Displaying items by tag: Volkswagen

New tech doesn’t dull the VW GTI’s legendary character.

Can a car have a panic attack? No? Okay, good. For a second there, we wanted to throw a weighted car cover over our white 2022 Volkswagen GTI and slip some sort of vehicular benzodiazepine in its gas tank. If it could gain sentience, this shapely little hatch might incessantly blare its horn and idle at 4,000 rpm out of pure existential angst.

Could you blame the poor thing? First and foremost, it's a new gas-powered compact hatch from an automaker that has made it very clear that its future is both electric and filled mostly with SUVs. It killed the regular Golf hatch in the States, leaving the new MkVIII GTI and forthcoming Golf R as the only America-bound fruit from that once bountiful branch. As part of this Golf goodbye, our GTIs will come from Germany, not Mexico, and won't arrive here until late this year.

It's enough to make anyone a bit nuts. Though, from behind the wheel of the latest and greatest iteration of the perennial hot hatch gold standard, we might be a bit off with our silly anthropomorphism of the MkVIII. Scooting around traffic-clogged city streets, cramming gear into the cargo area, stuffing friends in the back seat, squeezing into tight parking spaces—it's all handled with the familiar chilled-out, cooler-than-you German modernism that makes the Golf—oops, Freudian slip—GTI such a fan favorite.

Oh, and it's also a hoot and a half to drive, but we'll get to that in a bit. The circumstance surrounding our first scoop of the MkVIII is a bit of a whirlwind; we'd not yet gotten so much as a physical walkaround of the new GTI before it buzzed to our test track to be put through our data-driven trials. So, consider this our first touch, first sniff, first drive, first test—first everything.

Same As It Ever Was? Hardly.
Still, in a way, this is a meeting of old friends. Underneath those fresh, ID3-esque exterior duds lie the augmented bones of the existing MkVII GTI. VeeDub's rather excellent and wide-ranging MQB platform is still here, so that means if you like how the MkVII GTI rides and drives—boy, you're going to love this.

The 2022 GTI is significantly spruced-up over the existing car. The MacPherson-strut front suspension's wishbone bushings, bump stops, and springs are revised and tweaked, along with the software associated with the optional adjustable dampers. All this is carried by an aluminum subframe that shaves 6.6 pounds over the old setup. It was purloined from the prior GTI Clubsport S, a scorching hot hatch that was briefly the FWD record-holder around the 'Ring.

Around back, the multilink rear suspension is refreshed, too. More software updates and reworked springs, helper springs, wheel mounts, damper bearings, and wishbone bushings keep it all in line. A note on those aforementioned spring rates; they're five percent stiffer in the front and 15 percent stiffer in the rear.

Elsewhere, the software for the electric-assisted steering has been re-coded for sharper turn-in when you want it and lighter effort when you don't. A new brake master cylinder modulates pressure based on driving style and environment: softer and more progressive around town in Comfort mode and a stiff, early bite when you're caning it.

Power, And Lots Of It
Power still comes from the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, but that is the last thing we'd want changed from the MkVII GTI. The Volkswagen Group's ubiquitous turbo-four has, for some of us, become the definitive engine that springs to mind when the subject turns to 2.0Ts. Power is a stout 242 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, routed solely to the front wheels—as the GTI gods intended—through either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission, as in our test car. Crucially, a limited-slip diff is standard, so all MkVIII GTIs should fundamentally be created equal on the performance front.

VW says all this adds up to a 0-60-mph run in 6.3 seconds, but we say VW's been taking pages from Porsche's playbook on purposeful underrating. On our strip, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana ran this automatic-transmission front-driver to a very impressive 5.4-second 0-60 time on its way to a 13.9-second quarter-mile, beating out a DSG-equipped MkVII by 0.6 second in both metrics.

The GTI's software didn't make it easy, though. Ayapana had to work around the big torque and tricky transmission tuning in the pursuit of a clean launch. "It's got sloppy launch control," he said. "It holds the engine revs super high and then rides the clutch for what seems like eternity, and after all that, it still couldn't manage wheelspin."

