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Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 review: power to the people

VW Golf GTI Mk1

In 1975, Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik patented a new type of puzzle. Within three years of reaching the shops, his Rubik’s Cube had sold 200 million. At the same time, another surprise success was brewing in Germany. A team of Volkswagen engineers had been working weekends on an unofficial project called ‘Sport Golf’. After some arm-twisting, managers sanctioned a run of 5,000 cars to homologate the Golf for racing. But the new model – swiftly renamed Golf GTI – was such a hit with press and public alike, production was immediately ramped up from 50 to 500 cars a day. One of motoring’s few true icons had arrived.

The Rubik’s Cube and the Golf GTI are both simple concepts. The Cube is three layers of coloured plastic, yet it has 42 quintillion possible permutations. The GTI was merely a Golf with a 110hp 1.6-litre engine from the Audi 80 GTE, stiffer suspension, cosmetic tweaks and (slightly) better brakes. Yet it was brilliant to drive, without sacrificing practicality or reliability. It captured the zeitgeist and defined a wholly new type of car: the hot hatchback.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

Today, that basic formula has hardly changed. The seventh generation Golf GTI has just been phased out (soon to be replaced by the Mk8, while the original has graduated to bona fide classic status. The car pictured here, owned by GTI enthusiast James Bullen, won the ‘Made in Germany’ class at the prestigious London Concours last summer, seeing off a BMW M1, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 and Porsche 930 Turbo LE. Exalted company indeed.

VW Golf GTI Mk1

This isn’t just any Mk1 GTI, though. One of 1,000 Campaign editions built to round-off production of Das Original, it boasts a punchier 112hp 1.8 engine, 14-inch Pirelli ‘P-slot’ alloys (with Pirelli tyres), a twin-headlamp grille, green-tinted glass and a leather steering wheel. It’s also in breathtaking, better-than-new condition. The first owner paid £6,949 in 1983, but a GTI of this calibre could cost £30,000 now. To think I once bought one for £800…

Those memories of my much-loved Mk1 soon come flooding back. Giugiaro’s ‘folded paper’ styling still looks fresh, while that red go-faster stripe – endlessly imitated – hints at excitement to come. Inside, it’s less evocative: upright, functional and slightly austere. Still, a dimpled golf-ball gear knob lightens the mood, and there’s no faulting the textbook Teutonic build quality. The unassisted steering feels heavy and the Golf’s five-speed ’box is obstinate when cold, but it immediately feels peppy and well-suited to city streets. At 3,725mm long and 1,625 wide, it’s actually smaller than a current VW Polo.

VW Golf GTI Mk1

On open roads, the featherweight 840kg Mk1 is plenty fast enough to be fun. Its fuel-injected engine punches confidently out of corners, revving beyond 6,000rpm with real verve, while a fluid, forgiving chassis helps you maintain momentum, despite the modest grip. Push hard and you can lift an inside rear wheel, or even provoke a slide, yet it never feels edgy or unpredictable like the equally iconic Peugeot 205 GTI. Then as now, Volkswagen has always played it safe.

Driven: the cars that shaped Volkswagen’s past – and future

As for the brakes – the Achilles’ heel of right-hand-drive Mk1s, due to a convoluted cross-linkage – they’re actually better than I remembered. Then again, my Golf GTI was hardly perfectly preserved like this one, and I too am erring on the side of caution. Much as I’ve relished driving James’s pride and joy, I’m quietly glad to hand it back unscathed.

Price: £8,000+

0-62mph: 8.2sec

Top speed: 114mph

Horsepower: 112

MPG combined: 36.7

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1: in pictures

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2020 Volkswagen Golf review: the benchmark is back

2020 Volkswagen Golf

Back in September, Volkswagen revealed its ID.3 electric car. The Beetle, we were told, was ID.1 – the original ‘people’s car’ and beating heart of the brand – while the subsequent Golf was ID.2. Now, as a new Golf is launched to the world, there’s a sense it’s already yesterday’s hero.

So it felt until I spent an hour with some VW engineers, at least. These guys, whose specialist subjects ranged from engines to autonomous driving tech, still take the Golf very seriously. And rightly so: since 1974, more than 35 million have been sold. Somebody, somewhere, buys a new Golf every 40 seconds.

