2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6

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As I prepare my departure from the Washington, DC region next year, one skill at which I’ve become quite adroit during my stay is the ability to know my audience. Sometimes it’s best not to interject personal opinion around here unless you want to start a war. But you know what? Given it’s the holiday season, I felt like I needed to spread some cheer. Or, in this case, grief. And it’s directed squarely at Volkswagen and their discriminatory and downright disappointing product decisions which they have taken in the US market. I’ve got a short list of grievances to air, so let’s run down the list:

1. Please don’t create a whole subset of models specific to the US market. Sure, tastes differ across the globe, but individuality is king. Not only that, “global” models will save development costs.

2. Tell the product planners over at Audi that we need less SUVs, more Avants and a halt to the removal of manual gearbox options year on year. You might not have noticed, but we witnessed another three-pedal death with the redesigned 2016 Audi TT.

3. Audi needs to rethink their move in not bringing the A3/S3 Sportback stateside. While not as hideous as the Mercedes-Benz CLA, not everyone wants to do yoga moves to get in the back seat of a small sedan like the A3 and S3 or lose the convenience that comes with the larger load bay of a hatchback.

4. The Volkswagen Routan. If the person who gave this model the green light is still employed with Volkswagen, they should stand trial for a crime against humanity. Is it any wonder this badge engineered turd only lasted five years? Bring the Transporter/Eurovan back, please. Those who enjoy the great outdoors will thank you.

5. US Scirocco sales should commence. Immediately. Your argument that the Scirocco would cannibalize GTi sales is invalid, Volkswagen.

6. Let’s talk about the 500 pound elephant in the room that is the Volkswagen Passat. The car which led the VW renaissance in the US almost 20 years ago is now nothing more than a German Ford Taurus. At least there was a diesel option with a 6-speed manual before the emissions fiasco this year, but now the oil burner has been removed from the lineup. Additionally, not everyone who opts for a new Passat with a manual gearbox wants the bare bones trim level. Let those who enjoy the manual gearbox choose all the options they want, please. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it is that we can still buy the attractive Passat CC (but I’m guessing not for long).

7. Will we ever see the Volkswagen Polo in the US? The Polo GTi would be a worthy competitor to the current MINI Cooper S, which has gotten hideously large. Also, how about the Passat Alltrack for kicks? This would give the Subaru Outback a run for its money and you would certainly grab the interest of the VW faithful still running the few Quantum Syncro Wagons left.

I’m sure there are other complaints which I might have failed to address. To be fair, it’s not entirely Volkswagen’s fault, as the rules and regulations to sell a car in the US would make dictators of a one party state cringe. Needless to say, the old adage holds true here: freedom defined is freedom denied. One thing is certain, though. I almost feel as if the diesel emissions scandal that shook VW to the core in September is, in a sense, a bit of karma for a car company which strayed too far its roots and lost some of its most loyal customers in the process.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s dial back a few years when you could still get a well equipped Passat with a manual gearbox. This 2003 Passat GLX V6 hasn’t even cracked 60,000 miles yet but harkens back to a time when the Passat was the darling of the mid-sized segment. This was the car that brought Audi levels of luxury to the masses.

Click for details: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 2000 Audi S4

Why does the Audi S4 not get more attention on Motorsports Monday? Well, for most the generally heavy platform coupled with the forward bias of the relatively heavy motor doesn’t equal track excitement. Motivation has never been a problem with Audi’s fastest small chassis cars, but braking and turning aren’t where the excel – especially compared to the competition from Munich and Stuttgart. However, a recent ride in my stripped-out and stiffened-up Audi left me the best part of an inch shorter and thinking. Going to the track is such a great time, but there must be a better balance between the 95% of the time that the car isn’t at the track to the 5% it is – if you’re lucky. And while in all out track performance, it’s hard to argue with the E36 chassis as the best value going, the B5 S4 is a compelling alternative to have plenty of fun in between – and, year round:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi S4 on eBay

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2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Audi Exclusive Olympic Edition 6-speed

