AM Online

Car confidential: New boss, new cars, new ethos

Golf, Passat, Jetta: in a two-year frenzy, Volkswagen will have replaced its mainstream models, as well as giving the Polo a nip and tuck and beginning Fox imports to replace the Lupo. So what’s next?

The answer lies in a crucial product decision made by new VW brand boss Wolfgang Bernhard in May, just two weeks into his new job. Bernhard decided which platform should underpin the Passat Coupé, a sleek and sexy sports car copying Mercedes’ CLS. Bernhard approved the model that’s the flagship for the next wave of VWs, niche models filling the gaps in Wolfsburg’s range.

First up is the Eos. That’s the name for the production version of the Concept C, the folding tin-top cabriolet unveiled in 2004.

The Eos arrives in VW’s showrooms next spring (see preview p33). In size, the Eos sits halfway between the Golf and Passat, and prices will start around £20,000 – mid-way between a 307CC and an Audi A4.

Next comes the Marrakesh, the codename for the C-segment SUV scooped by AM (July 1). The Freelander and Rav4 rival arrives in early 2007, running four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, coupled with front- and Haldex four-wheel drive.

VW also plans to give the Golf Plus the faux-4x4 treatment, equipping it with a Rover Streetwise-style bodykit and jacking up the ride height. The Fox and maybe even Passat estate could follow suit.

The Passat Coupé follows in late 2007. The nose is recognizably new Passat, though with funky headlamps like the pre-facelift 7-series. The swooping body apes the CLS but with one key difference: it’s a five door hatchback, adding practicality to the style.

Engines include the Golf R32’s 250bhp VR6, turbocharged to an incredible 400bhp. A V6 diesel with 200 and 240bhp is in the pipeline, while four-cylinder engines include the 200bhp GTi engine and the 170bhp TDi.

All engines are mounted east-west because of Bernhard’s decision to underpin the Coupé with a hybrid Golf-Passat platform, like the Eos and Marrakesh. The alternative was to use the next Audi A4’s chassis, as the Sharan II is doing, which will round off VW’s niche offensive in late 2007.

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