Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Golf By the Numbers


One of the articles of faith that lead me to push for the inclusion of the base eighth-generation Golf (above) in Volkswagen's U.S. lineup is that, while the sales of the base seventh-generation Golf in the U.S. have been admittedly pathetic for 2019 - 5,644 units, compared to 11,672 units for the GTI - sales of the base model would improve dramatically if it is offered here in Mark 8 form.  I have long attributed the base Golf's anemic sales to "model fatigue;" the Mark 7 Golf has been around so long that the car no longer feels new and the bloom is off the edelweiss.  And one need only look at the base Mark 7 Golf's U.S. sales in its first full calendar year of availability, 2015 - 19,257 units sold that year.  The Mark 7 GTI sold 23,669 units in 2015, only 4,412 more than the base model - a smaller gap that the difference in 2019 (6,028 more units than the base model, with fewer Golfs overall sold).  So, what could be wrong with my number-crunching?

Quite a few things, it turns out.  First, in 2015, Volkswagen was less of a player in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) market segment in America than it is now, and that market segment has only grown more lucrative since then.  Less than one-fifth of Volkswagens sold in the U.S. in 2015 were SUVs, its only available SUV model being the Tiguan and the very unpopular Touraeg.  Now, in 2020, with the Touraeg gone, the Tiguan has since been resigned and become Volkswagen's U.S. bestseller, and it's since been joined by the Ford Explorer-like Atlas, with both models accounting for 54 percent of VW's U.S. sales and with more SUV models on the way.  A survey released by Volkswagen finding that SUVs remaining hugely popular with Americans and are expected to remain so for the forseeable future, which doesn't bode well for any automaker who offers a hatchback for sale when many Yanks are even turning away from sedans.

Second, Donald Trump is President.  I don't want to get too political here, but it's no secret that Trump is seriously considering auto tariffs against the European Union and has scuttled former President Barack Obama's increased fuel-economy standards.  Tariffs, if enacted, would compromise the base Golf's selling point - an affordable, versatile family car - and while VW is still committed to pursuing Obama-era fuel economy standards in response to demand from California for more fuel-efficient cars, the lower federal standards will still encourage and enable sales of SUVs.

Third, Volkswagen's new electric-car program for the U.S. is following current vehicle style trends.  Hence, most of the electric vehicles VW plans to offer here will be crossovers, not small, agile cars like the Golf-sized ID.3 electric hatchback.  If Scott Keogh, Volkswagen of America's current president, doesn't think demand for the ID.3 is big enough, what does he imagine demand for the base Golf to be, in light of everything I've just pointed out?  Right now, VW is looking to primarily offer sedans as alternatives for customers who wouldn't be caught dead in an SUV.

Still, I remain hopeful that Volkswagen of America will sell the base Mark 8 Golf in the United States, if only because Volkswagen has a core American customer base whose tastes are more European than the American mainstream and would prefer a compact hatchback at a reasonable price with German driving and ride characteristics.  Of course, though, many of them would probably prefer a GTI or go full tilt boogie and buy an R.  Just how many of them would go for plain when you can spend a few thousand dollars more for à la mode?  We'd have to hope that there are still plenty of us who would prefer to save a few grand and just get the base Mark 8 Golf, which would go for about US$26,000 . . . and that should be the most anyone who just wants a nice, relatively cheap German car and doesn't need the high-performance version should be willing to spend.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Another New Person To Contact

As of today, boys and girls, I am adding another Volkswagen of America manager to contact to urge to allow the base eighth-generation Golf to be sold in the U.S.


He is Werner Eichhorn, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for the VW North American Region since September 2017.  A VW employee since 1981, he started out in  Volkswagen Group Sales and served as the board member for Sales and Marketing at VW's Škoda brand in the Czech Republic. Herr Eichhorn has also been the head of Volkswagen Sales and Marketing in Germany and held many positions for the Volkswagen and Audi brands, among them as Managing Director of Audi's Chinese division.

As worldly as he appears, though, Herr Eichhorn's approach to his current job is regrettably American.  He was really pleased as punch to, when announcing the final annual sales figures for the Volkswagen brand in December 2019 (363,322), talk up Volkswagen's ever-growing sport utility vehicle lineup.  "Double-digit growth from our SUVs," Herr Eichhorn said, "allowed us to outpace the market throughout 2019.  We're excited to build on that demand with the Atlas Cross Sport this year."

