What Happened to the Corrado?
In 1988, Volkswagen unveiled a peppy newcomer—it was sporty, sleek and marketed as the “European sports car with the Volkswagen difference.” It had great reviews and is still considered one of the smoothest drives in Volkswagen history. We're talking, of course, about the Volkswagen Corrado.
The Corrado was exciting and had lots of promise when it debuted in 1988. So what led to its untimely exit in 1995?
Before we get to that, let’s go to the starting line.
The Corrado was conceived by Herbert Schafer, who also designed the Scirocco in the early 70s. Conceived as a successor to the Porsche 944, the Corrado finally launched in 1988 as a front-wheel drive sport coupe. This 3-door, 4-seat wonder had two engine choices when it first launched: a 1.8L, 16 valve 4-cylinder with 136 hp, and a supercharged G60 option with 1.8L, 8-valve 4-cylinder with 160 hp.
First responses to the Corrado were overwhelmingly positive. Auto Express says the Corrado is “Regarded as one of VW’s best ever drivers’ cars.” In 1988, Top Gear’s Tiff Needell gave the G60 Corrado a positive review, saying, “Handling-wise, the Corrado is classic front-wheel drive and it’s really very, very good indeed.”
What Made the Corrado Special?
With its unmistakable wedge look and intimate driving experience, the Corrado was a step into a new frontier for Volkswagen. From 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds and top speeds of 140 mph, the original Corrado felt “as German and solid as a 6-Series BMW,” according to Automobile. In 1993, VW added the innovative VR6 to the Corrado line, which provided some extra zing, going 0-60 in just 6.8 seconds. Superior steering, sure brakes, and fantastic pedal operation took the Corrado to the top of the list.
What Went Wrong?
With such high promise came a big fall, and low sales ultimately led to the Corrado’s demise.
Problems began with the Corrado's price tag. When it debuted on U.S. shores in 1990, a basic Corrado would set you back about $18,000. That's about $33,000 in today’s dollars, making the car a pricey coupe in a world of cheap yet sporty Toyota Celicas (stickering around $13k), Civic SIs (around $10k), and about the same price as a Honda Prelude (another car that failed to sell). By 1994, a fully loaded VR6 would set you back about $28,000—a high price considering a Corvette only cost about $35,000 at the same time.
Aside from the price tag, the Corrado had a slew of mechanical issues. They leaked water inside, electronics weren’t up to snuff, and not many people could rebuild a G-Lader supercharger at the time. This led Volkswagen to offer up the “Volkswagen Protection Plus” warranty that covered 10 years and 100,000 miles, nearly bankrupting the automaker.
Don’t forget that dark days surrounded Volkswagen when the Corrado was in production. On the heels of closing their Pennsylvania factory, VW America CEO James Fuller and marketing director Lou Merengo were tragically killed in a terrorist attack.
This combined with relatively poor sales ultimately led to the Corrado’s demise. Considering the Acura Integra’s North American sales reached 262,285 between 1990 and 1993 compared to the Corrado’s 18,648 between 1989 and 1995...well, it was a complete sales disaster.
The Corrado Today
The VW Corrado’s status lies somewhere between cult and classic.
Volkswagen shut down production of the Corrado after the 1995 model was released. But like a fine wine, the Corrado took some time to truly appreciate. In 2003, Top Gear's Richard Hammond said the Corrado was “a kind of classic waiting in the wings.” Now in 2016, the demand for the VW Corrado is at an all-time high. Volkswagen Corrado enthusiasts have grown through the years, and the rise of the internet has allowed fans and mechanics alike to come together and sort out common issues and improve their cars.
At VW Parts Vortex, we’re committed to providing the very best parts and service to help you get the most out of your Corrado.