Jay Leno test drives 2012 VW Beetle and its oldest ancestor (+video)

July 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Being Jay Leno isn’t always a tough job. Not only does he get to potter round in his garage with one of the most enviable car collections in the world, but auto manufacturers let him cruise around to sample their latest machines.

Volkswagen has gone one step further with Leno and let him take its latest Beetle out for a spin but also thrown him the keys to the oldest Beetle in existence – a 1938 split-window model. Leno does what’s regarded as the first road test of the all- new 2012 Beetle but puts it into context with a spin in the oldest Beetle first. The conclusion? Leno digs both machines but favours the 2012 model as a daily driver. At least he’s honest.

See the video of Jay Leno testing the two Beetles below. Continue reading “Jay Leno test drives 2012 VW Beetle and its oldest ancestor (+video)” »

2012 VW Beetle tuned into the ‘Speedle’ by ABT

July 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The 2012 VW Beetle hasn’t even reached NZ yet, but European tuners are already working over the new model and showing their skills. One of the first is ABT Sportsline who has created its own take on the new bug, calling its creation the Speedle.

ABT is famous for its work on VW Group offerings and while the Speedle won’t go on sale until September the German firm has released details of its latest offering.

ABT plans to offer performance kits for the entire engine lineup in Europe with the modified 1.2 TSI petrol estimated to deliver around 105KW, up from 78kW, the 1.4 TSI petrol about 157kW, up from 120kW, while the top-spec 2.0 TSI petrol could produce around 178kW, up from the factory model’s 150kW.

The diesel engines wont escape treatment either with the tweaked 1.6 TDI producing 94kW instead of 78kW, and the 2.0 TDI 126kW instead of 105kW.

Other modifications will include lowered sports suspension and a variety of alloy wheel options including the 19-inch rims shown on the pictured car. Continue reading “2012 VW Beetle tuned into the ‘Speedle’ by ABT” »

Volkswagen Amarok Highline 2011 Review

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s never easy being the new kid in class, if you want proof just ask Volkswagen’s new Amarok. As the first European entry into NZ’s hard fought ute segment the road ahead is rocky and steep for the Amarok. With the Volkswagen Group as a parent and some advanced tech in the Amarok’s genes it’s arrived loaded with interest and high expectations. But there are some established names and large egos to measure itself against in the NZ ute playground. So will the other kids like the new Amarok? Probably not. Should the other kids be worried? Absolutely. Car and SUV spent some time in the top spec Amarok Highline to see if this upstart has brought its A-game.

Under the Bonnet
The word Amarok means ‘wolf’ in the Inuit language and this is one wolf not content to just join the pack, it wants to do things its own way. Firstly, it has a smaller engine than its peers and is powered by a 2.0-litre twin turbo diesel unit. But that doesn’t mean its caught short on output figures; there’s 120kW of power on tap and 400Nm of max torque available from 1500rpm. That’s a fair whack of grunt for a ute of any engine size. It nearly matches the torque of the larger displacement mill in the Mitsubishi Triton (407Nm) and beats the Hilux’s 2.5-litre unit (343Nm) but can’t knock the Nissan Navara (450Nm) off its lofty perch.

The Amarok gets its high torque output from a linear twin turbo system that has the turbos engaging at different points in the rev range and overlapping briefly. The advantage of the smaller displacement engine comes with increased diesel economy. Official figures rate the Amarok at using just 7.8 litres per 100km and while that may prove a tough figure to chase down when carrying a heavy load or travelling gravel roads, it stacks up favourably against those same rivals. Continue reading “Volkswagen Amarok Highline 2011 Review” »

Growing Chinese market helps VW break sales records

June 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Volkswagen brand is moving from strength to strength in new car sales with reports that its sales figures are up 12.2 percent to a record-high of 2.09 million units in the first five months of the year. By comparison at this stage in 2010, VW had sold 1.86 million and that was considered excellent for the time.

The strong results can be largely attributed to the Chinese market which has become the Volkswagen brand’s largest single market and accounts for a third of this year’s sales. In the period from January to the end of May, VW sold 714,200 cars in China, recording a 15.3 percent increase.

In North America Volkswagen sold 194,600 vehicles, marking  a 19.7 percent growth in the period. In Central and Eastern Europe, VW’s sales rose 40.2 percent to 71,900 units, while the brand almost doubled deliveries to Russia at 34,400 vehicles. In its domestic market of Germany, the company’s sales reached 248,000, up by 3.6 percent.

