Sunday, August 26, 2018

Volkswagen's approaches to the "popular" car in Brazil in '93

Gol 1000: despite having already gone through a few facelifts, the bodyshell was basically the same released in '80 when the Gol still relied on the air-cooled boxer engine, now front-mounted and driving the front wheels, in a 1.3L version. Later the 1.6L boxer had been offered, but the Gol would only become a major player in the Brazilian automotive market once it switched to liquid-cooled engines. During the AutoLatina joint-venture by Volkswagen and Ford in Brazil and Argentina, Ford sourced its Renault-designed CHT engine for Volkswagen to use in entry-level versions of the Gol and its derivatives in exchange for the EA827 to be fitted to the Escort and some Brazilian derivatives of the Renault 12 project taken over by Ford's local branch after merging with Willys-Overland which was Renault's partner for the Brazilian market until '67. In the end, this meant Volkswagen would use a Renault-designed engine for its earlier 1.0L version of the Gol.
Even though it was already outdated by then, the hatchback provided an easier access to the luggage compartment compared to the classic Beetle with its tiny front luggage compartment under the front bonnet and that internal one between the rear seat and the firewall which was only accessible from the inside.
Despite this practical disadvantage, the Beetle was reintroduced to the Brazilian market in '93 after a 7-year hiatus started in '86. Even though it was supposed to not benefit from the same tax break that favored engines with a displacement equal to or below 1.0L or 61 cubic inches, the rule was amended by then-president Itamar Franco to allow air-cooled engines up to 1.6L to also be included in the fiscal benefit. Brazilian Beetles made during this brief '93-'96 reintroduction were soon nicknamed "Fusca Itamar", refering to the personal request of the president for Volkswagen to relaunch the model. Sure its cross-country capabilities, matched only by vehicles with a much higher price tag, were a valuable asset in a country where most roads are still unpaved, but the higher degree of automation on the production of newer cars and some changes on customers' preferences meant the Beetle was not so appealing to the general public anymore.


  1. Renault engine in a Volkswagen is new to me, but Mercedes-Benz has already resorted to the 1.5dCi in the A-Class.

  2. I'd rather get the Gol, but I also believe the Beetle still has its merits when it comes to off-road capability.


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