5 Examples of Volkswagen Being Volkswagen
A quick reflection on what the Germans have accomplished in terms of goals that don't necessarily make much sense.
A long complicated history lies underneath the German Auto manufacturer, but today let's just reflect on what makes them different than other controversy: Making weird but amazing achievements for engineering.
1) Selling the exact same vehicle for 65 years
The first one that comes to mind when we think of Volkswagen. The beetle. The "Nazi car". The "Bug". I could pretty much take the article anywhere at this point, for the beetle is a very deep topic. But it came to mind because the type 1 beetle was produced for a staggering 65 years, and had produced over 21 million models. While the US market only saw the beetle until the introduction of the Golf, they still made the same model in Mexico and other markets. It is truly incredible that this pop culture icon was changed so little over the years of 1938-2003. in fact, you can even mount the body of a 1938 model onto the chassis of a 2003 model without having to make any significant modifications. That's incredible, whatever you may think of the original Volkswagen.
A brief intro for those without context: the XL1 was the third generation concept designed by Volkswagen, a diesel hybrid electric car to go 100km on one liter of fuel (eq to about 250mpg). Yes, they actually did this. While it was never more than a concept car limited to very exclusive production, Volkswagen actually achieved this number by using super-lightweight materials and a very aerodynamic profile. Why, you may ask? Because, they simply can. They made this statement back in 2011 to prove to the world that Volkswagen can really push the boundaries of nature with precision engineering, and a high caliber at that. So, was there really no point in doing this? I'd beg to differ.
3) TDI TT V10
For some reason, Volkswagen decided to stuff a 5.0L Twin-Turbocharged Diesel V10 into their big luxury SUV, the Touareg. Videos circulate online of these giants pulling 747 airplanes. This was not a huge seller, but it definitely turned some heads. It seems bizarre to most of us that they would sell something like this, and they did not for long, but just long enough that we can remember it as one of the most ridiculous (in an awesome way) and off-road capable vehicles ever.
4) W8 Passat
Here is another great example of unnecessary awesomeness: the W8 Passat. It was offered on the B5 generation Wagon and Sedan with 4motion (VW's AWD system, or Quattro's less popular cousin). What sticks out to me most about this is not the fact that they put 8 cylinders into a family car, but the way they did it. A W8? Why not a regular V8? Does this not overcomplicate things in the shop? Well, it did. A W8 is essentially two V4 engines bolted together, in a space-inefficient way. Maybe it was the curiosity factor that the marketing team said would push sales. Whatever the US team was thinking, I am intrigued.
5) VR5: "The V5 engine"
I saved this one for last because in my opinion, it is the most intriguing. Most of us are familiar with the excellent VR6 engine that Volkswagen has used in most of their passenger cars, but most Americans never knew that they did make a "V5" version of this engine, because they never made their way to the US market. Like the VR6, the VR5 shares both manifolds, cylinder heads, and is very compact. Its almost identical in fact, except they just took off the 6th cylinder. When people hear "V5" the first question they ask themselves is: "How do you have a V configuration with an odd number of cylinders?" Or followed by "So is one bank longer than the other?" Well actually due to the VR6 having offset cylinder banks, the VR5 was able to be chopped pretty clean with minimal complications. It also produces a sweet burbling exhaust note due to the different lengths in manifolds, both intake and exhaust. This is the only production V-configurated 5-cylinder engine ever to date, and probably will be forever because there really is no significant advantage, it's just a cool thing that they did.
So, Volkswagen has impressed the world with many things, not just quality engineering, but odd feats too. Something about this nonsense has captivated the human trait of curiosity out of us automotive enthusiasts.