Tag Archives: Volkswagen Golf

2016 Scion iM

Sporty Scion iM epitomizes simple driving funscion iM

Maybe because I test drive so many trucks and crossovers these days, but a week behind the wheel of a sporty hatchback is refreshing. It reminds you that driving, at its simplest levels, can be fun.

Scion, the low-cost arm of Toyota, has figured this out. Let’s hope others follow suit.

This week’s automotive refreshment was Scion’s iM, a four-door hatch built on the European Auris platform, similar to a Corolla. Old timers, like me, may think of this as a new Celica, but it’s actually more sound and entertaining to drive.

First, the iM, which is a step up and completely different from the recently tested iA sedan, only comes in one trim, base. It starts at $18,460 with a $795 delivery fee. That gives you front-drive, a fairly peppy 137-horse 1.8-liter I4 with CVVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing), and a slick shifting manual 6-speed. Torque is 126 ft.-lbs. and gas mileage is EPA rated at 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. I got 30.9 mpg in about 60% city driving.

I know you’re thinking all that sounds less than supercar exciting, and you’re right. But for less than $20 grand this is sporty and practical, not your dad’s Corolla! Get it?

First, I like the lines, especially the iM’s nose. Another car critic said the look is 1990s sporty, but consider that some magazine car critics still think the current Volkswagen Golf looks modern and trendy. Sporty is in the eye of the beholder to be sure, but the sharp nose here and LED running lights give iM pizazz. Continue reading 2016 Scion iM

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2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI S 4-Door

New VW Golf looks old, feels newgolf2

There’s a saying about everything old being new again, and the reworked 2015 Volkswagen Golf is a sterling example.

The Golf and Rabbit hatchbacks have been sold by VW since 1974, this latest iteration being the seventh generation. Toyota’s Corolla is one of the few competitors to be around longer, it launching in 1966.

Still, the essence, the useful four-door hatchback that’s fun to drive remains the same for Golf. And while its lines have been tweaked a bit and the car stretched by 2.1 inches, you’ll have no trouble picking out of a crowd. Golf looks like a Golf, for better or worse.

That’s a matter of taste, but from a performance standpoint, the Golf is easily one of the more fun compacts on the road. Handling and ride are as good as, or better, than most of its competitors, and it has a lot of worthy competitors, such as the Mazda3, which also is a delight.

Golf is just flat out fun to drive. Its steering is light and easy, helped by the car’s modest 2,963 lbs., about 79 lbs. lighter than the previous Golf. The car also is responsive so you can toss this hatch into a corner at speed and feel good about it.

There is precious little body roll and Golf’s front-drive layout helps it track well through a corner, while the electrically assisted steering is speed variable, so firms as you hit the highway. Naturally we’re not racing these, but you feel sporty in the Golf and more importantly on Wisconsin’s deteriorating roads, the car handles and rides well over bumps. This is what surprised me most. Continue reading 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI S 4-Door

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel

New Cruze Turbo Diesel promises great fuel mileage

Give Chevrolet full credit on this one, it took a turbo diesel it uses in Europe, a hot bed for turbo diesels, and plunked it into its popular Cruze for the U.S. market.Cruze D1

Why the accolades for Chevy? Well, it’s the first U.S. automaker to give us a clean turbo diesel that gets way above average mileage and is affordable. Oh, and it also outperforms its only competition, Volkswagen, in the vital highway mileage department. Bravo!

Plus, because Milwaukee is a leading market for diesel sales (no one is sure why!), we get first crack at the new Chevy turbo diesel, while other Midwest markets may have to wait months to see one. A GM spokesman tells me the Cruze diesels should be in Milwaukee area dealerships shortly.

But I got my hands on one already and I can tell you it was pretty impressive.

Here are the basics. Chevrolet is using its proven 2.0-liter I4, turbo diesel from its European branch in the mid-size Cruze, already a favorite with young families and stingy Baby Boomers who know a bargain when they see one. The diesel delivers about 148 hp, but a whopping 258 ft.-lbs. of torque smoothly via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Continue reading 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel