Volkswagen Golf:

2014 Volkswagen Golf Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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VW Golf 4-door R34

The sixth generation of the venerable Volkswagen Golf goes out with a bang.  With the seventh gen Golf coming for the 2015 model year, the 2014 Volkswagen Golf is the highest scoring Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Golf designers listened to what buyers wanted and gave them just that. The VW Golf beat out a very impressive group of compact cars such as the Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Fiat 500L, Kia Soul, and the Hyundai Elantra.

For over 85% of 2014 Golf owners the following characteristics are ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, ride and handling, tires and wheels, exterior styling, and driver’s seat comfort.

There are several things Beetles owners would like changed.  Over 21% of 2014 Volkswagen Golf owners want more advanced infotainment and entertainment systems.  This is offset by 15% who want the systems to be simpler and easier to use.  About 18% of the owners want more cargo room.  25% of Golf owners want the car to be easier to get into and out of.

AutoPacificIVA Feature copy


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2015 VW Golf – 7th Gen Comes to USA

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The iconic VW Golf is renewed with the seventh generation car coming to the USA beginning in June, 2014.  Having been launched in Europe in 2013, the American market has had to wait a year before getting hands on this newest generation of the car.  The Golf is very evolutionary in styling both interior and exterior.  At-a-glance, it is clearly a Golf but with a bit more attitude.  Its 5-door hatchback bodystyle has basically the same proportions as before.  Clean styling with Germanic conservatism.  The interior of the car is very straightforward with good ergonomics.  Visibility is excellent.2015 VW Golf GTI F34

Hatchback Hampers Golf Potential  The Golf hatchback is positioned higher than the 4-door sedan Jetta that is the best seller in the USA.  Americans remain pre-disposed to sedan bodystyles over 5-door hatchbacks.  Why?  Most American families are managing “fleets” of cars where each vehicle may have a specific purpose and/or a specific driver.  A hatchback is a very useful bodystyle and can serve many functions within the family fleet.  It is almost a micro-SUV.  There are also perceptions at work here.  Americans have historically perceived the hatchback bodystyle to be less safe than a sedan because there is no trunk to absorb an impact in a crash.  They perceive hatchbacks to be less secure because items in the rear area may be exposed and if a person gets into the car they have easy access to the load area.  The hatchback has historically been the lowest priced car in a brand’s line-up.  Of course, when you mention these characteristics are the same as in an SUV, the perceptions are totally different.2015 VW Golf GTI HB

Golf Launches Over a Year  The wide Golf line-up is launching in this sequence:  June 2014 – Golf GTI, August 2014 – Golf and Golf TDI, November 2014 – e-Golf (EV), first quarter 2015 – Golf R and Sportwagen.  The missing model in the first year’s lineup is the GTD – the high performance diesel version (180HP/280 lb-ft torque) of the GTI.  Volkswagen of America had hoped to get the GTD early, but because of product changes required to sell it in the USA its launch will be in 2017.

Driving the Golf  The lead car for the seventh generation Golf is the enthusiast-targeted GTI.  Powered by a 210HP 2.0L DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder, the GTI provides spirited performance with either its 6-speed manual transmission or the 6-speed DSG automatic.  Where the GTI fails, however, is on rough roads where its suspension set-up really beats you up.  A Performance Package for the GTI gives the engine 10 more horsepower but the torque remains at 258 lb-ft.   The high volume Golf is the TSI that comes with a 1.8L DOHC turbo 4-cylinder with 170HP and 200 lb-ft of torque.  The TSI is a pleasant car to drive and its milder suspension tuning makes the TSI more forgiving over rough roads than the sportier GTI. The TSI comes with a 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission rather than the sport-oriented DSG available in the GTI and the TDI models. Over a day of driving the members of the Golf lineup, the Golf TDI SEL with the DSG automatic transmission was the most satisfying.  The diesel (2.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel with 150HP and 236 lb-ft of torque) has plenty of torque for any driving situation we were in.  The engine is quiet inside the vehicle and the transmission shifts smoothly.  The chassis set-up is just right even though the TDI does not have an independent rear suspension.

Competitive Fuel Economy  The fuel economy for the base TSI is 24mpg City/37mpg Highway/30mpg combined.  That level of efficiency is competitive but not best in class by any means.  The GTI gets 24/34/27.  The fuel economy champ, as expected, is the TDI with 31/42/35.

Prices Range from High Teens to Over $30K  The lowest price Golf will come from a limited edition “Launch Model” in August priced at $17,995 for the 3-door hatchback with 6-speed manual transmission.  It comes pretty well equipped with the 1.8L turbo 4-cylinder, air conditioning, front and rear disc brakes, rear window washer/wiper, power mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering column, power windows, Bluetooth and a standard 5.8″ screen with radio/CD/SiriusXM.  This model has 15-inch steel wheels.  For another $1,000 you get the S model with leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, alloy wheels, leather-ette upholstery, cruise control and Volkswagen connected services.  $1,100 more gets you an automatic transmission and another $600 gets the 5-door hatchback.  So, the lowest priced 5-door is $20,695.  If you are partial to the diesel TDI and want to check all the boxes the SEL version is $29,095.  There is a lighting package complete with HID headlamps and LED daytime running lights for $995 and a $695 Driver Assistance Package that includes front and rear park distance control and a forward collision warning system.

