July 2nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Take a quick look at a cars for sale section in any magazine or website and in the description of many small hatchbacks you’ll find the phrase ‘peppy’. But what does it really mean to be peppy? The dictionary would have you believe that peppy means “full of or characterized by energy and high spirits” and that’s probably correct but to save on words it could just have a photo of the new VW Polo TSI. What makes the second Polo variant available in NZ so lively is a new engine that’s low on displacement but very high on pep. Car and SUV took a closer look at the little Polo to solve the riddle of how less can really be more.
When the new Mk V Polo first touched down in NZ it was sold exclusively with a 1.4-litre 63kW engine, now it’s being offered with an all-new 1.2-litre unit. The new engine carries a $3k premium over the larger 1.4 motor but it’s money well spent because it must be the peppiest 4-cylinder in town. Using turbocharging to produce 77kW of power and a healthy 175Nm of torque the new engine is responsive and engaging. It suffers very little turbo lag and offers maximum torque from low in the rev range (1500 to 3500rpm) so it doesn’t need to be pushed hard. The TSI Polo will dash to 100kph in well under 10 seconds and has the mid-range punch to match much larger engines. But Grandmothers shouldn’t be scared off, the engine is well mannered at slower speeds and is never fierce on boost. With the pint-size engine and lightweight body the Polo also returns an impressive fuel economy of just 5.3l/100km combined.
With no manual option available in NZ the Polo TSI is fitted exclusively with a 7-speed DSG gearbox. It’s a modern piece of kit that changes seamlessly and gives a high-tech edge to the overall driving experience. Having seven ratios gives the smart gearbox a flexibility to either work through them rapidly keeping the Polo in its peak power band or focus on economy and get into a higher gear early. There is a sports mode available that keeps the engine in a lower gear and changes up later. There is also a sequential changing option on the gearshift for manual changes but steering wheel paddles are not available, even as optional equipment.
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May 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
The last several years have caused tough times for the once great Italian design houses like Pininfarina, Bertone and Italdesign. Both Pininfarina and Bertone have required financial bailouts after over extending themselves. By comparison, Italdesign, founded by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1968, may have found a saviour to keep it above water in the form of Volkswagen AG. VW and the specialist studio have a long working relationship going back to the first generation Scirocco and Golf both of which were designed by Giugiaro. Italdesign has also penned many VW Group concept vehicles for the last thirty years.
Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio are currently the sole owners of the studio, but Volkswagen may be poised to take a majority stake in the Italian company. It’s unknown at this stage if Italdesign will continue doing work for outside clients under VW ownership.
May 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
The current Volkswagen Beetle is set to finally cease production later this year, but VW has promised an all-new replacement by 2012. That’s fine but so far VW hasn’t come to the party by releasing any teasers or sketches that indicate what the New New Beetle might look like. It should have the same rounded bug like shape, but the problem with any retro design is what exactly comes next?
Artist David Cardoso has stepped in and created some renderings of a car that very clearly says Beetle, it has the prominent wheel arches and round headlamps. At the same time Cardoso pushes the design elements forward by enlarging the greenhouse and integrating those arches while ringing the headlamps with fashionable LED running lights.
With VW’s current interest in electric vehicles, a battery powertrain could be in order and if the Beetle was a full EV, the compact electric drive system could facilitate some improved interior packaging as well.
April 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
In 1976 Volkswagen practically invented the hot hatch with its first Golf GTi, but despite its peppy nature it wasn’t really enough. VW then reinvented the hot hatch as a V6 with the Golf VR6 and the following Golf R32 but that still wasn’t enough. Now, still hunting down hot hatch perfection, VW has returned to its four-cylinder roots with devastating results. What’s spawned from VW’s latest efforts is an evolutionary machine that can lay claim to being the most powerful and hardest accelerating Golf ever built. Car and SUV took a drive in the simply named Golf R to sample its distinctive formula of practicality and pure excitement.
Where the outgoing Golf R32 had a naturally aspirated V6 hiding under the bonnet the new Golf R comes packing a turbocharged four in what’s best described as a ‘more from less’ approach. The hard-tuned 2.0-litre engine thumps out 199kW of power a 15kW increase over the outgoing R32 and 350Nm of torque a 30Nm increase. Maximum boost runs at 17 psi and all available grunt comes on at 6000rpm.
The engine isn’t an improved version of the current Mk VI GTi’s unit but is based on the older Mk V GTi mill. The block has been reinforced and the cylinder head replaced, new pistons, conrods, injectors and a new turbo are all used. The results are impressive and the Golf R will sprint from standing to 100 kph in just 5.5 seconds and won’t give up till it reaches a top speed of 250 kph.
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March 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
The Scirocco R has just arrived in New Zealand and offers an impressive performance package with a strong engine and chassis, unique looks and exclusive features.
A turbo charged four-cylinder TSI engine is being used in the new Scirocco R. Its strength is in its high power and torque values with significantly reduced fuel consumption. With a 6 speed DSG transmission, just 8.0L of petrol flows to the combustion chambers via direct injection per 100km of driving. That corresponds to CO2 emissions of 187 g/km pretty good for a 250 km/h (electronically limited) sports car.
Back in May 2009 at the 24 hour race on the NuÌˆrburgring — Volkswagen proved how much dynamic potential the Scirocco possesses. Three Scirocco GT24 race cars powered by a TSI petrol engine with 230kW entered the marathon ride through the “Green Hell” there. Each of them bore a close resemblance to the production vehicle, both technically and visually. By the end of the 24 hours, the Scirocco GT24 team scored a victory in the class of vehicles with two-litre turbo engines.
While its no GT24 race car the Scirocco R for New Zealand is highly specified. As standard, it features an alarm system for security, 18″ žTalladegaŸ alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, auto light control, rain sensing wipers, an auto dimming interior mirror, ParkPilot for the rear, privacy glass, Climatronic dual zone air conditioning, heated front seats, RCD 510 6 CD stereo system with touch screen and MDI media device interface for connectivity with media devices. The price for the Scirocco R is $68,250.
Dean Sheed, Volkswagen General Manager for New Zealand, welcomes the latest member of the R family to New Zealand: “The Scirocco has found homes with many kiwis since we launched it almost a year ago — over 100 customers in fact — making it the most popular sports coupe in 2009. The Scirocco R, like its sibling the Golf R, takes driving dynamics to a whole new level.”
To find out more click here to visit the Volkwagen NZ website.
March 18th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Volkswagen has now officially launched its R performance subsidiary. Ever since VW first showed off its new Golf R and Scirocco R, it was rumored that the automaker would be creating a separate R division, solely focused around creating new performance models, as well as special design packages.
Now that’s become a reality the new division is set to meet the “increased global demand for individualized vehicles with contemporary sportiness and exclusivity” and the subsidiary will handle sales and development of high performance models. What it all means is that VW now has its R division like BMW has M and Mercedes’ AMG.
Self-described as the “specialist for sporty exclusive models from Volkswagen in the future,” the R division has already cut its teeth on developing the Scirocco R, the Golf R The new firm has also created some R-Line design packages.
Based in Warmenau, Germany (near Volkswagen’s headquarters) the R division already employs a staff of more than 350 people. Look out for more products from Volkswagen’s R division shortly.
March 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Volkswagen’s bottle bank arcade.
March 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham
Volkswagen makes throwing stuff away fun