VW sees U.S. demand for new Golf wagon
GENEVA -- Volkswagen, staying loyal to the traditional station wagon, introduced its next-generation compact wagon at the Geneva auto show.
The wagon, which is identical to the new seventh-generation Golf from the front bumper to the B-pillar, is scheduled to go on sale in Europe in August and in the United States in late 2014. It will replace the current model, known as the Golf Variant in Europe and as the Jetta SportWagen in the United States.
The move underscores how Volkswagen still sees demand in the United States for conventional wagons, a longtime staple of the car market that has lost market share to SUVs and crossovers. Volkswagen's sister brand, Audi, recently went in the other direction when it replaced its A4 Avant wagon with the crossoverlike allroad for the 2013 model year.
The wagon, unveiled Monday night during a Volkswagen Group press conference, is one of three Golf variations that the automaker is introducing at the Geneva auto show. The others are the gasoline-powered GTI and diesel-burning GTD, the high-performance versions of the hatchback, which is the brand's global best-seller.
Volkswagen says the wagon will be built at the automaker's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, where the current model is built. Like the seventh-generation Golf, which is already on sale in Europe and will also be built in Puebla starting next year, the next-generation SportWagen will use Volkswagen's new MQB architecture.
Volkswagen has not announced a U.S. release date, but the car will not go on sale for "well over a year," a Volkswagen spokesman said. He said the wagon will not arrive until after the U.S. launch of the seventh-generation Golf, which is slated to go on sale in late spring 2014, and did not rule out the possibility of a 2015 release.
Volkswagen also has not decided whether to name the new model after the Jetta or the Golf in the U.S. Another option would be to let the SportWagen name stand alone. The spokesman noted that the SportWagen name "has a lot of equity," suggesting it will likely remain in the name of the new model one way or another.
The wagon will keep the Golf Variant badging in Europe, where drivers will be able to choose between five turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engines and three TDI diesel engines. The gasoline engines range from 85 to 140 hp while the diesels range from 105 to 150 hp.
Volkswagen will offer U.S. drivers a diesel and a turbocharged gasoline version, likely the 1.8L TSI that will become the base engine for the Puebla-built Golf.
Volkswagen says the wagon has shed up to 232 pounds from the previous generation and will come standard with a stop-start system and regenerative braking, helping fuel economy.
Both the 105- and 150-hp TDI diesel engines will have an all-wheel-drive version available, though Volkswagen has not announced whether that option will be available in the United States.
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