Heroic Handling Habits
Over on the figure-eight and skidpad, the GTI continued its boot-scootin'. It dispatched the ever-tricky figure-eight in 25.0 seconds at an average of 0.74 g, improving on the MkVII GTI with DSG by 1.1 second and 0.05 g. The new GTI hustled around the skidpad at a sweet 0.96 g average, topping its predecessor by a not-insubstantial 0.05 g. This is still notably behind the 24.1-second, 0.81-g average figure-eight time of the latest Honda Civic Type R, but that's fine; the Type R squares off against VW's own Golf R that's coming sometime later this year or early next year.

Back on the GTI, road test editor and handling head honcho Chris Walton was duly impressed. "Wow, Volkswagen has really stepped up its game," he said. "The steering is very good; it doesn't feel artificially heavy or light. Just right. I wasn't expecting the GTI to be this capable and fun." Still, like Ayapana, he noted the DSG as having sometimes smart, sometimes baffling programming. Both agreed on the GTI's excellent brakes, which returned a best 60-0-mph stopping distance of 104 feet. "Very confident and talkative brakes," Walton said. "Short travel and you can trail them deep into the skidpad."

Less Track, More Road
The track results are good, but how the new GTI fares on the road—both straight and curvy—is of far greater import. With keys in hand, we couldn't help ourselves—we went straight to the canyons. First impression is that of blissful neutrality; that standard LSD and extensive front-end fettling purged most of the nasty understeer that in the MkVII was always present on the fringes of a too-hot corner entry. Barrel into a corner in the new GTI, and you'll get some tug and scramble from the front end as all the systems frantically but effectively rein in your silliness and shoot you out the other side with nary a scratch.

As it has been for decades, the GTI's is an elemental driving experience, much like a Mazda Miata, Ford Mustang, or Porsche 911. This VW leans into the front-wheel-drive layout, with the most effective method of quick cornering being to feed in throttle just as you approach the apex and allow the front tires and LSD to pull you through like a slingshot. Suspension tuning is predictable and, in the stiffer Sport setting, requisitely flat and composed even during moments of aggressive weight transfer.

Beautiful Brake Balance
The steering is on the artificial end of the spectrum, but it loads up nicely and is sweetly accurate in the heavier Sport mode. The test team wasn't kidding about the brakes; they're no carbon-ceramic stompers, but these are some of the most confident hot hatch brakes we've experienced in some time. On much of our road drive, we left both the stability and traction control on, fully expecting the brake-actuated systems to sap brake efficacy after a few blasts through our test loop.

Not so. Through a combination of well-tuned TC/ESC and that new variable brake master cylinder, we had to drive absurdly fast on seriously tight roads before the brakes conveyed any sense of softness or fade. Even after extended bouts of hooliganism, the brakes continued to stop strong and true at every corner.

Two-Faced In The Best Way
Power is plentiful, but in torque we trust. Merging and hard pulls down straights were pure fun, with plenty of initial telltale rumble and wheel hop shake up front as the chassis struggled to manage all 273 lb-ft. When it hooks up, you're off, reaching speed and acceleration far beyond the expectations levied by the "GTI" badge on the rear liftgate.

Time to settle down and go home. Back in Comfort mode, everything relaxes and decompresses, transforming a riotous sport compact into a regular hatchback with a vaguely firm suspension. On the oft-broken pavement that snakes through Los Angeles, every bump, crag, and expansion joint was both physically and acoustically well isolated, especially when you futz with the Dynamic Chassis Control's (DCC) 15-position slider to dial in your preferred level of aggression.

Who Asked For This?
Now we get to our singular glaring issue with the all-new VW GTI. It seems VW is keen on superimposing the all-electric ID4's interior tech onto its other new products, meaning the GTI's interior is almost entirely devoid of physical buttons. Instead, touch-capacitive panels adorn the dash and steering wheel, operating just about every function available. The headlights, climate control, drive modes, volume, tuning, cruise control, and cluster menu selection are all operated via these single-piece, backlit gloss plastic panels.

What's not touch capacitive is squirreled away in the sharp and pretty touchscreen infotainment system, but some items seem almost purposefully obfuscated. The traction control, for instance, is buried behind the vehicle settings menu under the "brakes" subsection. It's all very cutting edge and futuristic, but it feels very much like the solution to a problem that didn't exist. We got used to the touch controls within a few hours of seat time, but they never became second nature. What's more, most of the once-glossy surfaces became a modern art installation of greasy fingerprints and nasty smudges. Buttons, please.

