Vintage & Classics

The best-looking Volkswagen was a Beetle underneath, but on top it was a stone cold fox

The Karmann Ghia was a German car but it had very Italian design nods.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Volkswagen Beetle can be called a lot of things but, it's not beautiful. In fact, throughout automotive history, few Volkswagens have been good looking. Quirky, sure. Sexy? Sophisticated? Only one comes to mind: Karmann Ghia.

Eighteen years after VW was founded, the first Karmann Ghia was produced. A coupe, it had the heart and underpinnings of the German Beetle. On top, and to the outside world, it was Italian.

Known as the Type 14, the Karmann Ghia was the brainchild of Wilhelm Karmann, a contract car manufacturer who got his start building convertibles. Karmann was the sole supplier of Beetle convertibles, which were made at his factory in Osnabruck, Germany.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia The prototype Karmann Ghia was very nearly the same as the model that made it into production.Photo by Tim Hoppe / GARP

In 1953, Karmann met with Carrozzeria Ghia owner Luigi Segre at an auto show and convinced him to take the chassis of a Beetle and design a convertible sports car while talking with the company's owner. Ghia, an automotive design house and coachbuilding firm in Turin, Italy, had risen to notoriety as a contemporary of Pininfarina by building aluminum bodied cars like the Alfa Romeo 6C 1500, which one the Mille Miglia in 1929, and special bodied models for Lancia and Fiat.

Ghia worked in secret for four months, finally showing Karmann the result. Instead of a convertible, it was a coupe. Ghia had customized the platform and delivered, nearly one year to the day after the first conversation regarding the car between Karmann and Segre.

Karmann shared the prototype with Volkswagen's Managing Director at the time, Heinrich Nordhoff, and the two agreed to build a production 2+2 seater coupe and convertible in November 1953. From Volkswagen:

"The prototype Karmann Ghia looked nothing like the Beetle. An elegant nose and front cargo area flowed smoothly into a sizable seating area for two passengers. The thin roof pillars and gracious curves gave the Ghia a sense of motion even at rest, and it has a sporty stance because the body sits seven inches lower than the Beetle. The Beetle engine was stock, but the suspension was altered with a front sway bar and different springs for better handling response. While some of the Karmann Ghia's lines were inspired by other models, it was clearly its own model – and a striking departure for Volkswagen."

Refinements were made by a variety of designers over the next year and a half. The model debuted to the public at the Paris and Frankfurt auto shows in 1955. It had a fresh set of chrome vents on the nose but otherwise left most of the body intact.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia The Karmannn Ghia was produced at Karmann's Osnabruck plant.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Engineers gave the car 36 more horsepower than the Beetle and 150 more pounds of weight. Like the Beetle, it wasn't fast. One magazine reported that it took a whopping 28 seconds to get to 60 mph off the line.

Each Karmann Ghia took hours of hand-built metalworking to come to life. Production began in August 1955 and the first model reached U.S. shores in 1956. VW sold the model for $900 more than the Beetle. It was a hit.

VW would end up building nearly half a million Karmann Ghias over the next 19 years - 362,601 coupes and 80,881 convertibles. Nearly 279,000 of those were sold in the U.S.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia The Karmann Ghia had design that was very of its time.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Throughout its run, the looks of the model changed slightly but the basic outline never changes. A second Karmann Ghia was made, the Type 34, but it never was officially sold in the U.S.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Volkswagen has sold seven generations of the Golf in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is saying goodbye to the Golf in the U.S. Kind of. The small hatchback is popular overseas but failed to find a continued, dedicated audience in North America where buyers are opting for larger SUVs and trucks over cars.

"Over four decades, the Golf has delivered a great value to American drivers," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "It exemplified what Volkswagen does best—melding dynamic driving characteristics with purposeful packaging and unmatched quality. While the seventh-generation Golf will be the last of the base hatches sold here, the GTI and Golf R will carry its legacy forward."

Though its audience has faded recently, the Golf family has been popular with buyers in the U.S. for decades. Nearly 2.5 million of the cars have been sold since 1974.

