The Let's Play Archive

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

by Olive Branch

Part 2: The History of Volkswagen; About the Volkswagen Golf GTI

The History of Volkswagen

Ahh, Volkswagen. Otherwise known as "The People's Car", Volkswagen is the German automaking company created by the Nazi trade union Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) during the 1930s. The goal of Volkswagen was to make cars for the average German, as only one in fifty Germans could afford the luxury cars that dominated the German auto market at the time. While independent companies had already been eyeing this untapped market for some time, it became apparent a cheap, affordable car for the mass market was impossible to make and turn a profit. Adolf Hitler himself got involved and chose to sponsor a state-owned and operated factory to make these cheaper cars. Thus Volkswagen itself was born, and the iconic Beetle appeared on the scene in 1938. Of course, the Second World War meant having to refashion the cars for combat, and the Kübelwagen ("bucket car") was produced for the army. Slave labor was being used in the Volkswagen plant at the time, and the company itself only admitted this in 1998.

After the war, Volkswagen's future was shaky. The plant was damaged, needed repairs, and automobile companies in the west scoffed at the car's specs and usability. However, British Army Major Ivan Hirst recognized Volkswagen and its industry as something worth saving, and protected it from being dismantled outright. This led to Volkswagen becoming something of an icon for the economic recovery and regeneration of West Germany during the Cold War, and slowly but surely they began to sell cars to the West. During the 1960s and early 1970s the product line for Volkswagen expanded, and finally from the mid-1970s to the 1990s, Volkswagen became more mainstream. During the 1990s it began to move upmarket, and from the 2000s to now model expansions have been taking place once more.

Volkswagen today is popular throughout the world, including in my own home country of Brazil, where ethanol-fueled versions of the car were sold in the 1970s up to 1990, before international sugar prices skyrocketed and forced ethanol-only cars out of Brazil's auto market. It is one of the top 25 largest companies in the world, according to Forbes magazine. As an aside, Volkswagen and Porsche have a very close relationship due to both being German and operating in the 1930s, to the effect that throughout the two companies' history they have shared many components in each car. Their relationship was in fact so close that a legal action during the mid-2000s sought to prevent a hostile takeover by Porsche over Volkswagen. A merger was officially announced in 2009, and Volkswagen currently owns Porsche.

About the Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is actually one of many "Marks" of the Volkswagen Golf line. The Golf itself is one of the most popular small family car lines of the company, but the GTI is designed for sport driving. Not, of course, on the range of a Ferrari or anything, but enough for the middle-class suburbite who doesn't want to drop cash on some other brand. The car version in-game is, I would assume, the Mk5 version of the GTI series. The Mk4's interior quality made rivals pay attention to their own cars, and Volkswagen's turn to be startled came from the Mk1 Ford Focus's design. Because critics were saying the Mk4 was "average", Volkswagen was said to have poached from Ford's engineering team and knuckled down to give the Mk5 Golfs better road manners.

The GTI itself has a turbochaged engine with direct-fuel-injection technology, which in so many words means it goes fast. This is reflected in game by its stats: the GTI has a higher top speed, acceleration, and handling than any of the three starter cars. The Mk5 GTI is built in Germany, and due to its better engine, exterior, production costs, and import costs, it has a pretty hefty price tag. Still, it was named the 2007 Automobile of the Year by Automobile Magazine, so it must have been doing something right!

Triple A Says...

THE standard of the hot hatch world. While model-bloat keeps it from becoming the classic their predecessors were, it is still a practical car with a fun little engine on it. Pity that most GTI owners aren't exactly smart or tasteful in their modifications. It has good handling, and it's usually fairly quick for its price, but it could be faster if it didn't have model-bloat. Model-bloat is when car manufacturers add stuff to the car to make them heavier and bigger, usually for safety, due to consumer demand.