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Tag: Aristos

2004 Volkswagen Golf R32

For a few generations, Volkswagen fans were denied the cream of the crop for Volkswagen products. It took several years to finally get the original GTi to these shores, and then it wasn’t quite as hot as the European version. The second edition might have sported twin cams and 16 valves, but Euro customers got the addtional option of a supercharged, all-wheel drive version. There were plenty of cool options missing from the U.S. lineup in the 3rd generation, too – including the 2.9 liter VR6 Variant Syncro. So there was a bit of rejoicing finally when the all-wheel drive hot hatch was finally added to the U.S. lineup after the initial launch in 2003. Sporting the same 3.2 VR6 found in the TT, unlike the Mk.1 TT it was 6-speed manual only. It was also only available as a 2-door model, with special body kit unique to the R32 and dual exhaust to help announce its sporting intentions. With the best part of 240 horsepower on tap, it certainly seemed like the ultimate Golf and the sound generated from the narrow-angle 6 was mesmerizing. While heavy weight meant it wasn’t considerably quicker than the 1.8T models, it nonetheless has secured a spot in U.S. fans hearts as the top trump from the Mk.4 generation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32 on eBay

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Volkswagen Variants on a Theme: 2003 Jetta GLS 1.8T v. 2001 Passat GLS 1.8T

Obviously, this post comes to you from someone who likes Volkswagens – and, in particular, 5-door VWs. I’m not sure exactly what the attraction is for me, but the last two Volkswagens I’ve had – both Passat GLS 1.8T Variants – have been faithful and fun-to-drive companions. Despite their relative popularity (VW sold nearly 110,000 wagons in North America – 20% of production overall), they somehow manage to stand apart from the crowd. And for about ten years VW enthusiasts got to choose not only from the Passat’s fairly robust lineup of wagons which featured everything from luxurious automatic V6 all-wheel drivers to thrifty diesels and outrageous W8s, but there was also the slightly smaller Jetta Wagon as well. Like the Passat, several options were available, from a basic 2.0, the turbo 1.8, the TDI and the crazy VR6 model.

Today I’ve got two examples to consider; in this case, both are front-drive 1.8T 5-speed manual GLSs. Despite what should be a very similar basis, these two take on remarkably different character. Pricing is pretty similar but presentation and mileage are quite different. Which is the one to buy? Let’s start with the Jetta:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition

Volkswagen’s special editions on the fourth generation Golf were confusing for a bit. Once again in 2001, a neat GTi was launched that – of course – wasn’t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that weren’t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didn’t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTi sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the “18 year Anniversary Edition” didn’t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagen’s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasn’t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since “19th Anniversary” didn’t make any sense, we instead got the “337” Edition. This was, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of the 25th Anniversary model, but instead the 337 referenced the internal project code for the original GTi. But they were quite limited, with only 1,250 sold in the U.S. and 250 sold in Canada. So, you probably missed out on your chance to own one, right? Well, wrong, because in 2003 Volkswagen re-released the 337 edition. Conveniently, there was now a round number that they could actually commemorate the GTi’s longevity with as it had been 20 years since the A1 GTi rolled out of Westmoreland. Again, it was a greatest hits edition of the GTi; the 337 upgraded 12.3 inch vented brakes with go-faster red calipers carried over, as did the upgraded suspension. Though they sported different fabric, inside was the same Recaro interior with deep bolsters. The golf ball shift knob also returned, though it now was mated to a new 6-speed transmission (MQ350) which in turn were connected to R32 Aristo wheels in place of the BBS RCs. Deeper front and rear valances matched the previous two models, and the 20th AE got blacked headlights more similar to the 25th AE. A final homage to the original model were subtle rabbits adorning the rear and vintage inspired GTi badging. But the biggest change was that the 20th AE was available in three colors unlike the silver-only prior cars; Black Magic Pearl, Jazz Blue and Imola Yellow:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition on eBay

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2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon

The earlier dueling beige wagons was a bit of a letdown post, and off the bat I have to say I’m sorry. I should have been more excited to see two rare VAG products from the 1980s, but looking at those two the best response I feel I can muster is a general “at least they’re clean”. And that’s sad, because keeping a car in good condition for that period of time certainly takes a fair amount of care and concern – it doesn’t just happen by accident. Despite that, I just found it very hard to get at all excited about either of those wagons. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I got quite excited when I stumbled across this 5-door. Now, I want to be clear up front that I’m not a Jetta fan – I reside firmly in “Camp Golf” when I’m not at “Club Passat”. Furthermore, I’m not really a Mk.4 fan. They’re notorious for shoddy build quality, wacky electrics and…well, to be not particularly delicate, the Mk.4 Jetta reminds me of college girls from New Jersey and not in a good way. However, there are some positives to consider. First, while we were denied the Mk.3 Golf Variant, Volkswagen allowed the small wagon to come to the U.S., and this is one. Second, the Mk.4 generation had some great motor options; the frugal TDi, the tunable 1.8T and the torquey and awesome sounding VR6 engines – all available in 5-door form. Lesser known is that all of the wagons, like the Passat, were assembled in Germany. That may not matter to some, but my experience has been that the German-built Passat wagons had better build quality than the sedans. On top of that, you also got some great wheel options in the Mk.4 and it could be had in a 5-speed manual. It really was a fun, sporty wagon option – something Volkswagen and Audi hadn’t been stellar at offering U.S. customers. Today’s 2002 example is from mid-way through Mk.4 production and features all of those above mentioned items in a pleasing combination of Reflex Silver Metallic with black leather:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon on eBay

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