Posts Tagged ‘Volkswagen’

Just announced earlier this morning from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) announced the names of 11 vehicles that will now compete for 2012 Canadian Car, and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.

The annual event known as Testfest and held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, brought 70 Canadian automotive journalists together to road and track test some 57, 2012 model year vehicles now arriving in dealer showrooms.

Today’s announcement followed almost a week of rigourous road and track testing by AJAC members, with the purpose of narrowing a field of 57 entries down to winners in 11 categories.

The winners in the 11 categories are:

  • Best New Small Car under $21K: Hyundai Accent
  • Best New Small Car over $21K: Hyundai Elantra
  • Best New Family Car under $30K: KIA Optima LX
  • Best New Family Car over $30K: KIA Optima Hybrid
  • Best New Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350 4MATICSedan
  • Best New Sports/Performance Car under $50K: Hyundai Veloster
  • Best New Sports/Performance Car over $50K: BMW 1 Series M Coupe
  • Best New Prestige Car over $75K: Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350 Bluetec 4MATIC
  • Best New SUV/CUV under $35K: Dodge Journey
  • Best New SUV/SUV $35K-60K: Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel
  • Best New SUV/CUV over $60K: BMW X3

Did you spot the lonely North American automobile? Does this surprise you? Seriously?

The AJAC 2011 car of the year was General Motors Cruz; is that once highly regarded vehicle now considered flavour of the month – yesterday’s news?

Of the 70 Canadian journalists who participated in Testfest this month, there are few, if any changes from last year. Why the apparent about face? Public opinion? Or can North America not build a decent automobile? Hold on a moment; consider Honda Canada with their Alliston manufacturing facilities. Recently back on line at full production, they are producing between 1,400 and 1,600 Honda Civics per day for the North American market. A Japanese car, built in Canada that may well lay claim shortly to its 14th consecutive year of being Canada’s number one selling car. When was the last time we saw that honourable statistic bestowed upon one of Detroit’s Big 3? Oh yes, right… before there was any serious competition from European or Asian manufacturers, that’s when.

I digress. As can clearly be seen, Korean automakers did extremely well, actually winning five of the 11 categories — including the KIA Optima, which sewed up both family car categories.

If you follow cars, the end result may not come as a complete surprise to many. For the past couple of years, Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, a once bankrupt manufacturer not too many years ago has been bringing cars to the market with tremendous style and appeal while loaded with safety features and excellent value for the dollar.

We’ll still have to wait a few months to hear the declared overall winners for 2012 Canadian Car of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year; they’ll be announced at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto in February 2012.

One wonders; given the bailouts in North America to some automakers who were teetering on the brink, can they too, in the future return to their once former glory? Or are the stakes quite simply way too high?

Time and public opinion will tell.

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2011 Golf GTI

In 2010, Volkswagen (VW) overhauled the GTI, adding fresh changes that included chrome exhaust pipes, angular headlights and an upscale interior that rivals Audi. In fact a well-known on line reviewer, edmonds.com stated, “The VW GTI’s interior is quite simply, the best in its class. It’s so nice, in fact, that it could be mistaken for a cabin from sister company Audi, save for the plaid fabric seats.”

The interior and exterior receive minor updates for 2011. VW also added classier features to the premium packages. Volkswagen hasn’t touched the mechanics because the Volkswagen GTI is one of the best driving sporty hatchbacks on the market. While it might not be perhaps as quick or even nimble as other sport hatchbacks, it does provide an overall superior driving experience. German engineering, after all.

Available with a long list of options as standard equipment such as Bluetooth and satellite radio, the 2011 GTI, starting with a manufacturer’s suggested price of $28,875 however, isn’t best in class performance-wise. But unless consumers plan on drag racing, the GTI is near perfect for driving-enthusiasts. Available with optional 18” alloy wheels and low-profile performance tires, coupled with the ever-reliable 2.0 TSI, 200hp, 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic DSG with Tiptronic® and all tied into dual chrome exhaust pipes, this is one serious vehicle for the driver that wants to make a statement; looking cool but being a little eco-minded, too. It is still a turbocharged 4-cylinder.

2011 Volkswagen Golf GTI somewhere near Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON