Volkswagen full-line preview: Nothing to wine about

Jetta Action1

2014 Jetta 1.8

The 2014 Jetta is one of the happy recipients of VW’s new EA888 third-generation engine. The 1.8 replaces the 2.5-liter five-cylinder, and is more fuel efficient. The horsepower is the same as the outgoing engine, but with slightly more torque. The new 1.8 was designed with more low- and mid-range punch, and it translates nicely to on-road performance. In addition, the Jetta now features an independent rear suspension, something for which we’ve all been waiting. These updates make the Jetta so much more competitive in the overflowing mid-size sedan segment.

Price:  $18,895 (SE) to $25,590 (SEL)

Performance: 1.8-liter turbocharged I4; 170 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque

Prediction:  Continued improvements will keep the Jetta on many buyers’ consideration list.

eos 12014 Eos Sport Convertible

When it comes to convertible hardtop technology, the Eos is the model to beat. Why? Because it’s actually two vehicles in one. It’s easy to enjoy the Eos with the top up because you also have a full-width power panoramic glass sunroof incorporated within. Or put the whole shebang away with the touch of a lever on the center console box. The electro-hydraulic top operation lowers/raises in 25 seconds, and is mesmerizing to watch. It’s truly a technical piece of wizardry; hats off to the engineer who made this happen. Besides the top, the Eos is a fun little car to toss around corners. There is a slight bit of cowl shake, but not enough to ruin the overall appeal of this ride. The Eos Sport features the dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission, which works well, and when paired with Tiptronic shifting, is plenty of fun to drive. We love the paddle shifters in this (and all VW models) as they are short, well-placed, and provide smooth gear changes. If you are comparing the Eos to the Mazda Miata, it would be hard to make a case for spending the extra money. But if you’re comparing it to more luxury-oriented roadsters, like an SLK Mercedes-Benz, then it’s a steal. Either way, we heartily endorse this perfectly sized modern marvel.

Price:  $35,195 (Komfort), $37,925 (Sport)

Performance:  2.0-liter turbocharged I4; 200 horsepower, 207 lb-ft of torque

Prediction:  Still cute as ever, but the price might be a hard sell.

Tiguan1

2014 Tiguan R-Line

The Tiguan is one of those vehicles that, the more you drive it, the more you like it. The compact crossover is a good in-between size and feels spacious. The seats are German hard, but worked well for spirited driving that the performance-based R-Line calls for. We found ourselves flying down the twisty roads and laughing at the excellent grip and handling characteristics of this fun companion. While you can get the Tiguan in four-wheel drive, we chose the two-wheel for the slight weight advantage. The standard turbocharged engine was smooth and responsive. Volkswagen has got the turbo market nailed. You don’t feel any lag or abruptness, just progressive power. The R-Line badge means you get exterior and interior upgrades like a roof spoiler and leather seats. It was hard to give this one back at the end of the drive.

Price:  $22,995 (S) to $36,595 (R-Line)

Performance:  2.0-liter turbocharged I4; 200 horsepower, 207 lb-ft of torque

Prediction: If more buyers tried it, they’d buy it.