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First Look: Volkswagen Jetta Wagon

Three images leak out before Geneva unveiling.

by on Mar.02, 2013

What VW has dubbed the GolfVariant may land in the U.S. as the next Jetta SportWagen.

Preparing for an auto show involves a bit of cat-and-mouse interaction between automakers and automotive journalists. The industry “flacks” often give trusted reporters an advance look at the products they’re planning to introduce but occasionally, someone jumps the embargo and it becomes fair game for all.

As has happened with the three images you see here of what Volkswagen has been calling its “Golf Variant.” A better way to think of it is as the next-generation Jetta SportWagen.  The original plans called for the new 2-box design to make its formal debut at a splashy debut staged prior to the formal opening of the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

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Unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait for that event to get VW officials to spill the complete story but here’s what we’ve learned so far: The GolfVariant, as its name suggests, is based on the all-new MQB small car platform Volkswagen has adopted – one that will be used for a wide range of products sold not just under the VW brand but also for marques as diverse as Skoda and Audi.


First Drive: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Can an American offering dominate the compact car segment?

by on Aug.02, 2010

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is positioned to challenge the Asian brands that have long dominated the compact segment.

American automakers have never been fond of small cars, products that seldom, if ever, yielded serious profits.  Sure, there’ve been a couple valiant efforts, from General Motors a list that notably includes the controversial Chevrolet Vega, but often, Detroit’s offerings have been little more than reluctant afterthoughts.

That’s reflected in the sales and market share charts which have long been dominated by Japanese imports such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.  But could the compact car segment by ripe for a revolution?  As a well-regarded media analyst recently suggested, we may soon see a time when the best small cars on the market come from Detroit.

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While we’ll have to wait a bit to get behind the wheel of the U.S. version of Ford’s next-generation Focus, we did have some extended driving time in the new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.  And what we experienced supports the idea that this new Chevy offering could displace its Japanese rivals as the benchmark to beat. (See Driving the Chevrolet Cruze – Mixing it up between the mid-size and compact segments.)