Concept cars are supposed to be fun and exciting design studies, unconstrained by annoying things like laws or focus groups or physics. They can fly! They can be powered by nuclear reactors! Or they can just be the 1997 Volkswagen Coupe Design Study CJ.
Even the name is boring.
There is no way that there could even be a more dull concept car than this. It’s just a Mk4 Bora/Jetta, only VW showed it off a year before they debuted the production version. That’s it. 1999, VW started full production of the four-door Bora/Jetta. 1998, VW debuted the production Bora at auto shows. 1997, they showed the world a two-door “concept” version.
Even VW was bored by the car. Their official press release for the car at the ‘97 Detroit Auto Show described the car not as a cool thing that they made, not some wild dream, not some vision of Volkswagenfection, gleaming wonder to the world.
Nah, they said it showed VW’s “versatility [...] to have individual solutions for every market and body style.”
It’s not like the Coupe Design Study CJ is a particularly bad car, or at least not any worse than any other Mk4 Jetta. I mean, the Coupe Design Study CJ is a Mk4 Jetta. No surprises there. Neat details, the potential of a fun-sounding VR6, and very clean styling, particularly in this two-door imagination.
But damn, it’s just a Jetta with two doors. That’s all there is to it.
VW could have done anything! Hell, they did! They made the W12 concept that very year, an equally production ready design, but something that excites and interests with huge top speed and fancy doors and a manic engine.
People still wish VW had built that car. I know I do. Pictures of it still litter the internet, like the Microbus concept VW showed a few years later.
Is it easy to run across Coupe Design CJ pictures on the internet now? Does anybody even remember it exists? Not really. Some people looked at it in ‘97 and thought “oh that looks nice” and moved on with their lives.
This is the worst crime a concept car can commit: dullness. And I struggle to think of any “concept” more dull than this one.