Volkswagen has long been known for creating practical and reliable vehicles. They obsess over the finest details, ensuring every component of their cars is expertly designed, crafted and fitted.
But that’s not the only trick up their sleeve.
Their styling is also sleek and elegant; not flashy nor dull, it’s a perfect blend of sharp edges and smooth curves.
The same can be said for the interior, too. It’s minimalist while housing everything you need. And the buttons, dials and stalks are responsive. They feel a quality item, and they’re laid out in a simple and sensible way.
You could say, then, that Volkswagen’s styling symbolises the overall driving and owning experience – it’s easy to live with, head-turning but not brash, dependable with an undercurrent of passion and excitement.
And that’s why VWs continue to be incredibly popular vehicles. They provide affordable, luxurious motoring that’s practical for everyone.
What Makes A Car Stand Out?
Designing a great vehicle is more than just some drawings on a blank sheet of A4. It’s every nut and bolt, every panel, every stitch; the finer details, that’s what separates a great car from the rest.
When you think of leading motoring styling, you think German; Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi and, of course, Volkswagen.
That’s because each of those manufacturers ensures they cater to all needs and preferences. They stand out because of their understated, sophisticated appearance. Nothing is cheap. Nothing is rushed.
When you see a Volkswagen, you know it’s a Volkswagen.
But that doesn’t mean they’re boring. Or that they all look the same. Each model has its own unique characteristics which give it purpose.
For example, the dynamic, modern styling of the all-electric ID. range. The ID. 3 – the first pure electric in the range – is a car for the future, and the styling and mechanics adhere to that.
Much like VW Golfs and Polos are timeless classics, the ID.3 has the same feel to it.
But one of the reasons why Volkswagen is adored the world over is due to its mechanics. How often do you see an old VW on the motorway?
That’s because they’re innovative and built to last – they stand the test of time. That’s what Volkswagen is all about – design and performance that stays relevant.
Really, no one does it better, and it’s on that basis we’re going to judge several stand-out Volkswagen models.
Since we’ve already touched on it, there’s no better place to start than the VW Golf.
Since its first inception in 1974, the Golf has epitomised beauty and performance. And although the original Mk 1 wouldn’t necessarily be a fitting car in today’s technological age, there are still some running and its styling is still relevant. You can certainly see that in the likes of the new all-electric Honda-e.
An astonishing thing with the Golf is you can see its evolution through time, right from the Mk 1 to the 2020 Mk8.
And even the Mk 7 was challenging anything Mercedes, BMW and Audi were putting out towards the end of its life in terms of styling and performance.
It’s not really surprising when you consider the figures. A WLTP diesel mpg in the high 60s, and an equivalent of 164mpg in the e-Golf. And considering how durable VW engines are, that’s a long-term fuel saving.
But it’s not just under the bonnet where the Golf impresses. The new Mk 8 interior is certainly up there with the most stylish on the market.
Ambient lighting, a large touchscreen display, a digital dashboard in higher-spec models; it’s what you’d expect in class-leading vehicles. And that’s what the Golf is, just without the big price tag.
Another nostalgic infuser is the VW Polo. Again, like the Golf, it’s another vehicle which has been around seemingly forever.
First introduced as a rebadged Audi 50 back in 1975, it’s now a full 30cm bigger than the original Golf Mk1.
The Polo is a stylish, dependable family car. It still has a hot hatch option, through the 2-litre turbocharged GTI producing almost 200 bhp, but it’s just as easy a sensible, economical, long-lasting city car.
On the inside, it’s not as luxurious as the Golf – with more hard plastic elements used – but it’s certainly well-specced and ergonomic.
And the exterior is a similar story. Against others in its class, it’s miles ahead. But side-by-side with a Golf, you can tell which is the more expensive.
Although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some don’t want the more aggressive styling of the Golf. The Polo has always been a little softer, and it’s nice to have the choice.
Volkswagen ID. 3
But if we’re talking innovation and originality, the ID.3 is certainly one which provides both.
It’s the first pure-electric car in the Volkswagen ID. range. When it comes to designing a vehicle with the future in mind, you can’t look past it.
It’s the first VW car designed with the Group’s new MEB platform, which gives it the size of a Golf but the turning circle of an Up!.
All in all, the ID.3 breaks a lot of new ground.
Unlike other electric compacts, its range is as good as any hot petrol hatchback, as is its acceleration off the line.
You get about 260 miles from a full charge – 120 more than the Honda-e and Mini Electric, and six more than the long-range Tesla Model 3. And it takes just 30 minutes to reach 70% charge.
Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest electric vehicle on the market. But in its class, it’s arguably the best looking, has the best range and, with VW’s reliable past, will probably last the longest, too.
From the outside, there isn’t a bad angle. The front and rear lights certainly take vehicle design and practicality to a new place with intelligent communication.
And although the interior may not be to everyone’s taste, it seems as though VW has favoured range, dependability and craftsmanship over a few extra buttons on the dash – which, at this stage of the electric revolution, is probably for the best.
Probably one of Volkswagen’s lesser-known models, the Arteon is a luxury, affordable saloon. It sits above the Passat in VW’s pecking order, and in almost every other department too.
In terms of looks, the Arteon is as striking as they come. A huge front grille, which helps the car look lower than it actually is, sporty yet refined stature and space for 20” alloys.
The interior is much the same. A mind-boggling amount of space – certainly bigger than anything else in its class price range – a never-ending boot and plush leather seats make up a welcoming cabin.
Unfortunately, the front isn’t to the same standard, with little things like no motorised seat mechanics reminding you this isn’t a fully-prestige saloon.
However, those issues may be addressed in the new Arteon, which is scheduled to hit the roads in 2021.
The T-Roc is a bit of an interesting car. First off, it looks superb and drives magnificently, but it’s not your usual SUV.
In fact, it’s not an SUV at all. It’s a crossover. It’s essentially a raised Golf, albeit a little bit smaller than the standard car.
But the T-Roc isn’t really pitched as a family car – partly because it’s not all that spacious – but mostly because it’s seen by VW themselves as an alternative to a normal hatchback.
If you don’t need the extra SUV space but you want the raised driving position and everything else that comes with a crossover, the T-Roc is the one for you.
It’s also a gateway for those who don’t want to spend silly money on a mini SUV, with one of the most popular engines being Volkswagen’s excellent 1-litre turbo petrol.
Really then, it’s a sign of changing demand. The T-Roc appeared as the Scirocco died out, which is where we’ll finish.
The end of the Volkswagen Scirocco was sad for many reasons. First off, it was one of VW’s best-looking cars. Secondly, it’s a thrill to drive. And thirdly, it was really well-priced.
Even today, the sloping rear windows accentuate the Scirocco’s sporty nature, and inside continues to rival many new cars.
You can still get hold of a used VW Scirocco – usually for a reasonable price – and if you’re looking away from a brand-new car, it could be the right one for you.