Porsche GT3 styling gets blended into new VW Beetle

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For all those Porsche haters out there who say the 911 is nothing more than a hotted-up Beetle, this news is for you. The VW enthusiasts at VWvortex were lucky enough to get early access to the new 2012 Beetle for a little visual tuning and came up with the machine pictured.

The upgraded Beetle clearly draws inspiration from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, including the hot-right-now bright orange 20-inch alloys and matching decals with the words Beetle RS, just like on the Porsche. The look is finished with some blacked-out chrome detailing.

There’s not much in terms of mechanical upgrades except a 14″ brake discs package from Brembo. Apparently VWvortex will be waiting for the new Beetle to begin rolling off the production line before it starts tweaking the engine. But once it does, mods like a turbocharger upgrade, new exhaust and even a locking diff are planned. To cap off the Beetle/911 look a full size GT3 RS-style rear wing is also expected. Continue reading “Porsche GT3 styling gets blended into new VW Beetle” »

VW Golf R Cabriolet concept unleashed at 2011 Wörthersee Tour

June 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The annual Volkswagen Group hot-hatch festival at Lake Wörthersee, Austria is now used as a serious launching pad for some exciting concept machines. Audi kicked it all off earlier this week with its 370kW A1 concept, and now its VW’s turn itself.

VW has just pulled the covers off its Golf R Cabriolet concept and its set to give the fans exactly what they want. Designed to demonstrate the “inexhaustible potential of the Golf,” the concept is very similar to the Golf R hatch and stands out with an aggressive front fascia, aerodynamic side skirts and a center-mounted dual exhaust system.  Other treats include a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance 17-inch brakes and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Under the bonnet is the Golf R’s 197kW, 2.0-litre turbo four engine which can accelerate the drop top from standing to 100km/h in under 6 seconds and hit a top speed of 250kph.

No interior images have been released but VW has confirmed that it is detailed like the Golf R hatch with Nappa leather sports seats, piano black trim and carbon fibre pieces. Continue reading “VW Golf R Cabriolet concept unleashed at 2011 Wörthersee Tour” »

Volkswagen heats up Transporter van with Sportline special

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For one reason or another, New Zealand is a ute nation. We love our small trucks and what they can do onroad and off. But in the tarmac covered UK, utes aren’t as popular as full-size vans. So in the same way that we get all funny over a dressed up Toyota Hilux, the Brits are right into their sporty limited edition vans.

The Ford Transit Sportvan is the undisputed king of hot vans in Britain but now VW has thrown its hat into the ring with the new Transporter Sportline.

This special edition van comes packing a 135kW 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor, matched to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG box. Visual excitement is added by a revised front end with a gloss black and chrome grille. There’s also smoked headlights, recessed fog lamps, polished side step bars and 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels. No surprises at the rear where there’s a roof spoiler. Continue reading “Volkswagen heats up Transporter van with Sportline special” »

VW considering Polo R hot hatch based on WRC car

May 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Polo is seen by many to be the weaker and slightly more girly sibling for the Volkswagen Golf, but now with the smaller hatch’s entry in to the 2013 WRC that perception could change.

The high price of petrol and factors like the popularity of Gymkhana has changed the way the Ford Fiesta is viewed and the same could happen for VW’s Polo. This fact isn’t lost on the German carmaker and its getting busy scheming up a hot R version of the Polo that may be given the ability to embarrass more powerful machines. The Polo R WRC rally car (pictured), has plenty of branding for VW’s R division and some styling cues that could be toned down and included in a production hatchback. So it looks promising.

Ulrich Hackenberg, VW board member said in a recent interview that the WRC entry has made a Polo GTI-topping model “more likely”. “You can see how the World Rally Championship program would increase the probability of an R version of the base model,” said Hackenberg, who said that the launch of the Polo R would coincide with the start rally program in 2013.

If this micro menace does enter into production it will likely use a more powerful version of VW’s 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged engine currently seeing service in the Polo GTI. To be a true hot hatch the power figure will need to be over 150kW with the Polo GTI at 132kW. What isn’t known is if the Polo R will be offered with an all-wheel-drive system or, like the Scirocco R, be a front driver.

We’ll bring you more details on this Euro hot hatch as they come become available. Click here to read more and view a clip about the Polo R WRC car.