Volkswagen Newsroom

A father-daughter duo’s journey to restore a 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit

September 30, 2021

In Bristol, Tennessee, a car-loving father-daughter duo are working on a special project.

George Linke grew up around car racing and tinkering on vehicles with his family. During the pandemic, Juliana, 7, expressed interest in helping her dad with home projects from painting to building a backyard deck. Keen on feeding her curiosity, Linke allowed her to watch, learn and participate where she could. Eager to give her more hands-on experience, Linke got an idea to start a new project together – restoring a car.

Linke thought a car restoration project would be a great learning and bonding experience with his young daughter. Juliana has been attending car shows as long as she can remember and has her own toy car collection. The restoration project makes sense as she’s already familiar with the automotive world.

“We talk about STEM in schools all the time, but I think with a project like this you can learn a whole lot. I always felt that the car is a great platform to learn all kinds of different skills, like mechanical, electrical, painting and art. There’s so much you can do with it that they [kids] can explore,” said George Linke.

Linke purchased his first Volkswagen, a 2019 Golf Alltrack, as his daily driver a few years ago and immediately became a fan of the brand. A work colleague and fellow VW fan noticed the vehicle over the summer. After speaking with Linke about their mutual interest in the brand and hearing about his desire to restore a car with his daughter, the colleague offered to sell his own 1983 VW Rabbit for them to work on together.

In July, the pair started working on the car, which Juliana named “Rocket Bunny.” In the first few months, they’ve been able to remove all the seats and carpets, clean off the rust, apply sealant, paint and take off the bumper. Juliana can do some of the work on her own, with her dad’s careful supervision. He starts by loosening the bolts and screws for her, but ultimately allows her to finish some tasks herself.

For Juliana, her favorite part of the project so far has been, “choosing colors and painting” and the most challenging has been, “pulling off the bumper.”

He hopes that one day Juliana will be able to drive it and have the coolest car in high school. He plans to do the same with Juliana’s six-month old sister when she gets older.

“It’s really been fun spending time with Juliana and actually watching her do the work. It’s nice to not be under any pressure, to just take our time and let her learn.”

The full restoration is expected to take up two years to complete. You can follow along the family’s journey on Instagram at @fatherdaughtergarage2021.

A more joyful way to tour the Bay, in a vintage VW Bus

September 28, 2021

Josh Armel and Virgine De Paepe, the married couple behind San Francisco’s Painted Ladies Tour Company, have countless stories about how their tour fleet of brightly hued vintage Volkswagen Buses brings joy to guests and passersby alike.

There’s the tough-looking biker who suddenly grinned and flashed the peace sign when he spotted one of the Buses. There’s the Bay Area tech company that rented the Painted Ladies fleet for the Pride Parade, tossing daisies to the crowd from one of the Buses.

Then there’s the group that booked a tour to celebrate a sister’s birthday. The sister “loved Volkswagen Buses so much,” recalls Josh. “She had no idea there was a company that could take you around in one. When she saw it pull up, she almost broke down in tears; she was so excited.”

Moments like these are what make Painted Ladies Tour Company—named after a much-photographed row of colorful Victorian houses in San Francisco’s Alamo Square—so popular with Bay Area visitors.

A white vintage VW Bus shown in front three-quarter view as it drives on a road within a California vineyard.

Intimate, one-of-a-kind journeys

Fully licensed as a charter and sightseeing business, Painted Ladies Tour Company offers a San Francisco city tour exploring key attractions such as Union Square, Chinatown, The Presidio, The Haight, and The Castro, while including photo stops for capturing iconic images like Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alamo Square.

The company also operates a Sonoma Valley wine country tour, visiting smaller, award-winning wineries and tasting rooms. And it hosts private, customizable experiences for everything from weddings to corporate events.

The compact size of the Buses allows them to get close to city sights that larger tour buses can’t, from the vibrant murals in The Mission to the actual “Painted Ladies” houses in Alamo Square. Their smaller capacity—a maximum of six or seven people—also affords a more personalized experience for guests. Josh says that each tour provides “an intimate experience where you’re building personal connections,” while still maintaining careful health and safety protocols.

Left to right: Virgine De Paepe and Josh Armel, owners of Painted Ladies Tour Company
Virgine De Paepe and Josh Armel, owners of Painted Ladies Tour Company

Eclectic backgrounds, shared values

Virgine, a licensed therapist originally from Belgium, and Josh, a nearly lifelong Bay Area local with a background in music and hospitality, bring the complementary perspectives of visitor and insider to Painted Ladies, as well as a shared passion for facilitating people’s joy and well-being.

