China: Volkswagen Who’s who
* See the entire article by clicking on the title! *
In 2012 Volkswagen has gone on a new model frenzy in China, replacing a few designs that were up to 30 years old in one single swoop. Problem is, the entire range is starting to look very similar and it gets relatively confusing, partly because Volkswagen operates through two separate joint-ventures there, one with SAIC Motor (Shanghai Volkswagen) and one with First Automobile Works (FAW Volkswagen). So I thought I’d give you a quick update/cheat sheet as these changes will impact both Chinese and worldwide models rankings in the near future…
At the bottom of the range size-wise we have the Polo, manufactured by Shanghai Volkswagen, with the last two generations sold jointly in China. The current one under the name ‘Polo’, however the sedan version has just been discontinued – you’ll find out why below, and the previous one as the Polo Jinqu/Jinqing whom we know as the Polo Vivo in South Africa.
The 1984 second generation VW Jetta was launched in China by FAW VW in 1991. It has survived until now with a couple of minor facelifts and will stay in production as a taxi. The Chinese 2013 VW Jetta was launched on September 1 at the Chengdu Auto Show. It uses the PQ25 platform of the current generation Polo and is very close to it design-wise, hence the recent discontinuation of the current gen VW Polo sedan in China… And that’s when everything starts to get confusing, so bear with me and hold on tight…
In 1985, the Shanghai Volkswagen Santana was the first passenger car manufactured in China. It was met with tremendous success and produced at over 3 million units in 25 years, staying mostly unchanged until now (more details here). The more modern VW Santana Vista was added to the range in 2008. Both models will continue to be produced as taxis but will be replaced for consumers in late 2012 by an all-new design, also based on the current generation Polo’s PQ25 platform and looking relatively similar to the 2013 FAW VW Jetta with which it now competes…
Until 2008, the VW Bora sold in China by FAW Volkswagen was a facelifted version of the European 1998 VW Bora, a model still sold in Mexico as the VW Clasico. Since 2008, a China-specific design is on sale in the country. The new generation Bora has just started production on September 10 but its design has somewhat lost its distinctiveness in the VW range…
See the rest of the article featuring the Golf, Lavida, Sagitar, Passat & Magotan below.
At last a simple one to describe! The FAW VW Golf sold in China is the same current generation sold in the rest of the world. No tricks here.
Shanghai Volkswagen launched this China-specific nameplate in 2008 with a design that wasn’t inspired by any other model in the Volkswagen range. The all-new 2012 model launched in July is based on the European VW Jetta platform and looks a little like a mix of new gen Jetta and Passat.
This is the current, 6th generation Jetta as we know it in Europe and North America, built by FAW Volkswagen. The nameplate was launched in 2006 as the 5th gen Jetta, but given the Jetta nameplate was unavailable it is called Sagitar in China.
This is the current generation US Passat, manufactured by Shanghai Volkswagen. It is produced alongside the 5th gen 2000 Passat (two generations ago) called Passat Lingyu in China and facelifted in 2009.
To compete with the Shanghai VW Passat, FAW Volkswagen manufactures the current generation European Passat in China, called Magotan.
This is it for now! I will personally need to come back quite often to this article as the Chinese Volkswagen range is getting more confusing by the minute, so I hope it will help you clarify a few things… Any questions or comments please let me know!
Answers to the top picture:
(From top to bottom) 2013 VW Jetta, VW Polo, 2012 VW Lavida, VW Sagitar, VW Passat, VW Magotan, 2013 VW Bora.