Someone needs to remind him, boys and girls, that VW loyalists demand a solid, unpretentious European hatchback - the base Golf.  So I urge you to also write to Werner Eichhorn, in care of the postal address listed on this blog's contact page, and let him know that you don't care how many SUVs Volkswagens sells in America - you want to see the base Golf offered here as well.

Let's keep stirring sh-- up, boys and girls! 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

But Where's the Base Golf?

Heads up, boys and girls!  New release times for the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Golf R have been announced, and Volkswagen of America will likely bring these cars to the States as 2021 models toward the end of the year.  However, Volkswagen of America still - still - hasn't said whether or not we're getting the base car.


According to Car and Driver (which took the spy photo above of the new GTI undergoing testing), the GTI will be introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2020 and the R will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Great Britain in July 2020.  With Volkswagen of America accentuating and emphasizing these two cars - both of which have been confirmed for the U.S. market and should be available in the U.S. by the fall - while the base Golf has only been confirmed for Canada, it's getting to the point where no news isn't good news.  So please, please, please keep badgering the folks at Volkswagen of America (but not Megan Closset, she's on our side) to get them to agree to offering the base model for sale in the U.S.  Because - again - some of us prefer and/or can only afford the base Golf, and we don't want to be frozen out of VW's product plans for the American market.  So write to Volkswagen of America if you already haven't.  Write now . . . right now! >:-( 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Golf Video: No Words

This video is pictures only - no words. But then, one picture is worth a thousand words. It shows all of the goodies we'll be getting with the base Volkswagen Golf . . . if Volkswagen of America lets us have it! (No decision on that yet, so watch and enjoy the video.) 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Mark 8 Golf R

Yes, what about the R?  Even though the Golf R is confirmed for the eighth generation and therefore is not germane to this blog's mission to bring the base Mark 8 Golf to America, you're probably wondering about that hottest of hot hatches.


Well, according to Car magazine in Britain, it will be offered in two - yes two - trim levels, the "standard" Golf R and a faster version called the Golf R Plus.  Its two-liter turbo four will power all four wheels (of course it will, it wouldn't be a Golf R otherwise, would it?) and generate 328 horsepower.  Crazy!  And the crazier Golf R plus will have four hundred horses with a top speed of 174 mph! 

The homologated rally racer version of Volkswagen's humble family hatchback has come a long way since the original Rallye Golf debuted in Europe in the late eighties.

Oh yeah, the price.  In Britain, the Mark 8 Golf R is expected to cost about £35,000 - that's $45,515 in America, folks!  Even if the R is a bit less in These States, its high price and low volume (Rs are always produced in limited quantities) demonstrate how far Volkswagen is drifting from its reputation as an affordable brand - even in America, where VW doesn't have Škoda or SEAT to sell cars below the average prices of the cars in its namesake brand.  I'm sure the R is a great performer, and I'm sure it will find adherents who can actually afford it, but its astronomically high price only underscores how much we VW lovers in America need the much cheaper base Mark 8 Golf in Volkswagen's U.S. lineup.  Is anyone at VW listening? 

Monday, January 13, 2020

GTI, Again

Motor1.com, an automotive news site I've grown to detest for its snide commentary and also for its insistence in reporting the rumor of no base Golf 8 for America as fact, offers up some of its own, umm, reporting on the GTI version of the next Golf.  It offered the rendering of the Mark 8 GTI below based on spy shots of the hot hatch undergoing testing.


Motor1.com predicts that the car will have a very mean face, with an angry-looking front bumper bearing two diffusers to channel air towards the lower radiator grille, with a red strip connecting the headlight fixtures.  A set of 19-inch all-black wheels, wider side skirts, brake calipers bearing the GTI logo, and the placement of the GTI logo on the body in the usual places complete the picture.  Oh yeah, the mirror casings will be like the old Model T - any color you want so long as it's black.

While CarBuzz reports that the GTI's two-liter inline turbo four will produce 245 horsepower and feature a 300-horse engine for the Performance version, Motor1.com is saying something completely different (natch!),  insisting that the "regular" GTI will have a 255-hp engine, with the Performance package being replaced by a new TCR model, with a 295-horse motor.  No hybrid, though.  As always, the two transmission options will be a standard six-speed manual or a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. 

