The sheer uniqueness of a Volkswagen Corrado G60

Volkswagen, the German carmaker that MotorWeek’s John Davis sometimes refers to as “Walkswagen,” never made a real “Porsh” competitor, but that didn’t stop it from comparing the Corrado to a 944, or even an all-wheel drive 911. As the successor to the Giugiaro-designed Scirocco, the 1988-1995 Corrado was an in-house job penned by Herbert Schäfer’s team, and built by Karmann. Volkswagen’s Canadian advertisement had to make sure you were aware of that:

“Corrado is built in limited numbers by one of Europe’s last great coachworks, Karmann. Enhanced by perhaps one of the greatest technological breakthroughs of all time. The human hand.”

VW Corrado Advertising

And in case you’ve been wondering how important the Corrado’s speed-dependent rear wing can be at high speeds, VW’s marketing team’s got you:

“Answer: Important enough to be on Formula 1 cars and the Porsche Carrera 4.”

In America, Volkswagen’s front-wheel drive coupé had to compete with the likes of the Japanese Toyota Celica and the equally not domestic Eagle Talon TSI. In the name of success, VW threw in almost everything as standard, except for the leather upholstery, the power sunroof and the ABS, which cost a hefty $835 extra for 1990. But more important was the engine.

VW Corrado

Volkswagen began developing its small-displacement “G Lader” superchargers as early as in 1978, and once a fleet of mighty 1.3-liter Polo G40s proved the concept by doing 130 mph for 24 hours straight, Volkswagen scaled up everything to end up with the 1.8-liter G60s. The G60 in the Corrado was essentially the same 8-valve unit as before, except that it now produced 158 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque while returning 24 miles to the gallon. It also broke six class records at Ehra-Lessien.

“7.5 seconds (to sixty) is considerably faster than a Porsche 944.” confirmed the ad.

The 140 mph Corrado G60’s biggest letdown was its five-speed gearbox, which simply wasn’t as good as the Golf GTI’s. Still, the coupé’s rear spoiler did come up at 45 mph, retract below 12, and when stopped, its power windows could also be rolled up from the outside. Was that enough party tricks for the money?

Volkswagen wouldn’t wait to find out. After cancelling the Corrado 16-valve G60 project, for 1992, the 12-valve VR6 was launched producing 178 horsepower in a much smoother fashion. Too bad that instead of the 2.8 that went to the U.S. and Canada, Europe got a 2.9 with 187 horses. Score another one for the Continent.

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