2015 - 2019

Australian Volkswagen History

By Phil Matthews



The revised Polo made the finals of the News Ltd CarsGuide COTY award (won by the Mercedes-Benz C200), and lost out to the Mazda2 Maxx in the competing Fairfax Drive awards. However the Golf R did win the Drive Best Performance Car Under $60,000. In the NRMA/RACV/RACQ awards, Volkswagen won three categories. The Golf 90TSI was Best Small Car Under $35,000; the Golf GTI was Best Sports Car Under $50,000; and the Passat Alltrack was Best SUV $65,000-$135,000. No VWs made it to the final five of the Wheels Cars of the Year, which was controversially won by the BMW i3 electric car.

Club VW celebrates its 30th birthday with a run from Parramatta to St Albans, a re-running of the Club’s first ever run in 1985. The original starting point of Old Government House at Parramatta Park was no longer available due to redevelopment, so we started from Hungry Jacks. Over 35 VWs turned up for a relaxing navigation cruise through north-west Sydney and Wisemans Ferry to St Albans, worked out by Lily, and a BBQ lunch and a beer at the end. Happy Birthday Club Veedub!

With the normal Polo range being revised last year, the much-awaited updated Polo GTI finally joins the Australian range. The Polo GTI has replaced the old 1.4-litre turbo with a 1.8-litre turbo engine from the Golf family. The new engine makes 141 kW, 9 kW more than before, while torque is up to 320 Nm (250 Nm with DSG). Both the 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 sec, some 0.2 sec quicker than before. The Polo GTI includes new tech such as touchscreen and Bluetooth, stop-start engine system and multi-collision brake safety system. The Polo GTI manual starts at $27,490, and the DSG at $29,990. An additional Luxury Package is available for an extra $3300, and a Drivers Package for $1700. A couple of months after its local launch, the Polo GTI is upgraded further, receiving the Sport Select suspension package.

The Golf Cabriolet is now available exclusively in a new Exclusive model, the sole model available for Australian buyers. The same 1.4-litre 118 kW twin-charger engine continues, with a 7-speed DSG the only gearbox choice – the manual has been dropped. New trim and extra features matching those of the Golf Highline have been added, such as leather, bi-xenon lights, LED running lights, parking sensors and an improved info-tainment system. The price has increased to $43,990, effectively moving up to where the discontinued Eos was in the lineup.

After rumours that it would be axed from the local lineup, the Scirocco R continues on and is both updated slightly and reduced in price. It gets a redesigned grille, larger lower air intakes and a gloss black rear diffuser, revised bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights and daytime running lights, matt chrome side mirrors and 19-inch ‘Cadiz’ alloy wheels. Australian Scirocco Rs miss out on the Euro 206 kW engine, which is detuned to 188 kW for our ‘hot’ country. The Scirocco R now starts at $45,990 for the six-speed manual, and $48,490 for the 6-speed DSG.

The almost-forgotten Jetta range receives a long overdue upgrade, with sharper and more modern styling touches to match the Golf 7 (the Jetta is still based on the Golf 6). The base 1.4-litre twin-charge 118TSI Trendline now comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, leather steering wheel and gear knob, driver fatigue system, cruise control, air-con, touchscreen, and eight-speaker audio system. Prices start from $22,790 for the manual and $25,290 for the DSG. The 118TSI Comfortline adds 17-inch alloys, chrome trim, auto lights and wipers, auto-dipping side mirrors with puddle lamps, reverse camera, climate control, sat-nav and improved trim with woodgrain highlights. Prices start from $29,990. The 118TSI Highline adds leather, heated seats and proximity key and starts at $33,990, or $36,490 for the equivalent 103TDI diesel. The top model is the 155TSI Highline Sport, which adds 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon lights, LED running lights, tinted taillights and windows, paddle shifters and a chrome exhaust. It starts at $39,990.

The large local Amarok range gains increased equipment and specification levels for the diesel versions including 4Motion now available across a broader range of models, while axing the petrol versions. Only TDI engines are now available. The new entry model is the 2WD TDI340 from $31,490 (cab-chassis) or $32,990 (twin-cab ute), replacing the old TSI300. The 2WD TDI420 is also available in two body styles, priced from $36,490 to $37,990. TDI400 and TDI420 4WD single cabs (manual and auto) are priced from $35,490 to $39,990 depending on engine, gearbox and trim choices. The TDI400 and TDI420 dual cabs come in Core, Trendline, Highline and Ultimate trims levels. Prices begin at $41,490 and top out at $65,490 for the TDI420 Ultimate 8-speed auto.

The big Touareg SUV also gets an upgrade, with sharper exterior styling, and updated interior and subtle specification changes. The range is simplified and only three variations are now available – the 150TDI, V6 TDI and V8 TDI. The off-road focused V6 TDI 4XMotion has been dropped. All Touaregs come with a long list of standard equipment, including 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lights, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, touchscreen, sat-nav, driver fatigue system, collision avoidance, cruise control, partial leather and heated seats. . The base 150TDI starts at $67,990, while the 3.0-litre 180 kW/550 Nm V6 TDI is $81,990 and adds 20-inch alloys, electronic air suspension, power tailgate, woodgrain trim, and alarm with towaway protection. The flagship 4.2-litre 250 kW/800 Nm V8 TDI comes with 21-inch alloys, proximity key, push-button start, climate control, adaptive cruise control, heated sports seats, 12-speaker audio system and dark windows. Prices start at $114,990.

Volkswagen Australia boss John White, a Canadian who had held the position since 2013, announces his resignation and imminent return to Canada. His desire had been to lift VW into the top 5 in Australia, but he was unsuccessful. He struggled with VW’s after-sales support, especially parts and service, which had been rated poor for a number of years. He made no attempt whatever to interact with VW clubs and VW enthusiasts in his time in charge. His replacement is Michael Bartsch (photo), an Australian who had spent a decade as boss of Porsche Cars North America and Infiniti America. He is the first Australian to head Volkswagen Australia since Peter Sturrock headed importers TKM back in the early 1990s. He is the first under the post-2000 factory-owned Volkswagen Group Australia. We’re told he owns a Karmann Ghia, so it sounds like he’s a proper VW enthusiast too.

The latest Mk7 version of the Golf Alltrack is launched. The high-riding AWD Golf wagon is available in just one model, with a new 1.8-litre single turbo four producing 132 kW / 240 Nm and a 6-speed DSG. The ride height is 20 mm higher and the 4Motion AWD system uses a Haldex 5 hydraulic clutch to send up to 50% torque to the rear wheels. Standard features include 17-inch wheels, leather seats, climate control, reverse camera, touchscreen, Bluetooth and infotainment system. Prices start at $37,990, with the option of a $2500 Sports Luxury Pack and a $1300 Driver Assistance Pack.

The latest Mk8 ‘B8’ Passat is finally launched in Australia, over a year after its European debut. The new Passat sits on VW’s MQB platform and is shorter and lower than the earlier model but has a longer wheelbase. Both sedan and wagons are offered, with just two different engines – a 1.8-litre turbo petrol with 132 kW / 240 Nm, and a Euro 6 2.0-litre TDI with 140 kW / 400 Nm. All models come with a long line of features. The range starts with the 132TSI sedan at $34,990, with the Comfortline sedan at $39,990. The equivalent wagons are $36,990 and $41,990. The 140TDI Highline sedan is $45,990, and the Highline wagon is $47,990. R-Line packages are also available for an additional $2500; Highline Luxury packages for $3500 and Driver Assistance packages for $1800.

For the third year in a row, the Volkswagen Motorsport Red Bull Polo WRC team wins Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour, this time finishing 1-2. The Sebastien Ogier Polo WRC was again first outright; the Jari-Matti Latvala Polo WRC was a close second. Third was a Citroen and Andreas Mikkelsen in the other Polo WRC was fourth. Again, with its unassailable lead, Volkswagen wins the World Rally Championship, for the third year in a row.

The news breaks of VW’s US market diesel scandal, where VW TDI vehicles had software fitted to detect when they were being emissions tested, and adjust the engine management system to ensure the car passed the test, especially for nitrogen oxides (NOx). Later the system reverts to normal operation, ensuring excellent performance but with illegal levels of NOx. The results are costly for VW in the litigious USA, but the results are less relevant for Australia as US-style NOx testing is not done here. Nonetheless, the ACCC begins investigations into Volkswagen Australia.