These influences help to ensure that Painted Ladies tours capture the genuine spirit of the city that Josh and Virgine love so much. “It was important for us to win our community’s heart,” Virgine says, reflecting on the days when they were first envisioning the company. “We wanted [the tour experience] to be very authentic to what San Francisco is about.”

The company’s tour guides add to that sense of warmth and authenticity. According to Josh, they’re not only able to share local insights, but also express their winning personalities. “We try to have [guides] who are fun and bring the good vibes,” he explains.

A row of four parked VW vintage Buses, shown in front view, in colors of white, turquoise, orange, and fuschia (left to right).

Stars of the show: the vintage VW Bus fleet

The tour guides are not the only draw. The company’s fully restored vintage Type 2 Transporter Buses, each with its own charming character, have gained their own diehard fans.

The Buses all have names with California connections. Among them are Pearl, a 1968 model whose moniker comes from an album recorded in California by Janis Joplin; Poppy, a 1975 model named for the Golden Poppy, California’s state flower; Skye, a 1971 model whose name references the Golden State’s ultra-blue skies; and Buttercup, a 1974 model inspired by the California Buttercup flowering plant.

Before joining the active fleet, each Bus gets a makeover typically involving a new engine and transmission, along with upgrades to tires and brakes if needed. To enhance safety, each vehicle gets lap belts for every seat, plus shoulder restraints in front. Add a new sound system and convenient USB charging ports—“which weren’t standard in 1968,” Josh notes with a laugh—and the result is a unique roadgoing experience that blends classic and modern.

It was Virgine’s idea to add whimsical eyelash extensions to the headlights. Josh, meanwhile, transformed some of the vinyl headliners of the Buses by replacing them with birch wood panels, which he then covered with distinctive wallpaper prints to create overhead murals. Hot-pink Buttercup, for example, has a beautiful floral headliner.

An orange vintage VW Bus shown in side profile, parked against a San Francisco Bay backdrop.

A rare opportunity to enjoy the moment

Painted Ladies tours are in high demand, so it’s a good idea to reserve as far in advance as possible. The company’s scores of positive online reviews suggest that the wait is well worth it.

As Virgine says, spending time with Painted Ladies Tour Company is a chance to “just be in the present moment and enjoy it.” The couple’s primary focus, Josh adds, is to “put a big smile on your face.”

New Golf GTI and Golf R lead a performance celebration

September 28, 2021

Volkswagen will soon launch the highly anticipated eighth-generation (Mk8) versions of the Golf GTI and the Golf R, both widely known as the “hot hatches” of choice for enthusiasts.

What better way for enthusiasts to get a sneak peek at these athletic siblings than at Fastivus, a grassroots celebration of Volkswagen performance. According to Megan Closset, Volkswagen of America product manager for the Golf family, the annual Fastivus event is built around driving, “because fun-to-drive is at the heart of Volkswagen DNA, and is one of the reasons why GTI, R32, and Golf R owners cherish their cars so much.”

Fastivus returns this year on Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2, shifting from the West Coast to the East Coast for the first time in its history. The centerpiece is a high-performance driving session for Volkswagen owners at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. It features professional driving instruction, plus a car show that highlights pre-production versions of the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R, along with previous-generation GTI, R32, and Golf R models.

While Fastivus 2021 is sold out, it’s just the beginning of enthusiast excitement for these next-generation performance leaders.

Two iconic cars make one exhilarating leap forward

In recognition of their shared lineage, both the 2022 Golf GTI and the 2022 Golf R have been gifted with significant upgrades throughout. These cars “represent the most advanced Golf family ever,” says Megan Closset. “More power, more performance, more standard features, and best of all, innovations to improve handling, dynamics, and the overall driving experience.”

It all starts under the hood. Propelled by the latest EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection TSI® engine, each car is the most powerful in its model’s U.S. history. The new Golf GTI generates 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the new Golf R boasts 315 horsepower and up to 295 pound-feet of torque.

Because the ability to manually shift gears is part of the quintessential hot-hatch experience, both models offer a 6-speed manual transmission, with the option of a 7-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Both cars also showcase new vehicle dynamics settings designed for more agile and accurate handling, as well as DCC® adaptive chassis control with Driving Mode Selection (standard on the Golf R and available on the Golf GTI), which helps to improve ride refinement and body control.

Finally, the 2022 cars receive a style boost, each with a more dramatically raked hood, new LED headlights, new alloy wheel options, and an available light bar on the grille. Interior upgrades include the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, touch interfaces, and 30-color ambient lighting.

The 2022 Golf GTI: building on a remarkable legacy

The original Golf GTI (Mk1) went on sale in 1976, and came to the U.S. for the first time in 1983, when it was initially called the Rabbit GTI. Since then, the Golf GTI has built an enviable record as one of the world’s most successful compact sports cars. The Mk8 Golf GTI takes that legacy to a new level as the hot hatch for the person who wants a fun experience even in everyday driving.

