New Car

Volkswagen revives the spirit of the rare Mk4 Blue Lagoon GLI with new enthusiast model

Volkswagen has added new model to its Enthusiast Fleet.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen has a number of enthusiast concept vehicles planned for 2021. The first is a Jetta GLI that revives the spirit of the rare Mk4 Blue Lagoon GLI.

Since 1984, Volkswagen has been offering a sportier version of the traditional Jetta, called the Jetta GLI. The company took the same approach to it as it took to the Golf GTI but added the benefits of a sedan. In 2002 VW released the GTI 337, a limited special edition model - just 1,500 were produced. It was outfitted with 18-inch BBS RC wheels, RECARO seats, and a Votex body kit, the car served as a design jumping off point for the next-generation GLI.

That next-gen model, with GLI spec, would arrive in 2004. The Mk4 Jetta GLI brought sporty driving to the U.S. market with a body kit, wheels, and seats that were similar to the 2002 model. It was released with a Blue Lagoon paint job that, for reasons not made totally clear, was soon replaced by a medium dark shade of blue called Jazz Blue.

2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet: Jetta GLI

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

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"The Jetta GLI has been an enthusiast favorite throughout its 37-year history," said Sean Maynard, Enthusiast and Motorsport Marketing Specialist. "Paying tribute to the Mk4 with this build concept celebrates the passion that goes into these vehicles."

VW is honoring the rare model by modifying a 2021 Jetta GLI Autobahn, with a manual transmission, natch, into the fan favorite for the annual Enthusiast Fleet. Andres Valbuena, former Volkswagen product launch manager lead the team and executed the modifications in just over a month.

The car started its life as a 2021 Jetta GLI coated in Deep Black Pearl paint. Its new Blue Lagoon exterior color is courtesy of a vinyl wrap, which was color matched using a fuel filler door off a 2004 GLI. After looking through the inventory of numerous suppliers, Vlabuena found the perfect blue - ORAFOL Midnight Blue Metallic. The wrap has been installed on the entire car, including interior door jambs and side body pieces.

Air Design installed the car's exterior side skirts and rear trunk spoiler and Fifteen52 was tasked with installing a Critical Aero Design (CAD) front lower spoiler. AlphaParts found the BBS CH-R 20-inch alloy wheels the car needed to be complete and wrapped with Continental ExtremeContact Sport 235/35Z R20XL 90Y tires, and upgraded the car's original suspension to now include an H&R Springs Street Performance Coil Over suspension.

Inside the vehicle, RECARO Ergomed ES leather front seats, and a Black Forest Industries weighted golf ball shift knob.

"The color is incredible," said Valbuena. "The Recaro's, wheels, and styling changes are amazing, but when you see it outside in the sun that color is something else."

You can catch the one-of-a-kind model, along with the rest of the 2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet, at enthusiast events around the country this year.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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