What Were They Thinking – 5.8″ Screen  The auto industry is in the midst of center stack screen wars.  Volkswagen chose to lose this one.  While the car has a 5.8″ screen as standard with the radio and Bluetooth, etc., it does not get a bigger screen when a navigation system is installed.  It has the same 5.8″ screen.  This is especially strange because VW’s Euro-spec Golf has an 8-inch navigation screen.  Weird.  2015 VW Golf GTI Cockpit

e-Golf Coming   An electric version of the Golf – the e-Golf – will be launched in November.  The first fully-electric Volkswagen, the e-Golf is powered by a 115HP electric motor and has a range between 70 and 90 miles depending on conditions.  The e-Golf will be covered in another VehicleVoice post later.


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VW Golf – Wins AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for Compact Cars

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Golf Edges Kia Forte for IVA Win: The 2012 Volkswagen Golf comes closest to the ideal of any Compact Car.  The Golf edges out the second place Kia Forte by 21 rating points to win this highly competitive class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Golf owners rate exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, exterior styling, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling and safety features ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Golf owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  cargo space, wheels and tires.

A Few Shortfalls – Most are Related to Size and Style, but Infotainment can be Improved. About 35% of Golf owners want the car to be easier to get into and out of.  Going hand-in-hand with ingress/egress, about 26% of the owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  This may be due to the Golf’s high mix of 3-door hatchbacks that have a longer door, tougher rear seat access and a thick C-Pillar restricting visibility.  About 32% want more interior storage compartments.  While 20% want better infotainment technology, about 12% want the technology in the car to be easier to use.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2010 Nissan cube Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Nis_10_Cube.jpgFunky First Timer – cube Wins VSA First time out of the box, the funky cute Nissan cube (with a small “c”) wins AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Cars. The cube is a tour de force in packaging winning its class in ease of getting in and out, seating capacity, flexible seating and, possibly most important in this class, cupholder design and size. cube beats some serious competition – Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen New Beetle, Kia Forte, Honda Civic. It doesn’t win by sheer force of winning numerous categories. It wins by having very respectable ratings in all.
The cube is a pleasure to drive if you are just loafing around town. It turns heads and mostly gets thumbs up from other drivers. The buyers run the gamut from GenY through Boomers. GenY buyers are looking for cool transportation that doesn’t cost much and can carry their buddies and some stuff. Boomers are looking for an affordable small vehicle that is easy to live with, easy to get into and out of and can carry adults in the rear seat. When you exit a cube, you usually have a smile on your face.
cube is a FLOATER One of our analysts calls it FLOATING. This is when you just go out for a relaxing drive on the weekend with no particular place or time in mind. cube is perfect for that. It’s a perfect FLOATER.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.


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There's No Such Thing As A Bad Name For A Good Car

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In spite of the fact the naming of new automobiles is one of the most arcane and over-intellectualized elements of the auto industry, when all is said and done the name is all but academic if the car is good. And the best damned name in the world will do little to redeem a miserable excuse for an automobile. Perhaps a few examples are called for. When it comes to the lame name for a accomplished automobile a few rise to the top…
Jim Hall, VehicleVoice correspondent and head of AutoPacific‘s Industry Analysis office ponders the naming conundrum.
Mazda Miata Good Car, Good Name, Now the MX-5
Mazda has decided to go back to its original name for the extremely popular Miata sports car. Now the car is officially the MX-5 and Miata is no longer “officially” used. Reportedly, when Mazda was testing potential names in focus groups (none of which were ever chosen), one participant almost came out of his chair when he saw a photo of the Miata prototype and said, “I don’t care what they call it, I would call it MINE!” Well, that is the kind of reaction you want when naming a car, but now millions are spent figuring out what combination of letters and numbers to use to name a car. Oh yeah, how was the Miata named? The Mazda Product Planner for the car at the time was flipping through a dictionary one day and came upon a word that sounded good and meant something good in German. Sold. Cheap, effective research.


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Volkswagen Passat Range Expands With New Wagon

Passat Wagon Introduced at 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show
The all new Passat sedan went on sale in in the USA in Fall 2005, with the launch of the wagon in January 2006, about the time that the range also added 4Motion models just in time for Winter in the Snow Belt. The Passat wagon has been available in Europe since late 2005 with the USA launch at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show clearly overshadowed by the reveal of the Volkswagen GX3 concept 3-wheel motorcycle.
The wagon benefits from all of the updates the sedan received for 2006 model year, including all-new sheetmetal bearing the latest design direction of the brand and a switch from longitudinal to transverse engine placement. The Passat continues with a choice of in-line four or V6 powerplants. The previous-generation offered a W8 engine that did not sell well has been dropped with the transverse powertrain Golf-based Passat.
The Passat sedan and wagon are offered in similar trim and engine packages, including the 2.0T Value Edition, the 2.0T, the 3.6L and the 3.6L 4Motion. There are two engines available with the latest North American Passat, an in-line four-cylinder and a V6, with no diesel yet offered. A direct-injection 200HP 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16v I4 replaced the prior generation’s 1.8L four-cylinder. The V6 engine is also a direct-injection unit that replaced the 2.8L of the prior generation. While several VAG products offer this latest VR6 in 3.2L displacement, the Passat (and Touareg) gets a 280HP 3.6L version. Volkswagen only offers its 4Motion system when the V6 is selected, whether sedan or wagon. The sedan and the wagon offer the same powertrain lineup, the same basic trim level setup, and the same optional equipment. Models taking the 200HP I4 are badged 2.0T, with the V6-equipped models badged 3.6L or 3.6L 4Motion. Only a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic is offered; no manual transmission is planned for this family-oriented entry.


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