In addition to the car’s enhanced power, the new Golf GTI benefits from key handling upgrades. It comes standard with an electronically controlled, torque-sensing limited-slip VAQ differential, which helps to optimize grip and handling, and aids in reducing the understeer common in front-drive cars.

In its design, the Golf GTI gets new X-shaped foglights and unique alloy wheel styles to go with its classic honeycomb lower grille, red grille line, red brake calipers, and dual exhaust tips. Inside, the seats retain the model’s traditional tartan look, now in an eye-catching new “Scalepaper” pattern. The manual shift knob, meanwhile, keeps the fan-favorite dimpled golf-ball design.

The 2022 Golf R: hatchback performance gets a new benchmark

Since model-year 2004, the Golf R and its predecessor, the R32, have garnered raves from driving enthusiasts thanks to stellar performance. The latest Golf R raises that bar even higher. In fact, the 2022 Golf R turned a lap time 19 seconds quicker than the previous-generation version at Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

The Golf R elevates the art of hatchback handling with an updated 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive system featuring rear-axle torque vectoring. The new system can distribute up to 100 percent of the rear torque to either of the rear wheels based on factors like speed, power application, and body-weight transfer. Ultimately, it can help to reduce the car’s cornering radius for tighter handling.

Style-wise, the Golf R differentiates itself from the Golf GTI with bold elements including a blue grille line and brake calipers, new alloy wheel designs, more aggressive front and rear bumpers and diffusers, a two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system.

Driving enthusiasts, the wait is nearly over: Look for the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R on sale soon at Volkswagen dealers.

33 surprising places you could get work done with a Taos hotspot

September 28, 2021

If you commuted to an office job prior to the pandemic, you might find there’s no need to return to the office, even as pandemic restrictions shift. For many people, remote work is the new normal.

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos compact SUV is ready for this new era. It offers Volkswagen Car-Net® Remote Access1 standard, including a Volkswagen Car-Net® Hotspot with a 1-month/1GB (whichever occurs first) trial subscription.2 With Wi-Fi in your Taos, you can find new opportunities to work just about anywhere.

Here’s a list of 33 unexpected places you could get some work done from inside your Taos-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot.3 While you might never explore all of these, it’s nice to know that with Taos and Volkswagen Car-Net®, the possibility exists.

With your Taos as a hotspot, you could work…

  1. Before going into the hair salon, because you’ll settle for nothing less than shear excellence.
  2. While parked at a fast-food drive-in, because completing that project on time and on budget is all the excuse you need to order a bacon double cheeseburger.
  3. While waiting to pick your kids up from school, because you’re looking for an A on your upcoming performance review.
  4. Before starting a game of laser tag, because you want to hit your productivity targets—not the other way around.
  5. Before strolling over to the dog park, where your canine pal will do some informal networking.

Three dogs, the middle one carrying a ball in its mouth, are shown in front view as they run through a dog park.

  1. Before heading into the gym to hit the treadmill, because you don’t want it to become a metaphor for your career.
  2. While parked before running a 5k, so you can prepare for the marathon work week ahead of you.
  3. In the passenger seat while the family drives to see giant redwoods, because there’s this one work task that’s been sitting around forever.
  4. After filling your tank with unleaded and while filling your belly with gas station snacks, because everyone needs fuel for their work performance.
  5. While parked at a campground, getting ready to tell everyone scary campfire stories about your most recent meeting.

A group of people sits around a campfire at night.

  1. Inside the Taos while your friend washes the exterior, because that friend made a bet with you—and lost.
  2. In the passenger seat while your spouse is at the wheel, because working is more productive than arguing over who gets to drive the Taos.
  3. While parked at a lookout at nighttime, under a canopy of stars, because if you can get that promotion, you’ll open a galaxy of opportunities.
  4. While waiting to go inside for a dentist appointment, because you’d rather get your teeth cleaned than return to in-person office meetings.
  5. After parking at the lakefront, because it’s important for your career that you keep up with your piers.

A dockside pier is shown against a lake, with hills rising in the background across the water.

  1. While parked outside a cider mill, because this is your opportunity to juice your career.
  2. Before going inside the supermarket to pick up groceries, because you’ve got some new business software to add to your online shopping cart.
  3. Before your dance class begins, because while it takes two to tango, it takes you and three others to figure out the new accounting software.
  4. While in the parking lot waiting for a pie from your favorite pizza place, because you prefer to tackle work tasks one slice at a time.
  5. Before your kid takes the field for soccer practice, because… work goals.

A group of young boys wearing soccer uniforms sit on a bench in front of a soccer field.

