12 brands gives us a lot of choice.
The Volkswagen Group portfolio of automobile brands is extensive, expansive, and impressive. Not only does the group own Audi, Porsche, and the Volkswagen brand, but also under its umbrella is the mighty Porsche, exotic Lamborghini, iconic Bentley, and legendary Bugatti. In Europe, Volkswagen Group also owns the Spanish based SEAT (pronounced "say-at") brand and the Czech Republic-based Skoda company. It doesn't stop there, though, and Volkswagen Group also owns the Italian motorcycle brand Ducati and the commercial vehicle brands Scania, MAN, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. While there are plenty of fast motor cycles and stalwart commercial vehicles worth mentioning, we're going to concentrate on just the cars spread through the Volkswagen Group's brands, though, and highlight the best it's building right now.
The Bentley Mulsanne resumed its place as the flagship model for Bentley in 2010, is now coming to the end of its reign. It's a handbuilt full-size luxury car built in the UK packed full of style, class, and the last generation of the legendary 6.75-liter V8. The Mulsanne will be remembered as an elegant bruiser of a car. It's smooth, quiet, refined, and serene - right up until the moment you put your foot down and unleash the 752 lb-ft of torque that becomes fully available at just 1,750 rpm. In the Mulsanne Speed, though, there's an even bigger whoosh as the pedal goes into the carpet. The 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque from the uprated engine will propel the 5,919 lbs of metal and luxury materials to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before going on to a top speed of 190 mph.
The legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI is now in its eighth generation since it first launched and disrupted the auto industry. A small, useful, and reasonably priced performance car was just what the world didn't know it needed until the GTI showed its face. The current Golf GTI retains the spirit of the original as a refined hatchback with reliable performance and handling. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making an incremental boost in power over its predecessor to 245 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. As a driver's car, grip and handling are the most critical aspect of the GTI. To that end, the latest version features Volkswagen's latest driving dynamics control system that takes advantage of, amongst other things, an electronic locking differential and the optional DCC adaptive damping.
Those in the know understand just how incredible of a performance wagon Audi can make, even if they don't sell a lot. The RS6 Avant is Audi's fastest and most agile large family car yet, and supplies a savage 592 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque to the Quattro AWD system via a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. For those that want even more from their wagon than the already high-end performance, full RS Sport Suspension with Dynamic Ride Control is also an option. It takes 3.5 seconds to hit 60 mph and comes in at $109,000. That's expensive but less than its nearest competitor, which is the Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon.
The "Baby Lambo" isn't the toned down supercar its nickname implies. The Lamborghini Huracan a firecracker of a supercar with a 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 engine that sends 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. There's also a rear-wheel-drive option in the lesser-powered and (slightly lower) priced Evo model, or a race-bred tech bolstered version in the form of the Performante model. The bottom line is that none will disappoint the most ardent of driving enthusiasts, and we're talking about the Huracan here rather than the larger Aventador because it's more accessible and fun to drive.
After three generations and 17 years in production, the Volkswagen Touareg sold its 1,000,000th unit. That wasn't thanks to US sales, though, as Volkswagen stopped importing them after 2017. In other markets, the success of the Touareg came down to being a comfortable, solid, well-built, all-rounder of a mid-sized SUV. It may not be the most exciting vehicle in the Volkswagen Group's catalog these days, but it's built on the same MLB architecture as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. That means it's light and durable on top of everything else, and it's a crime that so many people skip over it for something with a more upmarket badge.
The base 992 generation 911 sets the benchmark for a road-going sports car as we lean into 2020. You can, of course, get more potent Porsche 911 models, but the Carrera 2S and 4S are, to our minds, the most dynamically versatile 911s yet. The new active damping system takes the Carrera S from a powerful yet comfortable and useable everyday sports car to track-day hero with little fuss. A 911 is many things to many people, but if you're all about the 911 being the best all-around sports car money can buy, the 443 hp Carrera S fits the bill perfectly.
You may have noticed that Cupra wasn't on the list of Volkswagen brands in the introduction. That's because it's actually a SEAT Ateca, and the company has decided to market it under the Cupra performance sub-brand name. In Europe, Cupra is spinning off as a "lifestyle and performance brand," but the point here is that Seat Cupra cars are usually scorchingly hot hatchbacks. You may have noticed that the Cupra Ateca is nevertheless a crossover, but the folks of Cupra have gone nuts on it. Not only does the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generate 300 hp and 295 ft-lb of torque, but it drives more like a hot hatch than a crossover. It also costs as much as a hot hatch, and you'll need to spend way more money to get into an Audi SQ5 or Porsche Macan to beat it in a straight line.
There are flashier and faster supercars out there, but nothing melds fire-breathing performance and everyday practicality like the Audi R8. Sitting just behind the driver is a 5.2-liter V10 of Lamborghini decent that howls all the up to 8,700 rpm. Power specs depend on the model, but the baseline is an extremely willing 562 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. There's no manual transmission available now, but the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission is crisp and clean when you want to get your hustle on, and smooth and forgiving for cruising around town. When you do want to get on with it, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system helps the R8 ramp up to 60 mph in a mere 3.2 seconds and doesn't run out of legs until it touches 201 mph.
The popularity of crossover SUVs means even the most begrudging of automakers are having to satiate demand or see brand loyalists spend their money elsewhere. So when Lamborghini had to make one, it had to make sure the Urus was true-to-form. That means this SUV is an outrageous piece of machinery that demands everyone's attention while having back seats and a useful cargo area. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 makes sure its 641 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque are always on tap and will propel the 5,000 lbs of eye-grabbing bodywork to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds, and 0-124 mph in 12.8 seconds. There is nothing subtle about the Urus, and we expect nothing less from Lamborghini.
You could buy a base model, but the point is to own a fast all-electric car, and the Porsche Taycan Turbo S is fast as hell. It's not just outright speed Porsche is supplying though, it's the most driver-focused mainstream production electric vehicle on the road today. Turbo S trim gives you 750 hp and 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds with Launch Control activating the overboost feature. That doesn't tell the whole story, though. The acceleration manages to be both undramatic and physically brutal at the same time, and after 60 mph, it just relentlessly keeps on going. To cap things off, the Taycan Turbo S also feels like a 911 in the corners and offers plenty of grip and handling.