From its engines, exterior styling and interior equipment to gearboxes, other mechanical components, production techniques and the way in which it markets its products, Volkswagen has long been synonymous with innovation. Last year, VW bagged a clutch of awards at the Frankfurt International Motor Show including Plus X’s “Most Innovative Brand 2017” accolade. We’ve rounded up seven of the German pioneer’s innovations that we simply love and that feature widely throughout the marque’s range, from the Polo superminiand popular Golf hatchback to larger cars like the Arteon, Passat and Touareg.
1. Park Assist
The first Volkswagen model to feature parking sensors was the Mk4 Golf in 1997 and in 2006 the firm became the first car manufacturer to offer parking technology that incorporated automatic steering. Fast forward to 2018 and VW’s Park Assist 3 suite is simply remarkable, taking most of the stress out of manoeuvres. The system takes parallel and bay parking in its stride, both forwards and in reverse and with a gap of just 80cm spare. The driver still needs to accelerate and brake, but emergency braking is now integrated too.
2. Cylinder Deactivation
In many situations, such as when cruising along a motorway, cars only need to use a faction of the total power that their engines are capable of producing. Traditionally the preserve of large, powerful cars such as those with V12 engines at their heart, Volkswagen was the first auto manufacturer to introduce cylinder deactivation technology to certain of its 4-cylinder cars, which make up the bulk of sales. VW’s Active Cylinder Management (ACT) technology enables the second and third cylinders to be shut down during low and medium load scenarios, operating seamlessly so as not to affect the driving experience, while simultaneously boosting a car’s ‘mpg’ fuel efficiency and saving money at the pump.
3. Traffic Jam Assist
Many of the UK’s roads suffer from regular congestion particularly at peak times, so Volkswagen’s scientists have developed a system called Traffic Jam Assist. On VW’s equipped with this camera-based feature, it works alongside the car’s grille-mounted radar, lane departure warning and ACC adaptive cruise control safety systems to autonomously accelerate and brake on the driver’s behalf. In slow-moving traffic queues this means that the VW follows the vehicle in front while staying inside the lane and maintaining a suitable distance.
4. Gesture Control
Modern cars’ infotainment touchscreens are used to control an ever-expanding array of functions from sat nav and audio to climate and other settings. For motorists who find touchscreens somewhat difficult to accurately operate while driving without stretching and hence becoming distracted, Volkswagen’s Gesture Control functionality is an excellent response. Menus and submenus can be navigated around quickly by moving one’s hand towards the screen and then making left or right swiping gestures before pointing a figure at the screen to indicate a button press. Not only is Gesture Control convenient and safe but it’s also impressive for first-time observers to see in action.
5. DSG Gearboxes
When it comes to making every day motoring more relaxing and also allowing a driver to indulge in sporty driving with rapid gear changes, Volkswagen’s highly-respected DSG transmissions lead the way. Just like normal torque convertor automatic gearboxes, they don’t have a clutch pedal, and have drive, neutral and park settings along with a sports mode for manually-determined up and down shifts. DSG stands for Dual Shift Gearbox and features two gearboxes connected to the engine via two driveshafts, equipped cars able to predict the optimum gear and engage it in less than four-hundredths of a second.
6. Active Info Display
Cars have increasingly started featuring digital instrumentation, traditional analogue speedometers, rev’ counters, fuel economy displays and fuel gauges replaced by gorgeous high-definition digital displays. Volkswagen’s version is called Active Info Display and is even available on the new Polo through to more expensive models. The driver can customise what he or she sees by using the buttons mounted on the steering wheel and it’s even possible to display the sat nav map behind the steering wheel in crystal clear quality.
7. Car-Net and the e-Remote
The drivers of VW’s equipped with the brand’s latest Car-Net technology can relax thanks to the ability to use their smartphone as a remote control to check on their car wherever they are, from making sure it’s safe to checking its battery charge if it’s an electric model. It’s even possible to specify the car’s ambient temperature in advance using the phone app. This is all possible thanks to Volkswagen’s connected car platform called Car-Net, home to convenience, data, safety, infotainment, security and other services.
Volkswagen always has been and remains at the forefront of car technology development with convenience, safety and practicality firmly in mind. If you’ve not yet sampled the delights of VW’s various innovations, why not visit Inchcape Volkswagen to experience them for yourself?