VW boosts power in Golf GTI, Jetta GLS

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Volkswagen plans to combat competitors to the Golf GTI and Jetta GLS with power.

Though the 2002 cars don’t benefit from new styling, there are changes under the hood. VW has reworked the turbocharged, 20-valve, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, boosting output 20 percent from 150 hp to 180 hp.

Midway in the 2002 model year, the Golf GTI and Jetta GLS will get a revamped V-6 engine option with 201 hp, up from 174 hp in 2001 models.

A five-speed automatic transmission with a Tiptronic electric shifting system is optional with the revamped 1.8-liter turbo and V-6 engines.

In spite of the mechanical improvements, VW is trying to hold the line on price increases for its 2002 models. But it is replacing its 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty with coverage for 5 years or 50,000 miles.

Powering up

Stefan Krebstanger, VW’s product strategy manager, said the horsepower boost in the 1.8-liter engine came from reworking the intake and exhaust systems and increasing the output of the turbocharger. Zero-to-60 mph performance for the Golf GTI is 7.5 seconds; for the Jetta GLS it is 7.7 seconds.

The addition of the Tiptronic transmission is aimed at differentiating the Golf and Jetta from its Japanese competition, most notably the new Nissan Altima, which features a 175-hp base engine. VW plans to install the more powerful engine in the New Beetle next spring.

Karen Marderosian, VW’s new marketing director for America, said VW’s strategy is to expand the brand by bringing “premium German engineering” to market segments where it is unavailable. “We have a lot of people leaving the brand because we don’t have anything for them,” she said.

Trims keep stickers down

VW has trimmed some luxury features from the Golf GTI and lowered the price slightly. The standard Golf GTI starts at $18,910, including destination charges, down from $19,425 for the 2001 model. The GTI with the V-6 engine will sell for $20,845, down from $23,050. At $20,500, the 2002 Jetta GLS is up about $200. The prices include a $550 destination charge.

No pricing is available on the 2002 Jetta GLS V-6. The base model Golf GL with its 2.0-liter engine remains VW’s lowest priced car in the United States for 2002. Prices start at $15,600, including a $550 destination charge. The base model Jetta comes in at $17,400, including destination charges.

All 2002 VWs come with a four-year, 50,000 mile transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, up from the two-year, 24,000-mile policy.

A five-year, 50,000-mile transferable powertrain warranty will be in effect for 2002 models. The 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain coverage, transferable only by the original retail purchaser to a family member, has been dropped.

You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com

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