“The European sports car with the Volkswagen difference.” That was the tagline for the Volkswagen Corrado, the replacement for the beloved Scirocco, a car that Regular Car Reviews likens to the works of Henry David Thoreau. All but ignored in its time, but recognized as notable and even influential today. So why did the Corrado fail in the 1990s?

In an age dominated by boring crossovers and SUVs, we look to the 1990s as a time of modern comforts coupled with impressive performance and experimental technology. This was probably the best decade ever if you were into sporting coupes. The Corrado was how VW threw down, and the results were decidedly mixed.

Advertisement

As Mr. Regular notes, the Corrado—which he says was eyed as a replacement for the venerable Porsche 944, although I hadn’t heard that one—went about this in an odd way. It’s kind of frumpy, lacking the aggressive looks of the earlier Sciroccos. It was expensive, nearly $40,000 in today’s dollars, and mechanically complex. It was front-wheel drive, too, which can make it good but precludes it from being a true “sports car.”

But the Corrado shined in other ways. Then as now, it was regarded as a first-rate driver’s car, a kind of cult hit among the sort of folks in the know who worked for European car magazines. But perhaps because VW never capitalized on that hype, or more likely because of its price tag, that enthusiasm never caught on with the mainstream.

Advertisement

Two things are for sure today: the VR6 engine rules and is dearly missed, and it’s wonderful there is still such a dedicated community of owners who keep their Corrados running right. It’s a rare sight today, so when you see one in proper order, salute that owner. They’re fighting the good fight.

It’s still not worth $37,000 to me though. Sorry.