The ID range and its ‘new, dynamic era in the world of e-mobility’ may be coming, but the Golf hasn’t stood still. Indeed, this is the most radical, forward-thinking version of Das Auto yet. Not that you realise it at first…

The Golf club2020 Volkswagen Golf

Arriving in Portugal, I see the Mk8 Golf lined up alongside all seven previous generations. It looks a chip off the old block. Details have changed, such as the swoopy LED headlights and spot-the-difference VW logo, but the confident creases, kinked C-pillar and hewn-from-solid silhouette are instantly familiar.

In fact, the Golf uses the same ‘MQB’ platform as the outgoing model, so its wheelbase is identical. Overall, it’s a modest 29mm longer, 10mm wider and 4mm taller. Interior space is claimed to be ‘practically unchanged’.

Like most mid-size hatchbacks, the Golf is now five-door only – the three-door had dwindled to just five percent of sales. An estate version arrives in 2020, but the MPV-shaped Golf SV won’t be replaced. The arrival of the genre-busting T-Roc Cabriolet makes a drop-top look unlikely, too.

So far, so uneventful. Still, you can hardly blame design boss Klaus Bischoff for playing safe with a best-seller. He describes the Golf “an indicator of the present” that helps “millions of people [with] feeling at home”. One can only assume his interior design team missed the memo.

Crazy Golf2020 Volkswagen Golf

Inside, the new Golf has more in common with the ID.3 than its Mk7 predecessor. Volkswagen calls it a ‘digitalised workplace’ – and while it’s brimful of showroom appeal, learning your way around does initially feel like work.

Front-and-centre is the new Innovision digital dashboard, which has few physical buttons. A 10-inch central screen is standard in the UK (other countries get an 8.25-inch version), flanked by touch-sensitive sliders for heating/cooling and audio volume. The process is rather like swiping the screen of a smartphone.

You can also use gesture control for some functions, such as waving your hand to move between menus. Plus there’s voice control with integrated Amazon Alexa: say “Hello Volkswagen” to call up a song from your playlist, turn up the heating or find a nearby petrol station.

Ambient lighting is another feature that has filtered down from loftier cars. Pick from 32 colours or choose one of five ‘moods’: Infinity, Eternity, Euphoria, Vitality and Desire. Don’t choose the latter for a first date.

Putters and drivers2020 Volkswagen Golf

If all this sounds like the result of too many macchiatos at a marketing meeting, be reassured to know the Golf’s engines are steadfastly sensible. At least until the full suite of performance models – GTI, GTI TCR, GTD, GTE and R – arrive later in 2020.

The line-up at launch comprises 1.5 TSI four-cylinder petrol (130hp or 150hp) and 2.0 TDI diesel (115hp or 150hp), with the 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder petrol (90hp or 110hp) following soon afterwards. A 48v eTSI mild-hybrid system, which recuperates braking energy to save fuel, is available on 100hp, 130hp and 150hp petrol engines, but only with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Your other choice is a six-speed manual.

Details of the sportier versions are scarce, but we know the GTE plug-in hybrid will develop 245hp, a sizeable leap from 204hp in the Mk7. There won’t be a fully electric Mk8, as that box is ticked by the ID.3. However, Volkswagen has given the existing e-Golf a stay of execution until its new EV fully commences production.

As for trim levels, the structure now mirrors the German market, starting with ‘Golf’, then rising via Life and Style to top-spec R-Line. At the time of writing, UK equipment levels and prices had yet to be confirmed.

Time to tee off2020 Volkswagen Golf

My first instinct is to jump into the flawless Mk1 Golf and screech away in a cloud of hydrocarbons. However, I have a job to do, and the Mk8 awaits. Besides, it’s December and the new car has a proper heater. Heated steering wheel and seats, too.

I start in a 1.5 TSI petrol in Life trim with a manual ’box, predicted to be the best-selling version in the UK. As for the vivid Lime Yellow paint, that will be less common. More’s the pity.

As ever, the Golf feels impeccably well assembled – insert cliché about Germanic build quality here – although there are some plastics that wouldn’t pass muster in, say, a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The unlined glovebox, which causes loose items to rattle around, also smacks of penny-pinching.

