Sports Car Face-Plants: Volkswagen Corrado (1988 to 1995)
(Ed. Note: This was going to start out as a “Top 10″ kind of a story, but there’s so much great archival material out there, it felt like we should run it as a continuing series once a week. Let us know what you think.)
Like many sporty cars that came before it, the Volkswagen Corrado was built with the underpinnings of a more ordinary automobile. The venerable A2 Jetta/Golf provided its chassis and all of its suspension and subframes – with the exception of the VR6 model.
The four-seat, three-door Corrado debuted with two engines available: a 1.8 L, 16-valve, 4-cylinder with 136hp, and a supercharged 1.8 L, 8-valve 4-cylinder, known as the G60, with 160hp.
It’s easy to forget just how exciting the Corrado was when it arrived. Reviews were great, and even now, it’s considered one of the best-driving Volkswagens ever built. This Scirocco replacement was ostensibly the shot in the arm fusty Volkswagen needed to entice an entirely new audience to the brand. It represented style and – gasp – luxury from the brand, and the automotive press embraced it like Julia Roberts muckled onto Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.
The problem was that the Volkswagen Corrado was wildly expensive, especially in supercharged G-Lader G60 form, and even more so in the VR6 flavor. Entry-level trims– when the Corrado hit the scene in the States, two years after its worldwide introduction– would set you back close to $18,000. By the time the Corrado disappeared in the 1994 model year, a fully loaded VR6 ran up to $28,000 in economic doldrum dollars. This is when you could buy a Corvette for $35,000, or the vastly sexier, equally overpriced third-generation Mazda RX-7 for $32,500.