Pricing—What We (Don't) Know
What we cannot report on is just how well equipped (or not) the new GTI will be when it hits dealers, as our example was a German-market car, skinny Euro registration plate and all, and the equipment levels could notably differ. Heck, we don't even have a clear idea of pricing, but figure it land somewhere around $31,000. For now, if you want to grab one of these, we think the wait will be well worth it. As the U.S.—and Volkswagen—increasingly cuts ties with internal combustion, it's nice to know joyful cars like the 2022 Volkswagen GTI will be with us until the final switch is flipped.


Published in Volkswagen
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The model by which NSU returned to the world of cars was a real hit of the post-war prosperity of Germany. It is about the Prince 4 who lost his kingdom after the creation of Audi. Today, this model is 60 years old, and 50 years ago its production in Sarajevo stopped, when it was inherited by VW Beetle in the Pretis factory. Complete bodies of the Prinza 1000 (then 1200) arrived in Sarajevo, and then parts such as electric wires, batteries, tires were added ... The basic version of the Sarajevo Prinza 1200 cost around 1.8 million dinars, and the average salary was 100,000, writes Jutarnji.

The first car of the manufacturer from Neckarsulm, named Prinz, dates from the end of 1957, but the differences between it and the version that arrived four years later and managed to go beyond Germany are huge.

This is primarily due to the design, because the fourth edition, thanks to pencils by German designer Claus Luthe, took on the then modern, American style, inspired by the 1959 Chevrolet Corvair with clean straight lines, two large circular headlights, generous glass surfaces and a roof that extends slightly above the upper edge of the rear window.

The dimensions of the Prinz 4 are minimalist by today’s standards (length 344 cm, width 149, height 136 and wheelbase 204 cm), but the interior provided a solid amount of space.

A concrete link to the three previous releases was a two-cylinder air-cooled engine based on the experience with motorcycles (NSU was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world during the 50s). Located at the rear, with a volume of 598 cc, it developed 30 "horses", and the propulsion engine built into the engine block, which also works as a generator, was one of the original solutions.

Prinz 4 was one of the discoveries of the fair in Frankfurt in 1961, and the following year the production was increased to 300 copies per day. Demand grew thanks to the favorable price, low costs and solid driving characteristics, and already in June 1962, the one hundred thousandth Prinz 4 was produced.

Initially, in addition to the basic model, a richer equipped model with the S mark was offered, and in 1965 a new level of equipment with the L mark was introduced. For example, in 1968, Italy sold almost six times more than Germany.

Immediately after the presentation of Prinz 4, the Typ 43 project was launched, with which the NSU was to step into a higher segment. Since the price was in the foreground, the development started using the same mechanical basis. The only concrete difference on the body was in the longer wheelbase, while the drive was aimed at a more powerful version with four cylinders.

The first solution was created by merging two two-cylinder engines used by Prinz 4. Development took time, and by 1964 the project changed its name to Typ 67, and when it came off the track it became Prinz 1000, which later became versions of TT, TTS and 1200.

Prinz was produced in several countries in South America, Ireland, but also in Sarajevo's Pretis (Tito Sarajevo Company). The company dealt with weapons and, like the Kragujevac Flag, expanded production to motor vehicles. The contract with NSU began with a Maxi motorcycle and a Prima scooter, which were assembled in Vogošća, and the program was extended to cars in 1965.

Complete bodies of Prinza 1000 (then 1200) arrived in Sarajevo, and then parts such as electric wires, batteries, tires were added in Pretis… The basic version of Sarajevo's Prinza 1200 cost around 1.8 million dinars, and the average salary was 100,000. The production, during which about 15,000 copies were made, lasted until 1971, after which new plants were created in Vogošća, in which Volkswagen Bugs were assembled a year later.

The career of Prince 4 was long and successful. In 12 years, it reached the number of almost 600,000 units on the market, while the Prinz 1000 was more successful on the race tracks, especially the TT and TTS versions, than on the market (200,000 in 8 years).

