The Volkswagen Group has turned the tables on Porsche and can now focus on stocking its own vast portfolio of brands. The last VW Rabbit/GTI had a brief tenure, with new versions of each (the former now called the Golf) making their way here this year. However, neither model will get VW to its lofty U.S. sales targets. The Audi Q5 will likely find much broader acceptance than the largely ignored Q7. At the same time, the brand is expanding its diesel line with the A3 TDI. VW also has to maintain its portfolio of premium brands amid a meltdown in demand for those cars. For the few who still have enough money, Bugatti has the new Veyron Grand Sport, and Lamborghini offers its Murcilago LP670-4 SV. The big news for Bentley is the Arnage replacement, which was unveiled in August.
Volkswagen Golf and GTI
New: The sixth generation of VW's venerable hatchback lands on our shores this fall. The Rabbit badge is retired once again in favor of the Golf nameplate, which is what the car is called elsewhere in the world. This new model is a careful evolution of the last one, with mostly carryover driveline and suspension.
Noteworthy: Proportions are largely the same as last year's Rabbit, but VW design deity Walter de'Silva has made the Golf look wide, low, and butch. A gorgeous and ultraquiet new cabin steps on Audi's toes with its material and build quality. VW's mainstay remains available in multiple trim levels - the base car for those seeking German engineering and hatchback versatility on a budget, the TDI for hybridlike fuel economy with some Fahrvergnügen, and the GTI for thrill seekers.
On Sale: October
Base Price: $17,500/$25,000 (Golf/GTI, est.)
Specs: 2.5L I-5, 170 hp, 177 lb-ft; 2.0L turbo-diesel I-4, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft; 2.0L turbo I-4, 200 hp, 207 lb-ft; front-wheel drive