Volkswagen sets a new all-time Australian sales record in 2015, selling 60,255 vehicles – an increase of 5,454 vehicles on 2014 (+9.96 %). It’s the first time ever that more than 60,000 VWs are sold here in one year and VW’s sales grew three times more than the market in general. VW finished well ahead of Subaru and Honda, just behind Nissan and Ford, and finishes in 8th place (overall) among the Australian market car makers for the fifth year in a row. New all-time Australian sales records are set for the Polo, Golf, Multivan, Amarok and Touareg. The Golf’s record sales of 22,092 is VW’s third-best ever one-model-one-year result, behind only the VW 1200 Beetle in 1960 (24,388) and 1964 (22,293). The Golf actually passes the VW 1200 in 1964 if you include Golf Cabrios and AllTracks (22,662 altogether). Volkswagen is Australia's most popular European brand, for the eleventh year in a row.

60,225 Volkswagens are sold – 3 Up!s, 9,694 Polos, 240 Beetles, 22,092 Golfs, 288 Golf Cabriolets, 282 Golf AllTracks, 2,541 Jettas, 367 Sciroccos, 2,292 Passats, 249 Passat AllTracks, 161 CCs, 159 Caddy Lifes, 819 Multivans, 71 Caravelles, 1,755 Caddys, 1,346 Transporters, 8,545 Amaroks, 419 Crafters, 6,334 Tiguans, and 2,568 Touaregs.



The new B8 Passat, current European Car of the Year, missed out on the local News Ltd Carsguide COTY awards, “lacking personality.” Their winner was the Toyota Camry (!). In the Fairfax Drive awards, the Passat was penalised for needing premium fuel, and finished second to the Ford Mondeo Trend in Best Family Car. However they did award the Golf Alltrack as the Best Small SUV. The NRMA/RACV/RACQ sensationally disqualified ALL VWs, Audis and Skodas from their awards due to the emissions scandal (including unaffected petrol models).

In the prestigious Wheels awards, the Passat made the final eight but was eliminated there. “Ultimately, it was deemed a great mid-sizer – brilliant even,” said the Wheels report, “but one that achieves its excellence without the spirit and fizz necessary to really elevate itself.” The Audi Q3 made the top three, but the winner was the Mazda MX-5.

In response to the US emissions testing scandal, Volkswagen Australia suspends all local sales of EA189 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels, the ones identified as having the ‘cheat’ software on US models and up to 11 million cars in all world markets. “Volkswagen Group Australia met with the relevant government authorities to advise them of its strategy in Australia to address concerns that have been raised regarding the diesel issue,” a VWGA statement said. “Effective immediately, VWGA has temporarily suspended the sale of affected vehicles fitted with 1.6 or 2.0-litre EA189 engines. The suspension will remain until the emission issues are addressed in those vehicles.”

VW Australia releases an on-line tool for concerned owners to enter their VIN to establish if their VW or Skoda is fitted with a suspect EA189 engine. A customer help line is also established. Local models affected include Polo, Golf, Jetta, Passat and CC, Eos, Tiguan, Caddy and Amarok in years ranging from 2008 to 2015. “Volkswagen Group Australia takes this issue extremely seriously and is continuing to gather all the facts from our head office to support any rectification plans in Australia,” outgoing VWGA boss John White said. Long-time VWGA PR boss Karl Gehling resigns, and is replaced by former motoring journalist Paul Pottinger.

The feature-packed Touareg Element is released. Based on the entry-level $67,990 Touareg 3.0-litre V6 150TDI, it adds $2,000 to the price but gains a host of additional features. These include 18-inch Yukon alloys, proximity key with push-button start, electric tailgate, heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, speed-sensitive power steering, extra-dark tinted windows, cargo cover, and motion sensor alarm with towaway protection. It comes with Black Vienna leather and a choice of six colours. The Touareg Element 150TDI is priced from $69,990.

The redesigned fourth-generation Caddy range arrives in Australia, continuing Australia’s best-selling range of small commercials. The Caddy is still based on the older PQ35 platform, rather than the latest MQB platform, but with a new range of engines and specifications. There are three broad variations – the Caddy van, the longer Caddy Maxi van and the Caddy Maxi Crew Van. Due to the emissions scandal, only petrol engines are offered – the Golf’s 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine (in two states of tune), replacing the previous model’s Polo-sourced 1.2-litre. The base model Runner TSI160 produces 63 kW/160 Nm, while the TSI220 produces 92 kW/220 Nm. TDI engines will follow later once the scandal issue is dealt with. The standard Caddy has a 2682 mm wheelbase, while the Maxi’s is 324 mm longer. The Maxi Crew Van has one extra row of seats, with cargo area behind that. All models include four airbags, daytime running lights, 16-inch steel wheels and full-size spare, electric windows, cruise control, touchscreen and Bluetooth. The vans have one sliding door; the Maxis have two. The Caddy Van (DSG only) starts at $28,990, while the Maxi Van is $28,190 (manual) or $31,190 (DSG). The Maxi Crew Van is $29,690 (manual) or $32,690 (DSG).

The updated Caddy people mover also joins the range; previously known as the Caddy Life, the ‘Life’ has now been dropped. The people mover is again available in both long- and short-wheelbase versions, and come with DSG and the 92 kW/220 Nm version of the petrol 1.4-litre turbo. Again, TDI versions will wait until after the diesel scandal is dealt with. The people mover gets the same standard features as the vans, plus unique bumpers, side mirrors and trim, and extra curtain airbags, sensors and rear-view camera. Comfortline models add auto headlights, rear privacy glass, gloss black exterior trim, roof rails, 16-inch alloys, climate control, touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android, and higher-end cloth trim. The Caddy Trendline TSI220 DSG starts at $32,490, while the Maxi version is $34,990. The Maxi Comfortline is $37,990.

The sixth-generation VW Transporter, the T6, debuts in Australia. It’s evolutionary in design, with the same basic body shell dimensions but with mechanical upgrades, sharper styling and a host of new features. Australia only gets a fraction of the number of variations available in Europe, but we still get an extensive choice. Two different wheelbases; three roof heights; regular van, crew van, single or dual cab chassis; three different TDI engines (no petrol models); manual or DSG; FWD or 4Motion AWD. The base TDI 250 Runner has a 75 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre TDI; the TDI340 is 103 kW/340 Nm, and the TDI400 is 132 kW/400 Nm. The short wheelbase is 3000 mm, while the LWB is 400 mm longer. All T6 models have dual front and side/head airbags, multi-collision brakes and fatigue alert. Vans get parking sensors, electric windows, 16- or 17-inch steel wheels, full-size spare, cruise control, touchscreen and Bluetooth. The crew van has windows, two sliding doors and a row of seats in the rear. The range of 18 different Australian T6 models starts at $36,990 for the TDI340 SWB manual van, up to $49,090 for the TDI400 LWB 4Motion. The Crew Vans are $43,490 and $45,490 for the two wheelbases. The single cab-chassis (TDI340 DSG) is $44,690, and the dual cab chassis are $45,290 up to $48,290.

VWA also offers six versions of the T6-based seven-seat Multivan. It has seven seats in three rows (2+2+3), with the middle two seats being swivelling captain’s chairs on rails. The Multivan comes in two wheelbases; the SWB in Comfortline, Generation Six and Highline specs, and the LWB in Comfortline and Executive versions. The Comfortline models use the TDI340 103 kW/340 Nm TDI engine, and the higher-spec models the 150 kW/450 Nm TDI450, a step above the top engine in the commercial vans. The Multivan comes with a huge list of standard features, while the ‘Generation Six’ adds two-tone paint and chrome trim, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, privacy glass, cruise control, Alcantra leather seats and power side door. The Highline adds sat nav, voice control, speed sensitive steering, 12-way electric front seat adjustment, Nappa leather and a pop-out swivelling coffee table. For the base Multivan Comfortline TDI340 prices start at $49,990 for the SWB and $53,990 for the LWB. The Generation Six is $74,990, while Highline TDI starts at $76,490. The Executive starts at $80,490 – $5000 cheaper than the equivalent high-end Mercedes-Benz V-Class. Finally, there is a sole nine-seater Caravelle Trendline TDI340 LWB (2+2+2+3), which begins at $49,990.

