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Volkswagen New Midsize Coupe Concept is an aspirational Jetta

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:00:00 EST

Meet the Volkswagen baby CC. Okay, that's not really it's name (VW calls it the New Midsize Coupe Concept), but this sleek, four-door coupe draws more than a little inspiration from the CC while riding on VW's MQB platform.
It's a looker, we think, and is an eye-pleasing departure from the bland styling of the current Jetta. The sleeker front end is complemented by a wider body overall (it's wider than a Passat), while the more sporting roofline and the sharp rear fascia gives the New Midsize Coupe a decidedly sporting character. LED head- and taillights add a bit more personality to this already stylish design.
Thanks to its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, it should get along rather sportingly, as well. The run to 62 miles per hour takes just 6.5 seconds thanks to the 217 horsepower on offer. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also fitted, and contributes to an estimated 37 miles per gallon.

Volkswagen Golf R 400 Concept is a 201-mph hot hatch

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 11:23:00 EST

This, friends, is what happens when you shoehorn 395 horsepower into a Golf. You get a three-door hatch that will happily scurry to 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 201 mph. Oh yes, we like you, Golf R 400 Concept.
As we explained in our original post, the R 400 is the long-awaited successor to bonkers Golf creations like the GTI W12 from 2007 and, more recently, the Design Vision GTI. It's powered by the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder found in a number of Volkswagen (and Audi, SEAT and Skoda) products, although it's been heavily massaged to pump out 332 pound-feet of torque along side its amplified horsepower.
Naturally, it's been lowered and now rides on 19-inch wheels. Outside of those changes, though, mums the word on suspension and chassis enhancements. While this is a bummer, the striking looks of the Golf R 400 more than make up for it.

VW previews retouched 2014 Touareg for Beijing

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:00:00 EST

Volkswagen is in New York this week showing off its new Jetta and Golf TDI SportWagen concept. But in less than a week, the German automaker will be off to China for the Beijing Motor Show, where it will showcase the revised Touareg you see here.
A subtle update on the Touareg that's been on the market in its current form for four years now, the facelifted model features reworked styling front and rear, an updated interior and a host of new technologies to keep it current in the highly competitive SUV market. Among those new features are larger bi-xenon headlights, coasting function, Google Maps integration and a post-collision braking system designed to prevent a second crash.
VW will offer the new Touareg with a variety of engines around the world, but in North America it'll carry over the same six-cylinder powertrain options as the outgoing model: a 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 hp (though torque isn't listed, we'd expect around 406 pound-feet, same as last year) and a hybrid that marries a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 to an electric motor that combine to deliver 380 hp.

J.D. Power customer survey of dealers counts Cadillac, Buick as big winners

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:35:00 EST

Cadillac and Buick have taken the trophies in J.D. Power's latest Customer Service Index Study examining satisfaction with dealer service. Surveying more than 90,000 owners and lessees of 2009-2013 model-year cars, the study found that those with pre-paid maintenance packages were ten percent more likely to buy their next car from the same brand.
Dealer satisfaction scores have improved overall, Cadillac nabbed the luxury segment ahead of Audi and Lexus, taking the crown that Lexus held last year. Buick keeps the mass-market dealer satisfaction win in the family, finishing ahead of Volkswagen and last year's winner GMC. The study also found that service department use of tablets increased customer satisfaction, as did "best practices" like "providing helpful advice." Who knew?
You can find details on those and more findings in the press release below.

Volkswagen Golf R wagon promises to be fast and functional [w/poll]

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 16:29:00 EST

Volkswagen's array of performance-oriented Golfs keeps getting bigger and bigger. What started with the GTI has since grown to include the diesel GTD, the hybrid GTE and the most powerful Golf R. But the additions haven't all come down to powertain. There's been cabrio versions of the GTI and Golf R as well, but before all is said and done, there will be one more bodystyle to join the lineup.
That, according to these latest spy shots, would be the Golf R Variant. For those unfamiliar, Variant is what Volkswagen calls the wagon version of the Golf (in some markets, anyway). It offers the Golf Variant with a variety of engines, but as the spy shots reveal, it is now working on bringing the Golf Variant and the Golf R together into one high-powered, long-roofed model.
The VW Golf R Variant would in all likelihood pack the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the hatchback, splitting 290 horsepower between all four wheels. Only in the wagon, it would offer that extra bit of utility. Of course there's no guarantee that Volkswagen would offer the Golf R Variant in the North American market, but considering that the Golf R hatchback will soon be joined in American showrooms by the Golf SpotWagen (as it's tipped to be called here) in place for the Jetta wagon, the possibility is definitely there.

