Geneva 2006: Volkswagen Introduces Concept A – Updated Share Comments Berlin, Germany – We’ve been hearing for some time that Volkswagen is working on a small SUV based on the current fifth generation Golf platform. This new vehicle – which has been referred to as the Marakesh by various press outlets – is designed to compete with the Honda CRV and Toyota RAV 4 in the compact SUV segment. But before you get excited, the Concept A with its coupe-like roof line and suicide door arrangement is strictly a concept at this point. What you see here is a the evolution of VW’s controversial chrome front end design treatment and the underlying chassis that will be found on the new small SUV when it is officially shown later this year. Volkswagen choose to introduce the Concept A in Berlin, Germany at a private event two weeks before the Geneva Auto Show. Apparently Wolfgang Bernhard is not a big fan of auto show introductions where his vehicles might get lost in a sea of other vehicles being introduced. Bernhard drove the Concept A through man-made lake of water surrounding a temporary stage *inside* an old Berlin train station to the great fanfare of fireworks, glowing ice blocks, fire and pounding music – altogether it was quite a sight. More than 300 journalists and a few German celebrities from the Berlin Film Festival going on at the same time were on hand for the event. Covered in a heavy metallic “ice blue” paint scheme, the Concept has a very substantial and meaty look to it that gives no indication at all that it shares components with a Golf V. The ride height, suspension travel, and huge wheels wrapped in clean sheetmetal lend more of a mini-Touareg air to the vehicle. The new front end styling is far more masuline (and better looking in our opinion) than the current chrome “face” VW has been putting on its newer vehicles. The chrome grill has been ditched in favor of a new brushed aluminum version with aggressive new headlamps and dark accents that hang together pretty well – the designers seem to have thought this one through more completely. Rudiger Foulton, the Communications Director of the Design Group told us that we can expect to see this new front-end design start to be integrated into future products starting with the A-platform SUV. The concept’s coupe-like roofline has no B-pillar and the front and rear doors are suicide-style similar to the Honda Element. The actual production model will have a more traditional upright SUV profile with four regular opening doors. Front and rear styling should be similar to what you see here. The all-wheel drive system is a Haldex system similar to that found on the R32 and Passat. The Concept A is powered by a 1.4l TSI twin-charger engine which in this configuration with exposed dual exhaust tips has a throaty and impressive sounding growl. The press release below mentions a DSG transmission, but the concept had a clutch pedal, so we’re inclined to think it has a manual transmission. The interior is a typical mix of trendy materials put together by the design group and looks both aesthetically pleasing and technically appealing. The production version should be shown sometime in the next six months and available here in calendar year 2007. Expect pricing to start around $22,000 in the U.S. market with VW’s venerable 2.0T FSI as the base engine. We’ll keep you informed on the latest information as it becomes available. The Volkswagen AG press release follows below. Volkswagen AG Press Release Wolfsburg – It is the child of a new era. Its name: Concept A. A Volkswagen with all wheel drive, a cross between a sports car and SUV, with a design that is as powerful as it is aesthetic and that posses best all round features. Volkswagen celebrates its world premier in Berlin. The premier for the public will follow at the Geneve Automobile Salon in late February. The Concept A stands for a progressive design-philosophy. Its front part with a new 3D crest radiator grill made out of brushed aluminum and distinguished head lights form a congenial yet competent and confident progressive appearance. The “face” is well known, just not on an automobile, it looks like the mirror image of a cheetah. The silhouette shows the lines of a coupe. The front and rear doors open facing each other. The carriage overhangs are briskly short, the hood long, the C columns one of a kind. 20 inch alloy rims and 295 tires fill out the space in the distinctively extended wheelhouses. Full load and plenty of light: Concept A’s finish is colored in the intense blue tone of glacier formations and is called „Glacier metallic“. Added are glass flakes which enhance the depth of the paint applied in a piano lacquer technique. The rear part, with its athletic flanks, imparts a strong elegance. The hatchback is built in tailgate-style and can be opened in two steps: the area under the rear lights swings out like a pick-up loading surface and thus creates a lot of room for big items. At the bottom the motor exhales via two round chrome pipes. The interior presents itself spacious and open. Light and air dominate the feel of the space. If needed, a large soft top can be swerved all the way back to the C column. Motors any way you like, but with all wheel drive: The study shown in Berlin is powered by a 110 kW (150 hp) strong Twincharger (TSI), whose motto is “maximum driving pleasure, minimum consumption”. Its power reaches the wheels via a six gear transmission and an all wheel drive 4MOTION. A turbo diesel direct fuel injection (TDI) with diesel particle filter, the FSI Turbo of the Golf GTI (147 kW / 200 hp) and much more could also be used. Studies can do and are allowed anything. Viable dream: The Concept A is the vision of an ideal Volkswagen. One of many variations of the future. They are all connected by one claim: Volkswagen, like the Concept A, has to be feasible for many customers and expand the model spectrum according to customer’s needs. Present spectrum: Today this spectrum ranges from the Fox to the Phaeton. But more and more we will be seeing a fascinating diversity between these columns. CrossPolo, Golf GTI, Golf R32, Eos or the Passat Individual are showing the way. The New Beetle and the New Beetle Convertible were forerunners. The new spectrum between the columns offers a huge potential and includes cars like the clever Caddy Color Concept for families, the wild GX3 for California, the large Multivan Beach for the continental trip and the consistently versatile Eos for every day and every weather of the year. Future Spectrum: But that’s not all. A VW sports car also fits between the columns. And an all wheel powered specialist of the Golf class has been on track to go into series for quite some time. As a concentrate of various automobiles, Concept A demonstrates where the optical journey can lead to. The crossover study combines elements of a compact SUV with the lines of a sports car. A designer’s coup de main. SUV-Coupe: Presented worldwide for the first time in Berlin, the Concept A optically accompanies the leap of the Volkswagen brand into the future. Conceptually the design team used a point of attack coming from the ever growing de-fragmentation of the segments. Result: if up till now the SUV’s put the advantages of the steep hatchback in the forefront, the Concept A, with its coupe like rear part, underlines a more classic dynamic. Here the design combines the no compromise elegance of a sports car with the demonstrative robustness of an off road model. A fun machine and high everyday efficiency, a sports car with travel qualities, a coupe with station wagon features. The design of the 4.35 meter long, 1.85 meter wide and 1.55 meter high Concept A in detail: Note: The terms FSI, TDI and DSG are registered trademarks of the Volkswagen AG or other companies of the Volkswagen Group in Germany. For more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums to the left. For more photos of the car in this story, click on the link to our gallery at the right.