Another special edition of the Amarok, the Atacama, is released in Australia. Superseding the Canyon, the Atacama is based on the Amarok TDI400 and TDI420 Highline variants and adds bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime lights, 18-inch Durban black alloy wheels, a black sports bar, black side steps and a black rear bumper. The rear tub has a liner and the sides have ‘Atacama’ graphics. The cabin has ‘Quad’ quilted fabric trim, plus touchscreen with sat nav, dual climate control, auto headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors and rear camera. Limited to 500 units, the Amarok Atacama TDI400 manual is $53,990, and the TDI420 auto is $56,990.

Volkswagen changes its visual presentation in advertising and promotion, removing the ‘Das Auto’ slogan that had been used in VW ads since 2007. The VW roundel is now accompanied only by the word ‘Volkswagen’, both in printed ads and spoken TV ads. It’s a reaction to the US diesel scandal and an attempt at a refresh for the company. In addition, the familiar ‘Futura’ font that VW has used in headings since the 1960s is replaced by a newly commissioned font designed by MetaDesign in Germany, called ‘VWHeadline.’

The latest Passat Alltrack is launched locally. The B8 Passat wagon has a ride height raised by 28 mm, with flared wheel arches, plastic guards, brushed aluminium mirrors, roof rails and 4Motion and Alltrack badges. Just one engine choice is available, a 2.0-litre TDI producing 140 kW / 400 Nm, with six-speed DSG and VW’s 4Motion AWD system. Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, nine airbags, lane assist, blind spot monitoring, multi-collision assist and driver fatigue system. Unique to the Passat Alltrack is the use of Continental Mobility tyres on its 18-inch Kalamata alloys, which use a viscous interstitial layer to prevent up to 85% of puncture-caused flat tyres. The Passat Alltrack has a 679-litre cargo capacity and comes in eight colours. Prices start from $49,290.

To celebrate 40 years since the release of the original Golf GTI in Germany in 1976 (it was never sold in Australia), VWA introduces the Glof GTI 40 Years special edition to Australia. In Europe the model is called the Golf GTI Clubsport, but as Holden uses that name here, VW had to call it the GTI 40 Years. From the regular GTI’s 162 kW (and the GTI Performance’s 169 kW0, the GTI 40 Years produces 195 kW / 350 Nm, only just short of the Golf R’s Australian 206 kW output – but a boost function ups this briefly to 213 kW /380 Nm, even more than the R. The FWD’s 6-speed DSG or 6-speed manual goes through a Performance limited slip diff. The 40 Years has a unique bumper and deep side ports and 19-inch ‘Ruby’ alloy wheels. The rear has a modified bumper, tailgate wing and dark taillights. Tornado Red and Pure White are the only colours. Only 200 cars are available, priced from $46,990 (manual) or $48,990 (DSG).

Volkswagen continues its rationalisation of the local lineup, discontinuing both the low-selling Beetle and the Golf Cabriolet. The Golf 6-based Beetle is sent off with a special model called the Beetle Classic Final Edition, with just 53 units imported (not for Herbie, but for 1953, the year VWs were first imported here - even though they weren’t actually sold until 1954). The 110TSI Beetle Classic Final Edition is priced from $36,990. The Mk1 Golf Cabrio was sold here from 1990-93, and the Mk3 from 1995 until replaced by the New Beetle Cabrio in 2003 and the Eos in 2007. The current Golf Cabrio was introduced in 2011. However, it was discontinued in line with the parent company’s trend to phase out convertible models. The Mk2 Beetle convertible was never sold here, while the Eos had been discontinued in 2014.

Volkswagen Australia announces that the Scirocco will also be discontinued. A final Scirocco R Wolfsburg Edition is released as a ‘farewell’ model. The style-focused pack is limited to 150 cars and includes black-finish 19-inch Lugano wheels and side mirrors, and a premium cabin with sports bucket seats and a numbered plaque. Mechanically, it’s the same 2.0-litre 188 kW/330 Nm turbo four as before. The final Scirocco is priced at $49,490 for the manual and $51,990 for the DSG. It’s a sad end for the Scirocco in Australia, given that it was only sold here for six years (from 2011), and that the first and second generation Sciroccos were not sold here at all.

The much-delayed second-generation Tiguan is finally released in Australia in October, with hopes to refresh VW’s stagnant local sales with the insatiable market demand for SUVs. “One of our most significant launches in recent memory,” VW’s Paul Pottinger said. The Mk2 Tiguan is bigger than the earlier model, better equipped and more spacious, with the boot especially much larger at 615 litres. It’s also more premium and more dynamic. All models get low-speed autonomous brakes, lane assist, fatigue detection, multi-collision braking, parking assist and a rear-view camera. Both FWD and AWD models are available, with five engines – three petrols and two diesels. The 1.4-litre 110TSI (110 kW/250 Nm), and 2.0-litre 132TSI (132 kW/320 Nm) and 162TSI (162 kW/350 Nm) are the petrol choices, while for turbo diesels there’s a 2.0-litre 110TDI (110 kW / 340 Nm) and 140TDI (140 kW/400 Nm). The range starts with the FWD Trendline 110TSI manual from $31,990 ($34,490 for DSG). The Comfortline version starts at $36,990 (TSI), while an AWD 132TSI Comfortline goes up to for $41,490 or $42,990 for 110TDI. The top model is the Highline; in 162TSI 7-speed DSG form it costs $48,490, and 140TDI for $49,990.

The hottest version of the latest B8 Passat, the 206TSI, is launched in Australia. This combines VW’s flagship sedan and wagon with a sporty styling package, all-wheel drive and more power. The hot Passat is fitted with the 2.0-litre 206 kW/350 Nm from the Golf R, with VW’s 4Motion AWD system and 6-speed DSG. With a 0-100 km/h time of 5.5 seconds, it’s even quicker than the revered Passat R36 from 2008-1. The 206TSI includes adaptive chassis control with drive-mode selection, and 19-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights. Sporty R-Line styling is standard, with leather seats, multi-function wheel with paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and touchscreen and infotainment system. The 206TSI sedan starts at $57,990 for the sedan and $59,990 for the wagon. The standard equipment list is so extensive that the only extras offered are metallic/pearl paint and glass sunroof.

A special edition of the Polo is released, called the Polo Beats. Based on the Polo 81TSI, it sports a 300-watt sound system with two tweeters, two woofers and two full-range speakers, subwoofer and eight-channel amp. Visually it gets contrasting door mirrors, body decals, dark tail lights, 16-inch alloys, Alcantra leather seats and red cabin stitching. The Beats sells for a $2,000 premium over the normal Polo 81TSI.

For the fourth year in a row, the Volkswagen Motorsport Red Bull Polo WRC wins Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour. This time it was Andreas Mikkelson who scored the win, finishing ahead of teammate Sebastien Ogier in another Polo WRC. Hyundais were third and fourth. The third VW Polo WRC of Jari-Matti Latvala damaged his suspension on the first day and finished ninth. And with 11 wins from 13 events in the season, Volkswagen again finishes as WRC Manufacturers Champion for the fourth year in a row. It’s a nice last hurrah for Volkswagen, which has announced its withdrawal from the World Rally Championship at the end of the season and won’t be competing in 2017.

VW’s local sales suffer a drop of 6.1% in 2016, to 56,571 vehicles; a disappointing result given the overall market grew by 2%. Still, this is still the second-best ever sales result in Australia and still better than the results recorded in 2013 and 2014. Most commentators immediately blamed the drop on the fallout from the US diesel scandal, but in fact it was due to the long wait and late release of the new Tiguan holding up sales. The Caddy was again Australia’s most popular small van. Volkswagen finished 8th on the list of most popular makes in Australia, for the sixth year in a row, still ahead of Subaru and Kia and behind Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi and Nissan. VW is again Australia’s most popular European brand, for the twelfth year in a row.