I bring up the GTI here again for the same reason I brought it up last week - as it's the only confirmed eighth-generation Golf  for the U.S. market apart from the R, I can't ignore it.  But I also can't ignore the possibility of the base Golf 8 being denied to American Volkswagen customers.  Sure, this new GTI will be great for those of us who can afford it, but, remember, at a likely sticker price of $28,000, the Mark 8 Golf GTI will be far more expensive than the 1983 Rabbit GTI was, at $7,990 - $20,633 in today's dollars.  The next Golf GTI may be "cool as hell," but if it's the entry-level model for These States, it's going to leave a lot of Golf lovers in America who can't afford a $28,000 hot hatch out in the cold.  We need the base Golf here, and we need Volkswagen of America to confirm it. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Video: "2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 - The Best Compact Car?"

Here's a video courtesy of the YouTube channel AutoShow, with an edited presentation from the Golf's October 2019 debut in Wolfsburg, given by Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the  Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.  Scenes from the debut cut back and forth from still pictures of the car.  Herr Brandstätter's presentation is very informative and thorough.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Golf Safety

The European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) is the European Union's equivalent of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, and with the debut of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, it was deemed necessary to test the new Golf's performance in various crash tests.


The EuroNCAP folks used every possible test imaginable, testing the airbags, the windshield integrity, the alert system when a pedestrian or another car is within range, and so on and so on.  It got a five-star rating from the program, the highest it offers.

A base Golf hatchback with a 1.5-liter inline four, weighing approximately 2,900 pounds, was used for the test.  The results were impressive; according to VWVortex, EuroNCAP gave the Golf a 95 percent rating on adult occupant safety, an 89 percent rating on child occupant safety, a 76 percent rating for pedestrians, and a 78 percent rating on its safety technology.

There was just one issue; the rear door on the driver's side opened during the crash test, which left  EuroNCAP with no choice but to give the Golf a penalty for the risk of occupant ejection that the door's defect represented.

You can almost hear VW fans suggest that Volkswagen to being back the two-door Golf to eliminate the risk of rear-seat occupant ejection. In fact, one of my compadres on VWVortex's Facebook page did just that.  And while this design flaw may give potential buyers pause, it also gives Volkswagen the opportunity and the imperative to correct the problem.

A five-star rating, though, is tough to beat, and it will be great if VW can take the best and make it better.  The problem could and should be cured by the time the Golf makes it to America for 2021.  Whether or not it makes it here in base and performance forms or just as a GTI and a R remains to be seen. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

GTI

Although this blog is here to advocate for the base Mark 8 Golf to be sold in the United States and doesn't primarily concentrate on the Mark 8 Golf GTI because it has already been confirmed, buzz over the GTI dictates to and requires me to say something about it here.


Red trim accents, bigger wheels and a dual exhaust system identify the high-performance version of the Golf as a GTI, while a two-liter TSI four-cylinder engine will be the chief difference under the hood.  There's even talk of a 1.5-liter TGI natural-gas-powered engine as an option, but as the TGI is a SEAT engine, and as SEATs aren't sold in the United States, this engine likely won't be available for Americans - remember, we have to focus on getting the base Golf here and not worry so much about a natural-gas-powered GTI.  What Americans will get with the GTI is the high-tech package that the standard Golf 8 already has in Europe.  

Meanwhile, the Web site CarBuzz reports that that Mark 8 Golf GTI will likely have an increased output of 245 horsepower, up from 228 hp, with a special 300-horse GTI Performance package available.  

Scott Koegh promises that the Mark 8 GTI will be "cool as hell."  What's not cool is the possibility of the hell of having no base Golf model below the GTI.  The idea of a GTI becoming a de facto base Golf model in the States and directing American VW customers who want to spend less money to the Jetta is not acceptable for those of us who would prefer a hot hatch without the "hot" part.   

Friday, January 3, 2020

Video: "New VW Golf MK8 2020 – see why it's the most dramatic change in the car's 45-year history!"

Another Friday, another Golf 8 video:  This video from the British car-buying comparison site CarWow lists the ten biggest changes and features that make the new Golf so important and probably the most important Golf ever.

  

Most of these Golf 8 videos on YouTube and other social-media video sites pretty much say the same thing about the car, and so I may be giving up on posting Golf 8 videos here every Friday.  If there is a video you think belongs on this blog that I haven't posted yet, please let me know in the comment section below. And again, have a happy new year.  Maybe we'll see the base Golf 8 arrive in it.  

Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Person To Contact

Happy new year, boys and girls!  The fight to get Volkswagen of America to include the base version of the all-new eighth-generation Golf in the U.S. market continues.  And in addition to Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh and COO Johan de Nysschen, I have a new name to add to the list of top honchos at VWoA to contact to press our case - Hein Schafer, Volkswagen of America's Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy.