The first-generation Golf was sold as the Rabbit in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

1974 V

Production of U.S. bound 2021 model year VW Golfs ended last week at the plant in Puebla, Mexico. The run of models that has already been produced is expected to sustain the market through the end of the year. It will be available in just one grade: Golf TSI. That car is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Every Golf TSI comes standard with LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated washer nozzles, keyless entry, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a sunroof, leatherette steering wheel, heated front seats, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert.

Pricing for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf with a standard six-speed manual transmission starts at $23,195. The eight-speed automatic transmission starts at $23,995. The destination charge for all Golf models is an additional $995.

How to get a Mk 8 Volkswagen Golf

But, if you really, really want a new, eighth-generation Golf, there's a way to get one. The Golf GTI and Golf R, both performance-focused versions of the Golf, will be arriving in the U.S. this autumn for sale as 2022 model year vehicles.

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The BMW iX is just one model that is coming to American for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of BMW

Many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have gotten upgrades for the 2022 model year. There are a a variety of terms you'll frequently see associated with a description of a vehicle for its annual changeover. Here's how AutomotiveMap defines them:

  • New - These models are entering the market for the first time.
  • Carryover - There have been no major changes from one model year to the other. It is common that the year after a new or refreshed model is introduced, it will be a carryover.
  • Refreshed - Commonly occurring three to four years after the new generation of a model is introduced, a refresh usually includes new fascia, perhaps an engine lineup change or tech upgrade, and usually the addition of safety system upgrades.
  • Redesign - This term signals a generation change in the model. This usually requires an architecture change and all new body panels, engine lineup, tech offerings, and the introduction of new packages, trim levels, and pricing. Redesigns typically happens every seven to nine years.

The models on this list are new or have either been redesigned or refreshed for the 2022 model year. This list will grow as more information becomes available. Click here to see the 2021 models that were new, refreshed, or redesigned for the year.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG​

Volkswagen announced a refreshed version of the Tiguan SUV in late 2020 but made it known that the model wasn't going to make it stateside until late 2021. The European version (shown above) of the SUV has a new grille that combines with standard LED headlights, VW's new logo right up front, new rear bumpers, redesigned lettering, and a pretty decent tech upgrade in its cabin.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross

2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

Word on the street is that the new Toyota Corolla Cross could be coming to the U.S. as a 2022 model. That's unconfirmed at this point. If it were, the Corolla Cross could fill a gap in Toyota's lineup between the RAV4 and CH-R, similar to where the Hyundai Kona fits between the Santa Fe and Venue. Stay tuned for more information.

2022 Nissan Ariya

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Ariya is a 300-mile all-electric crossover with a $40,000 price tag. It might be replacing the Murano in the company's lineup as the brand strategically weighs production versus an electrified business model. The Ariya has unique, minimalistic design that uber modern. Stay tuned for more information as it's announced throughout 2021.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

2020 Grand Wagoneer Concept - Details Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

When the Grand Wagoneer concept debuted in late 2020, it was touted as coming soon and nearly production ready. The model fits into FCA/Stellantis's multi-year product plans as a 2022 model with production expected to kick off in 2021. Check back for more information.

2022 Hyundai Kona

2022 Hyundai Kona N Line Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

The Kona is already old enough to have undergone a model refresh. They grow up so quickly! The new design infusion gives the 2022 Kona new cladding, a freshly stretched hood, new grille shape. The lower bumper has a skid plate while intakes dominate the corners of the face. At the back are new taillights with a horizontal graphic. Below is a new bumper. The revised Kona rides on updated 17- or 18-inch wheels, or the 16-inchers that have been carried over from previous model years. The model also gets Hyundai's 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen.

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback and SQ5 Sportback

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback Photo courtesy of Audi AG

In their seemingly never ending move to fastback everything, Audi is making the Q5 Sportback and SQ5 Sportback a reality for the 2022 model year. The two models get basically the same equipment package as their squared-off counterparts and has about the same capability.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Cadillac Blackwing launch

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac will soon be introducing its new performance-centric sedan. We'll update this information when it's announced.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Sedona

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sedona name is gone, replaced by the Kia Carnival moniker for the 2022 model year. That's not as big of a deal as it sounds, the van has always been known as the Carnival to global markets. For 2021, the van got a generational upgrade overseas, but those changes won't make it stateside until the 2022 model year.