56,571 Volkswagens are sold. Due to the Black and White Data Book no longer being published, we have not been able to source specific VW model sales figures. If anyone has access to the full VFACTS sales figures for 2016, please let us know.



In the annual car industry awards, the new VW Tiguan wins both the Carsguide (News Ltd) and Drive (Fairfax) Car of the Year Awards, winning the ‘Best Small SUV’ category in addition to the overall award. It is VW’s fourth Carsguide COTY, after the Golf in 2009 and 2013, and the Polo in 2010. Similarly, it’s VW’s third Drive COTY, after the Golf in 2009 and Polo in 2010. In the Wheels COTY awards, the Audi R8 and Skoda Superb are eliminated in the first round, while the VW Tiguan makes the last six but is eliminated there. “The space, refinement and polish are all there,” says Wheels judge Nathan Ponchard, “but it needs options to truly kick goals.” Wheels elects the Mazda CX-9 as their COTY.

On Friday 27 January an amazing milestone is achieved – the one millionth Volkswagen to be sold in Australia since introduction in 1954 (not including Audis, DKWs, NSUs, SEATs, Skodas or Porsches). The 100,000th VW was sold in 1961, and the 200,000th in 1964 when local manufacture was in full swing. The 300,000th was sold in 1970, and the 400,000th in 1976 as local assembly ended and sales were in terminal decline. Apart from a few hundred Transporters, no VWs were sold in Australia from 1981 to 1989, when new VW importers Ateco restarted the business. Following later importers TKM and Inchcape, today’s Volkswagen Group Australia was established in 2001 and the 500,000th Australian VW was finally sold in 2004. Sales of the modern range accelerated, and the 600,000th was sold in 2008, the 700,000th in 2011, the 800,000th in 2013 and the 900,000th in 2015. By the end of 2016, VW sales had totalled 996,609 so it took just under one more month to reach 1,000,000. Disappointingly, Volkswagen Australia does nothing whatever to celebrate this significant milestone.

The much-awaited Amarok V6 arrives in Australia. The V6 is available only on the upper Amarok models – the Highline (from $59,990) and the Ultimate (from $67,990). The V6 is shared with the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne and produces 165 kW/550 Nm. An overboost function can briefly increase this to 180 kW/580 Nm, while combined cycle fuel consumption is only 7.8 L/100 km. Towing capacity is unfortunately pared back to 3.0 tonnes due to our ‘hot climate,’ while payload capacity is 911 kg and 864 kg for the two versions. The V6 does 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds. The V6 comes standard with an 8-speed conventional automatic (not DSG) and VW’s 4Motion 40:60 permanent AWD system – no low range, but it does have off-road mode, hill descent control and rear Torsen diff lock, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. The interior is upgraded, plus there are three new paint colours – Iridium Grey, Starlight Blue and Ravenna Blue. Options such as metallic/pearl paint, Vienna or Alcantra leather and 20” Talca alloys are also offered.

The higher-spec ‘performance’ Tiguan 162TSI Highline is released. It features the Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 162 kW and 350 Nm, matched to a 7-speed DSG with paddle-shifters. Unlike the Golf GTI, which shares the same MQB platform, the Tiguan version features VW’s 4Motion AWD system. Even though the Tiguan is 300 kg heavier than the Golf GTI, they share the same 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds and the Tiguan is a second faster than the equivalent Subaru Forester XT. The Tiguan 162TSI has a number of optional extras, including Audi-style digital instruments, adaptive cruise control, side assist and rear traffic alert, active info display, panoramic electric sunroof, and the R-Line sports styling pack. The Tiguan 162TSI Highline starts at $48,490.

Shortly after, VW also released the Tiguan 162TSI Sportline, which slots under the Highline version to bring a more affordable option to the performance Tiguan range. While the Sportline does miss out on some of the Highline’s extras, the Sportline’s 20-inch ‘Kapstadt’ alloy wheels are larger than the 18-inch ‘Kingston’ rims on the Highline. The Sportline still includes the same Golf GTI engine, and adaptive chassis control, microfleece/cloth sports comfort seats, adaptive cruise control, side assist and Traffic Jam assist. The Tiguan 162TSI Sportsline starts at $45,990.

The Multivan range of VW passenger commercials is updated, with button-operated electric sliding doors and power-latching tailgate now standard across the range. Most Australian buyers had been paying extra for optional power doors, so by making these a standard feature, shorter delivery times could be achieved as well as a market advantage over the Kia Carnival, Hyundai iMax or Mercedes Valente. The Multivan Comfortline TDI340 starts at $52,990 (SWB) or $57,990 (LWB), while the Highline TDI450 is $79,890 or $83,390 (4Motion). The Multivan Executive is also $83,390.

The Amarok range is rationalised, with the entry-level TDI340 models dropped due to low demand – buyers prefer to pay more for high-spec models. The new base model is the Amarok TDI420 2WD, which starts from $38,490 for the cab-chassis and $39,990 for the dual-cab ute. For 4x4 Amaroks, the base model is the TDI400 Core, which starts from $41,990 for the manual cab-chassis and $43,490 for the twin-cab ute. The 8-speed auto is an extra $3,000. A Core Plus model is also available, essentially replacing the Highline (which is now V6 only). The Core Plus adds carpet, better cloth, extra 12V sockets, body-colour mirrors and door handles, parking sensors and post-collision braking system. The Core Plus starts at $47,490 for the 6-speed manual and $50,490 for the 8-speed auto.

Two further special Amaroks are introduced later – firstly a ‘matte’ option for the Ultimate V6, which comes with special matt paint in blue or grey. This adds a further $3,990 to the price of the Amarok Ultimate – which is normally from $67,990. Then there is the Amarok Canyon V6, a facelifted and detuned model to bring the V6 engine in at a lower price point. While the normal V6 produces 165 kW/550 Nm, the Canyon’s V6 produces 150 kW/500 Nm. The Canyon also has smaller 17-inch rims with more rugged rubber. Prices are around $5,000 less than the usual Amarok V6.

Later in the year another V6 Amarok is introduced locally, the V6 Sportline, which brings in the class-leading V6 engine at a much lower price point. The Sportline has the same 165 kW /550 Nm turbo-diesel V6 as the Ultimate and Highline, and comes with four-wheel disc brakes, mechanical diff lock, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and 18” ‘Manaus’ alloys as standard. An eight-speed auto is standard, but VWA promises a six-speed manual at a later stage. The Sportline starts $55,490, some $5,500 below the higher-spec Highline. Volkswagen Australia later lowers the entry price to $55,990, drive away, a real bargain compared with the more expensive and less powerful Ford Ranger XLT and Toyota Hilux SR5.

A special version of the high-riding Passat Alltrack wagon, called the Alltrack Wolfsburg, is released locally. It sees the addition of new 19-inch ‘Albertville’ alloy wheels (an inch bigger than usual), plus new LED headlights for a unique light signature. There is black Nappa leather, plus VW’s 31-cm Active Info Display dashboard. The tail-gate is electric-powered. There are also special ‘Wolfsburg’ badges on the car. The same 2.0-litre 140 kW/400 Nm TDI engine is used, with six-speed DSG and 4Motion AWD. Fuel consumption in 5.4 litres per 100 km. The Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg is priced from $54,990, some $4,200 more than the normal Passat Alltrack, with just 250 examples available in Australia.

The Golf Alltrack is also upgraded, with the local range expanded from one to three models – the base 132TSI petrol, a 132TSI Premium and a top 135TDI Premium turbo diesel. The 1.8-litre 132TSI turbo petrol produces 132 kW/280 Nm, while the 2.0-litre TDI produces 135 kW/380 Nm. Both engines send drive to the 4Motion AWD system through DSG units, the petrol with 6-speeds and 7 speeds for the diesel. The base Alltrack has standard ‘Summits’ cloth interior, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, leather multifunction wheel, 200-mm infotainment system, LED ambient lighting, LED taillights, rear camera and 17-inch ‘Valley’ alloys. The Premium models add Comfort Sport heated front seats, Vienna leather, and upgraded Discover Media infotainment system with sat nav, improved LED lighting and carpet mats. Three option packs are also available – the Driver Assistance, Sport Luxury and Infotainment packages. The base Golf Alltrack 132TSI starts at $34,490, while the 132TSI Premium is $38,490 and the 135TDI is $40,990.