  1. Before heading inside to a Halloween costume party, because there’s no disguising your ambition.
  2. In the driveway of a for-sale house you’re about to tour, because you’re expecting to get that big bonus this year.
  3. While waiting for the garden-store staffer to haul bags of mulch to your Taos—the perfect time to direct-message your colleagues about office dirt.
  4. In the passenger seat as your friend drives to a favorite hiking spot, because working hard is in your nature.
  5. At a drive-in movie theater, as you put the finishing touches on your blockbuster report.

A blank movie screen is shown at a drive-in movie theater at night, with three cars shown in the foreground.

  1. Back in the Taos after finishing some early holiday shopping, because your career coach encouraged you to go into sales.
  2. Prior to a work picnic with your colleagues, so you can check out spreadsheets before bringing out your blanket.
  3. Before going into a modern art gallery, as you attempt to interpret your co-worker’s abstract reasoning.
  4. While your friend drives you to an outdoor concert, because you want to wow the work crowd with your solo presentation performance.
  5. While parked and eating a doughnut from your favorite doughnut truck, because eating doughnuts is one in-office tradition that you simply refuse to give up.

A waterfront promenade and two food trucks are shown through the windshield of a 2022 VW Taos SUV.

  1. Before heading to an author’s reading at a local bookstore, because you want to make your next presentation a real page-turner.
  2. While waiting in your car for your cat at a vet appointment, because your email inbox currently looks more like a litter box.
  3. Using a videoconference background that’s likely to make your co-workers envious: the cool, modern interior of the Taos.

Work aside, it’s time for some fun:

Learn more about the all-new Volkswagen Taos, and discover how Volkswagen Car-Net® Remote Access can bring more freedom and convenience to Taos ownership.

1 Available on most MY20 and newer vehicles. Always pay careful attention to the road and do not drive while distracted. Certain services require trial or paid subscriptions, which may have their own terms and conditions. VW Car-Net requires cellular connectivity, availability of vehicle GPS signal, and acceptance of Terms of Service. Not all services and features are available on all vehicles. Certain VW Car-Net services, such as Roadside Call Assist, connect out to third-party providers that may require additional payment. Standard text and data rates may apply for app and web features. Certain services may collect location and vehicle information. See Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, and other important information at

2 VW Car-Net hotspot requires vehicle cellular connectivity and availability of vehicle GPS signal. Certain services may collect location information. 30-day/1GB (whichever occurs first) hotspot trial begins on activation date. Limit one trial per vehicle. Up to 8 devices can be supported using in-vehicle connectivity. Use of VW Car-Net hotspot is subject to wireless data provider’s customer agreement.

3 The Wi-Fi hotspot feature is intended for passenger use only. 4G LTE coverage is not available in all areas. See materials provided for terms, privacy, data security details. Requires trial or paid Wi-Fi plan from third party wireless provider.

Meet the people making an EV revolution happen in America

September 28, 2021

Building electric vehicles for the future of transportation and the planet doesn’t just require new technologies, but new people behind “the people’s car.”

At Volkswagen of America, the G4 e-mobility unit and Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga help deliver and support the sales of EVs like the ID.4 all-electric SUV.

Bringing these vehicles to life requires a set of talents that’s relatively new to the automotive industry – from electrical charging experts to high voltage safety specialists, many are pioneers in their roles across America. Here are four such individuals and the important jobs they play in helping Volkswagen accomplish its electrification mission.

Taylor Olson, EV Sales Strategy & Dealer Development Lead

Olson works directly with Volkswagen dealerships to equip their associates with the training and tools needed to sell electric vehicles like the ID.4. She ensures that the brand’s dealers and field teams have the necessary equipment and know-how to provide EV customers with an exceptional car buying experience.

As part of the readiness effort, Olson manages communications platforms that share up-to-date information on EV product news, digital sales and other resources with dealers. She also answers questions and works hands on with the EV specialists at dealerships.

While learning a new product isn’t easy, Olson is instrumental in incentivizing dealers to truly embrace, learn about and invest in EVs. “I transitioned into this role because I really wanted to be part of the EV projects at Volkswagen,” said Olson. “I really enjoy the ability to transform part of the industry and define from scratch what it looks like for Volkswagen to sell an electric vehicle.”

Pearse Daly, EV Readiness Specialist on Charging

Daly is a subject matter expert at Volkswagen and go-to resource for internal teams on all things related to EV charging – from at-home charging software to charging packages with Electrify America. He advocates for and helps create unique training content that educates field teams and puts customers at ease when purchasing a new EV. Daly acknowledges that the initial knowledge barrier is the hardest part of selling an electric car and charging can be difficult to understand. To help close the knowledge gap, Daly identifies opportunities to improve dealer training materials so that customers can be successful with their ID.4 at home.