It’s not too often that I get genuinely surprised by something, but when our reader John altered me to a Fortitude link to a special allroad, I really had to take a moment to soak in what I was seeing. To be honest, it was not the first time that I had seen a Sprint Blue allroad – but I had always assumed that they were either resprays or one of just a few very special Audi Exclusive colored examples such as the Tropical Green one kicking around the web a few months back. But this was more than that, and I was glad to learn the history of the special run. This car is one of the 10 “Olympic” allroads that were used as promotional tools in the 2002 Salt Lake City games. This isn’t the first time that Audi supported the Games – notably, in 1988 they had some promotional 5000s in Calgary. But the shade of this car is what made it special, as in 2002 Audi was still pushing Nogaro as its fast blue hue. Sprint Blue would change that with the B7 and C6 chassis, but Audi Exclusive painted these cars the fetching shade half a decade earlier. On top of that, this car has been converted to a 6-speed manual. The want is strong in this one…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi allroad 2.7T Olympic Edition on AZEuros

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1998 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

By 1996 and the launch of the new B5 chassis A4 model, Audi had decidedly lost the sport from its U.S. model lineup. There were only three models available from the brand in that year, and with the demise of the S6 all featured the venerable if relatively underpowered and underwhelming 12 valve V6. For the new A4, there was no “Sport” model – a little surprising considering the lengths that Audi went through to race the sedan in Touring Car competitions, where it was very successful. The Sport package, which had debuted in the B3 90 20V sedan and continued in the B4 V6 model for 1995, was reintroduced into the B5 model for the U.S. market in 1997 with the launch of the 1.8T 20V turbo model. As it had with previous generations, that included slightly more distinct wheels and Jacquard than the standard model, but the 1.8T at that point still only produced 150 horsepower and lugging the all-wheel drive A4 around meant the early 1.8Ts were anything but quick. With mid 8-second runs to 60 m.p.h., they weren’t much faster than the 4000 quattro had been a decade earlier. However changes and added sport came in 1998 to the A4 run when Audi moved the 5 valve technology into the V6 motor. Now in AHA 30 valve form, the output of the V6 bumped roughly 20 horsepower and 20 lb. ft or torque up and was a closer match to the European competition, and acceleration and especially highway feel were finally befitting a “sport” designation. Audi also gave these sport models the same 3-spoke sport steering wheel the 1.8T model had received, as well as introducing a new wheel design. The 7-spoke “Swing” wheels would begin the differentiation between the sport equipped models and the standard A4s and while they were the same 16″ size as the non-sport wheels, the design somehow looked considerably more special. Audi also began offering the 1BE sport suspension in the B5 model, with a slightly lower ride height and stiffer springs giving the A4 a more menacing presence. Audi further offered some more unique interiors and exteriors to help set their A4 apart; the “Cool Shades” had debuted with the 1.8T and were carried on to the V6 model in 1998. Along with some revised tail lights, the ’98 V6 model could be made very special indeed, with unique interiors as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

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Double Take: Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant

Last week I wrote up a 2007 A6 3.2 quattro Avant S-Line, the end of a dying breed of luxury wagons from German manufacturers. But before they fully dismissed the large wagon from U.S. shores, Audi went out with a bang when it refreshed the A6 in 2009. Minor updates to styling once again brought the A6 in line with the new design language from Audi, but the real change was under the skin. As they had with the previous models, in an attempt to save some weight from the large Audis the company utilized aluminum throughout; the 3.0Ts featured aluminum hood and fenders like the previous generation S6 had. Additionally, just like the 3.2 had been, the new 3.0T was an aluminum block; the decrease in displacement was more than made up for with a literal boost from the supercharger. With a full 20% power increase to 300 horsepower and 310 lb.ft of torque at a low 2,500 rpm, the new 3.0T was a much better performer than the 3.2 FSi V6 had been and was, briefly, a defacto S-Avant that was missing from the lineup. On top of that, the new supercharged layout meant power increases are much easier to attain; as Chris Harris demonstrated with his stunning S4 v. RS4 comparison. Audi also moved away from its “S-Line” designations towards the new strata of Premium, Premium Plus ($1,400), and Prestige ($3,200) levels which added levels of electronic wizardry and small detail difference. That was on top of the raised base price, now $60,200 in 2010. If you though the 3.2 was rare, the 3.0T is downright hard to find even though they’re nearly new.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant on Cargurus