The popular Caddy range is refreshed, with a new diesel version added in addition to the budget-friendly Runner. The base Caddy Runner has a new smaller TSI160 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, producing 62 kW/160 Nm, and is only available in short wheelbase and a five-speed manual gearbox. The Runner starts at $24,990. Next is the existing 1.4-litre TSI220, with a choice of short- or long-wheelbase and a six-speed manual (LWB only) or seven-speed DSG. The Caddy TSI220 starts from $29,290 for the DSG SWB, $28,590 for the manual LWB, and $31,590 for the DSG LWB. Crew-cab versions are also available on the LWB TSI220 versions, $30,090 for the manual or $33,090 for the DSG. The new TDI250 versions use a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four, producing 75 kW/250 Nm. All TDI versions are only available with DSG auto. The SWB is $31,590; the LWB is $33,790, and the Crew Cab version is $35,790.

The upgraded Golf ‘7.5’ range reaches Australia, with pricing and specification sharpened for the four-tier (sedan) and three-tier (wagon) range. The ‘7.5’ comes standard with the more powerful turbo-petrol 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre four, with the older 92 kW engine dropped. The entry-level 110TSI starts at $23,990 (six-speed manual) and $26,490 for the seven-speed DSG, dearer than the outgoing model but with a more substantial equipment list including a 20-cm Composition Media infotainment system and 16” ‘Hita’ alloy wheels. Next step up is the 110TSI Trendline, with extra equipment such as auto headlamps, parking sensors, lumbar support seats, centre armrest with cupholders and 16” ‘Toronto’ alloys. This is also the starting point for the Golf 7.5 Wagon. The Trendline starts at $24,990 (manual) or $27,490 (DSG), and $28,990 for the wagon. Third step up is the DSG-only 110TSI Comfortline. This level adds climate control, upgraded 20-cm ‘Discover Media’ infotainment system with sat-nav, ‘Comfort’ front seats, front seat storage drawer, boot 12V outlet, and larger 17” ‘Dijon’ alloys. The Comfortline starts at $28,990, while the wagon is $35,990 and adds chrome roof rails. The top model is the 110TSI Highline, which includes front fog lamps, power-adjusting heated Vienna leather seats, power mirrors with memory, keyless entry/start, LED ambient lighting, colour multifunction driver display and power sunroof. The Highline starts at $34,490 and the wagon version is $35,990. Highline models can also be chosen with the 110 kW/3409 Nm TDI turbo diesel, which is priced at $36,990 for the sedan and $38,490 for the wagon. Additionally, buyers can order an additional Driver Assistance Package, Infotainment Package and the R-Line styling package. Metallic/pearl paint is also available at extra cost.

Following on from the normal Golf ‘7.5’ models, the performance Golfs are also upgraded to ‘7.5’ spec. The GTI’s power output is increased to 169 kW (torque remains at 350 Nm), while standard features now include 18-inch ‘Milton Keynes’ alloy wheels, adaptive chassis control, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, leather multi-function wheel, LED ambient lighting and 200mm ‘Discover Media’ infotainment system. The normal Golf GTI starts at $41,490. In addition, a three-door GTI ‘Performance Edition 1’ is added to the range, with power increased to 180 kW/370 Nm, though a new 7-speed DSG, front diff locks and larger brakes. There are also 19” ‘Brescia’ alloys and new micro-fleece upholstery. Just 150 units are imported, priced from $47,990. And the top VW Golf, the R, now has 213 kW/380 Nm through its 4Motion AWD system, as well as lots of extras. The Golf R starts from $52,990 (manual) or $55,490 (DSG). The Golf R Wagon starts from $57,490. In addition, VW Australia also offers special ‘Wolfsburg’ versions of the Golf R, limited to 300 examples. The ‘Wolfsburg’ editions include ‘Carbon’ nappa leather, premium 400-watt Dynaudio sound system, Driver Assistant Package, Wolfsburg badging and 19” grey metallic ‘Pretoria’ alloys. The DSG-only Golf R Wolfsburg starts at $57,990 (sedan) or $59,990 (wagon).

With the next generation Polo due soon, VW Australia bumps up the spec on the outgoing models. The Polo Trendline is discontinued and replaced with two new models, the Urban and Urban+, both using VW’s 1.2-litre petrol turbo four but producing 66 kW/160 Nm (Urban) and 81 kW/175 Nm (Urban+). The Urban comes with a leather wheel, handbrake and gearstick knob; multifunction trip computer, illuminated mirrors, special badging and 15” ‘Tosca alloys. The Urban manual starts at just $16,990 (manual) or $19,490 (DSG). The Urban+ adds front fog lamps, dark tint windows, auto headlamps, driver fatigue detection, rain-sensing wipers, Alcantara leather, special badging and 16” ‘Portago’ alloys. The Urban+ also has the option of the additional Driver Assistance package. The Urban+ is $19,990 for the manual and $22,490 for the DSG.

A special ‘off-road’ optimised version of the Tiguan is released, the Tiguan Adventure. Based on the mid-range 132TSI 4Motion Comfortline, the Adventure adds a new front ‘off-road’ bumper that improves the approach angle to 24 degrees; underbody protection, LED headlights, 18” alloy wheels, keyless access, an electric tailgate, Genuine VW Accessory roof bars, and power folding door mirrors. Inside, the Tiguan Adventure has a 14-way adjustable ‘ErgoActive’ drivers seats with electric lumbar support and massage function. Other features include ‘Adventure’ badging, aluminium front door sill inlays and a special range of colours – Pure White, Tungsten Silver Metallic, Indium Grey Metallic, Deep Black Pearlescent and Atlantic Blue Metallic. The Tiguan Adventure starts at $43,990 for the 132TSI petrol, and $45,490 for the 110TDI.

Volkswagen Australia elects to cease sales of the low-selling Beetle in Australia. To see the model off, just 53 examples of the Beetle Final Edition are sold, with retro graphics, chrome hubcap wheels and a black roof. The number 53 was chosen not to celebrate Herbie the Love Bug as you would think, but rather to reflect 1953, ‘the year that Volkswagens were first sold in Australia,’ according to VW’s Australian PR department. This is incorrect. While VWs were brought to Australia in late 1953 by Melbourne’s Regent Motors and put on display, the first registered sales were not recorded until March 1954.

Volkswagen Australia launches its new flagship – the Arteon four-door coupe. Based on the Passat and its MQB platform, the Arteon replaces the old ‘CC’ sedan. Just one model is available in Australia, the 206TSI R-Line. This uses VW’s familiar Golf R-sourced 206 kW/350 Nm turbo four, driving through a 7-speed DSG and VW’s 4Motion AWD system. The Arteon’s wheelbase is 46 mm longer than the Passat, giving similar interior room – and slightly more luggage space with the rear seats folded down. As VW’s top model the Arteon comes loaded with equipment, features and technology. New features include a heads-up display (HUD), surround-view camera system, dynamic light assist, electric tailgate, three-colour ambient lighting, Lane Change Assist, dynamic indicators, frameless side windows, heated rear seats and 19-inch ‘Montevideo’ alloy wheel. The Arteon 206TSI R-Line starts at $65,490, with additional options such as the Sound and Style Package and a glass sunroof, both priced at $2,500.

Australian VW sales increase by 2.5% over 2016’s 56,571, up to 58,004 sales. This is again VW’s second-best ever result in Australia, and only slightly behind the all-time record of 60,225 set in 2015. With 9,282 sales, the Amarok records the highest ever total for a VW Commercial, breaking the Type 2 Transporter’s record of 8,974 sales set way back in 1975. After six years in eighth place on the list of popular makes, Volkswagen moves up to seventh by overtaking Nissan overall for the first time since 1968. Volkswagen is behind Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, Mitsubishi and Ford, and ahead of Nissan, Kia and Subaru. Volkswagen finishes the year as Australia’s most popular European brand, for the thirteenth year in a row.

58,004 Volkswagens are sold. Due to the Black and White Data Book no longer being published, we have not been able to source specific VW model sales figures. If anyone has access to the detailed VFACTS sales figures for 2017, please let us know.



