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FWD Champions: The VW Corrado

October 13, 2011 by Matt

VW Volkswagen Corrado Coraddo Corado Rear Yellow

The ’89-’94 Volkswagen Corrado. The automaker’s last attempt at a stateside sports car. Possessed of possibly the most wedge-like profile in all of automotivedom, stubby yet nicely tailored. And building on the foundation laid by its predecessor the Scirocco, engineered just about as well as a FWD chassis can be.

VW Volkswagen Corrado Coraddo Corado Front Yellow

The car arrived on the scene in ’89 touting a significant string of positives: A relatively low 2800 lb curb weight; a supercharged, 160 hp 4-banger (upgraded in ’92 to a 178 hp VR6); sharp steering and punchy, aggressive lines. By all rights, the Corrado should have advanced from the beachhead the Scirocco established, but instead, it was a chronically slow seller, tallying only 97,000 sales on both sides of the Atlantic until VW pulled the plug in ’95.

So why didn’t the car catch on? For one, the Japanese sports car wars were heating up, stealing the VW car’s thunder in the press with their turbocharged one-upmanship. The Corrado, VW’s halo car and speediest offering at the time, slotted in with the “2nd tier” sports coupes like the Ford Probe, Nissan 240SX and Toyota Celica—and it held its own, but each of its rivals had “older brothers” to elevate their image; the Corrado was comparatively isolated and ignored. Additionally, for VW, the three letters “GTI” define their sporty image in the minds of many; higher-end sports coupes, no matter how well executed, have traditionally had a difficult time fitting into VW’s lineup next their legendary hot hatch.

VW Volkswagen Corrado Coraddo Corado Interior

I love the styling, even if the stacking of the rear bumper area does tower a bit much. Particularly noteworthy design details include the light clusters in the bumper and subtle curve of the beltline. The interior combines “sport” and “business” in a uniquely German way and looks like a very inviting place to enjoy a twisty back road on a sunny Sunday afternoon. If only the Corrado had a touch less wedge in profile, its polished dynamics and exclusivity would make a very tempting FWD package.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: FWD Champions, Volkswagen

2 comments

  1. John D says:

    I’ve always thought this was a great looking car, and it has the air of ‘what is that again?’ that makes it such a great car to own and drive. (As much of a Camaro lover as I am, anything that is so main stream and common really takes away from the owner’s experience with such a car. I found when I owned the FD that having someone 1) notice your car, 2) not be able to instantly recognize it, and 3) ask you about it and begin a conversation really contributes to making the ownership of that particular car memorable and satisfying from an enthusiast’s standpoint.)

    This is one of the few FWD cars that I would like to own…and immediately modify to at least 200hp. ;)

    • Matt says:

      Totally agree. When I was working my first job as a Harris Teeter bagger in the mid/late ’90s, a guy with a royal blue Corrado with a Swedish flag sticker on the back window would occasionally pop in and I would see his car in the parking lot when I went out to gather carts. Struck up a conversation with him one day about the car; he was an enthusiast and it was neat yakking for a while. I love obscure cars like nothing else. :)

      Don’t think it would be too hard to get extra power out of the VR6. 200+ hp seems perfectly feasible. Better watch out for torque steer, though…

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