Thursday, April 22, 2010
Volkswagen has unveiled the revised Phaeton at the Beijing Motor Show.
Featuring a new look and technologies, the updated Phaeton builds on what is already one of the most advanced and thoroughly engineered cars on the road today.
Built in a state of the art transparent factory in Dresden, the new Phaeton features a new face, comprising a pair of bi-xenon headlight units complete with LED running lights and a new grille featuring two pronounced horizontal bars to lend the car a more imposing stance. Elsewhere, new front wings and a reprofiled bonnet are joined by a revised front bumper, complete with chrome strips and a set of LED foglights.
At the rear, a set of light units fitted with intricate lenses sit above a redesigned bumper. Finally, new alloys wheels complete the changes to the outside of the car. Inside, a new steering wheel and a colour electronic display ahead of the driver are joined by fresh trim finishes and, for the first time on a Volkswagen, the option of Google Maps on the RNS810 satellite navigation system. Feeding power and information between these and other vehicle systems are over 2,000 separate cables measuring 3.2 km connecting to 60 control units.
The air conditioning system on the Phaeton remains one of the most advanced in the world. As well as featuring a humidity monitoring function to avoid the vehicle misting up in all conditions, the Phaeton W12’s 4Zone climate control system is designed to be capable of maintaining a steady interior temperature of 22 degrees Celsius while the vehicle is at a constant speed of 186 mph in an ambient temperature of 50 degrees. While this situation is unlikely to be encountered by the majority of motorists, the climate control systems, aerodynamics, brakes , suspension, steering system and even wipers have been designed to cope with speeds far exceeding the norm of 0-155 mph.
The new Phaeton retains a very high level of standard equipment including 4MOTION all-wheel drive, Continuous Damping Control (CDC) adjustable air suspension, leather trim, satellite navigation, 18-way adjustable electric seats, a laminated finish to all glass areas and a total of eight airbags. Two wheelbase options will be offered (120 mm differentiating the two) and a choice of two engines – a 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel developing 240 PS and a 6.0-litre W12 petrol engine producing 450 PS. The new Phaeton goes on sale this August with prices and specifications set to be announced nearer this time.
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:19 AM
Volkswagen took to the stage at the annual Hanover Trade Show in Germany with a fleet-oriented EV taxi concept car dubbed the Milano Taxi. Decked out in Italian-inspired green and black paint with a red and white stripe, the Milano Taxi offers a maximum speed of 74 mph and an impressive 186 mile range, which could make it a viable alternative to gas and diesel-powered taxis.
The small, purpose-built taxi is powered by a 113-horsepower electric motor hooked up to an underside-mounted5 kW lithium-ion battery. VW says that 80 percent of the battery can be juiced up with just an hour charge, making it easy to keep the Milano going throughout the day on longer drives.
Its outside is vaguely inspired by the Samba van, VW says, and it features intricate integrated LED running lamps and retro-style whitewall tires.
The rear doors swing forward and out of the way for tight and congested areas like those of central Milan. Inside, a two-seat rear bench awaits, while luggage sits in front of the passengers and next to the driver in a space that would typically be occupied by a passenger seat.
An New York cab-style LCD screen affronts the passengers, allowing them to view the route the cab is following, while the driver has a similar screen used for various vehicle functions and navigation.
VW hasn’t indicated any production future for the Milano, although the company says it’s still on track to debut a production EV by 2013.
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:11 AM
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid
Volkswagen has just unveiled its 2011 Touareg for the first time in the States, giving us Americans a chance to see the slimmed down SUV and its hybrid sibling that we first saw at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. This second generation Touareg will still have a diesel option, but for those who like to feel even better about themselves while they gently crush wildflowers in the Arctic National Preserve, there's also a hybrid model offered for the first time in a VW SUV.
The hybrid model gets a 3.0-liter, supercharged, direct injection V6 gasoline engine paired with an electric motor and eight-speed automatic transmission that help it to a mileage rating of 21 miles per gallon city and 25 highway. That V6-plus-electric-motor combo also combines for 375 horsepower and 428 lbs.-ft. of torque, allowing a healthy towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds.
Posted by Pw3680 at 12:38 PM
2010 World Car of the Year winner Volkswagen Polo
Awards season is finally winding down with the 2010 World Car of the Year and World Performance Car of the Year being handed out this morning at the 2010 New York Auto Show. After whittling the fields down to three finalists in each category, the panel of 59 international journalists voted one last time to crown the World Car of the Year.
While the Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Polo and Mercedes-Benz E-Class were nominated, it was the Polo that took home the gold for 2010 World Car of the Year.
On the performance vehicle front, the nominees were the Audi R8 V10, Porsche 911 GT3 and Ferrari California, with the Audi winning top honors.
They also handed out a Design award for a group of finalists including the Citroen C3Picasso, Kia Soul and Chevrolet Camaro. That honor went to the Camaro. (U-S-A! U-S-A!)
The Green category saw Volkswagen's line of diesel-powered BlueMotion vehicles beat out the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrids. (Die-sel! Die-sel!)
Posted by Pw3680 at 12:35 PM
Volkswagen New Mid-Size Sedan
During yesterday's North American debut of the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid at the New York Auto Show, VW's North American CEO, Stefan Jacoby, let slip that the yet-to-be-named Passat replacement – currently known as the "New Mid-Size Sedan" (NMS) – will be available with a diesel in both the U.S. and Canada when it goes on sale in 2011.
Production of the NMS is set to begin within the next year at the automaker's new Chattanooga, Tennessee facility, and it's all but assured that the mill will be the same 2.0-liter diesel four-pot currently outputting 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque in the Jetta TDI.
Details on the sedan are scant, but Jacoby reiterated that the NMS will be Volkswagen's most focused push into the mid-size segment, where it is set to do battle with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. With a launch this important, it's no wonder that the company is still debating names.
Posted by Pw3680 at 12:33 PM
2010 Volkswagen Polo TSI 1.2
At last year's Geneva Motor Show, we got our first in-person look at the all-new fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo, the brand's popular B-segment model that slots in below the ever-expanding Golf and Jetta range. While subcompact vehicles like the Polo have been a staple in Europe for decades where fuel prices hover around $8/gallon, in the last few years, Americans have finally started to take a serious look at cars of this size. With the Honda Fit and Mini Cooper well established, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 twins on the way and an all-new Chevrolet Aveo coming late in 2010, the market for subcompact runabouts is picking up steam in the States – and VW is taking a long, hard look at adding the Polo to its North American lineup in the next few years.
With that in mind, VW trotted out a fleet of Polos for us to sample on its home turf near Wolfsburg, Germany recently – and while the automaker has yet to make a firm decision about importing the Polo to the U.S., they clearly wanted our feedback. Here's what we told VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby and his staff.
The new Polo is a handsome little hatchback with a very attractive implementation of Volkswagen's latest design language. The front fascia shares a lot with the new Golf, including the slim, black, horizontal grille above the bumper and the primary air intake and fog-lamp mounts down below. Along the sides, the pronounced wheel arches work nicely with the chiseled character lines just below the windows and along the rocker panels to give the Polo a pleasantly aggressive stance. For such a small car, it looks quite stocky, especially on the 17-inch, five-spoke alloys fitted to our tester.
All of the Polos on hand were powered by one of VW's newest engines: the 1.2-liter TSI four-cylinder. As its TSI designation implies, the 1.2 includes both a turbocharger and direct fuel injection, with a different cylinder head configuration than current TSI mills. Larger displacement versions from this engine familly all feature dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, while the 1.2 uses a single cam and only two valves per cylinder. While this might seem like a step backwards, there's some solid reasoning behind it.
The first and most obvious is cost. A single cam, two-valve head is considerably less expensive to build, along with being notably lighter. Both of these elements are important in an engine for an entry-level car. However, there is also a functional reason that could make the two-valve layout advantageous for a direct-injected engine. Four smaller valves take more space in the combustion chamber, and they don't leave much space to locate the spark plug and injector. This usually creates a situation where the spark plug is located in the center and the injector is off to one side. With only two valves, both the plug and the injector can be located closer to the middle, so fuel is distributed more evenly. The pressurized intake air from the turbocharger also helps to offset some of the four-valve configuration's breathing advantage. Overall, this results in a reasonable compromise for a subcompact vehicle and a rather impressive amount of power.