The firmly padded seats, with an optional massage function, are very comfortable, and finding a good driving position is easy. The digital dials are also clear, augmented in some models by a head-up display (which projects essential driving data, such as your speed, onto the windscreen). Peering out over the plunging bonnet, I ease out the light clutch and I’m away.

Fore to the floor2020 Volkswagen Golf

The turbocharged 1.5-litre engine is no ball of fire, but it revs eagerly and propels the Golf to 62mph in 8.5 seconds and 139mph flat-out. Its Mk7 equivalent managed fuel economy of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 116g/km, so expect similar figures when the Mk8 undergoes official WLTP tests soon.

Where the TSI motor really impresses is refinement; it’s turbine-smooth, isolated to the point of being almost inaudible around town. At speed, this only serves to amplify wind roar from the chunky door mirrors, although the Golf remains an able and long-legged cruiser. Countless development miles on Germany’s autobahns have clearly paid off.

The manual gearbox feels well-oiled and easy to operate. It’s likely to be around £1,400 cheaper than the DSG auto upfront, and require less maintenance longer-term. However, that’s only a concern if you keep the car beyond its three-year UK warranty (also the usual term of a PCP finance deal).

Par for the course2020 Volkswagen Golf

The VW’s chassis is also geared towards easygoing comfort. Its steering, light and accurate, filters out the fingertip feedback some drivers will crave in favour of calm control. Its suspension also strikes a good balance between absorbing bumps and resisting roll.

On a series of mountain switchbacks near Porto, the car was genuine fun: its well-weighted controls and unruffled composure helping me chase down locals in careworn Renault Clios, many of whom treated the road like a rally stage.

There are some caveats, though. All the launch cars had multi-link rear suspension, while cheaper models make do with a simpler torsion beam (also true for the Focus). P;us all were fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), which includes continuously variable dampers and four driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual.

Switching to Sport isn’t transformative, but it does add extra heft to the steering and more zing to the throttle response. Granted, the Golf isn’t as lively or engaging as a Ford Focus, but wasn’t it ever thus? The essential rightness of the recipe bodes well for the GTI and R.

Into the rough2020 Volkswagen Golf

I then swap into a 150hp diesel with an automatic transmission, also in Lime Yellow. This 2.0-litre TDI offers markedly more torque – 266lb ft at 1,750rpm, versus 184lb ft at 1,500rpm in the 150hp petrol – which is immediately apparent on the road. The instant oomph, combined with seamless shifts from the DSG ’box, make for a compelling combination.

Preferable to the petrol? Well, the TDI is certainly more vocal, although its subtle snarl is a world away from clattering diesels of old. Inevitably, it will also be more expensive to buy – probably by around £1,200 if Mk7 prices are an accurate guide.

Nonetheless, for all the bad press about diesel (much of Volkswagen’s own making, of course), it’s certainly no poor relation. The 0.3 seconds it gives away from zero to 62mph is amply compensated for by mid-range muscle. Plus, what’s not to like about more miles per gallon?

Help or handicap?2020 Volkswagen Golf

As for the Innovision cockpit, I’m not fully convinced. One thing I’ve always loved about the Golf – and I speak as a serial owner, with Mk1, Mk2, Mk4 and Mk5 models under my belt – is its no-nonsense approach to ergonomics. For its core audience, middle-aged and middle-class, the minimalist design and deference to touch controls may not be perceived as progress.

The slider for audio volume is a case in point. I found it only worked with a firm push, and I’d end up checking the screen for confirmation – thus taking my eyes off the road. Admittedly, there is a volume switch on the steering wheel, but that’s missing the point: technology should make things simpler. The same goes for the voice controls, which were hit-and-miss at best.

Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned. There is also much useful tech here. The optional matrix LED headlights, for example, are fantastic, actively dimming sections of the high beam so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic. The new Car2X wi-fi function is clever, too; it allows the car to communicate directly with others nearby (only other Golfs at present, but the EU-standard tech is being trialled by other brands) in order to warn drivers of approaching hazards.

Hole-in-one2020 Volkswagen Golf

Brands within the Volkswagen Group seem to be steadily moving upmarket. Thus Skoda becomes more like VW, while VW edges closer to Audi. Where Bugatti goes next is anyone’s guess.

