Sunday, September 14, 2008

Volks Wagen Golf

In America, the Rabbit is a trendy, economical urban runabout—little more than a niche car in a market where the Jetta rules VW’s sales roost. But in Europe, where it remains known as the Golf, the diminutive Volkswagen hatchback defines its class. It is VW’s most important model on the Continent, a fact that the company was not trying to hide during the new car’s elaborate international press launch in Reykjav√≠k, Iceland. The Golf is the quintessential Volkswagen, and the new version is spearheading VW’s highly ambitious drive to replace Toyota as the global number one carmaker by 2018.

A Disappointment from the Beginning in Europe

Even though it has been just five years since the fifth-generation Golf was launched in Europe—and not even three years since its U.S. debut as a Rabbit (it is increasingly likely the Golf name will return for this generation)—this replacement doesn’t come a moment too soon. VW sources privately concede the Golf V, as the car is referred to in Europe, was expensive to build but felt cheaper than the Golf IV it replaced. Its looks were debatable. “The Golf V had too many fathers,” explains a high-ranking company executive. “It was nobody’s particular child.”

Dealers and customers complained about the perceived quality. And when VW asked how to do it better, the Golf IV kept coming up as a shining example. “The original Golf and the Golf IV were clear inspirations for the Golf VI,” said VW chairman Martin Winterkorn in Iceland. Incidentally, those two models are still making money for the company: the Golf I is alive and well in South Africa, where it faithfully carries on under the CitiGolf moniker, and the Golf IV is available in Latin America, Canada, and China. The Rabbit/Golf V, by contrast, is already out of production.

Walter de’Silva Pours On de’Awesome

Perhaps most important is the fact that it is much better-looking than the Golf V; indeed, it is the first Volkswagen from new design chief Walter de’Silva. The Passat CC was finished when he came, and the Scirocco, even if its frontal design was significantly altered, was too far in its development process to allow truly extensive changes. This Golf, however, shows the direction in which he’s taking the company. The exterior looks extraordinarily clean. The new car sits lower—as much as two inches, depending on the version. A pronounced character line makes the car look much sportier than its predecessor. This Golf again looks like a car not a minivan.

In the interior, there is no visible trace of any cost-cutting whatsoever. This car’s richness is easy to appreciate, and it invites you to look at the details. It’s somewhat easy to fix perceived quality by throwing in more expensive materials, but VW also targeted cost with the Golf VI. This car is cheaper to produce than the Golf V, say analysts, thanks to the application of less costly production techniques, wiser purchasing, and economies of scale. So, does it feel cheaper? In a word, no.

Although we lament the passing of the unique and futuristic blue instrumentation, the icy white glow of the Golf VI’s gauges looks its part, too. The tach and the speedometer are located within round tubes, and like the vents and shifter, they are surrounded by metallic accents that look more expensive than anything else we’ve seen in this class. The seats seem too firm at first, but they grow on you as miles accumulate. There is classy piano finish around the nav system, and as a whole the new car has modern shapes that even evoke current Alfa Romeo styling touches.

The touch-screen nav system is cool. For several functions, you don’t need to push buttons repeatedly—you simply slide your finger across the screen, as with an iPhone. One demerit: The gimmicky “rocket” button, which provides a space-view perspective for a few seconds before returning to the previous map scale, is perhaps over the top.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Used Cars With New Car Reliability

Second hand car never had quite the ring to it that people wanted to boast about. This label portrayed a rather battered, rusty old car that would limp along and break down regularly. It was only the don't thing to be able to be seen in a new car. However, this was hardly a fair opinion to hold unless you had actually had experience of a second hand car. After all, drive down the road and would you know if that passing vehicle had had one careful owner or twenty? You simply wouldn't.

Car manufacturers have always encouraged people to upgrade their vehicles in their bid to continually sell new cars. However, attitudes are now changing, mainly thanks to the effort that manufacturers are putting in to giving a better image to used vehicles.

The credit crises is biting and while people have now got to the point where they wouldn't be without a car, not everyone wants to spend a huge proportion of their hard earned wages on transport to get them to the place that will earn them those exact same wage. To that end, the second hand car market has taken an upturn.

Manufacturers want to sell new cars and to this end, they have needed to make provision for all the used vehicles this leaves available. Many manufacturers now implement special programmes that recycle used cars that have come to the end of their lives and this is not only good for the environment but shows them to be responsible manufacturers. These same responsible companies will also provide a list of used vehicles that meet a certain standard and are fit for many more years use.

One such manufacturer is BMW. Buying a used BMW from an approved dealer means that you will not only get a reliable car at a reduced rate but you can also ensure your used BMW has undergone the most rigorous of checks to ensure it meets a certain standard. It will come with a guarantee of mechanical parts and also some of the best safety features in the business. A used BMW is always best from an approved dealer as you cannot always be sure of these checks when buying them from your average high street forecourt. The little extra you will pay will always be worth the peace of mind that comes with it.

Ford also do their own line in used vehicles. Buying a used vehicle from a Ford dealer will mean you can drive for at least two years with priceless peace of mind that a warranty and RAC inspection bring. A whole new competitive market has built up around used cars and Ford won the used car of the year award in 2007.

This is a highly competitive market these days and is excellent news for the consumer. It means that we get to drive high quality vehicles at much reduced prices with virtually all the conveniences that a new car brings, avoiding the hiccups that often accompany new cars.

Mercedes-Benz are another car manufacturer who pride themselves on the grade of their used cars. The employ skilled technicians to go through some extremely rigorous checks to ensure that every Mercedes that is put onto the open market is one that is as near to a new car in quality as they can get it. They also offer a service that means if you are not happy with the used Mercedes of your choice, you have thirty days to take it back and exchange it. This is an excellent facility given that it can often take several weeks of using your new car to discover all its little foibles and decide if its the car for you or not.

So it would seem that whether you are looking for a used BMW, used Mercedes or used Ford, you will have a wide choice of reliable cars open to you and the recommendation is to use an approved dealership for any used car you are looking for to ensure reliability and safety.

Credit to: Catherine Harve