“One of the most exciting things I get to do is influence the product. The fact that my voice is heard as a subject matter expert is such a gift,” said Daly. “The effort Volkswagen is putting behind bringing electric vehicles to masses – and having the opportunity to help this brand go electric – is incredible.”

Scott McKeehan, High Voltage Safety & PCMS Lead

McKeehan is responsible for all high voltage activities, including training, procedures and policies, at Chattanooga’s EPC. He certifies Volkswagen engineers to work on high voltage systems including battery testing with safety in mind.

While a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) car operates on a 12-volt system, EVs can operate anywhere between 350-400 volts, resulting in a very high potential for harm if not handled properly. McKeehan finds that most employees are eager and excited to learn more about the field and work with high voltage products. Since the beginning of this year, he’s been able to train more than 20 people and is scheduled to certify 20-30 more before the year ends.

“I’ve been an electric guy and a car guy since the late 1970s, so working on EVs really feels like my two interests coming together,” said McKeehan. “It’s exciting to be on the ground floor at a company like Volkswagen building EVs and working with new and emerging technologies.”

Reagan Shawn, MEB Product Strategy Specialist

In his role, Shawn acts as a liaison between the sales team and various departments at Volkswagen. He helps internal stakeholders communicate by getting answers to questions and helping internal teams make essential decisions about EV projects.  Developing EVs is more fast paced than traditional products, so this role is vital to drive projects forward at a competitive speed when compared to other automakers. Volkswagen is emerging as a leader in the EV space, but Shawn thinks VWoA has a special advantage.

“There are a few vehicles that come to mind when it comes to EVs, but I think the difference with Volkswagen is that we [Volkswagen of America] went all in,” said Shawn. “We have invested more [money globally] than any other company has and leverage our research and development resources to ultimately put a great product into the hands of our customers.”

Onion Creek Volkswagen teams up with Tankproof to provide community swim lessons and meals

September 23, 2021

Motivation to support a cause or help others in need can come in different forms. For some, a pivotal moment can incite action. Others may just find themselves in the right place at the right time to do a good deed. Sometimes, it’s both.

For twin brothers Thurman and Torrence Thomas, it was a near-drowning experience at the age of 9 that inspired them to launch an organization that offers no-cost swim lessons and water safety classes to underserved communities. For Austin, Texas-based dealer Onion Creek Volkswagen, a chance meeting of the Thomas brothers offered the opportunity to get involved locally.

Thurman was at a pool party with a group of friends and didn’t know how to swim. “I wanted to be in the deep end with the ‘cool kids’ so bad. I decided to go as deep as I could but lost my footing. All of a sudden I’m flailing and kicking to keep my head above water – I was drowning.”

Thurman’s identical twin brother, Torrence, watched from the shallow end. He recalls: “I was terrified but [I] didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t swim, either.”

Luckily, one of the moms acted quickly and pulled him out of the water. “It’s something we will never forget,” he adds.

According to the American Red Cross, 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning. Two of those ten are under the age of 14, on average. The statistics are worse for Black and Hispanic children: 64% of Black and 45% of Hispanic children haven’t been trained to swim. 79% of children in lower-income households have few-to-no swimming skills.

Well aware of these statistics, the Thomas brothers formed Tankproof, an organization that gives zero-cost swimming lessons to kids who need it most. The brothers started the nonprofit in 2012 with a goal of helping ten kids learn how to swim. In their first year, they helped 70 kids. The following year, they helped 120.

In Tankproof’s tenth year, it has helped more than 2,500 kids learn how to swim.

Then came COVID-19. Tankproof kept helping at a limited scale with strict public health guidelines in place, but another issue impacting the children and families they supported started to rear its ugly head – food insecurity during the summer.

We thought it was a great chance for us to get involved and do anything we could do to help.

CJ Barnett,
Onion Creek Volkswagen

Millions of kids that rely on free or reduced lunch during the school year go hungry in the summer when school is out. Kids being home all day also adds financial stress to lower income families. Federal programs have made progress, but challenges that keep families from accessing meal programs remain – one of those is access to transportation.

“We were planning a 2021 summer tour during the height of the pandemic, when we thought, ‘What if we worked with restaurants in the cities we visit to help feed people in need?’” says Torrence. “So, we started the tour in Hammond, Louisiana, near our hometown to eventually make our way into Austin, Texas.”

The Tankproof story inspired the Volkswagen team to act. They connected the Thomas brothers to CJ Barnett, a Vice President of Onion Creek Volkswagen, a family-owned and operated dealership with deep roots in the region. Volkswagen’s network of dealers has a strong history of giving back to communities.

On July 11, Barrett and Onion Creek VW team loaned the brothers a 2021 Atlas Cross Sport and a 2022 Taos to help Tankproof with its mission.

“Tankproof helps children learn how to swim and get opportunities that they wouldn’t have before,” says CJ Barnett, Vice President of Onion Creek Volkswagen. “We thought it was a great chance for us to get involved and do anything we could do to help.”

The Atlas Cross Sport and Taos were a major “leg up” that helped Tankproof finish the second half of its summer tour strong – and in style. The two vehicles and cargo space allowed the team to haul more resources to swim lesion locations and provide meals to families in need in Louisiana, Texas and California.

By the end of the tour, Tankproof was delivering 4,600 free meals per month. “We were proud to pull up in the Volkswagen SUVs and we appreciate the team at Onion Creek VW for helping us reach hundreds of kids and families in need,” says Torrence.

Keeping driving fun alive in the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

September 14, 2021

Over seven generations and almost 40 years, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has defined what a hot hatchback should be. The Volkswagen Golf R has become a performance standard of its own, offering all-wheel-drive grip and refined power. This year, the eighth generation of both legends arrive in the United States to keep the spirit of driving fun alive.

The all-new versions of both vehicles offer more standard power, more standard technology and sharper style than before, while preserving their affordability – and available manual transmissions.

“The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the two of the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America. “This duo has more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”

The heart of both models lies in the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, with both reaching new highs in power output. Either model is offered with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. The GTI produces 241 horsepower—up 13 from the Mk7—and 273 lb-ft of torque with regular octane fuel, while the Golf R now makes 315 horsepower—27 more than the previous generation—and 295 lb-ft of torque with the DSG transmission, or 280 lb-ft with the manual, using premium fuel.

Between the engine and the road lives a newly developed and sophisticated set of suspension controls that blend the electronic stability control (ESC) with the electronic differential lock (XDS®) and the optional DCC® adaptive damping system. In the GTI, the standard VAQ electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential gives the system an intelligent edge to cut understeer and provide the sharpest handling in fast corners.

For the Golf R, Volkswagen engineers designed a new 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system with rear-axle torque vectoring, which can distribute up to 100 percent of the rear torque to an individual rear wheel. In a typical corner, the system can sense which wheel needs more or less power, inside or outside the curve, and redirect the flow in a matter of milliseconds. The Golf R also includes new driving modes including a track-tuned “Special” setting and a “Drift” mode for track-only excitement.1

Here’s Volkswagen R brand ambassador Tanner Foust demonstrating the potential of both vehicles:

Both models benefit from the updates to the eighth-generation Golf family with all-new bodywork and design details inside and out. The new light signature of the GTI comes from distinctive X-shaped foglights and an available light bar that flanks the VW logo in the grille, and for the first time in North America, available 19-inch alloy wheels. Golf R models feature a blue grille line and brake calipers, a new wheel design, and several other distinct touches, from more aggressive front and rear bumpers and diffusers to a quad-tipped exhaust system and a larger rear spoiler.


Inside, the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R feature a standard 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, along with touch panels that control the lighting, defrost, HVAC and audio functions, as well as operation of the available sunroof. An available head-up display digitally projects key driving information onto the windshield, virtually floating in front of the driver. And of course, the GTI keeps the golf-ball style shifter on the manual transmission and a new “Scalepaper” tartan plaid pattern for the standard fabric seats. And both the Golf GTI and Golf R have the IQ.DRIVE suite of driver assistance technology standard, such as Front Assist (forward collision warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).2

Keeping the Mk 8 Golf GTI within reach of enthusiasts was a key goal of the new generation, with the manual GTI starting at a MSRP of $29,545 before destination3. For 2022, the GTI comes in three trim levels – S, SE and Autobahn – with two optional packages at the SE level. The Autobahn package can be had with a limited-edition launch color of Pomelo Yellow Metallic, along with regular GTI colors Oryx White Pearl, Moonstone Gray, Kings Red Metallic, Atlantic Blue Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, and Deep Black Pearl.

The Golf R has one comprehensive trim, either as manual or automatic, with a starting MSRP $43,645 before destination4 for the manual and $44,445 for the DSG, in signature Lapiz Blue Metallic, as well as Pure White and Deep Black Pearl. With first deliveries arriving later this year, you can still be among the first to experience the future of hot-hatch performance.

How a Volkswagen Bus part inspired the KONG dog toy empire

September 9, 2021

If you are among the millions of American households who adopted a dog during the past 12 months, you’re likely familiar with the KONG toy, a hollow, rugged rubber cone that can be filled with treats. It seems like a perfect shape for chewing – but that wasn’t its first purpose.

In 1970, KONG inventor Joe Markham owned an auto repair shop in downtown Denver that was prone to burglary. “It wasn’t a great area at the time,” says company president K.D. Decker.

