Size Car Category and the MINI Cooper in the Image Compact Car class. The American Big Three had five wins… Lincoln Navigator won it all with the highest rating of any vehicle – car or truck; Cadillac CTS, Mercury Milan, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty. OK, that leaves two winners unaccounted for… those are from Hyundai.
The Hyundai Azera is the top rated car, even beating top class luxury cars like the Lexus LS430, jaguar XJ, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Hyundai Santa Fe is the top rated Mid-Size SUV for the fifth time in its six year history… this win comes just months before it is replaced by an all new Santa Fe to be produced in America.
So…
Japanese Brands – 10 with Suzuki having its first ever win
American Brands – 5 with Chrysler Group having zero wins
European Brands – 2
Korean Brands – 2
Check http:/.vehiclevoice.com for the complete listings.


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Volkswagen Passat Wins AutoPacific 2006 Premium Mid-Size Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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In its first year out, the all-new Volkswagen Passat has established itself as an extremely satisfying Premium Mid-Size sedan winning the AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Passat handily beat segment volume leaders Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. Passat wins by virtue of its outstanding interior design, use of high touch materials and European driving dynamics.


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Volkswagen Rabbit Hops Into Spring

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Golf . . . Err, Rabbit . .
The latest Golf has been on sale in Europe for more than a year, but is very slowly winding its way to the States. In January 2006, the GTI was introduced in Los Angeles and Detroit. The GTI was followed by the standard 150HP 2.5L five-cylinder engine, three- and five-door models at the 2006 Chicago show in February. We’re all set, right? Nope. Now for the name change.

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In a surprise move, at the 2006 New York auto show, VW announced the revival of the Rabbit name for the Golf. While Rabbit is a well-known and fondly remembered VW name, it is unusual for a car to get a new name after introduction and before sales.
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In summer 2006, the 2006MY Rabbits arrive at dealers, complete with the historic Rabbit emblem. The base price will be $14,990 for the three-door hatchback, including standard advanced ABS, air conditioning, active front headrests, front side airbags, and an anti-theft alarm system with remote locking.
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VW and Google Partner for Next Gen NAV System

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Internet powerhouse Google and automobile manufacturer Volkswagen have announced a partnership in which Google will work with the American division of the German car maker to create a new generation navigation system. Using the satellite mapping software developed by Google as a starting point, the system will, according to sources at Google, provide drivers with a bird’s eye real-time view of the road ahead.

Also involved in the program is computer graphics maker Nvidia Corporation. Known for its high-speed rendering graphics engines, and used by both PC manufacturers and Apple Computer, Nvidia may be able to deliver a product that allows data from a satellite to update fast enough to keep a NAV system’s display from bogging down, notably when a driver is moving faster than 25 or 30 miles-per-hour.

Although VW is quick to state that no definitive plans have been secured for the Google-based NAV system to be included in any specific vehicle, it is a promising step. Many consumers feel that current generation NAV systems are slow, awkward to use, and use data that is two or three years old. The partnership is also a clear demonstration that Google is eager to expand outside of the traditional “Internet” environment.


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