The 1.2-liter TSI churns out 103 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque, and while that doesn't sound like much, maximum twist is available between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm, making for excellent around town drivability. By comparison, the 1.5-liter, 16-valve normally aspirated engine in the North American-spec Honda Fit produces 117 hp, while maximum torque – a meager 106 lb-ft – peaks at 4,800 rpm. Mated to either a six-speed manual or new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the Polo's demeanor is nearly unmatched by anything in the U.S., and the run to 62 miles per hour takes place in a perfectly adequate 9.7 seconds. Making things even more enticing is the Polo's fuel economy, up from 35.1 mpg (U.S.) to 42.8 mpg compared to the outgoing port-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder in the previous Polo, with a drop in CO2 emissions to boot (159 g/km versus 129 g/km).
Inside, the Polo provides typical Volkswagen fare – well finished, high quality materials of the sort rarely found in Stateside subcompacts. The design is simple, clean and functional, with everything located exactly where it should be. Large, round gauges for the speedometer and tach flank an information display that keeps tabs on the clock, mileage, range and other useful info-tidbits. The overall design is very similar to the Golf, with a seamless surface across the top of the dashboard. Our tester came equipped with an optional in-dash navigation system, along with a large storage bin below the climate controls and cloth seats that proved comfortable while providing plenty of lateral support.
One aspect where the Polo loses out to the class-leading Honda Fit is interior volume. The Japanese hatch is about five inches longer and 2.5 inches taller than the Volkswagen, although the wheelbase is only about an inch longer. Most of the Fit's extra length is the result of its longer nose (something not found on non-North American variants), yet its extra size can be felt most clearly from the rear seat, where the extra height allows for a more upright position for passengers and room for four adults. The Polo is noticeably more snug, albeit easily on par with the forthcoming Ford Fiesta.
The five-door Polo we sampled was equipped with a DSG transmission but, unlike the Golf TDI, it didn't have paddle shifters. If you're hot to swap your own cogs, slotting the gear selector to the right from Drive allows you to tap-shift the transmission up or down. Around town, the torquey engine proved very responsive and the Polo never felt sluggish or strained, and shifts were quick and smooth whether commanded by the powertrain ECU or the driver.
Going around corners, the Polo's steering was quick and the electro-hydraulic assist had good feedback. Our drive loop south of the Oschersleben track included stretches through several small villages coated in cobblestones, and the Polo's poise and reasonably comfortable ride on such uneven surfaces bodes well for how the V-Dub will behave on pitted U.S. roads.
But will it make the trek?
Officials from Volkswagen of America seem intent on bringing the Polo to the States, but the big question seems to be what bodystyle U.S. consumers will get. While European VW dealers offer three- and five-door hatchback configurations, the thought seems to be that Americans would prefer a sedan. To our eyes, a hatchback and its attendant utility makes a lot more sense than an undersized trunk, but our position might not jibe with mainstream consumer tastes. From where we sit, the smarter choice may be something analogous to the Euro-only Golf Plus, which is a taller version of VW's C-segment hatch. A vertically stretched Polo Plus could match the space of the Fit on its existing footprint, negating our only serious ding with the Polo – a lack of interior space.
However, the more intractable problem is cost. With the euro trading at nearly $1.50, sourcing an inexpensive B-segment car from across The Pond is a non-starter. VWoA CEO Stefan Jacoby told us that the site of the new Chattanooga, TN assembly plant has space to double in size and could ultimately produce up to 500,000 vehicles annually. The Puebla, Mexico plant that builds the Jetta and New Beetle is also being expanded, so if the Polo is offered here, it will almost certainly be built in North America and offered throughout North, Central and South America.
VW will no doubt be closely watching how the all-new Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 fare to help determine its path. And if we were betting gentlemen – and we often are – our money would be on the Polo arriving on U.S. shores within the next three-to-four years. With the exemplary 1.2-liter TSI and an enlarged cabin, the Polo could easily find favor with Stateside consumers currently reassessing what they need in a vehicle, and with more subcompacts arriving each year, VW needs to strike while the iron is hot to solidify its place in a segment that's finally garnering some attention in America.
Posted by Pw3680 at 11:20 AM
Monday, April 5, 2010
For 2011, Volkswagen's Touareg gets a much-needed freshening along with the sizable weight reduction.