Two lower price versions of the performance Golfs are released – the GTI Original and the R Grid. The Golf GTI Original comes in two-door form only and a choice of just two ‘VW heritage’ colours – Pure White or Tornado Red. The GTI Original still comes with a healthy amount of standard equipment, and the same 169 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre turbo four as the regular GTI. The GTI Original kicks off at $37,490 for the six-speed manual or $39,990 for the six-speed GTI – some $4,500 cheaper than the normal 5-door GTI and cheaper than the Golf 5 GTI from a decade ago. A Driver Assistance package is available for an additional $1600. Meanwhile, the Golf R Grid is available in five-door hatch and station wagon body styles, and a choice of six different colours – Pure White, Tornado Red, White Silver Metallic, Lapiz Blue Metallic, Indium Grey Metallic and Deep Black Pearl. It also still has an extensive standard kit and comes with the same 213 kW/380 Nm 2.0-litre turbo four as the normal R, and the same six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG. The wagon is DSG only. The Golf R Grid manual has an entry price of $47,490 – some $5,500 less than the normal R. The DSG is $49,990 and the wagon is $51,990.

In March a major milestone is reached, when cumulative Australian sales of the Golf finally pass the local sales total of the Beetle. The VW Type 1 was sold here from 1954 to 1977, firstly fully imported, then locally assembled, and then fully Australian manufactured, then locally assembled again before the Melbourne factory was sold to Nissan. The overall total for the Beetle’s sales in Australia stood at 260,055 when the last one left the production line in July 1976. The Golf was introduced to Australia in March 1976 as the Beetle’s replacement, and was also locally assembled – for just one year. Only 12,200 Golfs were sold here up to 1981 when all imports ceased. Golf sales did not resume until 1990 with the Mk1 Cabriolet and Mk2 8V GTI, under new importers Ateco, and later TKM/Inchcape. The Golf 3 appeared here in 1994 and the Golf 4 in 1998. By the time today’s Volkswagen Group Australia was formed in 2001, total Australian Golf sales had reached just 29,590. However the range was expanded and sales increased. The 50,000th was sold in June 2004, and then the 100,000th in July 2009 when a photo shoot was held Sydney’s Barangaroo wharves. The 150,000th Golf was sold in June 2012, the 200,000th in October 2015 and the 250,000th in May 2017. With three more months of sales in 2018, the Golf total reaches 261,043 – overtaking the Beetle’s long-term record. The Golf is now the biggest-selling Volkswagen model ever sold in Australia, even if it took 42 years! Disappointingly, Volkswagen Australia does nothing whatever to celebrate this significant milestone.

A team of VW dealer apprentices put together a special tuned Amarok V6 for the World Time Attack Challenge at Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney. The VW twin-cab pickup retains the standard 165 kW/550 Nm (180 kW overboost) TDI turbo V6 engine, but stripped the Amarok of excess weight, added a ‘Big Bad Wolf’ custom suspension package from Bilstein and an AP Racing braking setup and semi-slick Michelin Tyres. The Amarok set out to lap Eastern Creek in under two minutes and lap faster than a standard Golf GTI – and achieved both objectives. The Amarok lapped in 1 min 57.0 seconds, two seconds faster than the Golf. “Thanks to this incredible team of Volkswagen apprentices, we’ve been able to show just how much power is under the bonnet of the Amarok,” said Volkswagen Australia Commercial Vehicles boss Carlos Santos. “And now we can add smashing lap times to that list.”

Amarok promotion continues with TV ads featuring former rugby player and celebrity Nick Cummins – better known as the ‘Honey Badger.’ His larrikin persona is used to spruik ‘Ripper Deals’ on the Amarok. He is more famous for promoting Tradie undies on TV. Australia is the world’s top export market for the Amarok, and only Argentina – where the Amarok is made – accounts for more volume. With some 9,200 sold in Australia in 2017, the Amarok has surpassed the VW Transporter’s record sales figure from 1975 to become the biggest selling VW commercial (in one year). The Amarok is the second-best selling VW model in Australia, ahead of the Tiguan and behind only the Golf. Amazingly, about 80 per cent of the Amaroks sold in Australia are the V6 version.

Another version of the popular Tiguan is added to the local lineup, the Tiguan Sportline. This is an entry-level performance model, sitting below the 162TSI Highline models and bringing Golf GTI performance at a lower price. The Sportline features the Golf GTI’s 162 kW 2.0-litre turbo four but adds VW 4Motion AWD and seven-speed DSG, 20-inch ‘Kapstadt’ allow wheels, adaptive chassis and cruise control, Traffic jam assist, blind spot monitoring and Autonomous Emergency Braking among a healthy list of standard features. The Tiguan Sportsline starts at $45,990.

The larger seven-seat version of the Tiguan, the Tiguan Allspace, is released on the local market. It is a stretched version of the normal Tiguan, with the wheelbase increased by 109 mm and overall length by 215 mm. A third row of seats is added in the back (suitable for children, rather than adults), plus a 270-litre boot which expands to 700 litres with the rear seats folded. Externally the Tiguan Allspace can be spotted by larger rear doors and the upswept line on the rear side window, and a raised bonnet lip and chrome grille. The Tiguan Allspace is sourced from VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico, unlike the regulat Tiguan which comes from Wolfsburg, as Mexico has the LWB Tiguan contract for the world. For Australia the Tiguan Allspace is released in five variations. The base Comfortline 110TSI is front-drive only, with a 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and 6-speed DSG, and starts at $40,490. The rest of the range uses 4Motion AWD and a 7-speed DSG. The Comfortline 132TSI is a 132 kW/320 Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol and starts at $45,490. The Comfortline 110TDI is a 110 kW/340 Nm turbo diesel and starts at $46,990. Moving up to the Highline range with many extra features, the Highline 162TSI has a 162 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine and starts at $52,990. The Highline 140TDI has A 140 Kw/400 Nm turbo diesel and starts at $54,990. Options packages include the Driver Assistance ($1600), Luxury ($4000) and Sound and Vision ($3200). The Highline also has the option of an R-Line package ($2900) and panoramic sunroof ($2000).

A special edition of the Touareg is introduced, called the Touareg Monochrome. The black-and-white styled edition has a raft of styling add-ons and interior equipment compared with the Touareg 150TDI on which it’s based. The Monochrome has unique badges, black mirror caps, dark grille and roof racks, and dark taillights. The seats are trimmed in black-and-grey leather, with brushed aluminium and piano black inserts. The Monochrome uses the normal 150TDI 150 kW/450 Nm engine with eight-speed auto transmission and rides on 19-inch ‘ Moab’ alloy wheels. The Touareg Monochrome is priced at $74,990.

The much awaited sixth generation VW Polo debuts in Australia, larger in every dimension, more powerful and with more equipment, yet less than $1,000 more expensive than the outgoing model. The new Polo launches in three different spec levels –Trendline, Comfortline, and a special version called Launch Edition, all with a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and either a five/six speed manual or seven-speed DSG. The entry level is the Trendline, which gets the lower-output 70TSI (70 kW/175 Nm) version of the new engine, the 5-speed manual or 7-speed DSG, and a host of standard features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a rear-view camera. The Comfortine comes as standard with the 85TSI version of the new engine (85 kW/200 Nm), and adds 15-inch alloys, auto headlamps and wipers and higher-level trim. Finally, the flagship of the range is the Launch Edition, which mechanically matches the Comfortine but adds 16-inch alloys, wireless phone charging, privacy glass, fog lamps and tinted LED taillights. Options include metallic paint ($500), and for the top two models the Driver Assistance package ($1500). The Polo 70TSI Trendline starts at $17,990 (manual) or $20,490 (DSG); the 85TSI Comfortline at $19,490 (manual) or $21,990 (DSG), and the Launch Edition from $20,490 (manual) or $22,990 (DSG).

