How Much Do You Know About Volkswagen?

By: Bambi Turner
Image: Wiki Commons via M93

About This Quiz

Can you tell a Beetle from a VW Bus, a Golf from a Passat or a classic Cabrio from a Karmann Ghia? Do you know when Volkswagen was founded and how it has grown over the decades? Take our quiz to prove your VW IQ!

Volkswagen has long made headlines for its automotive innovations, but it 2015, the company was in the news for a less encouraging reason; that year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency charged that some VW's were equipped with a "defeat device" designed to cheat the Clean Air Act by skewing emissions, gas mileage and other critical measures. The company eventually found itself shelling out billions in settlements and penalties to resolve the issue.

This shocking incident was surprising for a company that had long been recognized for its high-performance vehicles, superior engineering and innovative technologies. Yet, despite the bad publicity, Volkswagen cars continue to be in high demand around the globe; in 2018, VW delivered 10.8 million vehicles.

Think you know everything about the history, cars and stories that make up this iconic auto company? Take our quiz to find out!

Volkswagen kept things simple when coming up with its famous Beetle, dubbing the compact car "Type I." Produced from 1938 to 2003, it was VW's first car, and one of the longest-running production runs in automotive history. Initially designed to sell for around 1000 Reichsmarks when first released — the average weekly income was about 32 RM at the time — more than 21 million Beetles have been produced since the 1930s.

Like many VW models in the '70s, the Golf name comes from a German term related to wind —  in this case, the Gulf Stream. One of the best sellers in VW history, the Golf has been in production continuously since 1974. VW has produced more than 35 million Golfs in the form of hatchbacks, sedans, wagons and convertibles.

VW introduced the Jetta is 1979 to serve as a sedan alternative to the company's popular Golf hatchback. Named for the jet stream — VW loves its wind names — the Jetta has grown over the years from its original compact form. VW has sold almost 3.5 million Jettas in the U.S. alone since 1980.

The third VW to be named after a figure from Greek mythology, the Atlas van was introduced in 2017. Because the mid-sized SUV was large enough for seven passengers over three rows of seating, VW chose the name Atlas — after the Greek figure responsible for holding up the sky.

Sausage is such a top seller for Volkswagen that it even has its own part number (199 398 500 A, to be exact). The company has been producing sausage — Volkswagen Originalteil (German for “original parts”) — since 1973 and sold 6.8 million wursts in 2017 alone.

Volkswagen started as a company in the 1930s focused on producing a car for the average person — at that time, only one German in 50 owned a car. The name of the company literally means "people's car" in German. The company has had its familiar round VW logo since just after WWII — the original logo included the shape of the swastika symbol.

Volkswagen started production of its luxury Touareg SUV in 2002 and is currently in its third generation. The name was inspired by the Tuareg people, a nomadic tribe that lives in the Sahara Desert. The car offered special off-road features, such as the ability to raise its height for greater clearance when traveling over tough terrain. Sales of the Touareg were discontinued in the U.S., in favor of the larger and less expensive Atlas.

Named for the passatwinde, or trade winds, VW launched the Passat in 1973. In 2013, the vehicle set a Guinness World Record for fuel efficiency in a non-hybrid, traveling 78 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Different generations of VW models are distinguished by their "Mark" or "Mk" number. For the Polo, for instance, the first generation — Mk1 — was produced between 1975 and 1981. The sixth generation — Mk6 — came out in 2017.

Famous for its winged logo and founded in England in 1919, Bentley is known for its premium luxury vehicles. VW obtained the rights to Bentley in 1988 after winning a bidding war against BMW for the brand.

The VW Type 2, better known as the Bus, came out in 1949. You can spot an original by its split windshield, which was changed to a single piece of glass with the 1967 redesign. The vehicle is still being produced, although it looks quite different these days.

The VW Golf was already a huge hit in Europe by the time this car came to the U.S. in 1975. The Golf Mk1, marketed as the Rabbit in the U.S. and Canada, soon became a common sight on American roadways. The Rabbit name came back in 2006 for the Golf Mk5 and Mk6, and VW produced a "Rabbit Edition" GTI for the Mk7's 2019 model year.

Volkswagen was founded under the rule of Adolph Hitler, who served as leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. His orders led to the creation of the Beetle, though significant production of the car didn't begin until after Hitler's death and the end of WWII.

In the days before cars, a cabrio was a horse-drawn carriage with a retractable roof used to cover passengers from the weather. Volkswagen used the term to apply to convertible models of its cars — so a Golf Cabrio or Cabriolet is a convertible Golf model.

A 1963 VW Bug had a starring role as Herbie in the 1968 Disney flick "The Love Bug." A 2005 remake called "Herbie Fully Loaded" introduced this zippy car with a mind of its own to a whole new generation.

In keeping with the company's fondness for wind-related names, VW chose the name Scirocco — a term that refers to winds that blow across the Sahara and into the Mediterranean — for this '70s model. Produced between 1974 and 1992, the sport compact was reintroduced to the European market in 2008, where it lasted until 2017.

The Volkswagen Phaeton is named for a Greek god of the same name who controlled the chariot that pulled the sun as it traveled across the sky. The term was used for a type of 19th-century carriage, then adopted by VW in 2002 for this full-size sedan, which was manufactured until 2016.

