Archive | Volkswagen

02 March 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polo-sized Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze SUV unveiled at 2016 Geneva motor show

2016 Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze

At the start of this week’s Geneva motor show, Volkswagen unveiled a new model at the Swiss expo which leads a ‘broad offensive’ of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) from the German brand. The T-Cross Breeze (yes, we know, a silly name), the soft-top is an unexpected punch to launch, according to Head of Design Klaus Bischoff, ‘New Volkswagen’.

While the T-Cross Breeze solicited ‘copycat Range Rover Evoque Convertible’-type comments from the motoring press – and there’s no denying there is a similarity – what’s more important is that underneath the T-Cross Breeze is rumoured to be a version of the new ‘A0’ small car version of the Volkswagen Group’s ‘MQB’ platform.

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02 February 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen reveals Polo-based Ameo compact saloon; 2016 Polo / Vento

2016 Volkswagen Ameo (India)

Ahead of its Auto Expo 2016 motor show debut in Delhi this week, Volkswagen has launched its long-awaited sub-4m compact saloon, the Ameo. Based on the fifth-generation Polo made at the company’s Indian factory, the Ameo has a very similar appearance to the popular hatchback but with a severely truncated ‘three-box’ tail.

Designed and engineered for India
The Ameo has been designed and engineered specifically for the Indian market (the car’s marketing slogan is ‘German engineering with an Indian heart’), and will be built alongside the Polo – and its over-4m saloon sister, the Vento – at Volkswagen’s Pune plant. The new car looks almost identical to the Polo at the front, the only marked differences being the ‘folds’ at the bumper edges.

At the rear, bespoke tail lamps and creases mark out the Ameo, which will count the Ford Aspire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent, Swift Dire and Tata Zest as its key rivals. Two Polo engines feature in the Ameo’s make-up: a 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol and an 89bhp 1.5-litre TDI diesel. Five-speed gearboxes are standard, while a seven-speed DSG is available as an option on the TDI.

The Ameo has a wide range of safety kit, with anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags fitted as standard. Segment firsts include the options of automatic wipers and cruise control, while ‘Climatronic’ automatic air-conditioning, cruise control, rear view camera and parking sensors, static cornering fog lights, and a touchscreen multimedia infotainment system with MirrorLink technology can also be specified.

Volkswagen India has stated that the Ameo – which will hold 330 litres of luggage – will go on sale in the second half of 2016, while no prices have yet been released. It is expected that the Ameo will be priced in-between the Polo (Rs 5.32 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai) and the Vento (Rs 7.70 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai) when it goes on sale.

REFRESHED 2016 POLO / VENTO
As well as the Ameo, Volkswagen India has also announced a gentle refreshing of both its Polo and Vento ranges. While there are no body or mechanical upgrades, models benefit from ‘luxury’ equipment, such as an auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and a similar touchscreen multimedia infotainment system like that of the Ameo. Prices for the new Indian-market Polo and Vento are as follows:

Polo

Rs 5.23 – 8.73 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai)

Rs 5.33 – 8.90 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

Vento

Rs 7.70 – 11.90 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai)

Rs 7.85 – 12.13 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

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24 February 2015 ~ 1 Comment

Driving the future (in 1994):
the Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic

It was a super-eco version of the standard diesel Golf

As the rise of environmental concerns have gathered pace over the past few years, stop-start technology and energy recovery systems are now commonplace in most modern cars. But, in 1994, it was a very different story.

Following the stop-start system-equipped Formel E models of the early 1980s, Volkswagen sought to bring back the environmentally-conscious car with a special technology-laden version of the humdrum Golf. The Ecomatic.

The Eco-what?
Not familiar with the name? You’d be forgiven for not remembering it, or not even being aware of it in the first place. The Golf Ecomatic was launched in July 1994 and was technologically advanced for its time. The name was an amalgamation of ‘economical’ and ‘automatic’.

Featuring a 1.9-litre 64bhp normally-aspirated diesel engine, the Golf Ecomatic was fitted with a semi-automatic gearbox which decoupled the engine when pressure from the accelerator pedal was reduced.

Clever. And confusing.
Simply put, Volkswagen compared the idea to the principal of a cyclist who only pedals when power is needed. So, in the Ecomatic the engine cut out when the accelerator pedal was lifted, but sprung back to life when the pedal was pressed again.

Reducing both fuel consumption figures as well as emissions, it followed on from those more environmentally-sound Polos, Golfs, Jettas and Passats of the 1980s, bringing the concept up-to-date for the contemporary age.

How clean was it?
Volkswagen claimed that the Golf Ecomatic drivers would benefit from a 22 per cent improvement in fuel consumption when compared to a standard Golf with the same engine (61.4mpg vs 43.5mpg respectively) and a 22 per cent drop in CO2 emissions. The company also claimed that with familiarity, savings of up to a 30 per cent could be achieved in urban driving situations.

H2 and NOx emissions were reduced by 25 per cent, and particulate emissions also fell by 11 per cent. Engine operating time was also reduced by around 60 per cent. The Ecomatic was also the first VW which could run on rape seed biodiesel with no adjustment thanks to hardened seals in the fuel system.

What’s it like today?
Driving the Golf Ecomatic today, the technology seems rather rudimentary (even more so when you’ve spent the morning in an electrically-powered car). Equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox yet no clutch pedal, at first the Golf Ecomatic feels both old and plain odd. And very, very noisy.

