dsc_5481It started out simple… A depression era solution to Germany’s shortages of food and mobility. The good Doctor Porsche gave us a tractor and -err- borrowed the Beetle’s design from studio mate Hans Ledwinka. Got hijacked by the Nazis, cast off by the allies postwar, then made a loveable comeback and stole our hearts. When the Beetle grew old, VW gave us the Golf, a car that would haul as much as a small truck on half the fuel and run with the sports cars on the way home empty. Upmarket, VW gave us front drive Audis topped by Quatros, and world beater Porsches. When it came time to haul by the ton, VW gave us Transporters and even a TDI minitruck.

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Yes, that’s a VW badge on the front, thanks to VW for the evidence of guilt. Good thing they put their badge on it though, because it looks just like any of a dozen other SUVs in the market. Yes, this is supposed to be VW’salvation- a 7 seat, 16 foot long, 6 and a half foot wide SUV to further clog the rugged parking lots of ‘merican shopping malls. And that transporter  you’ve been lusting over for better than a decade? Gonna have to leave ‘merica to get one.

Now I could just say “I can still get a Golf, and hold my nose when I walk by this design disaster”. But VW showrooms are rather small, even the new remuddled ones, so somethin’s gonna have to go, and this whale on wheels will probably displace the Golf and another VW too. OK, so we can fall back and get a Passat? Better grab one before the next revision, because this whale shares the same MQB platform as the Passat, and probably weights half a ton more… VW ain’t talkin’ bought that. So either this whale will break a lot of Passat chassis bits, or the next Passat that shares those bits will be a lot heavier.

VW survived in America for decades by being European, bringing us manual transmissions, diesels, efficient packaging, and a bunch of other goodies the big three failed to provide. Same with Suburu’s specialization in four wheel drive and Mazda’s Miata, now the world’s all time best selling sports car. As business sage Peter Drucker said: “Find a niche and fill it”. VW had a comfortable niche, now they’ve entered the mass market price wars with a dozen or better other SUVs, with nothing to differentiate their product but maybe price.

VW, you’ve lost me. If you get your act together and have something useful  in the way of four wheelers to offer, I’ll be hangin’ with Ford. Or maybe I’ll play the field with Suburu or even Chevy…

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