Volkswagen: 2015 CrossPolo TSI review

December 16th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

The CrossPolo sits at the top of the Volkswagen Polo range. With 30mm more ground clearance and a tough-looking black skirt, it tells the world that this is a city car that can get its boots a bit mucky. Not too mucky, though, because it’s still just a front-wheel drive hatchback, and you wouldn’t want to subject those tasty 17-inch alloys to extreme punishment. Continue reading “Volkswagen: 2015 CrossPolo TSI review” »

Volkswagen: 2014 Passat R-Line wagon review

July 28th, 2014 by Ross Mackay

For a while there it looked like the days of that most practical and stoic of motoring beasts, the station wagon, were numbered. Yet to paraphrase a famous Mark Twain quote; ‘reports of (their) death (would appear to) have been greatly exaggerated.’

Take the latest wagon version of Volkswagen’s Passat.

Local importer Volkswagen New Zealand has big plans for Passat, particularly the wagon model/s which – with help both from head office and the exchange rate – offer the sort of bang for your buck hitherto the preserve of more prosaic models. Continue reading “Volkswagen: 2014 Passat R-Line wagon review” »

Volkswagen: 2014 Polo 1.4 R-Line

July 24th, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0055Volkswagen is celebrating its 60th year of operation in New Zealand and the Polo is now run out as a new model is due shortly.

The current pricing will further stick a wounding knife into the Korean and Japanese mass market brands.

The range starts with the 1.4-litre 63kW Polo Comfortline five-speed manual model, priced from $19,990 (formerly $22,990) while the same model with a six-speed DSG transmission is priced at $24,900 (formerly $25,990).

The 1.4-litre automatic R-Line 60th anniversary model as driven and pictured here is currently on run out at $27,990. Continue reading “Volkswagen: 2014 Polo 1.4 R-Line” »

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2013 Review

October 15th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Looking slightly more chiselled than its predecessor, the Golf GTI tempts you with a strong engine and handling setup to use those angles to slice through the wind at high speed. The six-speed DSG gearbox eggs you on with gear changes that seem impossibly fast, and acceleration that’s almost as rapid, repeating each rev range as you gain speed like a record skipping the groove. Depending on the quality of passenger the accelerator pedal will make them either swear or giggle. There isn’t any middle ground.

volkswagen-golf-gti-2013-dcc-driving-modeFive modes are available to fine tune the performance of the Golf: comfort, normal, sport, eco or individual (where you can choose from a number of settings and store your favourite combination). They are selected using the touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

volkswagen-golf-gti-2013-rear-quarterSport mode is a huge amount of fun, blipping the throttle automatically on the downshifts and making you sound like you know what you are doing with the heel-toe technique. It’s completely redundant in the city…except that it sounds brilliant.

volkswagen-golf-gti-2013-sideNormal mode is what you will probably use the Golf in that majority of the time, unless you’re trying to be frugal (in which case, why would you buy the GTI)? Even using it in sport mode most of the time I didn’t notice that fuel economy was particularly bad.  The other modes? Well, who cares because you buy a GTI to have fun, not save the planet. Continue reading “Volkswagen Golf GTI 2013 Review” »

Volkswagen Golf TSI Comfortline 2013 Review

September 18th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

When you get a car that’s only got 18km on the clock you know it’s going to be better 2000km later once it’s run in a little. We’re not allowed to do that many kilometres in the cars, though, so by the time I took the VW Golf TSI back it was barely getting warmed up.

volkswagen-golf-comfortline-2013-rqGiven another 1500km and the engine should have started to free up and everything would start to feel smoother. Hopefully, also the seats would soften up because I don’t have a whole lot of padding of my own in that department.


Volkswagen claims 5 litres per 100km fuel economy (combined) with the 7-speed DSG gearbox. I took an 80km jaunt up the motorway at night with the cruise control set to 105kph and I would say 5l/100km is optimistic at best (probably achieved on a test track, not Auckland’s hilly motorway system), let alone 4.3l/100km which is what VW claims for extra urban (i.e highway driving). At the speed I was doing, you’d get around 870km out of a tank (50 litres). Continue reading “Volkswagen Golf TSI Comfortline 2013 Review” »

Volkswagen Beetle TSI 2013 Review

April 9th, 2013 by darren


This third generation Beetle replaces the aging second generation which started out as cute and appealing, but simply became less cool and too ubiquitous, never quite capturing the allure of the first generation Beetle.


The Beetle has grown up a bit more. It’s seems to have achieved a good balance between paying homage to its grandfather, yet striking out with a funky hairdo, hipster trousers and some flash shoes.


The flash shoes are the 18-inch alloys wrapped in 235/45R18 tyres. There’s a trend for ever wider wheels because the ever-more chunky cars being produced make narrow tyres look like you’ve Continue reading “Volkswagen Beetle TSI 2013 Review” »

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 2012 Review

August 10th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Vitamin D: many of us are short of it. So rather than buying vitamin D supplements you can spend some more time in the sun. If you’re one of those unfortunate souls that spends an entire working day every week stuck in your car in rush hour traffic you are missing vital vitamin D absorption time.

With the Golf Cabriolet you can go from shaded to sun-drenched in just 9 seconds. That’s all it takes to drop the top on this convertible and you can do it while Continue reading “Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 2012 Review” »

Volkswagen CC TDI 2012 Review

July 18th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s still a Passat, but without the Passat name. Now it’s just the CC which is an odd name to choose seeing as cc is used in vehicle terminology all the time (cubic centimeters).

Strong lines are what characterize the VW CC’s external appearance, the strongest of which starts at the top of the front wheel arch and makes an arrow-straight crease right to the top of the rear light where it flicks up to join the integrated boot spoiler. Two other lines help create a three part harmony that draws your eyes down the car. They are formed by the door trim and sill line following through to the rear bumper. On the bonnet, the lines from the grille sweep upwards towards the A-pillars.

Viewing the CC from the side you realize that it could easily wear a larger wheel size – perhaps the optional 18- or 19-inch wheels rather than the 17-inch alloys that come as standard. These are shod in 235/45 self-sealing tyres. The width of these tyres helps the in-corner handling feel confident. There are two suspension modes – sport and comfort. There’s not a lot of difference between the two; sport didn’t feel uncomfortable or crashy like it can in, for example, an HSV, so it stayed in sport mode for almost all my driving time.

When the roads get twisty you’ll find this motorway cruiser starts feeling a little heavy at the front, but still supremely easy to place on the apex. Even with the suspension in sport mode the CC was comfortable over rougher back roads. Power is readily available from the two-litre turbodiesel – 125kW at 4200rpm and 350Nm between 1750-2500rpm. This is mated to VW’s excellent six-speed DSG gearbox which gives near-seamless, lightning quick gear changes.

Fuel economy is quoted at 5.5l/100km. This is helped by the CC’s Bluemotion technology: a start-stop system that shuts off the engine when the car is stationary, and a regenerative braking system that recycles braking energy.

There’s some extra soundproofing in the CC so the diesel doesn’t sound like a diesel. There’s still a little of the growly bassline, but none of the clattering rhythm section that characterizes oil burners. Take advantage of this by firing up the eight-speaker multimedia system. It supports iPod/MP3 players, 6 CDs and WMA files. It’s controlled using the large touchscreen.

Cars are taking over more and more in tricky situations where we’re incapable of correcting errors in time, and the VW CC pushes the boundaries. Its safety features includes Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) with counter steering assistance, brake assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic diff lock, traction control, EBC and trailer stabilization, electronic parking brake with hill hold control, and a fatigue detection system. Dynamic cornering lights (they illuminate around the corner more when you’re turning) were an installed option on our test car ($2500); recent research suggests they are one of the main new technologies that help cut accident rates.

Acceleration from a standing start feels strong through to around 70kph at which time it seems to tail off and seem a little wheezy (possibly a result of the lower rev range in diesel engines). You’ll get to 100kph in 8.6 seconds according to Volkswagen.

The electrically adjustable seats reek of quality with their stitched white detailing. This only serves to enhance the general cabin ambience where everything feels very well designed.

Before I found out the price ($61,750) I had jumped to the conclusion that there should be a reversing camera and satellite navigation. But once I found out the price, my opinion is that, even without these, the CC is reasonable value for money. If you buy the petrol V6 model you do get the reversing camera and a whole lot more, including some useful extra power (but you pay $73,250).

The only aspect of this car that needs some work is the brake pedal feel, or rather, lack of it. This is a problem with pretty much every car that has some kind of regenerative braking system. You can’t really fault anything else because it does what is says on the box: it’s the consummate mid-level executive sedan with strong design and a coherent and comfortable interior. There’s enough space in the back for a couple of adults, the ride is quiet and accomplished, there are safety features galore and the driving experience strikes a good balance between taught and compliant.

If you’re looking for a second hand Passat or new/near new CC, try here.

Price: from $61,750


  • Strong design
  • Well-appointed interior
  • Smooth with good low range acceleration


  • Brake pedal feel

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham


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