It takes a few months for two more new Polo models to join the Australian range. The Polo Beats is the premium model of the standard range, with a 300W Beats premium audio system along with a ‘Beats’ logo on the B-pillar, 16-inch ‘Torsby’ alloy wheels, black mirrors, sat nav and a velvet red dash insert. The Polo Beats starts at $22,490 (manual) or $24,990 (DSG). Then the popular range-topping Polo GTI debuts in August, with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder producing 147 kW/320 Nm, the same power as a 2005 Mk5 Golf GTI and 40 Nm more torque. The Polo GTI comes with a 6-speed DSG as standard (no manual is offered), and an electronic differential. The Polo GTI comes a big range of standard features, as well as the option of a $1,400 Driver Assistance package and a $1,900 Sound and Vision Option. The Polo GTI, the most popular version of the Polo, starts at $30,990. A few months later the Polo R-Line option becomes available, adding features such as aggressive bumpers, side skirts, rear diffuser and spoiler, sports suspension, 16-inch Sebring alloys and privacy glass, for $1,500.

The new generation VW/MAN VW Crafter large van debuts in Australia. Unlike the previous Crafter (and the second generation LT that preceeded it) which were a shared design with Mercedes-Benz (Sprinter), the new Crafter is an in-house Volkswagen design co-developed with VW’s truck subsidiary MAN (The very first generation LT from the 1970s was also a VW-MAN design, but this was never sold in Australia.) The latest Crafter is clean and crisp and very ‘VW family’ in design, with none of the sweepy Mercedes styling cues that spoiled the last model. The big Crafter launches in Australia in just one model – the Crafter Runner, with a choice of two wheelbases. It has VW’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel with 102 kW/340 Nm and six-speed manual transmission, and available in any colour you like so long as it’s Candy White. The Crafter Runner debuts at $48,490 (SWB) or $51,990 (LWB).

Several months later the Crafter range is greatly expanded with the release of the higher-power and TDI410 models, in FWD, RWD and AWD versions, single- and dual-rear wheel, in medium- and long-wheelbase, normal and high-roof bodies, plus extra long body, plus single- and dual-cab chassis. The stronger engine produces 130 kW / 410 Nm, and can be had with either a six-speed manual or 8-speed ZF conventional automatic, similar to the Amarok’s auto. No DSGs. The Crafter is sourced from VW’s modern Wrzesnia plant in Poland and is something of a ‘blank canvas’ for business customers – there are dozens of variations to choose from. Capacities reach up to 18.4 cubic metres and payloads up to 1.4 tonnes. GVM is 4 tonnes for single rear wheels, and 5.5 tonnes for dual wheels. The cab-chassis can take up to 1.57 tonnes. The basic model families for Australia are 1. Medium wheelbase/standard roof , 8 variations ($48,490 to $65,490, depending on the engine/drivetrain chosen) 2. Long wheelbase/high roof , 8 models ($51,990 to $68,990) 3. Long wheelbase/long overhang body/high roof, 4 models ($58,490 to $71,490) 4. Single cab-chassis, 8 models ($48,290 to 61,290) 5. Dual-cab chassis, 8 models ($51,790 to $64,790).

To see off the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 (which is only a Nissan underneath), a more powerful version of the Amarok V6 is announced. It has a new Euro 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that produces 190 kW/580 Nm (200 kW on overboost), up from the 165 kW/550 Nm (180 kW overboost) of the existing Amarok V6. This is also greater than the Mercedes’ 190 kW / 550 Nm. “As we’ve promised, we have no intention of giving up the mantle of the most powerful ute in its class,” said Volkswagen Australia Commercial Vehicles boss Carlos Santos.

With the smart Arteon four-door coupe now occupying the top of Volkswagen’s local range, the Passat 206TSI sedan is discontinued, in order to reduce model complexity – and to avoid two models competing against one another. The Passat 206TSI station wagon continues on, while the Passat sedan is still available in 132TSI spec. Australian buyers wanting the 206 kW engine in a VW sedan will now have to pay $65,490 for the Arteon 206TSI, some $7,000 more than the outgoing Passat with the same powertrain.

At the end of the year the 2019 model Golf R is released. The R’s 2.0-litre 213 kW/380 Nm engine carries over, put through to all four wheels through VW’s 4Motion AWD system and 7-speed DSG – there is no manual option. The Golf R range now starts at $56,490 for the hatch and $58,490 for the wagon. New is the Golf R Special Edition, of which just 400 examples are imported. These offer an Akrapovic titanium exhaust which saves 7 kg and adds a deeper tone with snaps, crackles and pops between gears. There are unique badges, larger 340 mm performance brakes, and 19-inch gloss black Pretoria alloy wheels. The Golf R Special Edition begins at $61,990 – and quickly sells out.

Volkswagen Australia begins its major recall of vehicles fitted with potentially faulty Takata airbags, along with other manufacturers with the same issue. The recall is compulsory, mandated by law. Initially the VW Takata recall affects MY07-09 Polos, and MY08-15 Transporters, with 4,200 and 13,700 affected units of each model respectively. Further vehicles will be recalled later, with up to 102,000 Volkswagen models affected in Australia.

Australian VW sales for 2018 suffer a drop of 2.4% down to 56,620 sales, compared with 2017’s 58,004. Even so, this is still VW’s third-best ever result in Australia, behind 2017 and the record 60,225 sold in 2015. The Golf was again the biggest-selling model, with 19,076 sales for the year – not far off the all-time record of 22,092 set in 2015 – and as mentioned above, became the biggest-selling VW model overall in Australia in 2018 by overtaking the Beetle. The Caddy retained its long-running leadership of the small van class. Volkswagen is re-passed by Nissan after just one year, as well as a resurgent Kia, and falls to ninth place on the Australian market, its lowest place on the ladder since 2005. It was the first time VW had been outsold by Kia since 2005. From 2012, when VW passed 50,000 sales for the first time, up to and including 2018, VW has sold 395,564 vehicles over seven years, an average of 56,564 a year. This shows that VW has plateaued in Australia and not recorded any true growth in eight years. Volkswagen finishes the year as Australia’s most popular European brand, for the fourteenth year in a row.

56,620 Volkswagens are sold. Due to the Black and White Data Book no longer being published, we have not been able to source specific VW model sales figures. If anyone has access to the detailed VFACTS sales figures for 2018, please let us know.



Volkswagen Australia begins the year with some good news for new VW buyers. After a trial of a 5-year warranty from October last year, the 5-year new car warranty is now made permanent. The five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty applies to all models in the local range, from the small Polo to the giant Crafter and everything in between. It also includes any genuine VW accessories fitted to the vehicle. Volkswagen is the seventh of the top-ten selling makes to extend their warranty to five years, with only Toyota, Nissan and Subaru holding out at three years. VW is also the first German maker to move to five years, with Audi, BMW and Mercedes still at three. VW’s sister brand Skoda moved to five years in January 2017.

The Golf range is revised, with fewer variants on offer and a lower starting price. No diesels are offered. The range now begins with the 110TSI Trendline manual from $24,990, fitted with the 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre turbo four. The DSG version is $27,490, and the DSGF wagon is $28,990. Next step up is the 110TSI Comfortline DSG, which is $29,750 for the sedan or $31,250 for the wagon. Then the 110TSI Highline DSG is $35,990, or $37,490 for the wagon. The bigger 132 kW/280 Nm 1.8-litre turbo four is only offered in the Alltrack ($35,250) and AllTrack Premium ($39,490). Above the standard Golf range sits the performance GTI ($45,590), the R ($56,490), the R Wagon ($58,490), and the R Special Edition ($61,990).

A special version of the popular Tiguan goes on local sale, the Tiguan 162TSI Wolfsburg Edition. It is based on the Tiguan 162TSI Highline model, but adds lots of extra features. These include the normally optional R-Line and Sound & Vision packages, plus a specific black exterior pack with dark glass. There is a Wolfsburg badge on the tailgate. The Wolfsburg Edition is available in three colours – Oryx While Pearl, Deap Black Pearl and Indium Grey Metallic. Power comes from the same 162 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre turbo four, 7-speed DSG and 4Motion AWD as the normal Tiguan Highline. The Wolfsburg Edition begins at $55,490, with the option of a $2,000 panoramic glass sunroof. Just 500 units are available.

