Why The Volkswagen Corrado Failed

Illustration for article titled Why The Volkswagen Corrado Failed

“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?

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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.

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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.

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.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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DISCUSSION

It suffered from VWitis. They made a good affordable “peoples car” sports coupe in the Scirocco. Then VW built the Scirocco III (aka the Corrado) and realized that they had priced it too high and no one would buy a Scirocco for that price and had to rename the car to Corrado. They slowly and steadily have done the same thing to the Jetta and the GTI, well really their entire product line up (especially the special models like the Rs, Fahrenheits, etc... ). It all culminated at the height of the “Baby Audi” era in VW’s line up around the mk4/mk5 era. At which point VW tried to course correct a little with the Jetta and decontented it with the mk6 which alienated the baby Audi crowd and cheapened the feel of the car for the VW fan.

I own or have owned 2 mk2 Jettas (both GLIs), a mk3 GTI, a mk3 Golf, a B3 Passat GL, B4 Passat Wagon GLX... and my friends have had, mk2 Scricco, several mk2s and mk3s, mk4 GTI, mk4 Jetta, mk4 GLI, mk5 GTI, a mk6 Jetta (quickly traded for an Audi A4).... So I’m not new this world.

VW doesn’t want to make a peoples car anymore, they want a High end luxury line with Audi and a low line luxury line with VW. The Corrado was just a the messenger of what was to come.