Unleashing the Rrrrr-roar of the Golf Rs at WITW

For one weekend in April each year, the small village of Fontana, North Carolina, hosts a gathering of Volkswagen friends and owners casually known as WITW. What ties these cars together, apart from the VW badge, is that their engines all produce a beloved exhaust note. This year I joined over 100 of these special cars for some fun, both in the village and on the famous roads that surround it. The Golf R32 and Golf R cars have been a staple in the VW enthusiast community ever since the first model was released in the United States in 2004. The first two generations of the sportiest Volkswagen hatchbacks were powered by the famous compact six-cylinder engine, the 3.2 liter VR6, and it’s this exhaust sound that gives the event its name — namely the similarity between the VR6’s exhaust and a certain popular sci-fi space yeti who communicates in deep, throaty roars. Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage and compliance with required safety and other standards. See vehicle owner’s manual for details and limitations. Consult aftermarket manufacturer for accessory installation instructions and further information. What makes WITW so special for the attendees is that it is billed as a car meet up that encourages you to drive more. Fontana, nestled in the Great Smokey Mountains near the North Carolina-Georgia state borders, hosts exactly one fuel station and one ice-cream shop and is a rest stop for Appalachian Trail hikers. Surrounded by forests with exquisite winding roads that do indeed make you want to drive more. There are no cell phone towers in the village, so the main pastimes visitors come for are relaxation, barbecuing, hiking, and driving the spectacular local roads. The “Tail of the Dragon,” one of the most fun driving routes in North America, features 318 curves over only 11 miles and starts just a few miles away from Fontana. The surrounding valleys and waterfalls vie for your attention, but on the Dragon, the next corner demands your concentration, as you find a rhythm with your car and the curves. There are plenty of parking spots at picturesque vistas throughout, which allow great viewing of the cars and motorbikes as they drive through. Lucky for us, they do continuously throughout the day. Part of the fun is seeing what comes next; a nearly 40-year old Volkswagen Rabbit with gleeful passengers was one highlight, with a cheer going up as it drove by. My own ride was a brand new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium with the 3.6 liter VR6 power-plant that Volkswagen loaned me for the event. This 276-hp engine shares its design and sportiness with the hatchback Golf R32 but has an even greater power output, and a more family-friendly exhaust system. When configured with the VR6 and the optional factory-installed towing hitch, the Atlas can tow up to 5,000 lbs.1,  which would help with getting through the mountains in Tennessee. I was able to tow a twin-axle trailer carrying what might be considered the grandfather of the R, a 1989 VW Golf Rallye, to the event. For the drive down, the Atlas and I joined a group of enthusiastic employees from the Volkswagen of America headquarters, who I would be cruising on the I-81 highway with. Among their cars was a privately owned low mileage 2004 VW R32, a 2018 Golf R with optional Oettinger body kit, and a special 7th generation VW Golf SportWagen. All three of them were bright blue colors, which would fit well with a popular conversation that would pop up later at the event. As we entered the village, we were greeted with signs welcoming the WITW attendees, and waves from fellow Volkswagen owners as we drove past. Dan Borin and Saige Sandy, from Barrie, Ontario, brought home-baked cookies which they handed out throughout the weekend. “We brought about 60, and they went really quickly”, said Dan, who quickly added that “next year I’m not allowed to help Paige make them though, as I ruined one batch. We planned to bring 100!” Dan and Saige had made an 860-mile drive in Dan’s 2004 Golf R32 and were joined by his father driving his 2002 VW Jetta. This was their fifth year at the event; it’s the “laid-back atmosphere, the hanging out, and enjoying the cars on the road” that keep them coming back. This friendliness and sense of community were one of the nicest things during the weekend. It was quickly apparent that meeting new people and making new friends could be as simple as walking up to any group and simply saying hello, and perhaps asking which car they’re driving. All weekend long everyone shared stories about their Volkswagens, their drives from across the country, and how they have personalized their cars or kept them looking clean and original. Chris Stogsdill had made the drive in his Lapiz Blue Metallic 2016 Golf R, his second time visiting from Staten Island, N.Y. The Golf R had his own touches applied, and isn’t his first Volkswagen; he had previously owned a Reflex Silver 2004 R32. The color of the cars would continue to pop up in chats all weekend long, and would often be a main topic of conversation. “Red is the fastest!” “Black suits the cars the best,” and quite simply, “blue, of course!” were heard again and again. By Saturday evening both the cars and drivers had likely driven thousands of twisty corners together, and it was time to unwind. The evening started with a “sound off,” with all Golf R32 and Golf R vehicles in attendance parking together for photographs, followed by a chorus of revved engines that filled the valley with their calls. Afterward, just a short walk away was the R-BQ, with hundreds of enthusiasts packing into the community hall for the meal, and a chance to give something back via a charity raffle. Each year the raffle raises thousands of dollars, with this year’s proceedings benefiting the local volunteer rescue team, and a children’s hospital in Chicago. Now fully fed, the crowd moved to a fire pit, or straight to their chalets for one more night’s sleep in the less-than-quiet village. Any chance to spend time with friendly people who like to travel and share great stories should be relished, and when this amount of enthusiasm and fun driving opportunities come together, it makes for a R-eally great time. __________________ Jamie Orr is an ardent enthusiast of the Volkswagen brand, a professional parts and car importer and a freelance automotive journalist. He was compensated by Volkswagen of America for this article, and the opinions expressed are his alone. 