Mr. Schafer's responsibility at VW's American division is oversight of product planning activities, including the current and future Volkswagen brand vehicle portfolio for the entire U.S. market.  

Originally from South Africa, Mr. Schafer joined Volkswagen of America in 2018 after having  been the product marketing manager for VW in South American region, which also involved managing new projects.  He is also a veteran of numerous positions in Volkswagen's South African division, which is very significant -because South Africa, in addition to being Mr. Schafer's homeland, just happens to be one of VW's primary training grounds.  Not only is Mr. Schafer from there, but so is Mr. de Nysschen, as well as two former presidents of Volkswagen of America - Noel Phillips, who led the American division from 1982 to 1988, and Clive Warrilow, who led it from 1994 to 1998 and was instrumental in VW's nineties comeback in the U.S.  (Warrilow was also president of Volkswagen Canada from 1988 to 1994.) 

Mr. Schafer has been bragging of late about how Volkswagen is well-represented in the sport-utility segment in the U.S. and how, in the aftermath of a Volkswagen-conducted survey showing deep love for sport utility vehicles among Americans who won them, the brand is committed to more SUV models in the future.  How nice.  But we ought to write to him too, as I just did, to remind him that Volkswagen's loyalist customer base want and expect the base Mark 8 Golf to be offered here, too.  That's why I am adding his name to the contact page on this blog as of today.

So click on the contact page for the address to which to write Mr Schafer and get cracking!  

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

I Don't Understand

If the base version of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf does not make it to the United States, I just won't be able to comprehend such a decision.  Because, despite the unpopularity of family-oriented hatchbacks in the U.S., and despite the rise and rise of sport utility vehicles here, the Golf is still extremely popular among Americans who are die-hard Volkswagen fans.  It's that European-style reverence we have for the base Golf, as well as its performance variants, that has allowed the car to be offered for sale here since 1975, when it first debuted in the United States as the Rabbit.


I'm sure the folks at Volkswagen of America, if they decide against offering the base Golf 8 for sale, will tell us that it's not 1975 anymore, that the Golf doesn't sell in the numbers that the old Rabbit did, that the market has changed since 1975, and that it's especially changed since 2015, when the seventh-generation Golf still managed to sell nearly twenty thousand units in the U.S. in its first calendar year of availability.  Certainly, they will tell us, we understand, right?

Well, I don't understand.  When the Polo, a car one size smaller than the Golf, debuted, Volkswagen of America told us, "The Polo is too small to conform to American crash-test standards, and it would cost too much to make it comply with these standards, so we're not bringing it here."  And we said, "We understand."  When the Scirocco returned for a third generation earlier in this century, Volkswagen of America told us, "The Scirocco would cannibalize Golf GTI sales in the United States, so we're not bringing it here."  And we said, "We understand."  When the up! microcar, two sizes smaller than the Golf, debuted about a decade ago,  Volkswagen of America told us, "A Chevy or Ford pickup truck could run over an up! on the interstate or even on a side street, so we're not bringing it here."  And we said, "We understand."  (As for Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh's decision not to sell the ID.3 electric hatchback here, well, I'm trying to understand that.)

Well, I'm sorry, but this time I don't understand, because the cars I just mentioned are all VW models that were never sold here (counting the Mark 3 Scirocco as being a separate concern from the first two generations sold in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s).  By contrast, the Rabbit/Golf has been a staple of Volkswagen's American lineup for its entire existence up to now, and it's meant to be a volume car, the car that represents Volkswagen in the global market.  Forgive me for repeating myself, as I am sure I have said this on this blog before, but to those of us who cherish the Golf in America, just as with those who do so elsewhere, it's not just a Volkswagen; in the age of watercooled, front-engine vehicles, it is Volkswagen, just as the Beetle embodied VW in the aircooled, rear-engine period.  This time, Volkswagen of America isn't talking about refusing to sell a car here that it's never sold before; it's talking about taking away something we already have.  And it's talking about doing so to make room for potential Volkswagen customers in the U.S. that want a vehicle like a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Cherokee and don't care or know about Volkswagen's heritage.  Volkswagen of America may want to attract customers who may have left Volkswagen.  We die-hards represent the customers who never left.  And we never left because we prefer cars with BMW engineering at a Chevrolet price, and the Golf has always embodied that ideal better than most VW vehicles available to us.  As much as some of us would love a GTI, we buy the base model because it is still fun to drive and costs less money.  We have nowhere else to go to buy a car like that, especially now that we can't buy a Ford Focus anymore.  Not that we would have . . .