European car sales up 8% in February

Sat, 22 Mar 2014 09:02:00 EST

Three weeks ago an analyst increased projections for European car sales this year, expecting them to climb three percent compared to last year instead of 2.7 percent. That number is a postive sign after years of hard times but it turns out February was especially good, overall European sales climbing eight percent on a wave of southern European recovery and discounts - and this comes after five months of gains including January's 7.2-percent jump over the year before.
The only country of Europe's five largest markets to post a decline was France, just as it did in January, Germany, the UK and Italy posting solid double-digit numbers, Spain rocking the charts with an 18-percent increase because of a government program to encourage trade-ins.
The only brand to miss the wave was Volkswagen, dropping 0.8 percent as it watched the double-digit growth at sister brands Audi, Seat and Skoda lift the Volkswagen Group sales up by seven-percent. Peugeot overcame flat sales at Citroën to improve the group by 3.5 percent, BMW and the Mercedes-Benz/Smart combo rose by four percent, the Fiat group jumped 5.8 percent, Ford was up 11 percent, the Renault Group 11.5 percent, General Motors 12 percent and the Toyota clan by 14 percent.

Porsche 911 with VW turbodiesel prepares for LeMons assault

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:03:00 EST

LeMons racing is a wonderful example that setting limits can actually breed creativity. The series mandates that all entries must cost $500, not counting safety equipment, and that cap forces teams to be ingenious in how they build a racecar. Take for example this diesel-powered Porsche 911, which its creators have dubbed Ferkel the Nein-11, that will be racing in the Sears Pointless race this weekend in Sonoma, California.
This Frankenstein combines a 911 chassis that was originally bought just for its European powertrain and a Volkswagen TDI diesel engine mounted in the rear. After deciding the shell could still be of some use, the team decided to go racing. "We began brainstorming what replacement drivetrain to use for maximum offense and there was really only one answer: a diesel," said Philipp von Weitershausen, one of the team captains, to Jalopnik. They bought a 1998 Jetta TDI on the cheap and started figuring out a way to hack the engine into the bay. To pay respect to the donor, the VW's trunk was highly modified (and drilled) and grafted onto the back of Ferkel.
This team isn't a newcomer to LeMons. Its last car was a classic VW Beetle with a Subaru engine and dual controls, named Ferdinand the Bug, which could be driven from the left or right side. It's quite a sight.

$1.4B hedge fund suit against Porsche dismissed

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 11:31:00 EST

Investors have canvassed courts in Europe and the US to repeatedly sue Porsche over its failed attempt to take over Volkswagen in 2008 (see here, and here and here), and they have repeatedly failed to win any cases. You can add another big loss to the tally, with Bloomberg reporting that the Stuttgart Regional Court has dismissed a 1.4-billion euro ($1.95B US) lawsuit, the decision explained by the court's assertion that the investors would have lost on their short bets even if Porsche hadn't misled them.
Examining the hedge funds' motives for stock purchases and the bets that VW share prices would fall, judge Carola Wittig said that the funds didn't base their decisions on the key bits of "misinformation," and instead were participating simply in "highly speculative and naked short selling," only to get caught out.
With other cases still pending, the continued streak of victories bodes well for Porsche's courtroom fortunes, since judges will expect new information to consider overturning precedent. If there is any new info, it could come from the potential criminal cases still outstanding against former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and CFO Holger Härter, who were both indicted on charges of market manipulation.

VW confirms new TDI for second half of 2014 in Golf, Jetta, Passat and Beetle

Tue, 18 Mar 2014 18:00:00 EST

Diesel lovers rejoice. Volkswagen is bringing the latest iteration of its 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine - dubbed the EA288 - to the 2015 model year Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle (2013 model pictured above) and Beetle Convertible, and the cars will be on sale in the second half of 2014.
While it shares its moniker with the old diesel, the new engine produces 150 horsepower, a 10-hp boost, and 236 pound-feet of torque. VW promises improved fuel economy as well, but it hasn't announced specifically what amount yet. The company claims that despite the same displacement, only the bore spacing is shared with the previous version. The mill includes new features like exhaust gas recirculation, an intercooler integrated into the intake manifold and low-friction camshaft bearings.
VW Group of America has had great success with diesels in the US recently. Vee-Dub and Audi sold 105,899 diesel-equipped models in 2013. It was the first time the group ever sold over 100,000 diesels in a year, and they accounted for 24 percent of sales. Scroll down to read the full press release about the announcement.

VW makes $23K on every Porsche sold, more than Bentley or Lamborghini

Fri, 14 Mar 2014 18:31:00 EST

It's a good time to be in the luxury car business. In Volkswagen Group's financial report for the 2013 fiscal year, it is revealed that that Porsche enjoyed an operating margin of 18 percent. That means the Stuttgart brand made on average about $23,200 per car sold, according to BusinessWeek. Bentley wasn't far behind, and Audi (which was combined with Lamborghini) posted a 10.1 percent margin. This compares to only around 2.9 percent for the Volkswagen brand.
"Luxury brands are on fire," said Dave Sullivan, an industry analyst at AutoPacific. He said that the average profit margin is between six and eight percent. Brands like Porsche and Bentley have the benefit of competing in rarefied markets. Buyers looking at one their vehicles have fewer models to shop against and don't care as much about price. They can also charge more for options, which further boosts income, according to BusinessWeek.
In a way, we should be more impressed by the continued success from Audi. Its models generally have direct competitors in every segment from the other premium automakers. Plus, their buyers aren't the captains of industry who are shopping for a Bentley. Still, the Four Rings is leading rivals in sales so far this year.