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Rock at Jetta Haus New York this weekend with the all-new VW Jetta

What do you get when you combine music, art, fun and the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta? An experience called Jetta Haus – and it rolls into New York this weekend. This Friday through Sunday, Volkswagen will stage a pop-up for the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta in Brooklyn. Guests will be able to get up close with the new Jetta, take a colorful test drive on an illuminated closed course and sample the Jetta’s new technology – all before the Jetta arrives at dealers. Inside Jetta Haus you’ll find the Betta Lab, two art spaces that engage your senses through light, sound and motion, inspired by the Jetta’s turbocharged power, its available 10-color ambient lighting and available premium BeatsAudio sound. It’s a stunning backdrop for you to win the weekend’s social updates. Between all that, there’ll be music brought to you by Beats by Dr. Dre,  Red Bull Records and SiriusXM® from breakout local musicians like The Aces and City of the Sun, an arcade of hit retro games and an interactive art car experience where you can leave your mark. Red Bull will bring the refreshments, and best of all, there’s no cover charge to get into Jetta Haus; it’s free to the public. Go here to reserve your place at Jetta Haus New York and check your directions to rock with the 2019 Jetta. The party runs Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. JETTA HAUS NEW YORK SCHEDULE FRIDAY | MAY 18 4:00 PM-5:00 PM SiriusXM’s JOHN FUGELSANG 5:30 PM-6:30 PM DJ PARLER 7:00 PM-7:35 PM ADRIAN DANIEL 8:30 PM-9:30 PM LOUIS THE CHILD SATURDAY | MAY 19 12:30 PM-2:00 PM DJ NIKS 3:00 PM-4:00 PM DJ PARLER 5:00 PM-6:30 PM SiriusXM’s TORAE 7:30 PM-8:30 PM CITY OF THE SUN 9:30 PM-10:00 PM THE ACES SUNDAY | MAY 20 1:00 PM-2:30 PM DJ NIKS 3:30 PM-4:10 PM TOPAZ JONES 5:30 PM-6:15 PM OAK & ASH Lineups subject to change

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Rock at Jetta Haus Los Angeles this weekend with the all-new VW Jetta

What do you get when you combine music, art, fun and the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta? An experience called Jetta Haus – and it rolls into Los Angeles this weekend. This Friday through Sunday, Volkswagen will stage a pop-up for the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta in Culver City. Guests will be able to get up close with the new Jetta, take a colorful test drive on an illuminated closed course and sample the Jetta’s new technology – all before the Jetta arrives at dealers. Inside Jetta Haus you’ll find the Betta Lab, two art spaces that engage your senses through light, sound and motion, inspired by the Jetta’s turbocharged power, its available 10-color ambient lighting and available premium BeatsAudio sound. It’s a stunning backdrop for you to win the weekend’s social updates. Between all that, there’ll be music brought to you by Beats by Dr. Dre and SiriusXM® from breakout local musicians like Vincint and Lorine Chia, an arcade of hit retro games and an interactive art car experience where you can leave your mark. Red Bull will bring the refreshments, and best of all, there’s no cover charge to get into Jetta Haus; it’s free to the public. Go here to reserve your place at Jetta Haus New York and check your directions to rock with the 2019 Jetta. The party runs Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. JETTA HAUS LOS ANGELES SCHEDULE FRIDAY | MAY 18 4:00 PM-5:00 PM SiriusXM’s COVINO & RICH SHOW 6:30 PM-7:30 PM DJ MILLIE 8:30 PM-9:00 PM ALUNAGEORGE SATURDAY | MAY 19 12:30 PM-2:30 PM DJ AARON COLBERT 3:30 PM-4:30 PM DJ MILLIE 5:30 PM-7:00 PM SiriusXM’s RICH DAVIS 8:00 PM-8:30 PM BRAYTON BOWMAN 9:30 PM-10:10 PM VINCINT SUNDAY | MAY 20 12:30 PM-2:30 PM DJ AARON COLBERT 3:30 PM-4:10 PM ASHE 5:30 PM-6:00 PM LORINE CHIA Lineups subject to change

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Meet the sausage that’s one of Volkswagen’s most popular products