It's 2020 now.  This new year is a moment of truth for Volkswagen of America and the base Golf.  Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh is reportedly close to making a decision about the car, and those of us who still want it available in this market need to speak up and speak out to ensure that Keogh decided to keep it in the U.S. lineup.  And on this last point . . . I hope I've made myself understood.   
 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Twenty-Four

On this New Year's Eve, I bring good tidings of joy for 2020 - in the form of this announcement I ripped off from a Volkswagen AG press release!


Starting with the eighth-generation Golf, Volkswagen AG is doubling the period between vehicle servicing to 24 months - two whole years - in the European market.  Achim Schaible, who runs the after-sales and dealer network for the Volkswagen brand, says that VW is so confident in the quality of its vehicles that the firm feels it can go ahead with this change in the maintenance schedule for Volkswagens cars and light trucks. 

"We are therefore one of the few volume brands to call our customers into the workshops less frequently," Schaible explained "In addition, our new standard inspection service is to replace the previous service. This way, we are considerably simplifying the maintenance program and making it more transparent for our customers and partners."

Don't look forward to odd-even biennial service appointments elsewhere, though; at least not yet; given different operating conditions outside Europe, such as dust in the Middle East or heat and humidity along the American East Coast, annual vehicle servicing will still be required.  Also, regional and national kilometer (or mile, in the case of us metric-phobic Americans) service benchmarks will continue to apply.  But if VW quality and engineering continue to improve, there could be a time when the rest of us on this planet can enjoy the service calendar that the Europeans are getting.

"The standardized content of maintenance," the press release reads, "and new intervals allow more reliable and more transparent price information, which has a considerable impact on perceived service quality and therefore customer satisfaction."

So, when the Golf 8 gets to the U.S., it won't come with a two-year service calendar.  That's fine.  Right now, I'll be content if comes with a base version!   The Golf 8 went on sale in Germany earlier this month (December 2019), so, theoretically, when the first Mark 8 Golfs (for now, just the GTI and the R) get to the U.S., the first Golf 8 owners in Germany could be getting their first service at the same time.  Yes, it could take that long before we get them.

Anyway,  as 2019 fades into 2020, I plan to remain here advocating for the base Golf to be sold in the United States.  If Scott Keogh decides not to sell it here, I may continue this blog after his decision so I can get him to change his mind!

Which could take another two years.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 27, 2019

My Very Own Golf 8 Video!

With chances of the base Golf becoming available in the United States growing very slim, I did something in an act of desperation - I made my firs video ever!  I made a video of myself talking into an ASUS Lifeframe laptop video camera explaining that the Mark 8 Golf was recently introduced in Europe, how the United States may be the only country that gets only the Golf GTI and the Golf R, and how I'm fighting to keep the base Golf in the U.S. market.  All of this information is old hat to anyone who's visited this blog regularly, and the video itself is crude, with audio out of sync with the video; also, I only offer one picture of the car at the end because I couldn't figure out how to superimpose it over my dialogue.  But I'm still proud if it because . . . it's the first video I've ever made.



And because it's my first video, it was a bitch to make.  I did numerous takes, only three of which were complete, and the whole damn thing took so long the night I did it that I ended up going to bed at 1:30 in the morning.  But I had to make this video quickly, because, with the people at Volkswagen of America close to deciding the base Mark 8 Golf's fate - and they seem to be on the verge of making a decision I will not like - I had to get it out as soon as possible.   The contact information for Volkswagen of America that I refer to in this video is the same information on the separate page of this blog.

Why do I do all this? Because the Golf the only car I've ever bought new, it's the only car I've driven for the past twenty years, and I want to keep having a Golf until I'm too old to drive. And if Volkswagen of America doesn't sell this car here, I'll just try to keep my 2012 Golf running for as long as I can.

And if Volkswagen of America doesn't sell this car in the U.S., this blog will not be discontinued.  It will merely go from urging Volkswagen of America to confirm the car for the U.S. market to urging Volkswagen of America to reconsider its decision not to sell it in the U.S.  If I have to take my lumps, I am not going to do it in silence.