Yet after Volkswagen took over the NSU in 1969 and merged it with the Auto-Union from which Audi emerged, the days for Prinz were numbered. The new owners did not invest in the modernization of the car, which was one of the bestsellers in Germany in the 60's, but also a real competitor to Bubi. Production of the Prinza 4 stopped in July 1973, and its place was taken by the Audi 50.

Published in Blog/News

Automotive giant Volkswagen will rename its electric vehicles in the US to ‘Voltswagen’. It has not yet been confirmed whether this will apply to vehicles sold in Europe.

The news allegedly briefly appeared on the American press page yesterday, but was soon removed. Volkswagen's PR, Brendan Bradley, did not comment on the allegations, but according to media reports, a source close to the company said it was a permanent change that would apply to VW in America and would clearly separate electric models from conventional ones.

Although not confirmed, the German brand is not expected to change the name of its e-vehicles in Europe either.

A USA Today reporter quoted part of an official announcement stating that the Voltswagen is more than a name change.

"It is a public declaration by which the company announces future investments in e-mobility," reads the statement.

According to that announcement, electric cars will get the inscription Voltswagen, while the others will keep the classic VW logo.

This news comes at a time when Volkswagen is starting to commercialize the ID.4 electric crossover, the first that could seriously change the power relations in the electric vehicle market in America, Index.hr reports.

Recall, VW has announced 70 electric models by 2029, as well as sales of one million electric cars by 2025.

Published in Blog/News
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 07:34

Volkswagen ID.4 review

The Volkswagen ID.4 is a fully electric SUV that is a logical extension of the excellent Golf-sized ID.3 hatchback family. It's on UK sale now, but only as the ID.4 1st Edition initially, costing a hefty £40,800 now that it is no longer eligible for the government's plug-in car grant. Expect a wider range of models, specs and trims to be made available throughout 2021.

Under the ID.4's SUV bodywork is VW's dedicated electric vehicle technology that will be shared with a number of other Audi, Cupra, SEAT and Skoda EVs, such as the Enyaq. The understructure contains all the electric drive components, such as the motor and batteries, and is purpose-built to be as efficient as possible as there are no petrol or diesel derivatives to engineer.

As a result, the ID.4 is even roomier and more practical than the ID.3, despite their close similarities under the skin.

Electric rivals are few and far between, but the smaller Peugeot e-2008 is already in showrooms, and might be worth considering if you don't want to wait for a cheaper ID.4. At the other end of the price scale, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 will go up against more expensive ID.4s.

What's under the skin?
Nestled under the ID.4's boot floor is an electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Buyers who need four-wheel drive will have to wait until later in 2021 for models fitted with a second motor to power the front axle. Don't expect the VW to be dazzling off-road, though, even though its ground clearance is usefully high at 21cm.

Top speed is electronically capped at 99mph so that battery reserves aren't needlessly wasted driving at extreme speeds, while the 0-62mph sprint takes just 8.5 seconds.

All ID.4 1st Editions come with a 77kWh battery pack giving a claimed range of 310 miles. Although that figure has been achieved using the latest WLTP standards designed to reflect real-world driving, we found the range meter read around 220 miles on a crisp spring morning. Hooked-up to a rapid 125kW public charger, the car's battery can be replenished to 199 miles of range in just 30 minutes.

As the line-up expands, a smaller battery size will come on stream with lower purchase prices to match.

What's the ID.4 like inside?
Thanks to the dedicated EV hardware and lack of transmission tunnel, there's plenty of space for passengers, while you get full digital displays alongside what VW describes as intuitive voice control and touch surfaces to operate most minor functions.

Inside, the interior design theme is essentially the same as that found in the ID.3, even if there's more space inside. It's a clean-looking cockpit with a twist-action gear selector attached to the drivers’ instrument pod and storage cubbies in the centre console.

An augmented-reality head-up display is on the options list, while the connected infotainment system has real-time traffic data, live updates on the state of nearby chargers and the ability to pre-condition your car via a phone app, meaning no need to get into a chilly or frosted-up car on a frozen morning.

As you would expect, the ID.4 1st Edition is packed with standard equipment, including soft-touch grey and brown fabric upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lights, darkened rear privacy windows, adaptive cruise control, a 10-inch multimedia touchscreen and 30 (yes, thirty!) different colours for the interior ambient lighting.