Prise those redesigned roundels off the Golf and it could easily be an Audi A3. Its interior has the requisite wow-factor and the technology sets new standards for a ‘mainstream’ hatchback. Build quality and refinement also measure up to premium rivals. Let’s just hope the Golf’s price doesn’t.

Much has changed, then, but the Golf still feels like the benchmark in its class. Its broad appeal and breadth of abilities make it the default ‘people’s car’ – for 45 years and counting. Don’t write this Volkswagen out of history yet.

2020 Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI: specification2020 Volkswagen Golf

Price: TBC
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 130hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 184lb ft at 1,500rpm
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 139mph
Fuel economy: TBC
CO2: TBC
Length/width/height: 4,284/1,789/1,456mm
Boot size: 380-1,237 litres
On sale: February 2020

2020 Volkswagen Golf: in pictures

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Electric car owners can charge for FREE at Tesco

Electric car owners can charge for FREE at Tesco

Last year, Volkswagen announced that it has partnered with Tesco and Pod Point to install more than 2,400 electric car charging bays.

Fast forward 12 months and shoppers will find 7 kW electric car charging points at 100 Tesco stores across the UK.

The charging points are free for shoppers – and they’re not just for Volkswagens. All electric car owners are able to use the free chargers.

Volkswagen visited Tesco in Potters Bar in the new ID.3 electric car – the first time the model has been seen in the UK since its debut in Frankfurt.

Research shows that the average Brit spends 50 minutes a week in a supermarket, although this is likely to be longer in the period leading up to Christmas.

Electric charging at Tesco

Based on the 50-minute average, Tesco shoppers could get around 22.5 miles of free charging. Over the course of a year, this works out at 1,170 miles.

Breaking down barriers

Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: “This fantastic partnership with Tesco and Pod Point makes choosing an electric car even more attractive, allowing people to charge for free, all while going about their daily business.

“And the best bit is that this is not just for Volkswagens – the chargers are designed for any electric car owner to take advantage of.

“We are really pleased to help break down any remaining barriers to opting for an electric car.”

Jason Tarry, Tesco CEO UK and ROI, added: “We’re now well on our way to achieving our ambition of installing more than 2,400 EV charging bays across 600 Tesco stores.

“Providing customers with charging points offers them a sustainable choice and giving them the opportunity to charge their car for free while they shop is another little help to make their lives easier.”

Volkswagen ID.3 at Tesco

The Volkswagen ID.3 made its debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the first cars set to hit the streets in 2020.

Three battery sizes are available at launch offering between 205 and 340 miles of electric range. Prices will start from £27,000, but the top-end first edition cars are available from £35,000.

In other news, our Tim Pitt is driving the new eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf today. Come back soon for his first drive thoughts and opinions.

Rock star’s classic VW Beetle for sale

Volkswagen Beetle Roger Daltrey 'The Who'

A 1977 Volkswagen Beetle is for sale with the online auction platform Collecting Cars. It’s a 1303LS Cabriolet and it’s done 80,812 miles. Does this sound a little unremarkable to you? Well, this Beetle was also a feature of The Who frontman Roger Daltrey’s garage.

His name isn’t a decades-old footnote on the V5, either. He owned it for 28 years, from new, until 2005, and put a healthy 76,000 miles on it in that time.

Volkswagen Beetle Roger Daltrey 'The Who'

The condition of the Beetle now is tip-top, having undergone a bare-metal respray in 2014. The convertible hood is in excellent condition too, having been replaced recently, matching the glossy Viper Green paint. Being a rock star’s ride, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this Beetle isn’t fully original.

Appropriately, it’s got an Alpine stereo with Bluetooth and MP3 compatibility. It’s also got a nice ‘The Who’ badge with Roger Daltrey’s signature next to it.

The 1303LS was the top-of-the-line Beetle of the time, with a 49hp 1.6-litre air-cooled flat-four. It currently sits on 15-inch factory-spec sport wheels.

Volkswagen Beetle Roger Daltrey 'The Who'

Unusual for a rock star’s ride is that it’s been quite well looked-after. Far from having done time at the bottom of a pool, this Beetle comes with a list of MOT certificates, a newspaper article featuring Mr Daltrey at the time he sold the car, as well as a signed letter to the buyer from the time.