(P.S.  Last week's video of a new Golf 8 in a German VW dealership has since been blocked, but I'm keeping that post active in the hope that it will be made available again.)  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Oh, what fun it is to ride! :-)


(This is the late-1980s second-generation-based Rallye Golf, which is a classic that would make a perfect Christmas present.) 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Golf Hazard

I don't normally post here on Tuesdays, especially on a day like Christmas Eve, but recent new reports about the base eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf's fate for the U.S. market necessitate that I relay the news.  And the news is not good.


The Web sites CarBuzz and CarScoops have joined Motor1.com, the Web site that started the rumor of the base Mark 8 Golf's exclusion from Volkswagen's U.S. lineup in the first place, in reporting that the base Mark 8 Golf will not in fact be sold in the U.S.  This is still totally unconfirmed by Volkswagen of America, which has repeatedly said that it's still "under consideration," but across the 49th parallel in Canada - which is definitely getting the Mark 8 Golf in base form - even the Winnipeg Free Press is reporting this rumor as fact.  When a print newspaper - even a backwater Canadian paper in a city that sounds like it was named for its founder's daughters - reports a story like this, you can probably assume that it's true.

Except that you can't - at least, not yet.  As noted, Volkswagen of America still hasn't handed down a final decision on the base Mark 8 Golf's fate, so there's still a chance, however small, that we Americans will get the base version of the new Golf.  But we gotta keep stirring sh-- up, boys and girls!  Volkswagen of America isn't going to listen to one person like me.  Dubbers (Volkswagen fans - Volkswagen, VW, Vee-Dub, dubbers - get it?) who want the base Mark 8 Golf offered on this country have to keep raising their voices and make their opinions heard.  Volkswagen of America has told me that CEO Scott Keogh has heard me - after I wrote him thrice - but I'm just one voice.  So start contacting Volkswagen of America and give them what for - tell them you want the base Mark 8 Golf made available in the United States!   

And here's the contact information

On this Chrstmas Eve, I look at the shadows and see a garage without a base Golf - maybe it has a Jetta, or maybe a GTI the owner can't afford the payments on . . . if these shadows remain unaltered . . . :-O

Monday, December 23, 2019

Park It!

If you thought the knob for the automatic transmission shifter was small, take a look at the parking brake control!


It's not a lever, and its not even a switch - it's a button!

I don't know . . . I think I'd miss the old-fashioned levers, just like I miss the old-fashioned window cranks.  I love the satisfaction I get from a hearty pull-up of a parking-brake lever.  Yes, I really would miss that feeling.  But do you know what I'd miss even more?

The base Volkswagen Golf.

You can take that to the parking garage.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Video: "2020 Golf 8 FIRST EDITION"

A special "First Edition" eighth-generation Golf?  Apparently that's what hitting dealerships in Germany as the new Golf is slowly being introduced throughout Europe.  The video below was filmed at a Volkswagen dealership in Neuwied, in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, showing the "First Edition" Golf.  Note the Christmas tree - originated by the German people as a sign of life in winter - in the corner. :-)



Uploaded onto YouTube by the VR6 Turbo channel, this video also included the following information below on the original YouTube video page.

*

2020 Golf 8 FIRST EDITION 1.5 TSI OPF interior and exterior. Hello, this is new 2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 review. Engine: 1.5 TSI. 2020 Golf 8 for sale.

2020 Golf 8 motor/engine: 110 kw (150 PS)

Capacity: 1.498 cm³ (29.47 in³)

Fuel: Super 95

Color: Deep Black Pearl.

Price: €39,600.00

The new Golf is 29 mm (1.14 inches) longer, 10 mm (.39 inch) wider and 4 mm (.16 inch) taller than before, with the same wheelbase. The most powerful of the new Golf’s mild-hybrid drivetrains –the 1.5 eTSI – distinguishes itself with inherently effective properties that should ensure it finds favour among traditional petrol-engine car buyers and turbodiesel stalwarts alike.

With 110 kW available at 5,000 rpm, the turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder motor doesn't exactly brim with energy. However, it is remarkably smooth and revs freely to its 6,400 rpm electronic limiter, endowing the new Golf with a moderately sporting performance when you dial up Sport mode. In everyday driving, though, there’s no need to work it hard, because with 250 Nm of torque available from 1,500 rpm it delivers a good amount of mid-range urge.

The 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) boasts improved step-off qualities, while the latest petrol-electric powerplant propels the new Golf from 0-100 kph in a claimed 8.5 sec, with a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). By comparison, the non-electrified 1.5 TSI it replaces boasted figures of 8.7 seconds and 217 km/h (135 mph). The 48V belt-driven starter motor brings additional functions, including brake energy recuperation, a coasting function and a more immediate stop/start system.

