Advertisement

'Volkswagen needs to sell a £5k car in Britain'

The Geneva Motor Show showed us that new models are too expensive and something needs to be done about it, says Mike Rutherford

OPINION VW Passat

Personally, professionally and spiritually, the Geneva Motor Show is the only place to be for someone in my line of ‘work’ in early March. If you consider yourself committed petrol, diesel, LPG, electric or hydrogen head, you should be there, too.

Believe it or not, you could pop over and back in 18 hours for far less money than you might imagine. Hurts me to admit this, but it’s considerably cheaper and more convenient to take the plane than the car. The fact that the show venue is a 10-minute stroll from Geneva Airport is another compelling reason to fly.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Geneva Motor Show 2019 round-up

This year, most of the exhibitors deeply impress – none more so than the VW Group and its battalion of mid-to-upmarket brands, which barrack themselves away on the highest floor of the event, looking down on their rivals. Others at the Swiss show (Sbarro, for example) make me chuckle. But the absence of JLR and its hugely important all-new Evoque almost brings me to tears. A motor show minus Jaguars and Land Rovers is like battered cod without chips.

And it saddens me more that the word which best sums up the just-arrived, soon-to-be-launched or distant-future models at Geneva 2019 is ‘expensive’.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Can the motoring masses in Britain and the rest of the world afford most of Geneva’s ‘star cars’? No chance. When a likely £25k price is mentioned for Honda’s humble electric e Prototype, real-world customers know they’re being priced out of the new car market.

Advertisement - Article continues below

So I was pleasantly shocked to hear that the VW Group is proceeding with a bargain-bucket car that will massively undercut SEAT and Skoda, the lowest-priced (but not low-price) marques in its current stable. We’re talking about a globally significant vehicle group making noises about bolting together and selling proper, basic, inexpensive, Asian-built cars – mainly for inevitably skint young people, but with low-paid older folk and retirees in mind, too. The likes of TATA (with the Nano) and Datsun (Go) have dabbled with this sort of car but with limited success, and not much global relevance.

The VW Group is – for now at least – talking only about its cheapomobile being sold to Chinese buyers, and that will discriminate against the rest of us. VW must widen this car to other, less-than-flush parts of the world. Britain included. It also needs to change the name of its new brand from Jetta to something that does what it says on the tin. I reckon the LIM (Less Is More) or FTB (First Time Buyer) marque should be a beyond-China brand, sitting below SEAT and Skoda, at an end of the market VW Group currently refuses to serve.

Today, it’s difficult to find a new Skoda, SEAT or VW for under £10,000. And there’s further bad news, because that important barrier will soon be breached. All the more reason why a slow, safe, stripped-out, steel-wheeled, shabby-chic ‘starter’ car for nearer £5k (and with Group 1 insurance) is desperately needed. And no, that just-unveiled Twizy-lookalike from SEAT is not that car. Mainly because it’s a quadricycle, as far as I can tell.

C’mon, Wolfsburg – bite the bullet and build the affordable Car for the People, of China and of the rest of the world. You could even base it on a previous-generation Polo.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments below...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/volkswagen/106810/volkswagen-models-to-get-mountune-performance-upgrade
Volkswagen

Volkswagen models to get Mountune performance upgrade

VAG division of mountune announces Stage 2+ performance boost for Mk7 and Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI
30 Mar 2020
Visit/volkswagen/351908/new-volkswagen-e-bulli-electric-camper-van-revealed
Volkswagen

New Volkswagen e-BULLI electric camper van revealed

Volkswagen has introduced an all-electric concept version of the classic T1 Samba Bus, with 82bhp and a 120 mile-plus range
20 Mar 2020
Visit/news/351813/new-volkswagen-id3-set-arrive-summer-despite-software-delay-fears
News

New Volkswagen ID.3 set to arrive in summer despite software delay fears

The arrival of the new Volkswagen ID.3 is still scheduled for summer despite rumours that a software delay could set back deliveries for UK customers.
4 Mar 2020
Visit/volkswagen/103321/new-328bhp-2020-volkswagen-golf-r-spied-with-no-disguise
2020 Volkswagen Golf R - minimal disguise - front tracking
Volkswagen

New Volkswagen Golf R to be the fastest version ever

Covers come off next hot Volkswagen Golf R in unofficial capacity, but GTI variant will break cover first
11 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Visit/modern-classics/351953/most-wanted-cars-2020-poll
News

Most Wanted Cars 2020: poll

Decide which classic car you would most want to see brought back from the dead by an all new model
27 Mar 2020
Visit/features/351947/30-brilliant-boredom-beaters-car-fans
Features

30 brilliant boredom beaters for car fans

Stay at home, stay safe and enjoy some pure automotive escapism in the form of the very best content from Dennis Publishing’s leading car brands.
27 Mar 2020
Visit/news/351950/global-temporary-shutdown-car-factories-could-actually-benefit-manufacturers-and
News

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020