Volkswagen South Africa offers a wide range of vehicles, from the diminutive Up and the locally built Polo Vivo to the V6-powered Amarok and the range-topping Touareg. But there are still a few VW-badged models (and derivatives) we would think South Africans would love to see on local roads, even if most are highly unlikely to ever make it here...
VW’s MQB-based Atlas is built only in left-hand-drive form, which sees it restricted to markets such as North America (it’s also sold as the Teramont in places like China, Russia and the Middle East). In the US, the hefty SUV (which, measuring 5 040 mm nose to tail, is longer than a Touareg), is powered by either the Wolfsburg-based firm’s 175 kW turbocharged 2,0-litre four-pot or a 206 kW 3,6-litre VR6 unit. Interestingly, there's also a five-seater Atlas Cross Sport available, complete with a coupé-like roofline.
Volkswagen Jetta GLI
With the seventh-generation Jetta not produced in right-hand drive, the nameplate officially exited South Africa in 2019 after some 39 years. While many South Africans would love to see the sedan return to local shores, there’s one US-spec variant we find particularly interesting. Yes, the Jetta GLI borrows bits and bobs from the Golf 7 GTI and Golf 7 R, and comes complete with a turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine sending 170 kW to the front axle via a six-speed manual transmission (a seven-speed DSG is offered as an option). GTI with a boot, anyone?
Like the two models above, the unibody Saveiro (a new-generation model surely isn't far off) sold in South American markets such as Brazil is built in left-hand-drive configuration only, which means VW SA isn’t able to offer the half-tonner on local soil, despite quite a gap existing in the market (these days, Nissan’s NP200 finds itself all alone in the segment). Late in 2018, the firm’s local arm said though it had “considered the Saveiro for our market, our research has not yet convinced us of its local viability". It added this was "in light of all production considerations, price and market placement", before saying "this may change in future”.
Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI
While the SA-spec Touareg is powered by a 190 kW/600 N.m 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel, a V8 TDI variant is offered in some overseas markets. Generating a whopping 310 kW and 900 N.m, the eight-cylinder Touareg is capable of hitting 100 km/h from standstill in a claimed 4,9 seconds. Of course, there’s also the Europe-specific Touareg R, a plug-in hybrid model offering 340 kW and 700 N.m from its electrified V6 oil-burner.
Volkswagen Up GTI
The Up GTI was revealed back in mid-2017, billed as the spiritual successor to the original (Mk1) Golf GTI and slotting in below the Polo GTI. Tipping the scales at under a tonne, the tiny GTI employs a 1,0-litre three-cylinder TSI engine with a peak power output of 85 kW and maximum torque of 200 N.m. VW says the Up GTI tops out at 197 km/h, with the claimed zero to 100 km/h time coming in at 8,8 seconds. Soon after its reveal, VW SA told us the "current exchange rate would make this a very expensive car [in South Africa], potentially competing with other models in our range".
Are there any other VW models you’d love to see on local roads? Leave a comment below…