Think of the Volkswagen Thing as an early precursor to the Hummer. Originally designed for the West German military, this vehicle was released for civilians in 1971 as a vehicle that could handle difficult driving conditions better than the Beetle. Known as the Type 181 in-house, the Trekker in Europe and the Safari in Mexico and South America, the Thing was a two-wheel drive, four-door convertible designed for everyday driving.

Volkswagen made close to half a million Karmann Ghia sports cars in Germany between 1955 and 1974. Most were coupes, though a smaller number were cabriolets. The car is known today for its sleek style and hand-built body panels.

Feruccio Lamborghini founded his iconic car company in Italy in 1963 and quickly developed vehicles such as the classic Miura sports car, known for their power and comfort. The company was sold to Volkswagen in 1998 and became a subsidiary of the company's Audi branch.

Volkswagen was originally operated by the German Labour Front — a Nazi organization — as a way to produce affordable vehicles to the German populous as the autobahn system was being built. Developed under lead designer Ferdinand Porsche — yes, that Porsche — the Beetle was released in 1938.

That GTI you see on some VW models — starting with the 1976 Golf — stands for Gran Turismo Iniezione in Italian (English translation: Grand Tourer Injection). It's an advanced fuel injection technology that supercharges the engine, making it a great choice for car buyers who love powerful rides.

Named for the Greek goddess of the dawn, the Eos was produced between 2006 and 2015. This two-door convertible had a very innovative five-piece folding hardtop, as well as a sliding sunroof. The roof would fold automatically into the trunk in about 25 seconds.

The Volkswagen CC started as a special version of the Passat. It had a sedan style, but a sloped roofline that resembled a traditional coupe. Eventually, the CC — or comfort coupe — became an independent model.

The Tiguan compact crossover SUV came out in 2007, and its name was determined by a poll published in a German auto magazine. The name — pronounced TEE-gwan — is a portmanteau of the German terms for tiger and iguana ("tiger" and "leguan")

Kevin Bacon's character Ren drove a yellow VW Bug — a yellow '72 to be exact — in the 1984 teen flick Footloose.

Ettore Bugatti founded his iconic car company in Germany in 1909. Though he only produced around 8,000 vehicles, they were celebrated for their artistic designs and success on the racetrack. The company was sold to VW in 1998.

Sixty years after the Beetle came out in 1938, Volkswagen released a retro-inspired version known as the New Beetle for the 1998 model year. The new model has the engine in the front, rather than in the rear, but was still heavily inspired by the original design. This model was replaced by the Beetle (A5) in 2011 and was made until July 2019.

The Routan minivan was only sold in North America and was only produced between 2009 and 2014. A joint venture with Chrysler, the vehicle's name was a mix of the word route and the suffix "an" — to stay consistent with the company's Europan vans, the Touran and the Sharan. The unpopular name and high price led the company to discontinue the Routan after only a few years.

Volkswagen used to make it a point of renaming cars for different markets to appeal to local buyers. The G2 Passat, produced between 1981 and 1988, became the Quantum in North America — and was renamed the Corsar and Carat in various Latin American markets.

The Gol is a huge Latin American seller for VW and was the best-selling car in Brazil from 1987 to 2014. From 1987 to 1993, it was available in North America as the Fox. The third generation of the subcompact is still being produced.

Volkswagen has an Alltrack variant of several popular models, including the Golf and Passat. The Alltrack models are designed for off-road success and come with increased clearance and improved suspension compared to standard models.

Volkswagen gave the world a sneak peek of the all-electric I.D. concept car at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Built on VW's MEB platform, the I.D. is not only efficient but stylish — with intriguing suicide doors. The company currently has seven I.D. models planned for production between 2020 and 2022.

After its successful "Think Small" campaign in 1959, VW followed up with a 1960 ad comparing a Beetle that didn't meet the company's exacting inspection process to a lemon ("We pluck the lemons; you get the plums"). The ad is so memorable that it was later discussed on an episode of the retro television program Mad Men.

Henry Ford produced 15,007,033 Model T's between 1908 and 1927, the most of any car model in history. It took VW 34 years from the introduction of the Beetle to beat this long-held record on Feb. 17, 1972.

The company that would later be known as Audi was founded in 1932 when four German car companies united to form the Auto Union — hence the four-rings logo. In 1966, Audi became a fully owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.

In the 1985 film Back to the Future, terrorists in a blue VW van chased down a time-traveling DeLorean. One drove the van, while the other shot at the DeLorean through the VW's sunroof.

Volkswagen eventually replaced the Scirocco with the Corrado compact coupe, starting production in 1988. Its name comes from the Spanish verb for "to sprint," but despite great reviews at the time, this car didn't fly off dealer lots. Instead, fewer than 100,000 units were sold before the car was discontinued in 1995.

Believe it or not, students at Asbury University in Kentucky fit 20 people into a 1964 VW Beetle on Dec. 9, 2010 — establishing a Guinness World Record for the feat. The students used the event to draw attention to human trafficking.

Porsche began in Stuttgart, Germany in 1931, and soon became famous for classic cars like the 911 and the Boxster. In 2011, Porsche SE and Volkswagen AG merged to form a single company after years of financial infighting and debate.

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