VW Passat GTE Estate (2016) review

VW Passat GTE Estate (2016): the CAR review

Volkswagen is busy reinventing itself as a purveyor of electric cars in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal almost exactly a year ago. It’s an apposite time to be testing the new 2016 VW Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, then, driven here in estate guise.

It reflects the brand’s preference to showcase new propulsion technologies in its existing mainstream ranges rather than as standalone products, the route preferred by the likes of Toyota (Prius) and Nissan (Leaf). Okay, so VW’s sold the extraordinary one-of-a-kind XL1 high-tech missile, but its eco tech is typically lavished across more democratic, cooking models.

Here they’ve taken the sharp-suited new Passat and stuffed it with Wolfsburg’s latest PHEV plug-in hybrid powertrain. You’ll spot the GTE by its blue strip across the radiator grille and those distinctive C-shaped LED day-running lights up front.

Under the bonnet you’ll find a 154bhp 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol and a 113bhp electric motor. A 9.9kWh lithium-ion battery (warranted for eight years/100,000 miles) supplies power to the electric motor, for both assistance and pure EV drive modes. All in, the GTE is claimed to average 164mpg and emit 39g/km of CO2.

Standard Passat class inside, but virtual instruments have e-business

Another set of pie-in-the-sky figures from a hybrid, then?

Yes. And no. As with many plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), it all depends how you drive it. To get the best from this car you’ll have to top up the batteries overnight at home and potentially by day at work too.

Driven thus, with a full battery for most of your journey, you’ll power along on saintly EV mode and see some extraordinary efficiency figures. Volkswagen quotes a theoretical maximum range of 664 miles on one tank of unleaded.

During everyday pottering duties and commuting short- to mid-distances, we averaged 60-80mpg, the figure sliding the more depleted the battery becomes. That’s only half of the ludicrous official claims, but still impressive for a 1735kg estate rammed with bulky batteries (the cells by the rear seats add an extra 125 kilos).

However, when we drove up to Manchester for a six-hour round trip, the economy figures tumbled to a more humdrum 30-40mpg as the Passat becomes a uniquely 1.4 petrol chariot. There’s no escaping that a decent TDI diesel optionmight suit high-mileage British drivers better.

Front grille pops open to charge Passat GTE batteries

Be careful how you configure the dials: they can be too busy

How does the new VW Passat GTE drive?

Quite sweetly. The switchover between petrol and electric power is deftly juggled, with barely a murmur as the electronics manage the transition. If it weren’t for the Audi-style virtual instruments and their busy, confusing graphics, you’d sometimes never know what’s spinning the front wheels.

The GTE is simple to drive: simply slip the six-speed DSG conventional auto gearlever into D for Drive and off you pootle. There’s very little regenerative braking until you tug the lever down to B for Brake, allowing you to top up the battery as you – and largely skip the middle pedal altogether.

Passat boot unaffected by hybrid gubbins

Comfort-ometer set to maximum

This is a very relaxing car to drive, cruising with a hushed refinement entirely in keeping with the Passat’s relaxed demeanour, helped by the coast function which uses a third clutch to decouple the engine in coast or electric modes.

Choose from E-mode (full electric drive), Hybrid (clever-clogs system deeming what’s best), Battery Charge (charges a flat battery from the motor; useful if you’re approaching a city centre where you can switch to EV mode); and GTE (which prepares systems for maximum sporty punch).

The busy controls detract from an otherwise logical, beautifully crafted VW interior. It might be devoid of design flair, but it’s certainly well made. And the seats in our test example were among the most supportive pews we’ve tested in a non-executive car, married to a comfy chassis defaulting to comfort over corner-carving.

Note C-shaped LED day-running lights on Passat GTE

How long to recharge?

There are two options for the Passat GTE: a three-point plug at home or work will take four-and-a-quarter hours to charge, while a faster-charge wall box will take two-and-a-half.

You simply pop open a flap hidden in the grille and charge up. To take advantage of cheaper overnight electricity, programme a time to charge via the infotainment system or VW’s app – which also lets you cool or heat the cabin remotely. Handy in deepest summer and winter.

GTE: joins GTI and GTD in Volkswagen hierarchy

Discreet badging aside, there's little to give away the Passat GTE

Verdict

This is a really slick hybrid car and one it’s hard not to be impressed by its slick execution. But the usual caveats apply: this PHEV will only suit people whose driving follows regular patterns in town with plentiful access to charging points. If your driving is like this, you’ll find a polished, puritanical estate with all the usual Passat qualities – and some brilliant tax breaks.

However… that purchase price. Yes, the Passat GTE Estatestarts at a whopping £38,075. Which makes this a cripplingly expensive eco wagon (ours was specced to over £40k). Yes, you can lease it from around £460, according to CAR’s leasing section. But the powerful 187bhp 2.0 diesel Passat starts at around £30,000 and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that’d be a smarter bet for many motorists.

