Volkswagen Golf GTI: The Original Pocket Rocket Returns


Volkswagen‘s latest Golf has been on sale in Europe since late 2003, and the GTI three-door hatchback since mid-2005, but the wait is finally over for U.S. buyers. In January 2006, after being introduced at the 2006 Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows, the Golf GTI serves as the launch model for the fifth-generation Golf on these shores. The latest GTI arrives as a 2006 model year vehicle, even though the prior generation had a part-year 2006MY run.
Standard Golf models go on sale during the second quarter of 2006, but it is the GTI that Vehicle Voice correspondents and Golf enthusiasts around the country are most interested in. Given our past experiences with the Audi A3 and the Golf IV R32 models, we’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a GTI. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know.

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Volkswagen Shows Concept Motorcycle – GX3


Three-Wheeled, Two-Passenger Toy
Volkswagen AG dispatched a group of German engineers, planners and marketers to the USA to learn about the American car market. The code name for this group of traveling market monitors was “Moonraker”. The Volkswagen GX3 concept is a product of the Moonraker project.
Volkswagen’s Design Center in California worked with the Moonraker team to develop a new concept for fuel-efficient fun mobility specifically geared toward U.S. buyers. The direction was to create a quintessential and pure driving machine. The inspiration was the minimalist design language found in GP motorcycles and F1 race cars. The result is the GX3. Though not the first time that VW has studied a three-wheeled vehicle, this one the company claims may be built if reaction is positive. VW is looking beyond the typical vehicle shapes and segments to come up with new opportunities for increasing U.S. sales.
At its introduction at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006, the GX3 created a mob scene when Wolfgang Bernhard, the new head of the Volkswagen group in Germany, drove the GX3 onto the stand. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were on hand to learn what GX3 has to offer. The first thing to come to mind is a striking similarity to a twenty-plus year old concept called the Trihawk that used a Peugeot front wheel drive system and a single rear wheel “dragged” along for the ride. Trihawk was purchased by Harley-Davidson in the mid-1980s but never saw production after Harley bought the brand and the vehicle. In those days, Harley was in dire straits and had no resources to expand beyond its bread and butter motorcycle lineup.

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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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Bugatti Veyron – 253 MPH and Still a Little Late


For those of you who do not live in the Los Angeles Times sphere of influence, you may miss the writing of Dan Neil their Pulitizer Prize winning auto journalist. You can catch up on his reviews, Highway 1 editorials and podcasts at the LA Times website ( This article on the upcoming launch of the Bugatti Veyron supercar is just one example of Neil’s writing.
By Dan Neil, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2005
PALERMO, Sicily — At 200 mph, the Bugatti Veyron pounds a beautiful, howling hole in the sweltering haze hanging over the motorway.
This, the fastest production car in the world, is broad and low, an enameled ellipse in a spiffy two-tone paint scheme. By comparison, its now-vanquished supercar rivals, such as the Ferrari Enzo and McLaren F1, are all edges and blades and angles, like F-16 fighter planes or Japanese stunt kites.
The Veyron is not, strictly speaking, the fastest car I’ve ever driven, but the one that’s faster had a jet engine and a parachute. The guardrail to my right is blurred into a dirty stream of quicksilver. Houses fly by before my brain has time to register the word “house.”

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About nine seconds ago, I was dawdling at 100 mph. Then I squeezed the throttle. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox clicked twice, the engine took a huge lung-busting toke of atmosphere through its twin roof snorkels — and then things got interesting. Something slammed me from behind and I realize it was the seat. Captain, it appears we have fallen nose-first into a wormhole.
Two-hundred mph. And I’m not even in top gear.
… house….

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2005 Volvo XC90 Top Luxury SUV Winning AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award


Volvo XC90 Wins AutoPacific 2005 Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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“The widely acclaimed Volvo XC90 car-based sport utility rates highest among Luxury Sport Utility Vehicles for 2005. XC90 owners rate their Luxury SUV strongly in the reputation of the Volvo brand, feeling safe while driving (no surprise there… it’s a Volvo!), front seat room, cargo capacity, interior materials, anticipated resale value, quietness and controls. These combine to deliver a very balanced product from a respected brand.”
The Infiniti QX56 was a close second to the Volvo. XC90 nosed out the QX56 due to its perceived superior safety attributes.

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