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First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

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Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.

This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.

Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.

Win-win? You best believe it…

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen eGolf

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There’s officially a Volkswagen Golf for everyone. The standard Golf is a go-to choice in the compact hatchback market. Enthusiasts love the GTI, and diesel-drinking enthusiasts can’t wait for the GTD to get here (seriously… hurry your asses up on that one VW).

Now Volkswagen has a Golf for the ultra-green set. It’s the 2015 eGolf, and it’s the automaker’s first shot at a fully electric machine here in the United States.

What makes it special beyond its propulsion system? Nothing… and that’s why people will like it.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen flew me to Virginia and put me up in a hotel so that I could sample their 2015 lineup. I focused on the eGolf because it was the most time I’ve been allowed to spend with the electron-drinking VW.]

Quick Spin- VW e-up! Are Friends Electric?


As any curious, hands-on non-affiliate of PETA will confirm, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Every car manufacturer on our collective radar seems to have at least murmured something about Electric Cars, and every attempt at replacing combustion with conduction as our favoured motivational fuel seems to end up with a very different product.

Recently I reported on the unsettlingly expensive i3, the quasi sci-fi imaginings of BMW which have translated into production without neutering from the original design concept, as a statement of “can-do” from the Bavarian powerhouse. Now, as something of a contrast, lets take a look at the way they do things electrically in Wolfsburg. … Continue Reading

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen GTI
Moving forward while embracing the past

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It’s not EmKay… it’s Mark. As in Mark 7. I’m referring to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. More specifically, I’m talking about the all-new 2015 Volkswagen GTI. It’s been a fan favorite since the early 80s, and even further back for those that live outside the United States. There’s a reason for that, of course, since this is the car that most consider to be the grandfather of the hot hatch.

We’re not fortunate to swim in the massive sea of hatchbacks that our European friends get to enjoy, so for us the be-all end-all of hot hatchdom is the GTI. It’s important then, that the car continue to be improved. Such is the case with the newest jackrabbit. It’s been given more power, lightened up, has greater interior space, and continues to slide further into the realm of the premium automobile… all without rising in price or losing its charm.

Plaid seats? Check. Golf ball shifter? Indeed. Fun to drive? You bet your ass it is…

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Review: 2014 VW Golf R. Grunt and Grip will Go Far


Before I start on the R, let’s pause to consider those cars which led us to its very creation, starting in the mid ’70s with the Golf GTI. It was truly the hero of Wolfsburg and probably did more to reinforce the image of Volkswagen than any other car before, probably even since. The MK1 GTI remains revered to this day for its lightness, simplicity and tactility, each of which were virtues that it inherited, because the basic Golf was light, simple and tactile.

As the Golf matured it put on weight and complexity and the effect of this was felt hard in subsequent generations of GTI. The name, too, became less meaningful. Look at the current generation of Golf and tell me that any of today’s lineup don’t make reasonable Grand Touring cars, and try and find me one that’s any less Injected than the GTI was. Fact is, they’re all great, especially the current GTI, but none of them feel remotely like the original did.

So, for now let’s sidestep the GTI and look at what happens when VW sets out to make a Golf really special in 2014. This is the new Golf R. And it’s amazing.

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Quick Spin: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.8T
The Jetta is back


If you are an ardent advocate of the maxim of less equating to more then the introduction of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta should have caused you great internal debate. That’s because while the model offered far more room than before at a much lower entry price, the things taken away to provide that smaller hit to your bank account were what many an enthusiast holds near and dear. After the fact, Volkswagen’s decision to compete with the more mundane competition seemed to be the right one as sales of the Jetta increased nearly twofold with the new model. Still, missing pieces such as disc brakes and an independent suspension for the back end on all but the top model, as well as a downgrading of its interior materials, didn’t sit well with the marque’s fans, and induced a vociferous drum beat that the Jetta had lost its way.

For 2014, Volkswagen wants you to know that it’s found the way back.

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Sampling some of the Volkswagen lineup
Including a bite of some forbidden fruit


Napa Valley in California is home to some of the greatest vineyards on the planet. It’s also home to some excellent driving roads littered with amazing bits of scenery that unfold outside of your window like large scale master works of art. It was here that I traveled in order to sample some of the latest bits of the Volkswagen lineup. There were a good mix of cars on hand, but I focused my attention on a chosen few. Well, I also called one vehicle to action on an important mission but I’ll get to that in a moment.

For now, let’s start with the vehicle that I started out my day with. Click past the break and we’ll begin.

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First Drive: Volkswagen XL1
The future is now


It’s not very often that you get a chance to take a peek into the future. We live in the now, and all future products and practices are being hammered out behind closed doors, in science labs, and in the heads of engineers across the planet. Occasionally, however, someone pulls back the curtain and allows you to eyeball and experience what’s next.

I got a peek at the future, and I had to travel all the way to Wolfsburg, Germany to see it.

It’s called the Volkswagen XL1.

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First Drive: 2014 Volkswagen GTD
Well suited for high-speed hot-hatch hijinks


“228… 229… 230… 231… 232!”

The numbers moved slowly but they kept coming. I couldn’t tell though because my eyes were focused on the road ahead. It was marked with the occasional imposing truck, dented Skoda Octavia, or unwavering bridge support. My driving partner had his eye on our speedometer, however, because I had my foot flat down on the throttle pedal of the all-new 2014 Volkswagen GTD. Those numbers he was calling out were the kilometers per hour as we were exploring the speed limits of this little oil burner. The team at Volkswagen had told us earlier that the car had a max speed of 143 miles per hour, or 231 kilometers per hour.

We just hit 144 miles per hour… time to ease off that throttle a bit.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

VW Beetle TDi (7)

The most important thing when driving new vehicles is to keep an open mind. Before driving any car for the first time one may have preconceived notions; an opinion based previous experiences or perhaps what we have read or heard from other sources. Then there is the time when you drive a vehicle which you have zero interest in, and the fact that it’s in the worst color ever, does not help things – makes it difficult to stay open minded.

This is how I felt about Volkswagen’s new for 2012, Beetle. The only thing it had going for it was the fact that it was powered by Rudolph Diesel’s compression ignition engine which was connected to a six-speed DSG transmission. Otherwise, I wanted nothing to do with the yellow bug, which to me is just another retro redesign of an iconic car without actually being iconic. I was just going to drive it to New York City (Edgewater, NJ actually, mom’s house) in order to attend the New York Auto Show, and drive it right back to Boston. That’s it.

Funny thing happened along the way…

… Continue Reading


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