Slick suit, sober vibe: it's the 2016 VW Passat

Article courtesy of: http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-reviews/volkswagen/vw-passat-gte-estate-2016-review/?

World’s fastest VW Beetle sets speed record

beetle lsr

This Beetle goes like stink.

Volkswagen has set a new land speed record for its most iconic model with the custom built Beetle LSR.

The yellow racer features a modified production-based 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with twin turbochargers and other updates that boost its power from 210 hp to 543 hp. It’s had a little bit of work done to its body, a wing added, and rides on Goodyear Eagle land speed tires on special wheels.

On September 12th at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, it made two passes of the flying mile in opposite directions at an average speed of 205.122 mph, breaking the previous Beetle record of 175 mph that’s stood since 1988.

Anyone hoping to come close to repeating the feat in a production Beetle will be disappointed to hear that the highest performance model, the R-Line, has an electronically governed top speed of 130 mph.

Article Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/auto/2016/09/19/worlds-fastest-vw-beetle-sets-speed-record.html

VW: new electric concept will be as game-changing as the Beetle

VW is going to use the Paris Motor Show to preview its shift towards a heavy emphasis on electric vehicles. We learned a lot about the new concept and what it signifies earlier this week, and today VW released its first teaser images of the car. They show a rendered (or at least highly modified photograph) of a sleek, potentially Golf-ish car with lots of LEDs and a bit of lens flare for good measure.

As we heard earlier this week, VW is not being shy about what this concept might mean. The company sees this concept as, “an electric car for a new era,” and an “iconic design study.” The company that brought you the Beetle and the Golf believes that this new concept (and the following production version that will be based on the new modular electrification kit, known by its German acronym as MEB) will become as iconic as those vehicles. VW is promising that the MEB concept is, “as revolutionary as the Beetle was seven decades ago before it evolved into the world’s best-selling car of the century. The concept car has the potential to make history with its completely new vehicle concept.”

Of course, back at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, VW said it wanted to be the market leader in electric drive vehicles by 2018. While we’re not quite at that deadline yet, the MEB is not going into production until late 2019 as a 2020 model year vehicle, so it’s unlikely that VW’s plans from six years ago will come to fruition. With a renewed focus on electromobility in the wake of a year of diesel cheat headlines, we’ll see if VW can reach its new goals of selling 2-3 million electric cars a year by 2025.

Article Courtesy of:   http://www.autoblog.com/2016/09/16/vw-new-electric-concept-game-changing-beetle/

Beetle mingles nostalgia with a sporty future

Volkswagen Beetle for Courant road test Sept 16, 2016Since its launch in 2012, this car hasn’t attracted as many column inches as its predecessor, but it’s proved to be an interesting and fun addition to Volkswagen’s range. What’s more, it’s a smarter car than many will give it credit for.

To put it all to the test, we thought we’d try a variant that could well be the pick of the range, the 150PS 1.4 TSI petrol model.

This model uses both supercharging and turbocharging to produce a healthy 250Nm of torque, good enough to see this car to 60 from rest in 8.7s.

It’s pretty good round the twisty stuff too, utilising the Golf GTI’s clever XDS electronic differential lock.

This improves handling through fast corners by selectively braking the unloaded wheel on the inside of the curve, so preventing wheelspin and firing the car through the bend.

On the move, this feels a more serious car these days, with all the previous pre-2012 second generation model’s Noddy-style touches – the ridiculously high roof and the enormously over-sized speedometer – thankfully dispensed with.

You now sit quite purposefully behind three beautifully-crafted dials, grasping a thin-rimmed steering wheel and positioned closer to the swept-back windscreen.

On the move, because the body’s quite stiff, the corner turn-in’s also quite sharp. It’s still no sports car – but it’s much closer to the class standard.

We’ll start with the styling changes; to be frank, they’re not particularly significant. There are sharpened lines for the front bumpers, while larger openings around the indicator and fog light surrounds give extra depth to the car’s appearance.

Otherwse, things are much as before, which means that, against the odds, something of a feel of Dr Ferdinand Porsche’s early ‘Peoples’ Car’ has somehow made it through to this third generation model, most notably in the large wheels plumply positioned beneath the flared, flowing arches and a rear C-pillar that follows the contours of the original design.

So there’s something of the past, artfully mixed with a sporty vision of the future.

Moving inside, the plastics are traditional too, so no Golf-like soft-touch surfaces. Still, the quality seems good even if the Mexican factory doesn’t seem to screw things together quite up to German-fabricated Golf standards.

Interior updates include brighter instrument panel lighting, plush smarter upholstery materials and revised dials and dash styling.

