VW Has the Bases Covered
By Beverly & Steve Smirnis
Despite the negative diesel-gate headlines a few years ago, Volkswagen Group’s global sales have grown and the Volkswagen brand itself has recovered. VW has completely redesigned the compact Jetta sedan, introduced what they’re calling the last of the Beetles, rolled out a three-row Atlas SUV, held market share for the mid-size Passat sedan and Tiguan crossover, introduced the all-new Arteon fastback and held steady with the versatile Golf lineup. Our recent testers included the Arteon and Golf GTI.
About the Arteon, we’d say that If you’re the sort that appreciates driving a vehicle that makes people do a double-take to see what it is, you’ll appreciate this vehicle. We happened to own a Volkswagen Phaeton back in the mid-2000s and it, in fact, was one of the most memorable cars we ever owned–very Bentley-esque both in the way it performed and the way people perceived it, but with a much lower price tag. So, while others have doubted whether VW can compete in the price range of entry-level luxury territory, we’re fans. The Arteon is sleek and modern, and as a hatchback, has a four-door coupe look and wagon-like utility, too. Handling and steering support the fact that it is a cousin to Audi.
The Arteon is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (268 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque) paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is standard on all trim levels above the base SE trim. Our SEL R-Line added 20-inch wheels, a sporty front bumper and several other aesthetic upgrades including contrast interior stitching with a delivered price tag right at $44K.
The renaissance of the hatchback has fared well for the VW Golf. VW’s GTI added performance and a more powerful engine to the basic Golf platform to make it an iconic hatchback when it was first introduced in the 1980s, a reputation that it maintains and one that sticks with millennial buyers who can have our upper level trim variant (SE) with a sunroof, leather seats, 8-inch touchscreen and connected services for about $33K. The base already has a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker sound system. The engine is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can be paired with a six-speed manual or new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The R-Line package enhances the robust list of equipment available in each Arteon trim with performance-inspired design treatments.
Another GTI option will glean from an even earlier influence. Remember the 1975 VW Rabbit? A limited-edition Rabbit trim level for the GTI slots between the base S and our tester with the SE trim. Autobahn trim is another option that gets adaptive suspension and Fender sound system as well as added convenience and safety features.
Golf GTI limited-edition Rabbit
The bottom line:
Volkswagen has its bases covered with a wide range of products fit for most U.S. buyers’ tastes.
Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded. Follow their automotive blog on TheSavvyList.com/TheSavvyDriver