In the official Volkswagen parts list, it’s item no. 199 398 500 A — one of the world’s most unique sausages, and a Volkswagen original celebrating its 45th year of production. First created in 1973, Volkswagen has made its own currywurst sausage ever since, and in the process turned it into a symbol of the company throughout Europe. While it’s a staple of the factory cafeterias in Wolfsburg and other European Volkswagen plants for breakfast or lunch, it’s also sold in grocery stores under the “Volkswagen Originalteil” (German for “original parts”) brand. Dealers in Germany often give five-packs of them to customers as gifts. And it’s a huge hit: last year, Volkswagen made 6.8 million currywursts – more than the number of vehicles the VW brand sold worldwide in 2017. What does the VW currywurst taste like? To an American palate accustomed to bratwursts and other sausages typically labeled “sweet” or “hot,” the currywurst walks the broad space in between. There’s a strong yellow curry flavor, but with a kick from the pepper and ginger in the spices. The actual recipe, as devised by the original Volkswagen butchers in 1973, is an official company secret known only to a few people. It’s typically served either intact or chopped into bite-size slices on a paper bowl and drenched in ketchup – preferably the curry-flavored variety also made to Volkswagen’s recipe. Since its inception, the currywurst has been made in-house by Volkswagen employees. Today, about 30 workers, most of them trained butchers, oversee the process at VW’s flagship plant in Wolfsburg. Three times a week, the plant takes in fresh pork from nearby farms and grinds choice cuts into a precise mix. “Our currywurst has a fat content of only 20 percent. Normally, it’s around 35 percent,” explains Head Butcher Franco Lo Presti, who has been making VW currywurst since 1979. After mixing in the spices and packed into casings, the sausages are dried, smoked over beechwood and steamed for 100 minutes at 176 degrees. The final product is weighed, inspected and packaged for shipping to other Volkswagen plans or retailers, with a typical output of 18,000 sausages a day. For those workers who don’t prefer meat, VW has also made a vegetarian variant since 2010. The best chance to taste Volkswagen’s hand-crafted cuisine for yourself will likely involve a trip overseas. Fresh currywurst can’t be imported here; for those rare occasions when Volkswagen has wanted to serve currywurst in the United States, it has flown the butchers into the country and replicated the production line with local ingredients. But there’s no need to rush, as Volkswagen’s most popular non-vehicle part will be in production for many years to come.

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Rock at Jetta Haus Chicago this weekend with the all-new VW Jetta

What do you get when you combine music, art, fun and the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta? An experience called Jetta Haus – and it debuts in Chicago this weekend. This Friday through Sunday, Volkswagen will stage a pop-up for the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta in Bridgeport. Guests will be able to get up close with the new Jetta, take a colorful test drive on an illuminated closed course and sample the Jetta’s new technology – all before the Jetta arrives at dealers. Inside Jetta Haus you’ll find the Betta Lab, two art spaces that engage your senses through light, sound and motion, inspired by the Jetta’s turbocharged power, its available 10-color ambient lighting and available premium BeatsAudio sound. It’s a stunning backdrop for you to win the weekend’s social updates. Between all that, there’ll be music brought to you by Beats by Dr. Dre and SiriusXM® from breakout local musicians like The Boy Illinois and Mikky Ekko, an arcade of hit retro games and an interactive art car experience where you can leave your mark. Red Bull will bring the refreshments, and best of all, there’s no cover charge to get into Jetta Haus; it’s free to the public. Go here to reserve your place at Jetta Haus Chicago and check your directions to rock with the 2019 Jetta. The party runs Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. JETTA HAUS CHICAGO SCHEDULE FRIDAY | MAY 11 4:00 PM-5:30 PM SiriusXM’s DJ NINA 9 6:30 PM-7:15 PM MICHIGANDER 8:30 PM-9:00 PM MIKKY EKKO SATURDAY | MAY 12 12:30 PM-2:00 PM DJ VIC LLOYD 3:00 PM-4:30 PM DJ OZONE 5:30 PM-7:00 PM SiriusXM’s DJ NINA 9 8:00 PM-9:00 PM THE O’MY’S 10:00 PM-10:30 PM THE BOY ILLINOIS SUNDAY | MAY 13 11:00 AM-12:30 PM DJ VIC LLOYD 1:00 PM-2:30 PM DJ OZONE 3:00 PM-4:30 PM DJ CHESS KNIGHT 5:30 PM-6:10 PM MELO MAKES MUSIC Lineups subject to change

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Rock at Jetta Haus Miami this weekend with the all-new VW Jetta

