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VW's Concept R looks good for 2006

Future direction: Styling of the Concept R is a clear guide into VW’s future looks.

VW waits on Tokyo and Detroit motor show response to its Porsche rival

14 Oct 2003

THE future of Volkswagen’s racy Concept R – unveiled at last month’s Frankfurt motor show – will depend on public response to it at the biggest auto shows in Asia and North America.

"The car will next be shown at Tokyo and Detroit and based on the response from those experiences we’ll make an evaluation (as to whether it will go into production)," Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Peter Nochar told GoAuto.

But a production version of the Concept R will not appear until 2006 at the earliest, according to Mr Nochar. This is, of course, assuming it gets the green light.

Some European sources suggest the car has already been given the production go-ahead, but even if this isn’t the case, it provides a clear indication of the look of VW’s future products.

"Some of the styling cues of the Concept R, like the grille and so on, are an indication of the design direction of the future. And it kind of softens people up to the idea that things are changing," Mr Nochar said.

"The car itself gives the brand a bit more excitement and dynamism. Whether that will be transposed into an actual car, nobody knows.

"With the Beetle and Audi TT, there was such a sensational response when the prototypes were shown that they subsequently went into production. But there were other concept cars we’ve shown that are stillborn – they never went anywhere, like the W12 sports car." Mr Nochar said the Concept R was not to be confused with a yet-to-be-revealed steel-roofed convertible that is also built on the Golf platform: "I’ve been lucky enough to see the hard-top convertible and it’s not at all related to the Concept R".

The hard-top convertible is likely to be unveiled at next year’s Geneva or Paris motor shows. It will be pitched squarely against the Peugeot 307CC, which makes its Australian debut at this month’s Sydney motor show.

The Concept R, if it gets the green light, may be targeted at costlier rivals – namely the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 – and its on-paper credentials suggest this is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Powering the Concept R is a mid-mounted version of the 3.2-litre V6 engine used in the Golf R32. The addition of direct injection and a free-flowing exhaust system bumps power up to nearly 200kW, while peak torque is just shy of 350Nm. Drive is channeled to the rear wheels by VW’s six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, which is available in the new Golf .

VW says the Concept R can dispatch the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds – quicker than a Boxster S – while top speed is limited to 250km/h, which is academic unless you live in the Northern Territory or enjoy the odd track day.

There could also be a cheaper base model as European analysts say the Concept R is aimed at injecting "affordable excitement" back into Volkswagen’s line-up after its costly forays into the luxury arena with the Phaeton and Touareg.

The entry level model could be powered by a mild 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – putting it up against the likes of the Toyota MR2 and Mazda MX-5. However, this could also result in it cannibalising VW’s own steel-roofed convertible.

Measuring 4.16m long, 1.78m wide and 1.25m high, the Concept R is around 15cm shorter, 4cm lower and a fraction narrower than the Bosxter. It features minimal overhangs and a wide track, endowing it with a commanding stance.


VOLKSWAGEN’S Microbus – unveiled in concept form at the 2001 Detroit motor show – is a definite starter for Australia in three to four years, according to Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Peter Nochar.

"I saw the latest version of the vehicle at a recent conference and it’s still on track for (launch in) 2006 or 2007," Mr Nochar told GoAuto.

"We’re very keen to have it in Australia. We had a very good reception to it when we showed it two years ago. It’s not a traditional people-mover, but it’s obviously family transport. They don’t plan to make any camper versions of it – it’s basically a people carrier.

"I think at the top end of that market there is room for a new product – nobody else does it. The centre of the market at the moment is the Kia Carnival and Toyota Tarago. The Microbus won’t be a replacement for those sorts of vehicles. It would be a replacement for the large seven-seater four-wheel drives.

"A lot of people don’t like the associations made with people-movers. But the Microbus isn’t like that. It’s seen as a bit more groovy and fashionable, so I think we could find some new buyers for it.” The Microbus is built on the redesigned T5 platform used by Volkswagen for its large Multivan.

Volkswagen Group boss Bernd Pischetsrieder recently went on record as saying the design of the Microbus had been signed off and he suggested it was not that different to the concept shown at Detroit in 2001.

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