This is followed with an entry-grade Tiguan model at the other end of the range, the Tiguan 110TSI. The front-drive only Tiguan 110TSI features the Golf’s 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre turbo four petrol engine and DSG. This new model effectively lops $9,000 off the Tiguan’s entry price, as the previous entry model was the 132TSI at $43,150; the new 110TSI begins at $34,150 for the Trendline version. The Comfortline 110TSI adds more equipment and standard extras and starts at $38,650. There is also the stretched seven-seat Allspace 110TSI, starting at $40,150.

Later another special Tiguan joins the local range, the Tiguan 132TSI R-Line. It’s the first time the sporty R-Line package has been available on a grade lower than the top-spec Highline, as this one is based on the five-seat 132TSI Comfortline. It is the most affordable R-Line SUV to date, although just 1,000 are assigned to Australia. The R-Line features a body kit, tinted windows, two-tone ‘Race’ cloth upholstery, and the usually optional Driver Assistance Package as standard. The car has the same 132 kW/320 Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol four as the normal Tiguan 132TSI. The R-Line model starts from $46,990.

A new model for the top of the local Polo range is announced (not counting the hot GTI) – the Polo 85TSI Style. Powered by the Polo’s normal 85 kW/200 Nm 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and seven-speed DSG, the 85TSI Style brings a range of equipment and features previously unavailable or optional only on the local range. These include the Active Info digital instrument binnacle, 20.3-cm touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, Beats premium audio, dual-zone climate control, Sports Comfort seats and tinted glass. There’s also special trim inserts, black headliner and smoked rear taillights. The Polo 85TSI Style starts at $24,990 with the option of an additional $1500 Driver Assistance pack.

A nice little luxury lifestyle version of the Caddy, the Caddy Beach Camper, is released for local sale. Dubbed by VWA as the ‘most affordable and cleverest recreational vehicle on sale today,’ the Caddy Camper is based on the long-wheelbase Maxi Trendline. The Camper adds a tailgate tent measuring 2.3 x 2.0 metres with a walk-through feature and ventilation window, plus a removable fold-up bed, storage bags, two folding camp chairs, folding camp table, block-out curtains, and a magnetic rechargeable torch. The Camper seats five (second row removable) and is powered by a 92 kW/220 Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol four and 7-speed DSG. A range of extra lifestyle camping accessories are also available. The Caddy Camper starts from $46,990.

The first of the new third generation Touareg range is released in Australia, appropriately called the ‘Launch Edition.’ The latest version of the Touareg is pitched as a more ‘premium’ offering than its predecessors. The Launch Edition is powered by a 190 kW /600 Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, a Euro-5 certified engine shared with the Amarok. A generous amount of standard equipment is offered, while options such as the $8,000 Innovision Package and Driver Assist Package are available. No petrol version will be brought to Australia – VW Australia’s PR boss Paul Pottinger says Australia is a “diesel story.” The 2019 Touareg Launch Edition starts at $89,990, with additional Gen 3 Touareg models to come later.

Sure enough the new Touareg range for Australia is confirmed to consist of two variations, with three option packages. The price of entry is also dropped by a significant $10,000 on the ‘Launch’ edition. The range begins with the Touareg 190TDI, featuring the same 190 kW/600 Nm turbo-diesel V6 as the Launch Edition (and Amarok ute), plus 40:60 rear-biased 4Motion AWD and 8-speed conventional automatic. The 190TDI misses out on some of the Launch Edition’s equipment such as IQ Matrix LED headlights, high-grade leather upholstery, massage seats and air suspension, but this enables a starting price of $79,490. If you really want those extras, upgrade to the 190TDI Premium ($85,490) which includes them, as well as 20” alloys. The Premium has the option of the same $8,000 Innovision Package as the Launch Edition, but also can be ordered with the $8,000 Sound and Comfort Package for improved infotainment and comfort, and the $8,000 R-Line package for a sportier look. Other options for the Touareg include a panoramic sunroof ($3,000) and metallic paint ($2,000).

A special edition Multivan is launched on the local market, the Multivan Black Edition. “The new limited edition Multivan Black Edition is our antidote for those sick of convenience coming at the cost of class,” explained VW Australia Commercial Vehicles director Ryan Davies. Limited to just 230 units in Australia, the Multivan Black Edition is based on the normal Comfortline TDI340 but adds black 18” alloy wheels, gloss black roof and B-pillars, titanium black cloth upholstery, black indicators and ‘Black Edition’ decals. There is also lowered and reinforced suspension. The inside features maple-look flooring and configurable seven-seating. Power comes from a 103 kW/340 Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel four, seven-speed DSG and front-drive. Numerous lifestyle accessories such as surfboard and bike carriers, table holders, floor mats and tow bar are also available. The Multivan Black Edition begins at $63,990.

The local newspapers, radio and TV stations report the news from overseas that Volkswagen have ‘ended production of the Beetle after 80 years.’ Of course, this actually meant the end of the low-selling water-cooled, Golf-based ‘Beetle’ built in Mexico, which had debuted in 2011 and had already been discontinued in Australia in 2016. NOT the air-cooled Type 1, which had ended in Mexico in 2003 (and Australia in 1977). Yet media interest is intense, and our club is contacted for comments and information by ABC local and regional radio, 2GB in Sydney, and TCN Channel 9. We are interviewed on live radio, while genial A Current Affair reporter Brady Halls and his camera team visits several of us at home for footage and interviews for the TV show. It is the most publicity we have ever had, and all for free. However it was necessary to carefully explain the difference between the original air-cooled Type 1, already long gone, and the later Golf 4-based ‘New Beetle’ and Golf 6-based ‘Beetle,’ the cars in question, which were very different. Once this was explained, it was the original Type 1 Beetle that held the interest for interviewers and callers with their reminisces – not the later Golf-based cars.

Volkswagen Australia reaches a settlement with plaintiffs representing Australian consumers supposedly affected by the US ‘diesel emissions scandal.’ Plaintiffs represented around 100,000 owners across five lawsuits against Volkswagen in Australia, which VWA settled on a ‘no-admission’ basis. The settlement applied to owners of various Polo, Golf, Jetta, Passat, CC, Eos, Tiguan, Caddy and Amarok models from 2008 to 2016, depending on the model, as well as some Skoda and Audi models. The settlement was predicted to cost VWA between $87 and $130 million, with a payment of around $1,400 to each affected customer. Volkswagen Australia says it “views the in-principle settlements as a further step towards overcoming the diesel issue.” This is separate from the suit submitted against Volkswagen by the ACCC, which was not yet settled.

Volkswagen in Germany redesigns its famous logo, retiring the fussy 3-D-style chrome-effect ‘grille badge’ look with a new flat design, very similar to the classic design used in the 1950s and 1960s. The redesign is overseen by VW’s chief designer Klaus Bischoff and a team of designers to make the logo simpler and more accessible on modern digital devices such as phones and smart watches, though to car badging and big signs at dealerships. The flat graphics design removes all the 3-D effects and shading, reducing the design to its essence of a V and W in a circle. While very similar to the classic 1950s-60s look, the arms and circle are thinner and the base of the W no longer touch the circle, making it ‘float.’ The arms of the W are angled out slightly and are no longer parallel to the V. The new design appears immediately on the German market ID.3 and ID.4 electric cars before slowly trickling down through the range. It takes a while before the new design is seen on Australian market VWs.

Australian VW sales for 2019 suffer another drop, falling a substantial 11.8 per cent down to 49,928 sales, compared with 2018’s 56,620. It is the second year in a row of dropping sales, and the lowest figure recorded since 2011 (when just 44,740 were sold). VW sales have dropped 17.1 per cent in four years. The Golf was again the biggest-selling model, with 14,355 sales for the year, a drop of 24.7 per cent, reflecting Australian buyers turning away from sedans and hatches towards SUVs. The Caddy retained its long-running leadership of the small van class. Due to Holden being phased out of the Australian market, Volkswagen out-sold Holden for the first time ever and moved up to eighth place on the Australian market. VW is behind Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Ford, Kia and Nissan, and ahead of Honda and Holden. Volkswagen finishes the year as Australia’s most popular European brand, for the fifteenth year in a row.

49,928 Volkswagens are sold. Due to the Black and White Data Book no longer being published, we have not been able to source specific VW model sales figures. If anyone has access to the detailed VFACTS sales figures for 2019, please let us know.

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