Frustrated, the 25-year-old auto mechanic turned to the police, requesting more patrols in the area, but his request was denied due to budget cuts. The officers at his local precinct recommended an alternative: Get a guard dog.

Coincidentally, Markham knew of a pup that needed a home and could be had for free. Fritz, a lovable German Shepard, had just flunked out of the police academy’s canine division for “excessive chewing.”

A dog lover, Markham jumped at the chance to rescue a fine animal that would also deliver a security system to his shop.

Markham never regretted his decision to adopt Fritz, but soon after adopting him discovered the scope of the dog’s chewing addiction. “Fritz would chew on anything he found, but he especially liked rocks,” says Decker. As a result, he was grinding away his teeth. Markham tried everything from animal bones to radiator hoses attempting to curb the dog’s behavior.

KONG founder Joe Markham’s auto shop.

Nothing worked; Fritz tore everything up and went back to rocks.

“Joe turned to veterinarians and other dog behavior experts to try to take care of the problem,” says Decker. “He hit dead ends at every turn.”

Then one day, while working on a customer’s late 1960s Volkswagen Type 2 Bus, Markham heard Fritz going crazy. With the vehicle’s suspension in a state of disassembly, the chew-crazy canine had gotten hold of a bulbous rubber axle stop that had rolled away from the parts pile 1. And he wasn’t tearing it up.

The pliable yet tough nature of the rubber and its shape made the stop ideal for a dog like Fritz – strong enough to survive under his powerful bite, yet soft enough not to damage his teeth. It made Markham think: “This would be a good dog toy.”

The Volkswagen rubber axle stop that inspired the KONG toy’s shape.

Markham spent the next six years experimenting with the rubber composition, size, and shape of the toy. He even contacted Volkswagen to buy the parts in bulk but couldn’t reach the right person. So, he turned to rubber experts in Germany to finalize the right chemistry and composition. “He wanted to be associated with German build quality and engineering,” says Decker.

Markham settled on a design very similar to the axle stop. It had a rounder, closed top that made it bounce more like an animal trying to escape a predator. “Dogs love that,” says Decker.

Markham started selling the snowman-shaped KONG in 1976. It was an instant hit, and today millions of KONG toys have found homes with dogs around the world – thanks to one dog who just wouldn’t stop chewing on part of a Volkswagen.

Updating the 2022 Jetta and Jetta GLI

September 3, 2021
The 2022 Jetta and Jetta GLI

Hein Schafer, senior vice president of product marketing and strategy with Volkswagen Group of America, introduces the 2022 Jetta and Jetta GLI

Although U.S. buyers are moving more toward SUVs, the sedan segment still represents a significant portion of the market — and the Jetta has been and continues to be a key pillar in the Volkswagen lineup. Since it launched here in 1984, Jetta has grown to become Volkswagen’s most recognizable nameplate in the United States, selling more than 3.5 million units as of 2020.

The Volkswagen Jetta continues to provide a youthful and polished design in addition to reliability and value, while the Jetta GLI delivers an accessible German performance sedan. Here’s how we’re updating the 2022 models to carry these missions forward.

The enhancements for the main Jetta lineup focus on elements that strengthen the value that compact sedan shoppers seek. The 2022 Jetta adds sought after features and delivers an enhanced driving experience with the all-new 1.5-liter engine. It’s also complemented with attractive design enhancements to both the interior and exterior.

Starting with the exterior — you can see that the Jetta features a more open upper and lower grille, giving the car a solid, strong stance. In the rear, there’s a new diffuser featuring chrome accents on either side. New 16- and 17-inch alloy wheel designs range from sporty to sophisticated, and this update also includes a black wheel option available for the SE trim.

Inside, the Jetta’s interior features have been upgraded with subtle design enhancements that offer a more polished finish, adding new decor with modern designs like those in the SEL trim. We’ve also included a new steering wheel design and gear shifter which offers a more modern and sleek appearance. The 2022 Jetta features new textile upgrades, including ceramic contrast stitching found on the door trim panels, the armrest and seats.  Further, the 2022 Jetta now also offers new volcano brown leather seating surfaces and two-tone cloth fabrics including the introduction of a GLI-like cloth in the new sport trim.

In terms of technology and driver assistance features, the 2022 Jetta has been standardized with Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Blind Spot Monitor. 1 The IQ.DRIVE® driver assistance technology is now available on all trims and includes Travel Assist and Emergency Assist — two features that are new to the Jetta line. For standard equipment, the Jetta comes with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, App-Connect for compatible devices, and  Car-Net® with available WiFi. 2 3 Available features include a BeatsAudio® premium sound system, ambient lighting, wireless App-Connect including wireless charging for compatible phones, and ventilated front seats.

The 2022 Jetta and Jetta GLI

The big news under the hood comes from a new engine for the main Jetta line — the latest generation turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder, fitted with new technology and slightly larger displacements to both improve performance and drivability. It delivers 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and will continue to be offered with a manual transmission, remaining true to its roots as a driver’s vehicle.

The GLI exterior upgrades include a new honeycomb grille and a bumper which encompass the signature GLI red accent lines on either side. The design is rounded out with beautiful new 18-inch alloy wheels. A new honeycomb diffuser in the rear sports chrome dual exhaust pipes, with a more amplified sound thanks to better acoustics from enhanced mechanical parts — no fake noises from sound actuators here.

The GLI interior upgrades refine the sporty appearance of this much-loved model. Enhancements include the new red-tinted seat design – the seat perforation is lined with red accents that add a unique depth and sporty appearance, along with new gear shifter and the steering wheel which features that much loved GLI badge.

The 2022 GLI comes in one trim level — Autobahn — that includes a wealth of standard equipment, from haptic-touch steering wheel and IQ.DRIVE driver assistance features to wireless App-Connect and wireless charging for compatible devices. The BeatsAudio system also comes standard, and for the first time a standard DCC adaptive dampening system.

In the spirit of not fixing what wasn’t broken, we’ve kept the GLI 2.0-liter turbo TSI engine, delivering 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, mated to either the seven-speed DSG automatic or a six-speed manual — the essence of affordable performance and driving enjoyment.

In a sea of SUVs, we still believe in the Jetta. It already excelled in terms of space, value and drivability, and we have pushed those elements even further with the 2022 model year. With its punchy new powertrain, additional features and beautiful design enhancements, we can’t wait for customers to experience it for themselves.

Keeping the Westfalia outdoor tradition alive with the Minnesota Westies

September 2, 2021
Setting up camp, complete with awning room, at Carly Lake State Park in Minnesota.

In Volkswagen and #vanlife circles, the “Westy” nickname has a special meaning.

What started as a one-off German conversion in 1951 of a Volkswagen Bus to a mobile living room became a worldwide success under the Westfalia name. The first Westies arrived in America in 1956, and the pop-up roof tents added in later years soon came to symbolize an embrace of the great outdoors all the way through the end of U.S. sales in 2003.

Westfalia campers were surprisingly spacious inside with loads of storage, often equipped with a two-burner stove, sink, a fridge, a couch that converts into a bed, and a second bed in the pop-top. Over the years, owners could add side and rear tents, air conditioning or other creature comforts. In some models, there’s even a special storage bin for a child’s cot. No space is wasted.

Aaron Davidson had long thought about buying a Westy for his camping adventures. After much searching, he found a 1971 Type 2 Bus. Since 2016, he has taken it on adventurous trips all over the U.S. and found a new pack of friends to camp within the Minnesota Westies, an enthusiastic band of owners around the Twin Cities.

Davidson was a member of the Chippewa Valley Volkswagen Club, based in Eau Claire, before he met John Lynden, the founder of the Minnesota Westies, through Instagram.

Davidson came across a post in which Lynden had put a card on the windshield of someone else’s Westy that read: Come camping on Father’s Day weekend? Sign up for the car show and the camping is free!

“I inquired about the meet-up he had planned,” says Davidson. The rest is history.

A Westies meet-up.

Another avid VW enthusiast, Lynden became addicted to the Westy life by taking a camping trip with his kids in 2014.

“My buddy lent us his refurbished 2002 GoWesty Eurovan Westfalia Weekender,” says Lynden. “We went to an area up north where there was no phone reception and no internet. It was incredible.”

On the way home, Lynden decided to buy one. It took a year, but he found a 1989 Vanagon that struck his fancy. “I flew to Colorado and drove the van back to Minnesota before the title was transferred,” Lynden says.

Then, he hit the road, driving it from Tennessee to Florida to Texas to Colorado and beyond. In the spring of 2016, Lynden decided to launch a group of like-minded owners that liked to hit the road and camp out under the stars, passing out cards at the Twin Cities Bug-In that happens every year on the first Sunday in June.

“They had Westy stamped on the front with my number and on the back asked if the recipient wanted to get together and camp out,” says Lynden. “We had five buses that first campout and 12 at the last.”

Though small, the Minnesota Westies are well connected in enthusiast circles around the globe. “I’ve found that this community is willing to drop what they are doing to help a fellow Westfalia owner, whether that be a tow, tools or parts,” says Lynden.

“My engine blew, and I reached out to the club,” Davidson adds. “Almost immediately, someone said they had an engine. Another offered up his shop so that I had a place to install it. Where else does that happen?”

A Westies meet-up.
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