There’s plenty of service history and other documentation, including a certificate of authenticity from Volkswagen. The current owner has had the car for five years, and has put 2,000 miles on the clock in his tropical home of Kuala Lumpur.

The current (and first) bid is £1,000, though 16 people are ‘watching’ the auction. There are seven days left, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one picks up.

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Magic e-bus: Volkswagen electrifies its classic camper

Volkswagen e-Bus electric camper

Volkswagen has followed up its electric Beetle with a battery-powered bus. The Type 2 camper uses the running gear from an e-Golf.

Like the Beetle, the Type 2 swaps out its rear-mounted air-cooled engine for an electric motor and battery pack. It features the Golf’s 35.8 kWh battery and 100 kW synchronous AC permanent magnet electric motor. That gives the ‘e-Bus’ an approximate range of 125 miles.

It also borrows the Golf’s single-speed transmission and charging system. The batteries can be found under the front seats, as well as where the fuel tank used to be. 

Volkswagen e-Bus electric camper

That is where the changes end, however. As with the Beetle, the aesthetic of the Type 2 Bay Window goes largely unchanged, maintaining its classic appeal.

Even the long-throw gear shifter of the original bus remains, albeit with new park, reverse, neutral, drive and regenerative braking modes. What is different inside is the digital dashboard, but even that is classically-styled.

The project is a collaboration between Volkswagen USA and EV West, an electric vehicle parts and EV conversion company. The latter has plenty of prior experience swapping electric powertrains into everything from classics to track cars. 

Volkswagen e-Bus electric camper

“Their passion for classic-car culture and commitment to renewable energy made EV West the ideal choice for this project,” said Mathew Renna of Volkswagen. 

“We thought, who better to see if the e-Golf powertrain would be the perfect fit for our older vehicles? It’s great to see that the spirit of hot-rodding is going to live on into the electric age.”

Volkswagen e-Bus electric camper

“We are very excited to be a part of this project,” said Michael Bream, CEO of EV West. 

“Merging a historic model from an iconic brand with the technology of today, is just one of many ways that we can step closer to a more sustainable future while continuing to enjoy our rich automotive heritage.” 

In pictures: Volkswagen e-Bus electric camper

Volkswagen’s electric future laid bare in new exhibition

Volkswagen ID Vizzion platform

Visitors to a major U.S. car museum can see how Volkswagen ID. electric cars are designed and assembled.

The ‘Building an Electric Future’ exhibit is in residence at the Petersen Automotive Museum until September 2022.

This follows the global reveal of the Volkswagen ID. Space Vizzion at the Petersen. The all-electric concept previews a production estate that will be launched in different variants in Europe, China and North America.

‘Building an Electric Future’ consists of five rooms that incorporate interactive features and showcase how Volkswagen’s MEB modular electric vehicle platform is engineered.

It also shows how ID. electric vehicles are assembled.

Volkswagen ID3 electric car

The Volkswagen ID.3 electric car was unveiled ahead of the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Three battery size options are available, with the entry-level version boasting a 205-mile range from its 45kWh battery. The larger 58kWh and 77kWh batteries are good for 260 and 341 miles of range respectively.

Prices start from around £27,000 for the 205-mile capable car. The top-end First Edition cars are available from £35,000.

‘Paving the way’

Volkswagen ID Vizzion concept

Commenting on the exhibition, Terry L. Karges, Petersen executive director, said: “Through our partnership with Volkswagen, we are exploring the impact an electrified future will have on a local and global scale.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the manufacturer to present ‘Building an Electric Future.’ The exhibit offers visitors an interactive behind-the-scenes look at how the world’s largest automaker is paving the way for the future of mobility.”

Current exhibitions include a display of vehicles from the world of science fiction and fantasy, the influence of mid-engine Porsche cars, and Southern California race cars.

The Petersen Automotive Museum Is located on Wilshere Boulevard in Los Angeles. There are more than 250 vehicles on display, including the first Ferrari and King George V’s 1910 Daimler.

Tickets cost $11 for children, $14 for seniors and $16 for adults. For opening times, visit the Petersen website.

