Come spring '01 and Volkswagen AG's popular, trendy Passat gets a facelift.

That includes a chrome grill and deeper, wider air inlets. Sternward are redesigned taillights. Inside, VW adds chrome to the instrument panel.

The Jetta wagon, already on sale in Europe, also is expected to be added mid-year, along with the Beetle Sport - a version of the New Beetle with a 180-hp version of VW's muscular 1.8L turbocharged I-4.

The turbo-charged Jettas and Golfs will be available with an optional sport suspension. The system includes a stiffer suspension and other upgrades that will give the vehicles tighter control and handling. Its taken VW about 10 years to realize their buyers think the cars are too mushy.

Coming late in the model year is the '01 EuroVan. The vehicle gets a higher-power version of VW VR6 engine with horsepower significantly increased from 140 to 201.

Somebody needs to explain to us why nobody can sell a Golf, probably the best compact in the market. Life is good, though, with the Jetta and the new all-wheel drive Passat, right? And when the SUV comes next year. . .