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C5 Avant-off: Allroad 2.7T 6-speed v. S6

We’ve recently had a good string of Audi Avants up here, including a rare converted 6-speed S6 Avant. Oddly, as several people noted we’ve seen a fair amount of these converted V8 cars come up for sale quickly after the conversion. Economically, that doesn’t make much sense; if selling was your goal, replacement with a used automatic would likely be a better route than going through the expensive swap. What’s even more perplexing is that the similar 01E-equipped allroad V6 2.7T (and its running mate B5 S4 Avant 6-speed) are highly sought and loved cars. So I brought two together today in rare color combinations; if you were going to pick a C5 Avant, which is the one you’d go for?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi Allroad quattro on Craigslist

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Motorsports Monday: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

They have a reputation for being a bit heavy, underpowered and prone to understeer – all things that make track enthusiasts cringe. But let’s not forget that the B5 Audi A4 carried on a proud tradition of successful touring cars; it was entered into nearly every series and notably won a few championships – the ’95 and ’96 Italian Superturismo Championship and the ’96 British Touring Car Championship, besting the popular favorites BMW and Alfa-Romeo. Such was the continued dominance of the quattro drive system that in every successive championship the Audis were entered in, they were eventually banned from the series. But the resurgence of Audi to the forefront of Touring Cars proved to be a boost for sales of the popular B5 chassis, making it an instant favorite amongst fans who traveled to the track. While Audi changed priorities in the later ’90s from the BTCC and ITC, there were nonetheless several teams who ran examples of the A4, notably in the “World Challenge” sanctioned by SCCA. With liveries inspired by the classic A4 Super Touring, the more production-based A4 World Challenge gained mostly safety equipment and competed in the lower “Touring” class against the likes of the Acura Integra and BMW 325i, while after 2001 the S4 was introduced to run with the big boys. While not nearly as fast or special as the STW A4s which carry unique Audi Sport chassis numbers, an example of these lesser A4s captures the look at a fraction of the price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

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10K Friday Pearls of Wisdom: Audi Pearlescent White Metallic-off

For the best part of two decades, Audi’s signature color was one of its most expensive options. On some models, in fact, Pearlescent White Metallic was the only optional extra you could select. From the original Quattro to the top tier S8, Audi bathed its most expensive models in the multi-stage dynamic paint color. As with most used older Audis, they’re all fairly affordable and offer – generally each in their own way – good value for the initial investment they represent. If you want to maximize the amount of German car you get for your money, look no further. Today I’ve arranged to look at a series of them, ranging from nearly the beginning to the end of the run. Which is your favorite and why?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi 200 quattro on Craigslist

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Tuner Tuesday Axis Power: BMW Skyline v. Supra Power

This isn’t the first time I’ve written up sacrilegiously swapped cars, so it’s probably no surprise to see two Japanese-powered BMWs pop up. And in each of their own ways, neither is on the surface, at least, a car we’d typically cover. But before you judge a book by its cover, are either of these cars executed well enough to be a neat package?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 325is on eBay

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Wagon Week: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant

While “Wagon Week” is one of our favorite features, I’ve tried to look at cars this go around that are slightly different than the normal candidates we examine. As such, while typically I look at the infamous W8 version of the Passat and it’s headline grabbing, innovative engine or the lighter weight 1.8T 5-speed, my preferred configuration, this time we’re looking at what was a popular platform – the GLX 4Motion. Equipped with a silky smooth 30V V6, as it was with the B2 generation underneath the B5 Passat was effectively an Audi A4 and shared the same all-wheel drive technology with updated 4-link suspension. That gave the Passat a refined and capable drivetrain and composed suspension setup that made it feel more upscale than the B3 and B4 generation had been. For enthusiasts, unfortunately if you wanted the all-wheel drive option coupled to a manual, you’d need to select an Audi over the more budget-friendly Passat or wait until the introduction of the 1.8T 4Motion later in the B5.5 model run. But many selected the package none-the-less, a capable and competent upscale cruiser that punched north of its price point and was a value luxury car:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant on eBay

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