2022 BMW 4 Series Cabriolet

2022 BMW 4 Series Convertible Photo courtesy of BMW

The 4 Series is a distinct creature. For the 2022 model year, a cabriolet version of the car will be made available for sale that's lighter and has more cargo space and a lower center of gravity than its predecessor. Like its hard-topped relatives, the 4 Series Convertible is available with a variety of packages but only one engine is available, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

2022 Volkswagen Taos Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is introducing the Taos to the U.S. market for the 2022 model year. The small SUV is akin to the Hyundai Kona in size and the Volkswagen Tiguan in styling. VW made this model explicitly for the U.S. market where SUVs are dominating the sales conversation.

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

In 2020, the automaker revealed the 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, which has been refreshed inside and out. Most notably, it has a refreshed face and redesigned hatch. Minor interior improvements are designed to help make the Mitsubishi more palatable to buyers.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is the most powerful Golf to date and yes, it's coming to the U.S. The performance variant of the Golf family delivers 315 horsepower, a 27-horsepower boost over the outgoing model, and 310 pound-feet of torque up from 280). Each Golf R gets a turbocharged 1,984 cc four-cylinder engine hat is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available.

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

Blacwing launch

​Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac will soon be introducing its new performance-centric sedan. We'll update this information when it's announced.

2022 Hyundai Tucson

2022 Hyundai Tucson Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Tucson has been completely redesigned for the 2022 model year and it's impressive to say the least. The upmarket two-row SUV comes with high-tech features, comfortable seats, and a seriously budget-friendly price tag.

2022 Infiniti QX55

2022 Infiniti QX55 Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The long-awaited Infiniti QX55 is finally a reality. Like many of the other vehicles on this list, it's a small SUV. The QX55 takes the place of the QX30 in the automaker's lineup and is designed to offer a premium drive experience that's engaging and fun, similar to the Infiniti FX of the past.

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic Prototype Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

A new generation of Honda Civic is on the way. The company recently revealed a near-production prototype of the car (as seen above) and a fully operable next-gen version is planned to debut soon. Stay tuned.

2022 Subaru BR-Z

2022 Subaru BRZ Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

The sister of the Toyota 86 has gotten a full blown generational change for the 2022 model year. The 2022 Subaru BRZ keeps its pin-sharp handling but has gotten a significant makeover inside and out. It's also gotten Subaru's standard EyeSight driver assist and safety technology.

2022 Genesis GV70

2022 Genesis GV70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The Genesis GV80 just landed on U.S. shores but its smaller brother, the GV70 isn't too far behind it. The GV70 carries over the premium looks and features of the GV80 into this smaller, and more budget-friendly package.

2022 Acura MDX

2022 Acura MDX exterior Photo courtesy of Acura

The Acura MDX may be one of the first 2022 models to make it to market. The next-generation MDX has gotten significant enhancements to its interior quality, drivability, and comfort for the new model year. Engineers are also planning a sportier version of the MDX so stay tuned for information about that.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV Photo courtesy of GMC

The GMC Hummer EV finally debuted in mid-2020 but it won't make it to buyers' homes until late 2021. The first editions of the model are slated to be the most powerful and priciest with the cost of each topping $100,000. GMC's first all-electric model combines the comfort of an SUV with the styling of a beefy truck as it attempts to become the ultimate utility vehicle.

2022 GMC Sierra

2022 GMC Sierra Denali

Photo courtesy of GMC

It's been rumored since its interior design fell flat at its debut that the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado were having interior redos hustled through the design process. GMC gave the first indications that this is true when they announced that the Sierra Denali is getting Super Cruise driving tech for 2022. Stay tuned for more info.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet teases refreshed 2022 Bolt EV, new 2022 Bolt EUV

A refreshed Chevrolet Bolt EV is on the docket for 2022. Chevy has been teasing the model left and right over the last few months so we should know more concrete information soon.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

A crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV called the Chevrolet Bolt EUV will be coming to market as a 2022 model as well. Information is pending on the model but several clues have already surfaced.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi is teasing the next-gen 2022 Outlander ahead of its February debut. Stay tuned for more information about the SUV.

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX Photo courtesy of BMW

The 2022 BMW iX is an all-electric SUV slated to arrive in the U.S. later this year. The iX will be the first bit of BMW's future EV plans to reach U.S. shores and bring with it the latest and greatest technology the company offers.

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