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China: Volkswagen Who’s who

VW Polo Jinqu

* 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...

Can you guess all models above? Answers are at the very end of the article.

VW Polo

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.

VW Jetta

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...

VW Santana

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...

VW Bora

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.

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Categories: China
  1. starzzguitar
    October 9th, 2012 at 11:49 | #1

    Yes, it is really difficult to tell these apart, it’s time for them to do something about that. Someone mentioned that these are “boring crapcars”. How would they know? I don’t think Volkswagon would allow their cars to be “crappy” in quality, and to a Chinese, they are probably pretty good! Not like an old Russian Lada, eh?

  2. September 25th, 2012 at 17:32 | #2

    Great propaganda to vw! They are all quite boring!!

  3. SlumLord
    September 25th, 2012 at 04:43 | #3

    what an dozens of boring crapcars they sell in china.

  4. September 24th, 2012 at 20:07 | #4

    I agree they all look the same, the cars may be good (mostly) but Volkswagen styling these days is dull and unoriginal, how do the Chinese tell them apart, they look like photocopies of each other

  5. Rutger (D-C)
    September 24th, 2012 at 19:15 | #5

    Some remarks about this article:

    Lavida: “The all-new 2012 model”

    That’s a little bit too much honour for the facelifted Lavida, although it’s a significant update which includes a new interior and new body panels (like the Golf VI vs. Golf V or Mazda5 facelift). Like the Bora, it’s still based on the Golf IV platform.

    Polo: “The current one under the name ‘Polo’, however the sedan version has just been discontinued”

    There are spy shots of a China-built Polo V sedan, but it never went into production because of the introduction of the Jetta/Santana NF indeed. Interesting article about this twin: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/vw-creates-budget-saloon-china

    Greetings :D

  6. Aeolus
    September 24th, 2012 at 18:37 | #6

    The joke that all VW/ Audi products look the same seems to be even more true in China! If it were only a joke though, it is more truly a tragedy.

  7. HVM
    September 24th, 2012 at 17:04 | #7

    What you call Passat Gen V is more acurately a facelifted Skoda Superb Mk. 1 (itself based on a stretched China-only Passat B5.) Crazy, I know…
    Plus, what about the CC, it’s built there too :-)

  8. ausrutherford
    September 24th, 2012 at 13:26 | #8

    They are still building the Passat Gen V. (i can separate it out due to the Autonews China page)

    • matgasnier
      September 24th, 2012 at 13:46 | #9

      Thanks for picking this up Austin – Passat section amended now!

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