Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins
“Das Auto” is making tremendous strides both in the United States and globally. And besides their products directly, the German auto manufacturer is the parent company of Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Audi, among other global brands. The plan today is about steady growth. Since 2009 for example they have more than doubled their sales.
The VW brand’s strength and numbers are deep. In fact it was difficult trying to get behind the wheel of their football squad of vehicles for an updated Napa Valley drive experience since the roster was 50 plus total. Players included the Jetta, Passat, Golf, Beetle, Touareg, CC, GSR, Tiguan, GTI, and the Eos with various versions inclusive of diesels, gas engines, convertibles, sports models, wagons, hatchbacks, and special edition V-Dubs. Fit Fathers enjoyed the SUVs in particular because we’re all about active living and family fun activities. The Touareg and Tiguan earned the majority of our time.
VW technologies and coveted platforms include TDI, TSI, Car-Net, and numerous weight-saving processes. For example, TDI is VW’s patented diesel engine which allows their vehicles to travel much farther than gasoline engines from competitors as well as provide increased torque for daily “get away” power. In fact, they dominate more than 75% of market share in the diesel realm. If you include luxury brand Audi then it goes beyond 80%. The 2014 Touareg TDI Clean Diesel Executive we drove achieved an amazing 29 highway mpg, and this is while riding on a weighted SUV platform with 4Motion all-wheel drive, a power liftgate, omnipresent airbags, touchscreen navigation system, a Dynaudio premium sound system, bigger 20” alloy wheels, and every electrical creature comfort you can think of. Though its $61,770 total price is bit steep for a VW, the Touareg’s 406 lb-ft of torque from its 3-liter more than compensated. Another nifty feature is the easy open hands-free liftgate operated by swiping your foot under the rear bumper.
We also spent time in the small and “fun to play with” 2014 Tiguan R-Line 4Motion ($38,490) powered by the 2.0-liter TSI engine with 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. It felt more inviting than the bigger Touareg and much more nimble.
Now applicable to VW is their new safety diagnostics and convenience technology called VW Car-Net that is free for the first 6 months. VW will introduce the connected services package on the Jetta beginning this fall. Included is a mobile app to activate the commands for iPhones only. Some of the features are:
- Automatic Crash Notification
- Roadside assistance
- Stolen vehicle location assistance
- Remote vehicle access
- Boundary and speed alerts
- Vehicle health report
- Enhanced POI service on vehicles equipped with a navigation system
As you can see VW has a lot working in its favor with the future looking brighter.