The new Golf’s engine line-up includes 3 new turbopetrol-based eTSI mild hybrids that use a 48V electric drive system and a revised petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain in 2 states of tune. The mild-hybrid eTSI units are a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine developing 66 kW, and a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol powerplant offering 96 kW and 110 kW, all of which offer a claimed 10% improvement in fuel economy over the non-electrified powertrains they replace.

The plug-in hybrid drivetrains combine Volkswagen’s 1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with a gearbox-mounted electric motor, offering 110 kW and 180 kW in a performance-focused GTE model. Both use a 13 kWh lithium battery, claimed to provide a 50% increase in electric range of more than 60 km (37 miles).

*

That 39,600-euro figure, by the way, is US$44,135.78.  If - no, when - the base Golf 8 gets to America, it will no doubt be at least twenty grand cheaper.  But if you get one as soon as it's available, you can still say you're one of the first to have one. :-) 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Heads Up!

Not a pun on Volkswagen's forbidden-fruit up! microcar, but in fact a post about Volkswagen's new  high-tech information display for the Golf 8.


The Golf features what VW calls a "head-up display," a component currently in use on various models.  The Golf's set-up mirrors most closely that of the Touareg, the SUV no longer sold in America.  As with the Touareg's head-up display, the Golf's display directly projects information in front of you, showing images and figures spelling out the car's speed, the posted speed limit on the highway (ironic, considering that the car was developed in a country whose expressways have no speed limits), navigation notifications and traveling speed.  It's called a head-up display because all of the information is shown on the windshield.

Like this! 


This image is of the Touareg's dashboard, with apparitional human arms to show the driver's positions on the steering wheel in relation to the instrument panel.  Note the readout on the windshield, depicting speed and road info.  (Click on the picture to see it better.)  VW explains that with this setup, the display "is in the immediate field of vision of the driver who can therefore register all the key information without looking away from the road." 

So, something like this is what Volkswagen customers can expect to see in the new Golf.  But I hope this is the only thing the base Golf has in common with the Touareg.  There could be another commonality - neither one of them not being sold in the United States!

Keep your Touareg SUV, VW, just give us the base Golf in America.  Maybe no one needs holograms on their windshield, but I'll happily take a base Golf with lots of Star Wars-style tech over no base Golf at all.   

Monday, December 16, 2019

Signs Of Life

There's a glimmer of hope for the future of the base Golf in the U.S. coming from Volkswagen of America's November 2019 sales report.

It's not a big improvement - in the Big Bang scheme of things, it may not been seen as an improvement at all - but sales of Volkswagen's Golf models were up 11 percent in the United States in comparison to November 2018. 


All of the Golf variants except the GTI showed higher sales numbers compared to a year before, with the SportWagen up by 19 percent and the e-Golf up by 59 percent.  This is ironic, considering that the eighth-generation Golf wagon will not be sold in the U.S. due to poor sales, and the e-Golf is being discontinued globally in favor of the ID.3, the Golf-sized electric hatchback not to be sold in the U.S.

And for the record, the sales of the base Golf are up 6 percent over last November.  Rising sales of the Golf helped Volkswagen of America increase November sales by 9 percent over November 2018.

VWVortex.com reminds us, though, that the sales of all Golfs in America only total less than 3,000 cars for all of 2019 so far.  The uptick for November 2019 might be explained by a rush of American VW die-hards getting Golf models while they can before they're gone for good (the SportWagen and the e-Golf) or because they don't know if they will remain available in the near future, like the base Golf.  Still, any uptick for the Golf lineup is a positive development for those of us who seek to at least keep the base Golf hatchback in the U.S. lineup wen the eighth generation debuts.   As for the GTI, which was down 27 percent in sales compared to November 2018, that's been confirmed already, so maybe GTI fans are simply waiting for the new model, knowing for certain that they'll be able to buy one.  (Sales of the R more the an doubled between November 2019 and November 2018, possibly because there is no R for the 2020 model year and Golf R fans can't wait for the Mark 8 model.)  

Volkswagen SUVs have outsold sedans, wagons and hatchbacks so far for 2019, but only by about 3,000 units.  Despite a wide shift toward SUVs elsewhere in the U.S. auto market, Volkswagen's overall non-SUV models remain strong and competitive. VW's customer base remains a car-friendly base at heart, though Volkswagen of America, in its quest for more casual buyers to sell Tiguans and Atlases to, may not see things quite the same way. But the miniature surge in Golf sales is clearly a reflection of dread among Volkswagen loyalists in the U.S. who aware that their favorite VW models will or might disappear, and they're responding by buying them while they can.  To put a different spin on a Joni Mitchell lyric, it always seems to go that VW fans know what they've got before they're (possibly) gone.

