The Volkswagen Group was in force at this years 2013 Geneva Auto Show with a wide number of new model introductions not the least of which includes the seventh generation of the GTI. The Geneva Auto Show is a bit of a unique show as far as the big international auto shows go. There is a big emphasis on design at this show with a solid mix of mainstream manufacturers, design houses like Bertone and Pininfarina and tuners all showing off their latest concepts, new products and more. Plus, for those of us that try to cover the show, it is all contained under one roof, making it easy to get around to everything you want to see without wearing the soles of your shoes off. So let’s get to the highlights this year and talk about what we saw…
GOLF 7 – 2013 CAR OF THE YEAR
The vote for “Car of the Year” is one of the oldest in Europe. The best new cars have been given prizes annually since 1964. The panel of judges, consist of 58 automotive journalists from 22 countries, nominating eight candidates that would enter the final run. They are tested and compared and evaluated during the last few months under a broad range of criteria, such as fuel efficiency, comfort, safety, driving properties, functionality, design and technological progress. In this 50th round of the traditional competition, the new Golf 7 came out on top of its seven competitors, garnering a total score of 414 in the final vote. The second place car lagged behind with a score of 212 less – just sayin’.
Volkswagen has promised for years now that they were working on a 1-liter consumption vehicle that could actually be purchased by every day consumers. In Europe fuel economy is measured in liters of consumption per 100 kilometers of driving and the holy grail in a production vehicle would be a vehicle capable of using less than 1 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers or roughly 235 miles per gallon. Volkswagen introduced their 1-liter consumption car called the XL1 at the Geneva Auto Show and went one better with .9 liter fuel consumption or 261 mpg.
Powered by a two-cylinder TDI plug-in hybrid system utilizing a 7-speed DSG transmission, the ultra-lightweight vehicle can transport two people comfortably. The plan for now is to offer the XL1 only in Germany and Austria to a limited number of consumers. The XL1 can only be leased and will be returned to Volkswagen at the end of the lease with no option to buy it. Rumors circulating speculate that the largely hand built XL1 costs well over $100,000 to produce and thus the reason for the subsidized lease. Dr. Hackenberg, Volkswagen Board Member in charge of development said this is just the first version of a vehicle like this and Volkswagen will continue to evolve this concept as costs come down and technology advances. We’ve heard that Volkswagen of America wants to bring a few over to the U.S. for evaluation and marketing purposes, so don’t be surprised if you see one in the future.
Another generation of Golf has arrived and now the seventh generation GTI has been official introduced. Virtually unchanged from the concept shown at Paris last September, the new GTI looks great in person. A new version of the EA888 2.0T engine is available in two power configurations – base GTI with 220hp and in Performance Pack trim with 230hp, larger Golf R front brakes and a new electronically controlled mechanical locking differential called VAQ. VAQ is a torque sensing differential that will, when say an inside front wheel spins, lock the differential and divert power to the side that can get it to the ground. Test Sciroccos with this new VAQ system lap the Nurburgring 7 seconds quicker and the drivers report that there is no longer any reason to lift off the throttle mid-turn when an inside wheel spins – just keep the hammer down and the car will sort it out. Volkswagen has also reportedly spent quite a bit of time making sure that the electromechanical steering system and suspension geometry virtually eliminate torque steer common with these systems. We’ll have a chance to drive the new GTI in April and can’t wait to report back on what we find out.
The newest version of the GTD was also introduced at Geneva. The GTD is essentially a TDI powered GTI and quite popular in Germany. Past generations of the GTD haven’t been available here in the States, but Volkswagen of America has made it a high priority to try and finally offer it here. With Golf 7 production moving to Mexico for our market, that will mean all the pieces will be available to build a GTD alongside a GTI. The only potential stumbling block is the higher powered (184hp and 280 lbs-ft. of torque) TDI engine. The cost to certify that engine for just one niche car like the GTD is a tough business case. VW is reportedly looking to see if there are other products that could that engine as well to help bring the certification costs down. We’ll see what happens in the end, but we feel pretty confident that we’ll see a GTD in our future (albeit at least a year away).
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF ESTATE/WAGON
Volkswagen officially debuted the newest version of the Golf Estate/Wagon. We have to say the new one looks really good in person with a number of design changes that make the lines look taut and clean while still looking like it is part of the Golf family. Rear trunk volume has been expanded 3.5 cubic-feet to 21.4 cu-ft. (loaded up to the back seat backrest). Loaded up to the front seat backrests and under the roof, the new Golf Estate offers a cargo volume of no less than 1,620 litres or 57.2 cubic-feet (4.4 cubic-feet more than the outgoing model).
Volkswagen also teased us a bit with a “Concept R-Line” version of the Golf Estate (the blue Golf Estate shown in the photos). The R-Line concept features a revised front bumper, lower gloss black trim pieces on the front bumper, sides and rear bumper as well as a diffuser in the rear. Inside the concept featured a two-tone seat similar to the Beetle Turbo with a carbon-fiber looking weave on the bolsters and contrasting color in the center. Overall it looked great and just makes us wish for a Golf R Estate…
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF TDI AND TGI BlueMotion
Two other new Golf models were also shown, highlighting the low-emissions/high economy end of the spectrum. The Golf TDI BlueMotion gets 73.5 mpg from its 109hp 1.6l TDI engine (a 14% increase in economy over the last gen model). The aerodynamic modifications include a lowered chassis (by 15 mm), a special roof spoiler, a closed radiator grille, partially closed air inlet screens, special under carriage aerodynamic panels.
The Golf TGI BlueMotion is the new designation for natural gas powered versions. Achieving 69 mpg and just 92 g/km CO2 emissions, Volkswagen is providing yet another alternative fuel solution. Powered by a 109hp bi-fuel version of the 1.4l TFSI four-cylinder and utilizing the same aerodynamic improvements found on the TDI BlueMotion above, the TGI BlueMotion has both two natural gas tanks and one gasoline tank offering a potential to travel more than 845 miles on the available fuels.
VOLKSWAGEN E-CO-MOTION CONCEPT
With more and more European cities starting to limit vehicular traffic to eco-friendly vehicles, Volkswagen commercial vehicles sees an opportunity to offer an all electric powered delivery van. Based loosely on a Eurovan/Transporter chassis, the concept features a battery pack system that is an integral structural member to reduce space and weight and to maximize space inside for cargo. No word on whether something like this will go to production, but we like what we see so far.
VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO IN THE U.S.?
During a roundtable discussion with Volkswagen of America President and CEO and Volkswagen AG Board Member in Charge of Development Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg the topic of the Scirocco coming to the U.S. came up. Browning has always openly admitted that he would like to offer the Scirocco here in the States, but that it wouldn’t be the current generation car and that we’d have to wait and see. In other words no final decisions have been made. So we asked if the next generation Scirocco was going to be different than just a wider, lower GTI. Dr. Hackenberg mentioned that we can expect the next Scirocco to be a bit more emotional in the design and less “shooting break” looking (meaning less of a traditional upright hatch/wagon look). Could this mean more of a sports coupe? We’ll know in about a years time when the new model is introduced, but we are encouraged by what we hear.
More photos from the show can be found below including the Lamborghini Veneno, Polo WRC, Porsche GT3 and more!
Click on the thumbs below for larger images from the Geveva show…