Sunday, September 12, 2010



…and long time readers know that the Insightful Pontificator has its origins in a financial newsletter that dealt extensively with, inter alia (after all, that newsletter was quite eclectic itself), cars and the car business. Though my interests have moved on and I know longer have the time to indulge my interest in things automotive, as Cook County Commissioner and R&B impresario and balladeer Jerry “Ice Man” Butler once told me, “Mark, you have to dance with the girl you brought.” And I still love cars. So here’s a letter I sent to Car and Driver this afternoon in a response to an article on the new lower cost (cheaper, really) VW Jetta:


VW may think the primary complaint about the “old” Jetta was its price (Drivelines, October), but this misperception is symptomatic of the manner in which VW treats its U.S. customers. Yes, price is a problem with the Jetta and with all VWs in this country. But a much larger problem is VW’s much deserved reputation for shoddy reliability and shabby customer service at its dealerships. The horror stories I have heard from people, and the only slightly less horrific tales I have read in the consumer and automotive presses, have kept me, a guy who really loves the way German cars drive, away from VW since I traded in my ’87 Jetta in 1990, a car that was a hoot to the drive, mostly to the dealer for repairs.

Rather than decontenting its cars, and delivering a GINO (“German in name only”) Jetta, in a bid to cut costs and compete with the Civic and Corolla, VW might do better to deliver reliability on a par with its Japanese and Korean competition and a customer service experience at least similar to that provided by its German (distant) cousins at BMW and Mercedes.

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