Volkswagen Golf GTI M52 boosted to R-rivalling 310hp

Mountune M52 Golf GTI

Mountune’s new M52 division has launched an upgrade package for the Volkswagen Golf GTI, boosting the iconic hot hatch to 310hp. The Stage One kit comes hot on the heels of a similar upgrade for the Golf R.

The Stage One GTI calibration is essentially a software tweak, which you can install yourself at home. Costing £715.50, it’s described as ‘an affordable option to dramatically increase the performance of the GTI whilst retaining an OEM+ feel’.

Mountune M52 Golf GTI

Five settings are included in the Stage One package, including ‘stock’, ‘valet’ and ‘anti-theft’. For those worried about their standard clutch kit, there’s also a low-torque tune included.

In terms of acceleration, the 0-60mph dash is cut from 6.4 to 5.4 seconds. You can even time it using the performance measurement facility. Also included is a gauge display, adjustable shift light, data logger, fault code reader, zip-up case with associated wiring and the all-important M52 badge. 

If you want to give your GTI some growl to go with the added bite, M52 offers its X3 induction system. We sampled this on the company’s demo Golf R and it certainly added some throatiness to the EA888 engine’s soundtrack. 

Mountune M52 Golf GTI

“The Mk7.5 Golf GTI Stage One upgrade is the latest development to come from M52,” said Alec Pell-Johnson, director of Mountune and M52. 

“We are still relatively new to the world of VW performance upgrades, but using our knowledge and expertise gained from our time working with Ford vehicles, we have been able to produce a high-quality power upgrade that comes at an affordable price. We are looking forward to seeing the response from our ever-growing M52 community.”

Opinion: Is the Volkswagen Golf R the ‘new Cosworth’?

Volkswagen Golf R

Search for ‘Golf R stolen’ on Google News and you’ll be presented with some grim stories. These aren’t exactly tales of the unexpected – the hot Golf has been a target for many years – but it’s the rate at which the cars are being stolen that’s most alarming.

Many are stolen from driveways in the middle of the night, with owners becoming the latest victims of the keyless theft epidemic. Even more chilling is the fact that some thieves are breaking into homes to grab the keys.

What’s the appeal, aside from the fact that the Volkswagen Golf is worryingly simple to steal? Put simply, the Golf R blends in. Plus it’s a very easy car to drive fast, with plenty of power and four-wheel-drive traction.

For armed robberies, ram-raiding and drug trafficking, the Golf R is the perfect vehicle. To passers-by, it looks like an ordinary Golf, but it packs enough punch to outrun the police if the thieves are caught in the act. Stick a pair of fake number plates on a Golf R and the criminals can move about undetected for weeks.

Last night, Harry Metcalfe tweeted a list of stolen vehicles in the Cotswolds area. Of the 32 cars on the list, 11 are Volkswagen Golf R hatchbacks or estates. That’s a third.

Metcalfe asked if the Golf R is “the new Ford Sierra Cosworth when it comes to nickability”, which is a fair question.

Like the Golf R, the ‘Cossie’ was stolen in large numbers and became the ram-raiders vehicle of choice in the 80s and 90s. The Sierra RS Cosworth was still being used as a getaway vehicle as recently as 2003.

There was a time when the RS Cosworth was virtually uninsurable. Park one outside your house and there’d be a good chance it would be gone in the morning. Some owners were followed home, with the thieves returning in the dead of the night once they knew where the car was parked overnight.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

It was a similar story for the Escort RS Cosworth. In common with the Sierra, its door locks were as useful as an umbrella in a blizzard, and many were stolen for some Roxette-inspired playtime. Jeremy Clarkson famously owned one and, although this might be an urban myth, I’m pretty sure he was quoted £20,000 to insure it.

What is true is the fact that he opened his front door one morning to find that somebody had half-inched the rear wing. Ford made the ‘Aero Pack‘ a delete option in 1993 – not that many owners chose to order their Cossie without the body furniture.

Few cars can boast a 20-page thread on Pistonheads entitled ‘Stolen Ford Cosworth stories’.

‘Secure your driveway’

Fast forward to 2019 and it’s easy to draw comparisons between the Cossies of the past and the Golf R of the present. Only last month, police in the North West advised Golf owners to review their home security. “Just to reiterate, we have seen a recent pattern of suspicious activity, attempt burglaries and burglaries at addresses with a Volkswagen Golf on the drive,“ the police said in a message.