What's it like to drive?
It's better than its podgy looks might lead you to believe. Thanks to excellent weight distribution and that low-down battery pack, the ID.4 grips and steers very well indeed. Even when fitted with the optional 21-inch wheels and super low-profile tyres, the ride remains compliant on most surfaces, and it doesn’t get too jarring when you switch modes from Comfort to Sport.

This 204hp version isn't as fast as you'd expect, as performance is hampered by a hefty kerbweight of more than two tonnes. It's quick enough for a car of this type and performance is well judged, but we'd warn that lower-output versions may not have enough performance if you regularly undertake long journeys or travel with multiple passengers onboard.

Volkswagen ID.4 (2021) driving, rear viewEnlarge0videoEnlarge22photo
It is quiet, however. This is a really hushed, cosseting drive, and best driven in a more relaxed manner. This will also help the battery range and brings out the best in the comfort-orientated chassis.

There's a toggle switch on the steering column that lets you select the level of regenerative braking on offer. This is a similar system to other electric cars, which allow 'one-pedal' driving, slowing down significantly by lifting off the accelerator, rather than braking conventionally.

For added convenience - and as expected by many SUV owners - a towbar can also be specified for the ID.4, allowing it to haul braked trailers of up to 1,000kg.

Should you buy a Volkswagen ID.4 SUV?
Yes, although it's not perfect. And if we're being honest, it doesn't feel quite as brilliant or refreshing as the Volkswagen ID.3 – the car it's so closely related to. But we'd say it has a more pleasing cabin, and as such the ID.4 feels like the future has suddenly arrived and we largely like what we see.

It's a little too early for a definitive verdict as right now, we just get the top-spec 1st Edition model, which weighs in in at £40,800 now that it is no longer eligible for the government plug-in car grant. Following the ID.3's logic, lower powered less well-equipped models will take the ID.4 down into the early £30,000s, which will open it up to far more buyers.

As such, we expect the cheaper, more mainstream models will be much more appealing – this is fundamentally an excellent electric SUV that will undoubtedly fit into the lifestyles of a large amount of families who are yet to buy an EV. The biggest unknown yet to answer is whether we rate the ID.4 ahead of the closely related Skoda Enyaq.

It's had a lengthy gestation, not least because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and some teething issues with the ID.3's software, but right now the ID.4 looks very promising indeed.


Published in Volkswagen

The return of legends such as Renault 5, Renault 4, Opel Manta and others has already been announced. But in electrical editions. So, as we have already written on our portal, it is definitely that car manufacturers will look for inspiration in the past, in order to find a way to bring new electric models closer to customers. In other words, it will capture emotions. And they will succeed.

Now another twist is happening in the story of the return of the legendary Microbus. As the American Car & Driver finds out, Volkswagen has not given up on the successor based on the ID Buzz concept.

VW leaders were not shaken by the fact that Buba did not perform the best in recent years. Reportedly, the successor of the Microbus will be presented in 2022, Index.hr reports. This was confirmed by Carsten Intra, the head of VW commercial vehicles, saying that the successor will be the passenger MPV vehicle, which will also be offered in Europe in the delivery version.

As expected, ID Buzz will have exclusively electric drive, probably in several variants, ranging from 200 to 300 hp, with the strongest having two electric motors and all-wheel drive.

A diverse offer of battery sets is also expected, the maximum of which would be the capacity of as much as 111 kWh. In that case, an appropriate range of 550 km should be expected. There is also talk of solar panels that could increase the range by another kilometer.

What no one still dares to estimate is the price of a car like this. Rich equipment, advanced drive and such large batteries in today's framework mean only one thing - an extremely high price.

Published in Blog/News

The verdict: As every SUV in the parking lot starts to look the same, the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon near-luxury mid-size hatchback stands out as a roomy, refined and refreshingly pleasant alternative for those willing to look beyond the mainstream sedan and SUV classes.

Versus the competition: Aside from its body style, the Arteon stands apart from other near-luxury mid-size vehicles with (mostly) appealing tech and loads of room — but its premium price tag can be off-putting.