With the gear lever in neutral, a turn of the ignition key starts the engine in the usual way. To move away, engage first gear and press the accelerator. From then on, gear changes are made by removing your feet from the accelerator and slotting the gear lever into the selected ratio.

Sounds easy enough.
Once on the move, when you’ve become accustomed to changing gear without a third pedal, the Ecomatic is as easy to drive as a standard Mk 3 Golf. It’s never fast, and you have to prod the accelerator rather hard to make anything happen, but it does make you think.

Think about when you’re going to disengage the engine at motorway speeds, or think about when is the right time to coast the car to a half.

Yes, it is odd having the engine disengage at motorway speeds and the car coast along for long-ish distances, but with an extra large 92Ah battery and 90 amp alternator, Volkswagen ensured that the braking and electric systems remained fully functional.

(A second smaller battery ensured that the external lights didn’t flicker when the Ecomatic was restarted at night.)

Any snags or glitches?
The lack of a clutch pedal occasionally catches you out at roundabouts and road junctions, but it’s just a case of remembering what to do to make the system work. And when it does, it’s a very smooth and well-thought out operation.

A button at the end of the wiper stalk (just as in the Formel Es a decade earlier) switches the ‘Digi-Swing’ decoupling engine control unit off and also enables permanent engine braking. Warning lights in the dashboard inform you that the system is active or switched off.

An orange gear change light also illuminates for the best fuel economy – another nod to the earlier fuel-sipping VWs and one feature which has also survived the transition through the decades to become a defining feature of a model range’s most economic version.

What was the price?
The £11,495 Ecomatic was based on the Golf L, enabling Volkswagen UK to bring the car to market at the lowest possible price. Standard equipment included power steering, a five-speed gearbox, removable Sony radio cassette, a folding rear seat and a pollen filter. Not exactly high-tech stuff.

The Golf Ecomatic is a fascinating insight into an early form of green motoring. Now, as a historical document, it’s a fascinating insight into what could have been. Volkswagen UK intended to sell around 1,000 examples to several major organisations.

How many were sold?
In the end, just over a tenth of that volume was achieved. Is that because, just as with the Audi A2, it was a car ahead of its time or because drivers of the mid-1990s just couldn’t understand Volkswagen’s self-billed ‘New Concept in Motoring’?

Whatever the reason, the Golf Ecomatic’s role was arguably a pivotal one. Following the pioneering Formel E Volkswagens of the 1980s and spawning the BlueMotion models which were born in the late 2000s, the Golf Ecomatic is a long-forgotten but important milestone in Volkswagen’s environmental development path.

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14 August 2014 ~ 0 Comments

An alien concept:
driving the Volkswagen XL1

Space-age looks and sci-fi technology. Rich Gooding straps himself in the fuel-efficient VW and prepares for an out-of-this-world driving experience

2014 Volkswagen XL1

Driving the Volkswagen XL1 is like nothing I’ve ever driven before. Even walking up to the carbon-fibre eco supercar you’re amazed by its small footprint and low-slung stance. Little wider and longer than a Polo, the XL1 is far, far lower.

Its rear wheels are hidden by fairings and the lack of a back window and rear cooling vents remind you of early Beetle prototypes from the 1930s.

The front takes typically contemporary Volkswagen design cues and emboldens them with a bit more glitz: LED head lights and indicators dazzle in the overcast conditions, while the tapering nature of the XL1’s profile view has more than a whiff of sci-fi about it.

That’s made even more space-age by the white colour of the test car (although silver has the same effect). The narrow-tailed body serves a purpose though: with its precise trailing edges, the body exhibits, according to VW, ‘perfect aerodynamics’.

And that’s just the start of the theatre. Push the part-hidden door handle and the scissor door rises up on its gas struts to reveal a sparse cabin, quite technical in appearance.

Clamber gracefully over the exposed carbon sill and drop yourself into the carbonfibre driver’s seat. Adjust fore and aft to find the perfect position to drive Volkswagen’s £98,515 eco-warrior and you’re ready.

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01 April 2014 ~ 0 Comments

‘Coffee Convenience’ function to refresh new Volkswagen drivers on the move

Volkswagen 'Coffee Convenience' function

Volkswagen has today announced its latest weapon in its driver alert system arsenal. As well as the company’s Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Post-Collision Braking, Lane Assist, Park Assist and Driver Alert systems, is the new Coffee Convenience function. Taking a leaf from Fiat’s book of keeping drivers refreshed, certain new Volkswagen models – including the New Polo – will be available with an in-car coffee machine.

When the Driver Alert System flashes up a fatigue warning, all the driver has to do is to press a button on the multifunction steering wheel and the in-glovebox machine will brew a cup of freshly ground coffee. A second coffee cup display in the multifunction dashboard display will inform the driver that the perfect cup of coffee is ready to drink, encouraging a rest stop.

This is important, as, Volkswagen states that overtired drivers cause up to 25 per cent of all accidents on motorways. In time, a function will also be fitted to allow drivers to locate a branch and pre-order a hot drink form any motorway service station coffee shop. In addition, VW-branded ‘Aprilscherz’ coffee will also be available from the Autostadt complex shops in Wolfsburg, home of the global Volkswagen headquarters.

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