Originally Posted by MichaelB
But in reality, the Golf or Passat models they sell are among the most expensive and complex in their particular segments.
The article author's quote depends upon definitions of "expensive" and "complex".
I would maintain that water-cooled VWs dating back to the Golf Mk1 were never the cheapest in their segments but that there was compensation in the form of higher levels of design or standard equipment (fuel injection instead of carbs, safety features before they were adopted by the masses, standard cruise control, etc.). Now, the dumbed down models like the NMS and NA/Chinese Jetta; that's more arguable. And models like the "City" Jetta sold during the Mk5/5.5 era -- they've built them for years; they haven't likely grown more complex and the construction costs have been amortized, which is why they're cheaper to sell.
As for "complex", the MQB architecture was supposed to be a big step in the direction of making the cars easier to manufacture (one of my
definitions of "complex"). I haven't seen stats indicating whether this has reduced assembly time/labor, but the commonality has to save some time in design, speccing parts, and build over hundreds of thousands of models using MQB.
And I'm not sure I'd call a NA Jetta 2.5 "complex" relative to, say, a Kia Soul or Hyundai Accent with a 6-speed stick, VVT, electronics up the wazoo, and all kinds of parts for driver and passenger comfort and convenience.
Anyway, we'll never see that cheaper brand in the U.S. VW has a hard enough time selling VWs, for reasons that have little to do with cost.