The Arteon, which debuted for model-year 2019 as the spiritual successor to Volkwagen’s CC sedan, got a few changes for 2021, including light exterior styling tweaks, an updated multimedia system and more upscale cabin materials.

As the only mid-size hatchback in the near-luxury class, the Arteon doesn’t have any direct competition, but Volkwagen says it’s often cross-shopped against sports sedans such as the Acura TLX, Kia Stinger and Nissan Maxima; see the models compared. The automaker also expects the Arteon to appeal to budget-minded shoppers interested in the more expensive Audi A7, from VW’s luxury brand. See them compared.

Punchy Power
Although the Arteon is in the A7’s extended family — and wears sleek and attractive curves reminiscent of its more upscale relative — it’s more of a distant cousin when it comes to road manners. The Arteon is all-around pleasant, but it never rises to exciting like the A7 and Kia Stinger do.

The Arteon’s sole powertrain is unchanged from last year: a 268-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s peppy and responsive from a stop, with smooth, timely shifts for power on demand. Choosing Sport mode amps up accelerator response and sharpens steering feel for a little more excitement.

I tested an SEL R-Line trim level with 4Motion all-wheel drive during two weeks of endless precipitation: rain, sleet, snow and ice. It was continuously able to find its legs, with the optional all-wheel-drive system seamlessly adjusting to the elements to provide appropriate traction. Tires always play an important role when snow is involved, and in this case our test car’s Continental ProContact TX all-season tires deserve some credit, too.

The Arteon’s standard adaptive suspension system provides good cushioning from rough roads without sacrificing handling; the hatchback zips through corners with an agile, controlled feeling that’s surprising in a vehicle this long. Overall, its confident handling and composed ride shine both on the highway and around town.

With front-wheel drive, the Arteon is EPA-rated 22/32/25 mpg city/highway/combined with premium gas; AWD drops that estimate to 20/31/24 mpg. That’s in line with competitors — which also prefer premium fuel — such as the front-drive Acura TLX (25 mpg combined) and the base rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger (25 mpg combined). The V-6-only front-drive Nissan Maxima slightly trails them all, with a combined rating of 24 mpg.

An Unexpected Family Car
In the garages of families I know, a sedan is about as common as a luxury yacht. (Maybe I have the wrong kinds of friends … ) Nearly all the families I know drive an SUV or minivan, including myself; my own car is a minivan, which easily accommodates my family of five. Sedans and hatchbacks were not on my shopping list.

To gauge real-life livability, however, I try to shoehorn my family into everything I test, and, to my surprise, the Arteon can family very well. The backseat is wide and flat, with ample headroom and legroom for two adults to coexist comfortably — or in my case, three kids. Not an easy feat. With my twins’ big boosters in the outside seats and my 10-year-old on a smaller, backless booster in the middle, we fit with no complaining (perhaps an even more difficult feat).

For caregivers with kids in child-safety seats, the Arteon’s exposed Latch anchors make connection struggle-free, and its three top tether anchors were easy to find and use. Check out our Car Seat Check.

Yes, we would’ve had more wiggle room in a minivan or mid-size SUV, but we fit fine in the Arteon — even on a long drive. What’s more, the hatchback carried much more stuff than I expected. When we went sledding, the Arteon’s cargo area swallowed all our gear — large sleds, snacks, mittens, more mittens and bags of extra mittens — with room to spare.

The cargo area is very deep and has a nice wide opening for accommodating bulky items. Also, its hatchback setup gives the cargo area more height than a traditional trunk, so it can hold taller items. The backseat folds in a 60/40 split, and there’s a small center passthrough that’s handy for simultaneously carrying people and long, skinny items.

Manufacturer-provided cargo numbers back up my experience. The Arteon’s hatchback-style cargo area offers 27.2 cubic feet of space with all its seats in place — more than the Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV, though that car seats seven.

Utility aside, the Arteon is also a nice place to be. Updates for 2021 give the cabin a premium vibe, with a handsome design in my test vehicle highlighted by attractive two-tone Nappa leather-trimmed seats, as well as brushed metal and glossy black trim. There’s also a new ambient lighting system with 30 selectable colors, which reveal themselves through translucent panels in the doors and console — kinda cool. The changes give it a more upscale feel overall than you’ll find in other VW cars, like the Passat or Jetta.

