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Dr. Pischetsrieder has confirmed with VWvortex that Volkswagen does indeed plan to produce a vehicle very similar to the two-seater Concept R roadster first introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2003.
At a press dinner held during the North American International Auto Show, Dr. Pischetsrieder confirmed that Volkswagen will build a similar vehicle that will follow the concept’s mid-engine rear-wheel drive layout. He mentioned that the goal is to produce a vehicle that is actually slightly smaller than the Concept R (which was built on a Golf V platform), make it as light as possible and add a folding soft-top convertible roof. The goal is to get the weight as close to 2,500 lbs. as possible, yet still retain all the safety features and structural rigidity normally associated with VW products. Lastly and most importantly, it will be coming to North America.
When it came to the discussion of powerplants for the new car, he only smiled and mentioned they are working on something new. Recent reports in the German press mention Volkswagen working on a low-displacement 4-cylinder gasoline engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged and has direct injection (FSI). On the surface, the complexities and costs associated with an engine like this sound too far-fetched for actual production. However, German publication Auto Motor und Sport claims that prototypes have been seen around Wolfsburg and that development of the car and engine are moving along at a good clip.
When asked about the inspiration for such a vehicle in the Volkswagen lineup, Dr. Pischetsrieder told us that the Volkswagen needs to inject some fun and soul back into the brand. The GTI and forthcoming GLI models both show that VW still remembers how to produce decent drivers’ cars in affordable packages. The Concept R takes that a step further with a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadster that will be relatively affordable. He mentioned his love of roadsters and that he favors a rear-wheel-drive layout on certain cars as that is the “purest” form of a true sports car. Pressed on a price, he only offered that they are targeting a Mazda Miata price point. When we joked about a hardtop Coupe version he only smiled and said, “Anything is possible, let’s see how we do with the roadster first”.
In other discussions we asked about the likelihood of an R32/R36 version of the Jetta V and Dr. Pischetsrieder told us that he would like to see something like this produced. He mentioned that Volkswagen of America managed to sell 5,000 Golf R32 models with little to no advertising, and if the Golf was successful in this market, a Jetta version would likely do even better.
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