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Review: 2016 Volkswagen Golf R

2016 vw golf r front side

About a year ago I drove a VW GTI. Based on everything I have read about it, I should have been in love. But there I was, on the twisty Merritt Parkway, in the middle of the night, feeling rather indifferent. I wanted to love it, but just kind of liked it. It’s was a great little hatch, but until this day I don’t know what I did not like about it. I guess this is what modern dating must be like; high expectations based on a biased written description and an eventual disappointment during the real-life encounter.

But now I have a date with the Golf R, a GTI on steroids, if you will, with more power and all-wheel-drive. The question is how much better, or different, can vehicle be with some extra power, a little chassis tuning, and two more driven wheels really be?

Quite a lot, actually…

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Volkswagen Golf GTE: Your Electrified GTI

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Ready to sample some currently forbidden fruit? Today it arrives in the form of the Volkswagen Golf GTE. No, that’s not a typo. This is a GTI… plug-in hybrid, and it’s been available in Europe since 2014.

Pay attention to this car though, fans of the VW brand, as this could be the path to a non-diesel salvation for the brand.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen tossed us the keys to the Golf GTE for a few days, and included a full tank of gas in the car. We barely dipped into that fuel tank. Seriously, why aren’t they selling this here yet?]

2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SE and SEL – The Vermont Maple Syrup Review


Volkswagen of America wants a hero, they want a champion. If you watched the Democratic Debate a couple of weeks ago, Volkswagen wants someone like Bernie Sanders to stand up and say ‘Nobody cares about your damn NOX emissions!’. Having sat through the Passat pre-drive press conference question and answer session last week, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon. Nearly every question asked by a journalist involved the nasty D-word, and nearly every answer given by VW PR was along the lines of ‘We’ll give you more information when we have it’. VWoA wants the Passat to be their champion, they want people to take notice of its strong new sheetmetal and its increasingly advanced tech available inside, and they want people to ignore that there is no longer an option box on the order sheet for TDi Clean Diesel. Is the new Passat good enough to help us forgive and forget? I flew to Stowe, Vermont to find out.

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Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Wagon(wagen)

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You want a vehicle that can do 99% of everything that you think you need it to do? I have the perfect vehicle for you. It’s called a “wagon”, and it utilizes plenty of cargo room mixed with great driving dynamics and solid styling.

Oh you don’t like that idea? YOU’RE WRONG!

Say hello to the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen, and say hello to a vehicle that will handle nearly all of your daily needs. It has loads of cargo space, returns tremendous fuel economy with the TDI motor, and is available rather nicely equipped for right around $30,000.

Stop buying crossovers. Start buying wagons… this one is a good one to start with.

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen tossed us the keys to this Golf Sportwagen and included a tank of the oil burning fuel. We barely dipped into it, despite putting a fair amount of miles on the car. Even with my fat foot, it has massive range per tank.]

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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