What do you get when you combine music, art, fun and the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta? An experience called Jetta Haus – and it debuts in Miami this weekend. This Friday through Sunday, Volkswagen will stage a pop-up for the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta in the Wynwood Arts District. Guests will be able to get up close with the new Jetta, take a colorful test drive on an illuminated closed course and sample the Jetta’s new technology – all before the Jetta arrives at dealers. Inside Jetta Haus you’ll find the Betta Lab, two art spaces that engage your senses through light, sound and motion, inspired by the Jetta’s turbocharged power, its available 10-color ambient lighting and available premium BeatsAudio sound. It’s a stunning backdrop for you to win the weekend’s social updates. Between all that, there’ll be music brought to you by Beats by Dr. Dre and SiriusXM® from breakout local musicians like Twelve’len and VINILOVERUS, an arcade of hit retro games and an interactive art car experience where you can leave your mark. Red Bull will bring the refreshments, and best of all, there’s no cover charge to get into Jetta Haus; it’s free to the public. Go here to reserve your place at your local Jetta Haus and check your directions to rock with the 2019 Jetta. The party runs Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. JETTA HAUS MIAMI SCHEDULE FRIDAY | MAY 11TH 5:00 PM-6:00 PM DZA 7:00 PM-7:30 PM TWELVE’LEN 8:30 PM-9:30 PM B00TY SATURDAY | MAY 12 12:30 PM-2:00 PM DJ MICHELLE LESHEM 3:00 PM-4:00 PM DZA 5:00 PM-6:30 PM SiriusXM’s DJ JOHNNIE 7:30 PM-8:10 PM XAXO 9:30 PM-10:15 PM VINILOVERSUS SUNDAY | MAY 13 11:30 PM-1:00 PM KAIXEN 1:30 PM-2:05 PM DVWEZ 3:30 PM-4:05 PM MANU MANZO 5:30 PM-6:15 PM CRIS CAB Lineups subject to change. 

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Why VW’s first electric race car previews the future of EVs

Last week, Volkswagen Motorsport revealed the first all-electric race car in the company’s history. Built  with the goal of setting a new record for the race up Pikes Peak in June, the I.D. R Pikes Peak combines cutting-edge motorsports engineering with Volkswagen’s growing expertise in electric mobility. And while the custom-built race car was designed for one purpose, it also previews the technology that will help make electric vehicles a more mainstream reality. Pikes Peak ranks as the world’s most famous hillclimb, a challenging and dangerous 12.42-mile run up the mountain with 156 curves and altitude changes that challenge humans and machines alike. VW’s goal for this year’s run: Set a new electric record, which currently stands at 8 minutes, 57.118 seconds, or roughly 83 mph all the way up. of To meet that challenge, Volkswagen Motorsports has come up with a uniquely balanced electric vehicle. Designed from scratch for maximum aerodynamic advantage, the I.D. R Pikes Peak gets its power from two electric motors on each axle, with a total of 671 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque, variable among all four wheels. The 40 kWh battery pack sits beside and behind driver Romain Dumas, with unique lithium-ion battery cells chosen to maintain maximum power output throughout the run. Those specifications are powerful, but may sound low to motorsports fans; the current EV record holder at Pikes Peak sported 1,000 hp more than the I.D. R Pikes Peak. François-Xavier Demaison, technical director for Volkswagen Motorsport, says his team used extensive computer simulations to keep the I.D. R Pikes Peak’s weight at less than 2,425 lbs. More power would have meant more batteries, bigger motors and more weight to haul up a mountain. “For a racecar, weight is always the biggest enemy, and in electric cars the battery is always the biggest weight,” Demaison said. “We had to fight a lot to find the best compromise between weight, battery capacity and maximum power.” And the results speak for themselves. At 2.25 seconds, the I.D. R Pikes Peak is faster from 0 to 62 mph than a Formula 1 car. The wild aerodynamics – from the front spoiler to the giant rear wing – were developed in VW’s wind tunnels with input from Porsche’s Le Mans-winning race teams to maximize downforce at higher altitudes while minimizing drag. And by using the rear electric motor as a brake that can recapture energy, the car will actually regain about 20 percent of the energy it needs to go full blast for the record. As with other EVs, charging also posed a challenge. Given the rapidly changing weather on the mountain, a racer’s run can be called off after they start – but then they only have 30 minutes to be ready to restart at the base. This means the I.D. R Pikes Peak would need the ability to have a full recharge in half an hour. “The Technical Development department of Volkswagen has the right workshops and laboratories to perform a range of various stress tests on the batteries,” Demaison says. “They also have plenty of experience in the area of high-voltage technology. You have to be aware of special requirements for cabling and insulation.” Few people will ever have the chance or desire to run up Pikes Peak at full tilt. But with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, Volkswagen helps show how battery research, EV chassis engineering and fast charging can improve on what’s come before – the same promise made by Volkswagen’s I.D. series of electric vehicle concepts that are tentatively set to enter production within the next couple of years. “Motorsport greatly accelerated technical innovation in the early days of the automobile,” says Jost Capito, head of Volkswagen Motorsports. “It will continue to play a similar role in the development of powerful electric cars in the future.”

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