“If you have a Golf, please review your home security, secure your driveway if possible. Check your CCTV and security lights work.“

Scary times if you’re a Volkswagen Golf R owner. Would you consider selling yours to buy something less likely to be stolen? Let us know in the comments section.

Buzz fed: Volkswagen Motorsport recruits 100,000 bees

Volkswagen Motorsport bee hive

Volkswagen’s race and rally department in Hannover has 100,000 new helpers. In an effort to go green, it has introduced two bee colonies.

The bees are Volkswagen Motorsport’s ‘small contribution to biodiversity’. According to Science Times, bees are the most important living beings on Earth.

Volkswagen I.Bees

Volkswagen Motorsport bee hive

Volkswagen more generally is making efforts to have less environmental impact. It’s new range of ID electric cars, including the new ID.3, forthcoming ID.4 and record-breaking ID.R racer, are at the forefront of this movement. As such, the Bees will be in the ID family. They’ve affectionately been called ‘I.Bees’.

The bees are expected to produce around 80 kilograms of honey every year. Every kilogram of honey will be the product of between 100,000 and 200,000 flights to and from local plant life. The honey will be available as a small gift for customers and staff local to the facility, but not just yet. They’ll only start work in the spring.

Feeling the buzz

Volkswagen Motorsport bee hive

“Many people think of honey when they think of bees. It is less well known, but even more important, that they make an invaluable contribution to the preservation of our ecosystem through pollination,” said Volkswagen Motorsport director, Sven Smeets.

“As a future-oriented company, we are dedicated to ensuring that we are able to deal as considerately as possible with resources. Furthermore, we also want to take some responsibility for biodiversity.”

Van thefts up 45 percent to record high

Van thefts increase in the UK

The number of vans stolen in the UK has increased by 45 percent over the last four years, according to new figures.

Police have recorded 32,056 incidents of van theft since 2015 – with 9,371 vans reported stolen in the last year alone. 

Of these, 4,777 vans were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police – a 15 percent year-on-year increase. Meanwhile, in Leicestershire, van theft is up 843 percent to 377.

A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) found that van theft is up in most of the police forces included in the study, although the figure is down 73 percent in the West Midlands.

The study was conducted by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It’s advising van owners and fleet managers to ensure their vehicles are fitted with the latest anti-theft devices and to remove tools overnight.

Over the weekend, thousands of pounds worth of tools were stolen from vans in the West Midlands. Julie Meer, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) on the Tyburn Neighbourhood Team said: “”Can we please remind residents to be vigilant at this time and not to leave items of value including tools inside their vans and please use vehicle alarms where available.”

How to protect your van from theft

Volkswagen has the following advice for van drivers:

  • Park in well-lit areas or car parks with CCTV. Alternatively, position your van so that the doors are blocked by another vehicle
  • Window guards or full internal bulkheads can prevent thieves from seeing inside
  • Adding security film to the side glass and back window can stop thieves from breaking in
  • Fitting additional locks is a good idea
  • Invest in lockable internal racking or secure storage boxes
  • Fitting a tracking device can assist the police in the hunt for a stolen van

Volkswagen police van

David Hanna, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles head of service and parts operations, said: “Our most recent findings are concerning as it reveals that the problem of van theft is getting worse rather than better – and it’s a problem right across the country.

“Vans are the lifeblood of so many businesses up and down the country and it’s not only the emotional stress of replacing the vehicle but also the days and weeks of letting customers down and the cost of replacing tools, often worth thousands of pounds, before you can get back to ‘business as usual’.’

Number of van thefts

The FOI request was sent to 47 police forces across the UK. A total of 42 responded – here are the top 10.

Police forceStolen vans (2017/18)Stolen vans (2018/19)Year-on-year increase
Metropolitan Police4,1374.77715 percent
West Yorkshire55793167 percent
West Midlands1,505409-73 percent
Essex22838770 percent
Leicestershire40377843 percent
Hertfordshire20625323 percent
Derbyshiren/a229
Surrey210208-1 percent
Avon and Somerset16619316 percent
Sussexn/a181