VW aims to bounce back from lacklustre recent US sales with a brace of new models, starting in 2015. Among the new VWs is a large seven-seat SUV, a stretched Tiguan 4x4 also destined for China, and a new Passat coupe family.
VW’s key new US-bound SUVs
America’s relentless appetite for large SUVs is being supported by demand from China and Russia, so VW is set to give the people exactly what they want. A production version of the CrossBlue concept 4x4 will be offered in 2016, in five- or seven-seat configurations. Despite being larger than VW’s ultimate SUV, the Touareg, the showroom-spec CrossBlue is expected to be cheaper than the next Touareg.
And while the next Touareg will continue platform-sharing with the Porsche Cayenne, the new SUV will be based on the MQB-B platform that’s destined to support the new Passat in 2015. The stretched MQB platform can’t fit six-cylinder engines in the engine bay, so VW’s large SUV will depend on turbocharged four-pot petrols and diesels, perhaps boosted by plug-in battery power, as per the new Golf GTE hybrid hot hatch.
However, even if boosted to between 230bhp and 300bhp as expected, the new SUV could find itself outpaced by V6-driven competition from US and Japanese car makers.
VW is set to spin off a long-wheelbase version of the Mk2 Tiguan in 2015. Also based on the do-it-all MQB platform, it’s likely VW will invest massively in its US-based car plants, bringing MQB tooling on-stream to increase mid-size model production capacity. Alternatively, VW could choose a Mexican facility as the base for its expanded efforts.
What about non-4x4 VWs?
A new Jetta Estate is thought to be in the pipeline, sitting a rung below the Golf Estate in the VW portfolio. A taller, plastic-clad Jetta Estate Alltrack 4x4 (think Audi A4 Allroad, but cheaper) is in the plan too, aimed at dragging buyers away from mainstream crossovers and into the clutches of Volkswagen.
All sounds a bit, well, practical…
Then get your fingers crossed that the mooted Passat ‘coupe’ project gets the green light. Smaller than the CC coupe we get in Europe, the svelte four-door gets new styling, a restyled glasshouse, and could itself be offered in go-anywhere Alltrack trim.
Why is VW getting bullish in the US market?
Because while the VW Group has gone from strength to strength in Europe, its US operations are lagging way behind – in what should be a goldmine of a market.
While US buyers prefer annual updates to cars (hence the American ‘model-year’ system), VW has stubbornly stuck to a Europe-style six-year model cycle with a facelift inbetween. A more regularly updated range is what’s needed if VW is to replicate its European success across The Pond.
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