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China: Volkswagen Who’s who

VW Polo Jinqu

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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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