Bottom line: VW's loyal American customers like Golfs.  Volkswagen of America should keep the base Golf in the U.S. lineup.        

Friday, December 13, 2019

Video: "The Volkswagen Golf - A Manifesto"

Volkswagen is intent on promoting the all-new eighth-generation Golf now, what with deliveries in a few European countries already underway.  Other countries will follow.  America?  Not until the 2020 or even the 2021 calendar years at least, and still only the GTI and R models are confirmed, with the base model's fate still uncertain - though particular online auto-news sites continue to report that it won't come over here and stand by the correctness of their reporting . . . even if it dates back to May.

In the meantime, Volkswagen has put out this 72-second video commercial extolling the Golf as a true global icon, the car we grew up with.  And though Americans be like, "What?", some of us Americans did grow up with it.  It would be a shame if we grew old without it, but the fact that this video has an English-language voice-over with an American accent means that hope springs eternal. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Goin' Mobile!

When I got my first Volkswagen Golf, a fourth-generation model, it came with a remote keyless entry system that was new and different from any lock system I'd ever had on any car before.  Now I could press a button to open to lock or unlock a car door and set the alarm when locking it.


Now, twenty years later, Volkswagen is taking keyless entry one step beyond by implementing a mobile key system that will allow the Golf to be operated with a corresponding smartphone made by . . . Samsung! 

The system, for all of its really big tech, works rather simply.  The car's owner simply links the smartphone to the Golf’s infotainment system through a pass code he or she chooses, which is the permanent code to use.  Once that code is established, the owner can lock or unlock the car by placing the smartphone near the door handle.  It's a virtual key that can be shared in one's immediate network of family and friends.  So if Uncle Fred or your next-door neighbor needs to borrow your car for a run to the grocery store, you just share the key via tour smartphone

And if you have a flip phone, you'd better get an upgrade. After all, the Golf did.

I'd be happy to get a smartphone to lock or unlock a car, assuming, of course, Volkswagen sells the base Golf in the U.S., which I'm here to push for.  But I'm not so sure that a Samsung smartphone is, well, a smart idea. After all, Samsung is famous - infamous, rather - for making phones that overheat and explode.  An exploding smartphone may be less problematic than an exploding fuel tank (remember the Pinto?), but if your phone is also your key, you're going to have a hard time starting the car to get home should your phone self-destruct in five seconds.

Any bugs (no pun intended) in the system should be worked out before the Golf GTI and the Golf R get to America, but hopefully questions over the inclusion of the base Golf also coming to America will have been worked out with a positive answer.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Travel Assist

The Volkswagen Golf has long been an everyman's car - take from one who's owned two of them - in keeping with the Volkswagen brand's association with mass-market pricing.  But with VW moving upmarket in Europe - to make room for the Volkswagen Group's cheaper brands Škoda and Seat, acquired by Volkswagen CEO Carl Hahn in the early nineties - the Golf is beginning to include more sophisticated features associated with more expensive cars.  Hence, the Golf will be the first automobile in the European compact-car segment to feature semi-autonomous driving technology.

Called 'Travel Assist', Volkswagen's system allows the driver to give the car more responsibility for some of  the driving on superhighways.  The Golf can steer, accelerate and brake by itself at speeds of up to 130 mph (210 km/h).  That may not sound like a big deal to motorists in New Jersey, but it sure is a big, fat hairy deal in Germany, where parts of the autobahns allow such speeds.  This system would also be welcome in states with speed limits higher than 55 mph on its highways.


Just remember that you still have to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, whether you're going to the roadhouse or not (but if you do go, have a real good time).  If you don't keep your hands on the steering wheel, the car will alert you . . . and it you don't get your hands back on the wheel within fifteen seconds the car's emergency braking system kicks on and safely stops the car.

Assuming that the base Golf comes to the United States, I'm willing to bet that it will be an option in a lower trim level and a standard feature in a higher one - and the GTI and the R will certainly have it.  The base Golf will certainly offer customers more flexibility, and that 's why this blog is here - to give VW customers who don't necessarily want a GTI or an R another choice.  And Travel Assist will definitely give VW customers a more flexible driving experience.