Classic Beetle touches include the upwards-opening glovebox, natty elastic straps instead of door pockets and the optional auxiliary instruments you can specify to sit above the infotainment controls.

You’ll look in vain for the MK2 Beetle’s dash-mounted flower vase though. Good.

What price style? It’s a question that pricks at the very heart of this Beetle’s buying proposition. You will no doubt read po-faced road tests on the Beetle that may claim it’s not quite as poised as a Golf through a set of corners or that the ride quality doesn’t possess the nth degree of polish – but they’re missing the point.

The Beetle is a bit of fun, an expression of the fact that its owner doesn’t take him or herself too seriously.

Buyers who’ve decided on the 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine we’re looking at here only get one trim level – ‘Design’.

There are two bodystyle choices though, the fixed-top ‘Coupe’, priced at just over £21,000 or the pretty Cabriolet, which requires a budget of just over £24,000.

Standard equipment includes climatic semi-automatic air conditioning that also cools the glovebox, a trip computer, power heated mirrors, electric windows, an 8-speaker MP3-compatible CD stereo with aux-in point and a hill-holder clutch to stop you drifting backwards on uphill junctions.

A wide range of innovative optional equipment is also available, ranging from keyless access through satellite navigation systems and a panoramic sunroof to bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights – all of which are available for the first time on a Beetle.

The 1.4 TSI Beetle delivers 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and 132g/km in fixed-top ‘Coupe’ form or 47.9mpg and 136g/km in Cabriolet form.

That means you get 150PS performance at a running cost that’s only a fraction more than the entry-level 105PS 1.2-litre TSI variants can manage. Sounds good to us.

What else? Well, you get a choice of two low cost servicing packages.

‘Time & Distance’ will be appropriate to low mileage owners covering less than 10,000 miles a year. For those going further, an alternative ‘Long Life’ regime bases servicing requirements on actual use, lengthening the intervals where it can and informing the driver via a dashboard display when a garage visit is needed.

The Beetle now offers something more than a mere style statement, especially in the 1.4 TSI guise we’ve been trying here.

Even once the novelty of the looks have worn off, buyers will be rewarded with a car that’s fun to drive and reasonably practical too.

The tactics might have changed but the strategy hasn’t. Aesthetics matter. Live a beautiful life.

Article Courtesy of: http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/motoring/Beetle-mingles-nostalgia-with-a-sporty-future-29d3ff17-8429-4c1a-9ad3-f53176a7655d-ds?

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Review – Blonde Bug

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune front quarter, Image: © 2016 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars

The youthful squealing could be heard down the long driveway and through several panes of glass. When I told my daughters that I’d be picking them up from the babysitter’s house in something different, they had no idea what chariot would ferry them to softball and cheer leading practice that evening.

My girls aren’t gear heads by most definitions. While I’m not necessarily brainwashing their preteen skulls with minutiae and data about every car on the road, I’m not letting them become numb to the wonder that is the modern car. My youngest, soon to be eight, ran screaming from the door: “BEETLE!” That’s the power of an iconic brand.

However, I’m thinking the girls reacted most viscerally to the searing yellow paint.

Volkswagen is in need of a hit. They had a hit — using the fuel that shall not be named — for several years, but all that’s left of that is a bunch of checks awaiting the mail. I have to believe that the best chance for survival of the Volkswagen brand here in the U.S. will require a play to consumer’s emotions. Retro cars, such as this 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune and possibly the BUDD-e electric van concept, may very well be the answer to making people forget about last September.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune front

The Beetle Dune rides this retro wave a little bit further than the standard car, evoking the custom Baja Beetles and various home-built dune buggies that enhanced the original, rear-engined Volkswagen Type 1. The changes are basically skin-deep, though, with black plastic fender extensions adding some width, and a brightened sill panel meant to mimic a running board. The “DUNE” graphics on the door sills are a bit loud for this introvert, but will appeal to most of the people who’d be looking at this car anyhow.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune rear

The widened track (0.6 inches wider) looks to be the result of the new 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with 235/45-18 tires. The ride height has been lifted four-tenths of an inch. As this tire size is available on the standard Beetle, I’d wager the lift comes from taller springs.

Out back, a rather large whale tail spoiler sits just below the rear window. The tray is basically flat, so it poses no obstruction to the rear view. While it clearly adds no significant downforce, it balances the aggressive front bumper treatment.

While my car-nut friends decried the Beetle Dune as nothing more than a tape stripe package, it’s well put together. It’s no off-roader, certainly, but it’s an attractive, appealing toy that turns heads. I’ve never been in a car that had more passerby talking. From gas pump conversations, to drivers in stopped traffic rolling windows down to chat, to random strangers telling me of their old Volkswagen and the children conceived therein, the Beetle Dune attracts attention.