VW’s new MIB3 multimedia system joins the Arteon cabin, and there’s a lot to like about it — but not all of it.

First, the system’s standard 8-inch touchscreen is nestled into the dash within easy reach of the driver’s seat. The screen is responsive, and the system’s menus are straightforward. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, and the integration is seamless. I also found that the system’s voice commands work accurately for navigation and audio functions.

The standard digital cockpit instrument panel was also helpful. Its 10-inch display offers a configurable presentation of vehicle information, including car status, navigation, driving data, phone information and driver assistance features. Having the full-screen navigation view right in front of my eyeballs was especially useful.

That said, a few things need work. While I appreciated the system’s large, traditional volume knob, its tuning knob is odd. It works for some functions, like changing regular radio stations, but does not work for satellite stations.

Also, some editors were disappointed by VW’s switch to touch-sensitive panels on the steering wheel and for climate control, versus traditional buttons and knobs. I mostly didn’t find these problematic to use, but I did struggle with one feature: a slider function for fan speed and temperature. I found it awkward and difficult to use with accuracy, especially compared with pressing a button or turning a dial. There is a workaround, however: To adjust most climate settings, once you’ve touched the button on the climate panel you can use either the touchscreen or the panel to make the adjustment.

Safety and Value

The Arteon is well equipped with standard safety features: Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are included on all trims. Available active safety features include lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and automatic high-beam headlights.

My favorite Arteon safety feature is among the more low-tech ones: its backup camera. Because the lens is protected under the VW badge and pops out only when the transmission is in Reverse, the camera’s view was consistently clear and free from the snow, ice, salt, etc. that otherwise plagued my time with the car. After driving through more than one blizzard in the Arteon — and in other vehicles — I appreciated this small convenience feature, especially given the Arteon’s sloping roofline and small side windows, which hurt rear visibility.

Most trims of the Arteon got a little more expensive for 2021, but its base price of $38,190 is still within range of its competitors; it’s about the same price as the Nissan Maxima and a little less than the Acura TLX. It costs quite a bit more than the Kia Stinger, however, which starts at $34,135 (all prices include destination). Also, prices escalate quickly, with the top trim approaching $50,000.

The Arteon is classy in a class of its own, and offers shoppers an exclusive mix of luxury and utility — minus the seemingly inescapable, everyone-has-one SUV body style.


Published in Volkswagen

VW's electric crossover succeeds at imitating the gas-powered competition but forgoes many of the things we like about EVs.

As electric cars begin to proliferate, we are seeing the auto industry figuring out the best way to build and sell battery-powered cars. Some take existing gasoline models, rip out their powertrains, and bolt in battery packs and electric motors. A few existing carmakers have started new EV-only brands to market purpose-built electrics. One brand is courting the attention and controversy that comes from putting a famous pony-car nameplate on an electric car. And then there are the startups whose big promises are only outdone by the cultlike devotion of their fans. Against this backdrop, VW's approach for the new ID.4 looks extremely logical and straightforward. The 2021 ID.4 is designed and engineered to be an electric crossover that matches the specifications, performance, and character of the best-selling gas vehicles in the United States: compact SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Built on the VW Group's new MEB modular EV platform, the ID.4 has a 77.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the floor and a 201-hp electric motor on the rear axle. While this layout is unusual for the compact crossover-SUV segment, the ID.4's dimensions make it a lot like the rest of the class. The VW's wheelbase is longer, but its length and width are within fractions of an inch of the RAV4's. The ID.4's design hardly advertises its electricness and isn't any more eye-catching than your average crossover. It's shaped like a two-box blob with conventional-looking headlights and taillights. The only bits of flair are in the grilleless face and the optional contrasting C-pillar trim.

HIGHS: Spacious interior, comfortable ride, quiet at speed.

The ID.4's primary controls are set up to mimic the experience of a gas-powered car. Sit down, turn a knob to put it in Drive, and you won't have to make any adjustments to your driving behavior. Let your foot off the brake and it creeps forward just like a gas car with a torque-converter automatic transmission. Lift off the accelerator and it continues to coast like a gas car with an automatic.

To get more braking from the electric motors requires putting the car into its "B" setting, but even in that mode the regenerative braking effect isn't aggressive enough to reliably slow the car with a lift off the accelerator or to bring the ID.4 to a complete stop. Volkswagen promises one-pedal driving in B mode, but our regular use of the brake pedal had us questioning the brand's definition of the term.

VW also touts ID.4's 201-hp electric motor as having about the same power as the base four-cylinder engines in many compact crossovers. Maybe so, but the ID.4 weighs 4698 pounds. That's a whopping 1000 pounds more than the gas-powered competition. With only 229 pound-feet of torque, the neck-snapping shove of instant torque we like so much in electric cars is largely missing. When merging or passing at highway speeds, the ID.4 feels sluggish. The run to 60 mph takes 7.6 seconds, and the quarter mile is complete in 16.0 seconds at 86 mph, on par with the quicker gasoline models in this segment but significantly slower than similarly sized EVs such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y. A more powerful dual-motor all-wheel-drive version of the ID.4 with around 300 horsepower will be available later this year and will likely bring the ID.4 closer to the snappy acceleration of other EVs.

LOWS: Unexciting to drive, anonymous styling, annoying infotainment.

If you are excited about the handling prospects of this rear-drive configuration, don't be. The ride is pleasingly firm and the steering is appropriately weighted, but there's little verve or joy to the driving dynamics. The ID.4 simply goes where it's pointed without complaining, which, to be fair, is what's expected of a small SUV. We recorded 0.85 g of grip on the skidpad and a stopping distance of 166 feet from 70 mph, average numbers for the class.

Driving the ID.4 is a largely serene experience. At 70 mph we measured a library-like 68 decibels, and the powertrain remains hushed under acceleration. The interior is airy and spacious, with a low beltline and a generous rear seat. There's no "frunk" as in many other EVs, but the cargo area behind the hatch is big, fitting eight carry-on suitcases with the rear seats up and 26 cases with the seats folded. The front seats are good for hours, and the driving position is natural, with good visibility. Storage cubbies abound, and rear-seat passengers enjoy their own USB ports and air vents.

The least conventional aspect of the ID.4 is the one you'd most hope to follow convention: the user interface. We're not fans of VW's latest infotainment software, which is overly reliant on the 12.0-inch touchscreen and doesn't provide enough physical controls for things you want quick access to such as heated seats and radio tuning. There are touch-sensitive sliders for the climate controls, sunshade, and volume adjustment, and haptic buttons for various menus. Even the few physical controls are strange. There are only two window controls on the driver's door panel, and you must press a finicky haptic switch to activate the rear windows. And the clean look of the white steering wheel isn't going to stay clean for long.

The driving experience in the ID.4 is so normal that it's easy to forget that there's nothing for you at a gas station except Flaming Hot Cheetos. The EPA claims a 250-mile range in combined driving, and we measured 190 miles in our real-world 75-mph highway range test done just above freezing temperatures. (Cold temps negatively impact battery range.) Refilling the VW's battery from empty takes about 7.5 hours on a typical 220V charger, and fast chargers can get you from 5 to 80 percent charge in a claimed 38 minutes. Thanks to Dieselgate, VW is investing heavily in charging infrastructure through its subsidiary, Electrify America. Buyers benefit from the scandal with three years of free charging from Electrify America's fast chargers.

Early adopters of new tech might be disappointed by the ID.4's lack of quirkiness. The ID.4 feels like it's trying to convince buyers that an EV can cost and provide the same experience as mainstream gas-powered vehicles. Pricing starts at $41,190, and our 1st Edition test car stickered for $45,190, which is within reach of loaded gas-powered compact crossovers, especially when you factor in thousands of dollars in federal tax credits.

Rather than an electric vehicle shaped like a compact SUV, this Volkswagen feels like a mainstream crossover that happens to have an electric motor and a battery pack. But the ID.4 lacks any distinct advantages over gas models, and it's missing the cool factor and instant-feeling acceleration of other EVs. VW is so determined to make the ID.4 normal that it seems to have forgotten that EVs can be weird, funky, and fun. The ID.4 is a quiet and comfortable transportation pod that will satisfy buyers looking for a quiet and comfortable transportation pod.


Published in Volkswagen
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