Expert Car Picks: Which Volkswagen would we choose?
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Nine months ago, we each looked at our preferred choice of model from the Volkswagen brand. As Expert Car Picks is all about the cars we'd choose, for our own personal use with our own money, it often throws a few curveballs.
Good thing, then, that the VW range is so varied, with everything from electric hatchbacks to work vans, sports and vacation vehicles. And with new models launched like the T-Roc and T-Cross, has it swayed our opinion, or reaffirmed them, especially with updates to key models.
So we've dipped into our own minds, which can be quite shallow at times, and come up with our choices for our situations: Dean for his family of five with three young kids, David for his family with almost-adult kids and Andrew with his free-living DINK. Spoilt for choice, let's get into Volkswagen.
So what would we choose with our own money? Read on to find out…
Dean: Tiguan Allspace
Of all the three model clones, the VW Tiguan Allspace is the least, er… out there, with the likes of Skoda’s Kodiaq and the Seat Tarraco being a little more rambunctious, at least in perception.
The slightly meeker Tiguan Allspace carries the seven-seats in a modestly compact medium SUV size, and that suits us just fine. It probably won’t win the popular vote – Touareg V8 would likely win that popularity contest, but the Allspace starts from just $42,990.
VW’s 2.0-litre petrol turbo is a glorious engine: starting at 132kW/320Nm up to 162kW/350Nm in the R Line, it’s certainly quick, as nimble as 100km/h in 6.8 seconds (a 1.4l/110kW Comfortline model also launches this month) and decently frugal. At 7.0-8.5l/100km, the eco side is still good enough, even once it creeps up a little in real world use, especially given the lure of speed underfoot.
So it satisfies my desire for a bit of excitement despite the need to cart around wife+3, and it does that component pretty well, too. Allspace offers a decent third row: good for kids/teenagers, though with the high floor and tightish kneeroom, transit time for adults may be best kept short. Though that’s what it’s all about. We own a large seven-seat SUV and the times we actually use the third row is diminishing, with our 8yo now out of her booster seat and able to slide in between the child seats of her siblings in the second row.
The extra space however is very much appreciated on holidays, up to 1775 litres with everything folded and 700 litres with the third row stowed and second row pushed forward. Of course there’s less room with all rows raised, but we can work around that, sometimes configuring it as a ‘six-seat’, folding down the seventh.
The seven-speed DSG gearbox is good and though not perfect, the pairing with such a perky petrol turbo engine means it’s fine by me.
The Tiguan Allspace is everything we want, with so much more than we can squeeze in here, and for me and my family needs, it’s the Vee-Dub I’d happily buy.
I don’t get the warm fuzzies about the Volkswagen brand like some, but I did spend many of my childhood holidays travelling around in my Great Uncle Merle’s Kombis (he had many over the years). That, combined with the fact that I’m a sucker for some well-engineered retro nonsense, means the California is my pick.
I love a good van and the T6 Transporter (upon which the California is based) is brilliant to drive. Don’t forget, it has 146kW/450Nm. 4Motion AWD and a seven-speed DSG transmission. It’s really perky for a flat on wheels.
So even though it’s a campervan, you can also use the California as an actual day-to-day vehicle without too much trouble. Assuming you’re okay with only having four seats and you’re aware the single sliding door is on the wrong side for a right-hook vehicle. Which is not okay, really.
Apart from that door issue, the fact it’s a campervan created by the factory with some pride really shows in the delightful attention to detail: everything fits just-so and not a centimetre of space is wasted. And from that pop-top (shades of 1950s Westfalia) to the two-tone paintjob, it’s a heritage-style hoot. Love it beyond reason - which you’d have to because it’s $142,000.
It speaks for itself really, how can you look past the Volkswagen staple that is the Golf?
Just recently, the eighth-generation Golf launched in New Zealand, and it was the main reason behind Volkswagen recording the highest sales month that the brand has ever had here.
You’ll notice that this new Golf looks quite a bit different from the outgoing model thanks the aggressive new front and rear ends, but the real difference becomes clear when you step inside. This Golf’s interior has been aligned with VW’s electric ID range, which is set to become the biggest driver of sales in the coming years. Button lovers beware because everything on the steering wheel is now controlled via a touchpad with haptic feedback, and screens handle the rest.
In terms of engines, the base Golf is the only model available right now, and it features a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 110kW and 250Nm of torque. This is sent exclusively to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly VW decided to ditch its iconic DSG transmission for this Golf, but it still remains in the higher spec GTI and R.
This 1.4-litre model is offered in two guises right now in NZ, the $37,990 Life, and the $47,990 R-Line. As usual, the R-Line adds some aggressive looks on the outside, as well as extra tech on the inside. This includes a larger touchscreen display, a heads-up display, and ten extra colours to the ambient lighting palette.
It’s worth noting that the GTI and R models are still yet to arrive in New Zealand, but should be here within the year. In terms of performance, the GTI will use a 2.0-litre turbo engine with 180kW, and the R will use the same powerplant, but up the ante to 235kW and throw an all-wheel drive system into the mix. With this knowledge, I’d probably be waiting for the GTI, but do with what you please.