The Sandstorm Yellow paint doesn’t keep gawkers away, either. Honestly, it’s much more attractive in person than in photos, where it’s basically a metallic ballpark mustard. The Dune only comes in three colors — this yellow, black, or white. I’d have to imagine the neutral colors might be more up my alley.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune dast

I dig how the exterior color is carried inside on the dash and atop the door cards. It’s another magnificent throwback to the early cars that were fitted with body colored metal dashboards. It’s potentially a great cost-cutting move, as well. Reviewers love to complain about hard, cheap-feeling interior plastics, but few will complain about a body-painted dash panel.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Seats

For what is basically a commuter car, the sport seats have some stout bolstering. The bottom cushion was perfectly sized for me, though some of broader carriage might find the seats confining. I was less enamored by the seatback, as the side bolsters pinched my shoulders a bit too much over long drives. The combo of cloth and leatherette on the seats looks great, especially with the yellowish stitching to recall the exterior color, and was easily cleaned after an assault by a poorly attended Frosty.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune gauges

The rear seats gained raves from the youngest members of the family. Even my wife was comfortable in the back after losing a bet with our oldest daughter. Volkswagen has a knack for fitting their cars for German-sized people, whether they are built in Wolfsburg or Puebla. One thing about the rear stood out, however: there is no dome light. The only overhead lighting, save the sunroof, are the map lights immediately aft of the rearview mirror. Neither of these are helpful when a kid drops a flip-flop under the seat.

Anyone who has driven a petrol-powered Volkswagen product in the last few years will be intimately familiar with the drivetrain in the Beetle Dune. The 1.8-liter turbo four produces 170 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque at a low, diesel-like (yes, I said it) 1,500 rpm. Mercifully, the 1.8T doesn’t require anything more pricey than regular unleaded. It’s no street racer, of course, but a generation ago we’d have rejoiced at 170 horses in a commuter car. A curb weight of 3,093 pounds does dull the performance a bit, but it’s far from objectionable.

I’m disappointed that the excellent dual-clutch DSG transmission isn’t available in the Beetle Dune — though I have a duty to cry over the lack of a manual transmission, as well. The traditional torque-converter six-speed automatic works well, even if programming overrides the driver’s wishes when in manual mode, which shifts to the next gear rather than briefly holding at redline. Again, it’s not something the typical Beetle Dune driver will be concerned about.

Given the off-road inspired styling, one would be excused for expecting an all-wheel-drive system of some sort, especially the 4Motion system coming soon to the Golf Sportwagen. Certainly, several of those starstruck conversation starters asked exactly that. They were disappointed when I told them that the Dune was strictly front-wheel drive.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Center Stack

New for 2016, the Beetle Dune is fitted with a 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system (named MIB II, apparently starring neither Will Smith nor Tommy Lee Jones) controlling a SiriusXM-equipped stereo. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, as is Volkswagen’s own Car-Net apps. I had a few issues getting Android Auto to work consistently with the Beetle Dune, and sadly not enough time with the car to learn my way through the thick owner’s’ manual to work out the kinks.

Beyond my struggle with the smartphone apps, the MIB II infotainment system worked flawlessly. Audio quality was stellar through the Fender-branded audio system, included with the Technology Package in our tester. That Technology Package also includes a keyless access system, push-button starter, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a sunroof.

The upgraded audio system also includes a large Fender-branded subwoofer, which tucks neatly behind the right rear wheelwell in the hatch, taking up some useful width. My kids’ softball, soccer, and cheerleading gear all fit at once, but I’d never fit golf clubs in the rear unless the seats were folded down.

The Beetle Dune drives like a much larger car — and I mean that as a positive. During my brief time driving the Volkswagen, I had a two hour pre-dawn freeway cruise to an early-morning meeting. The compact two-door soaked up the typically awful Ohio interstate without complaint and with remarkable poise. As I normally drive an invisible minivan on this route, I was thankfully reminded of the conspicuous nature of a bright yellow Beetle by a helpful northbound motorist warning me of a speed trap. I quickly engaged cruise control at 72 mph and escaped with no danger to license nor livelihood.

The Dune surprised me while driving on some twisty roads in Southern Ohio. I expected that the taller ride would cause additional body roll, making me seasick whilst heaving the blonde bug to port. It wasn’t to be. The overall goodness of the Golf platform cannot be blunted by a half-inch of extra height.

Would I buy the Beetle Dune? No — it’s not a good fit for my family. At an as-tested price of $26,760 (including $820 in destination charges), it’s a pricey toy that does everything a $20,000 Golf does, just with a bit less room. But for someone who wants incomparable style with their commuter car, the Beetle Dune ticks some interesting boxes.

Just be prepared to spend a few more minutes at each fuel stop talking to strangers.

Article Courtesy of: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/09/2016-volkswagen-beetle-dune-review-blonde-bug/?