Top 7 New Car Models for 2012

Fiat 500.

Buying a new car is still one of life’s most exciting moments, and with 2012 just around the corner, the new models are starting to hit the show floors right now. Everyone has an idea about what makes the perfect car, but no matter which model you choose, 2012 cars are the first to have to comply with the stricter gas usage requirements (an average of 33.3 mpg) set by the National Highway Safety Administration.

Here are seven 2012 models from traditional car manufacturers that are anything but traditional.

Volkswagen Golf R:
Good gas mileage and Volkswagen have always gone hand in hand. The Golf R model promises to continue that tradition, plus include all-wheel drive and a six-speed transmission.

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Top Gear Capsule Review: VW GTI MK1

Richard Hammond has been running a series on Top Gear’s website about his favorite cars from the past. This week was on the original Golf GTI, the first hot hatch. What makes the original GTI legendary is its simplicity: low power, low weight, Guigario design, and all fun. It was supposed to be a brief fling for VW, but turned into something much more.

Hammond sums up the GTI as:

It was pioneered by a young engineer: Alfons Löwenberg. In 1974, he got his workmates together in their spare time at Wolfsburg to work on what they called the ‘Sport Golf’. They had no idea that their creation would go on to become one of the stone-cold, rock-solid, gold-standard, class-A motoring icons. It was just a sporty version of a small car.

But it went on to have a following of a breadth and level of intensity that eclipses pop stars. Proof that they had no idea about the future comes when you learn that they planned to make 5,000 cars, and it wasn’t going to be available in right-hand drive. Just a bit of fun then, a little special. Several million later, and it’s a legend.

What the GTI proves ahead of all else is that you don’t need much to make a great car. Its modern progeny may have exponentially more power, features, and sophistication, but no one has gotten the original recipe of the GTI right. A bit of simplicity would go a long way in bringing back the feeling of the original GTI in any car trying to make an impression.

It is with this in mind that it is exciting to see hot hatch variants come out from the B segment cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Fiat 500 Abarth since traditional C-segment hatchbacks are too big and expensive. These smaller, lighter descendants are sure to bring the fun back to a segment that takes itself too seriously.

The full article of Richard Hammond’s thoughts on the MK1 GTI can be read here.


Porsche 550 Revival

Reports from British car magazine Autocar state that Porsche is inspired by the 550 Spyder for their newest sports car. This will be the new entry level Porsche, and slot in under the Boxster. The 500 Spyder is one of Porsche’s most iconic models, and was incredibly important in putting Porsche on the map with gentleman racers and celebrities, including James Dean, who died in one. Its successor was non other than the 911. It is a strong claim then to affix such a lofty target for the entry level Porsche.

Porsche boss Matthias Mueller goes on further to explain the type of engine we will see when this car debuts:

The Porsche is expected to be based on a new mid-engined aluminium and steel platform being developed by Audi which will also be used for the proposed Audi R4 roadster.

The Porsche will probably from £35,000 slotting in underneath the next-generation Boxster, which will grow notably in size and cost. The car will get a new four-cylinder boxer engine that will also power the Boxster, the Cayman and potentially even the 911. Sources say the flat four motor is sized at 2.5-litres and has been producing around 360bhp in turbocharged form.

Let’s hope this project is a larger sales success than the last Audi engineered Porsche, the 944. However, if they are shooting for the 500 Spyder as a spiritual target, my bets are on Porsche getting this car right, even with a turbo-4.

For the full Autocar article, follow this link.


Golf GTI Edition 35 Reviewed

British car magazine EVO just finished reviewing the the VW Golf GTI Edition 35. The VW Golf GTI Edition 35 is a European only model that celebrates the 35th anniversary of the GTI’s introduction. The Edition 35 is subtly tweaked inside and out from the stock GTI with more power, some new body parts, and some traditional GTI interior cues (such as a golfball shift knob).

EVO had this to say about how these tweaks affect overall performance:

Technical highlights?
The in-line, turbocharged four cylinder is actually a detuned version of the Golf R’s engine rather than a tweaked version of the standard GTI’s motor. It puts out 232bhp (25bhp more than the standard car), which makes it the fastest production GTI ever. Happy Birthday indeed.

What’s it like to drive?
The most noticeable thing about the new engine is how it really likes to be revved – unusual for a turbocharged unit. It is, as you’d expect, also slightly quicker. In these days of RS500 Foci, the 35 doesn’t feel like a fireball, but where the standard car felt just a little lacklustre for a modern hot hatch, the 35 feels more on the current pace.

The 35 will be offered with either a manual or DSG twin-clutch gearbox and in both three- and five-door variants. The gearbox choice is really down to personal preference (I’d have the manual, but the DSG works fantastically and I can see the appeal), however things are a little more clear-cut when it comes to body styles. Get the three-door if you can because it feels noticeably stiffer and slightly sharper to drive.

There’s a lovely polish to the manners of the GTI with steering, pedal weight and ride all smooth and precise. Occasionally you feel it would benefit from a few more teeth in the way it handles but it’s still a great thing to dissect a good piece of road with.

As of right now, VW has no plans to introduce the Edition 35 here. Pity

For more details and pictures of the Edition 35 in action, check out the article here.


Volkswagen celebrates the 21st century Beetle with Pete Wentz

Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group America greeted media and guests from around the world alongside celebrity music artist and DJ Pete Wentz to unveil the third generation, 21st Century Beetle yesterday. The morning kicked off with a personalized spin session from Wentz featuring songs from longtime friend and business partner Travis McCoy, and of course hip hop selections. Cheering Volkswagen fans sipped mimosas and noshed on mini bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and other morning favorites.

The sleek new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, only the third generation of this beloved iconic car, showcases the company’s style, performance, and the latest advances in German engineering. The 21st Century Beetle debuted on three continents this morning starting in Shanghai, China followed by events in Berlin and Lower Manhattan.

“I’m stoked to be here celebrating the unveiling of the 21st century Beetle,” Wentz remarked, before heading over to the chic red model for a second mini-session. “I love that the new Beetle is so sleek—it’s totally a guy’s car and I could see myself driving this updated version of the classic.” When asked if he had any cherished Volkswagen memories, as so many Americans do, Wentz smirked and divulged, “My favorite Volkswagen memory is getting to second base in the back seat!”

The event featured an introduction from Jonathan Browning and remarks from Luca de Meo, head of Global Marketing, and Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the brand. For more information on the 21st Century Beetle, visit or

Photo credited to: Johnny Nunez


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