These three new new models indicate VW’s current brand direction which involves a simplistic notion of recapturing what it was was, a value oriented, strong European car brand for the people. In the US, the VW sedans went from hippie-practical, to modern-chic, and most recently, large and bland. This most recent era brought increased sales but it also demonstrated what the brand was willing to sacrifice: its brand loyalists. But at that time, it could rely on the diesel to provide the European flair and its efficiency – especially on the highway – even compared favorably to the hybrids available at the time. The emissions were a different story and as the smoke continues to clear from the diesel-gate, VW is forced to redefine itself and do it now. As VW commits to an electric future, its latest unveilings of new sedan models each have significant impact in their respective ambitions.
The 2018 Passat GT
VW has consistently had to fight the image that it doesn’t understand the U.S. market. The +$100k Phaeton, the small Tiguan, and the name “Toureg” demonstrate the HQ’s resistance to feedback from the second largest market in the world.
The limited production 2018 Passat GT represents VW USA’s attempt to engage its Dub-head fans with a market specific sports sedan. Based on specific customer and dealer input, the GT is equipped with the VR6 engine, lowered sport suspension, LED front and rear lighting, and the R-Line’s sporty bumpers. This is a comprehensive package.
Especially considering the car’s sub $30k starting price, which is about $4k less than otherwise required for the VR6, the car’s interior also is equipped to impress with a touchscreen controlling the latest in connectivity, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and eight-way power driver’s seat.
The exterior styling goes beyond the sporty bumpers and brings gloss black mirror housings, a black roof, darkened rear taillights, and a honeycomb grille that is intended to draw ties to the Golf GTI.
Stepping back away from the impressively equipped limited edition GT, this project is impressive in itself and signifies hope for more American input into their products.
2019 VW Jetta
The all new Jetta breaks away from the bland styling and overly simple interior of the current generation to become the latest new model to adopt the swept back styling brought into popularity by the A7.
While the front end features a side profile that is oddly rounded, the grille is blatant exercise in communicating width. Along the side, the rising beltline and large tire-to-body gap unfortunately bring an imbalance and awkward high center-of-gravity to an otherwards handsomely restrained design.
Inside the Jetta offers a digital cockpit display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Beats Audio system, and ventilated seats. LED front and rear lights, a panoramic sunroof, and ambient lighting are upscale features for this price range.
Powering the new Jetta is a carryover four cylinder turbocharged engine that delivers sufficient performance while the new 8-speed transmission helps it achieve 40 mpg on the highway.
While it’s still to be determined how well it drives, the lack of detail on the chassis work in VW’s press material means we can expect similar handling and turning to the 2018 model while a more sporty GLI model is expected in the near future along with specific pricing and feature content.
The Jetta will be most notable for departure from the traditional three-box styling of its sedan forebears as VW seeks an opportunity to inject a bit of emotion and discussion points away from its recent past.
While the Jetta and the Passat have sedan markets covered, the Passat CC was a forum for expressive design in VW and even helped spawn the craze of the four-door coupe. VW left the CC relatively unchanged throughout its generation which is both a testament to its design and indicative of how important the success of this latest design. This 2019 model is bigger in nearly every dimension, can be equipped with an impressive level of features, and promises premium materials. In shape and features, it will be received as a perfectly updated version of the CC. The body panels are sharper and even develop a slightly horizontal surface over the rear wheels that adds depth that the CC lacked. Standard LED front and rear lights allow the design to be integrated into the grille.
A turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic are standard while all-wheel drive is optional.
Pricing and trim equipment levels will be announced closer to the Arteon’s release date later this year.
Each of these introductions represent a different dynamic at VW. The Passat GT is a homegrown effort to appease the brand faithful, while the Jetta demonstrates the brand’s commitment to the idea of a mainstream Jetta. The Arteon does an impressive job of committing to VW’s design concept and its available features including AWD will bring, hopefully, a bit more of the limelight.
Following the launches of the Atlas and Tiguan, the brand was beginning to feel the heat for its lack of imagination and forward thinking but thanks to these models, we may start to rethink that criticism.