VW boss: "We should be making more enthusiast cars"

Volkswagen currently offers three models that could be considered performance cars: the Golf GTI, Golf R, and Jetta GLI. That may change in the future.

Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO, told Motor Authority on Friday that Volkswagen is an enthusiast brand and “we should be making more enthusiast cars.”

The first step in that plan is to take a hard look at what the automaker currently offers and what it will have in its lineup going forward. Keogh confirmed the next-generation GTI and Golf R will come to the U.S. and be built in Europe, but VW is still evaluating if the Golf and Sportwagen variants will come to our shores.

Performance SUVs are popular in the U.S. When we asked Keogh about the possibility of adding one or more performance SUVs, he said, “Golf R is a beloved car and we think we can create the same magic in some other segments.” The only other segments VW has are SUVs and two sedans, the Passat and Arteon.

The GTI and Golf R powertrains could easily be dropped into the Tiguan, or even the Atlas, and work with upgraded suspension to turn either SUV into a performance variant. The same can be said of the 2020 Passat, which is really the old Passat with new sheet metal and a tweaked interior, though it no long offers a V-6 or all-wheel drive.

On the topic of performance versions of electric cars, Keogh said, “One step at a time.” However, Autocar reported a higher-performance ID 3 R could arrive in the next five years.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Enthusiast models aren’t necessarily only high-performance variants. They can also be stylish models. The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport introduced on Friday is aimed at enthusiasts with its squatter dimensions, raked rear hatch, and as Keogh put it, “great presence.” The same goes for the Arteon, which is a stylized Passat.

Keogh confirmed the return of the VW Bus (it’s electric) and said the project is on target for production in 2022, with vehicles arriving at dealers in 2022 or 2023 as promised. That’s another enthusiast model.

The GTI’s trademark plaid seat option will not be seen in other models, but Keogh noted the cloth puts a smile on owners faces. He said cool two-tone interiors can have the same effect. Expect Volkswagen to play around more with interior colors and materials to illicit that spark of joy.

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