The second-generation Touareg benefits from visual upgrades that bring the SUV in line with the new Volkswagen look embodied by the Golf and Polo. There's nothing radical here, but judging by how little the first-generation Touareg changed over the course of its life, this is a body style to which dealers should become accustomed. Is it an SUV that will age well until the third-generation model arrives?
The 2011 Touareg's grille is similar to that of the Golf and Polo: long and directly connected to the headlights. Those headlights feature LED accents, a detail that supports the high-end place this SUV will have in Volkswagen's lineup.
The profile view holds few surprises besides new wheel designs. In back, the taillights curve upward slightly, a subtle change makes the rear view a bit more dynamic. Huge exhaust pipes do that too, though not necessarily in a good way.
To be honest, we would be happy spending time in the interior of the 2010 or 2011 Touareg. It's inside where some of the more major visual changes have taken place. A giant navigation display in the dash has forced the separation of the air vents. As in the 2010 Touareg, the new Volkswagen SUV features plenty of wood and silver trim. Completing the interior changes is a more attractive three-spoke steering wheel than the four-spoke unit in the outgoing SUV.
So the tweaks to the Touareg are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Is that a good thing? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Last week, the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg's brother -- the 2011 Porsche Cayenne -- was featured in this space.
Many commented on the improved interior. "Finally the Cayenne looks like it belongs in the Porsche lineup," said Porsche74.
True_enthusiast wasn't so positive: "Better but still ugly."
Posted by Pw3680 at 2:24 PM
If you liked what you saw in Volkswagen's Golf R at last year's Frankfurt Auto Show, you're going to like this news. The German automaker has officially launched a dedicated performance division, dubbed Volkswagen R GmbH, that will specialize in developing sport-oriented models under the R and R Line badges. Volkswagen hopes the move will help it to stake its claim as the world's largest automaker in the not-too-distant future.
"Our vehicles contribute to the emotionalization and growth of Volkswagen brand," said Ulrich Riestenpatt gt. Richter, general manager of Volkswagen R GmbH.
Consider the division similar to BMW's M branch, Mercedes' AMG program, or Fiat's Abarth arm. All fall under the blanket of their parent company, while offering products with added exclusivity and performance relative to the standard models. The current Europe-only Golf R and Scirocco R are the first models to be developed by the over-350-strong workforce, the Golf essentially being a successor to the special-edition R32.
New R Line packages will also emerge from the doors of Volkswagen R GmbH, including the Volkswagen Passat CC R Line, with special emblems, wheels, ground effects, and other touch-ups. A Tiguan R Line has also launched in Europe, alongside similar packages for the Golf, Touareg, and Touran.
Currently, the only product from Volkswagen R that the U.S. will be getting is the Passat CC R Line. Given the cult following previous R32s enjoyed Stateside, we're not ruling out VW bringing the Golf R to our shores, along with a few more R Line variants.
Posted by Pw3680 at 2:19 PM
New reports suggest we may have our first look at the next-generation Volkswagen Passat come September, as the German automaker may launch its revised midsize sedan at the 2010 Paris motor show.
Although the car will be the next generation in the Passat line, don’t expect it to be completely revamped from head to toe. Reports indicate Volkswagen is putting the Passat under the knife in a similar manner to Golf's refresh for 2010 -- the basic architecture of the car will remain untouched, but it will receive substantial styling and powertrain upgrades.
We’d also expect the new Passat to be both agile and frugal, thanks in part to a planned decrease in weight and the use of smaller, efficient engines. Like Hyundai’s new Sonata, VW reportedly has no plans to offer the new Passat with a heavier, thirstier six-cylinder engine. Instead, a slightly upgraded version of VW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine may be the top engine. Reportedly, the turbo-four offers similar acceleration to the current Passat fitted with the 3.2-liter V-6.
Although Volkswagen is starting to introduce hybrid-electric drive systems, the new Passat won’t receive one -- instead, the automaker is possibly waiting until an all-new model launches in 2015 to install an eco-friendly powertrain.
It’s doubtful we’ll see the new Passat in any guise in the U.S., as the “New Midsize Sedan” (NMS), which should launch in early 2011, will replace the car in North American markets.
Posted by Pw3680 at 2:16 PM