Volkswagen will unveil a mid-engined roadster, based on the underpinnings of the Golf V, at the Frankfurt Show. Will it give the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and others a run for their money?

Volkswagen will unveil a mid-engined roadster, based on the underpinnings of the Golf V, at the Frankfurt Show. Will it give the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and others a run for their money?


Dubbed Concept-R, the V6-powered two-seater will make its world début at the show, and high-level VW sources say the racy roadster will enter production in Germany by 2006.


Powering the open-top VW is a longitudinally mid-mounted version of the 24-valve 3,2-litre V6 engine (which CARtoday.com reported was headed for the Porsche Cayenne) and it will be mated with a six-speed double-clutch direct shift gearbox. Running direct injection and an uprated exhaust system, the narrow-angle (15-degree) unit produces 194 kW at 6 250 r/min and 343 N.m of torque at 2800 r/min. Production versions will likely offer a range of different engines, including a two-litre four-cylinder mill.


Wolfsburg officials are already making claims to impressive performance, estimating the car will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 5,2 seconds, nearly half a second quicker than a Porsche Boxster S. Top speed will be limited to 250 km/h, though officials suggest the Concept-R could theoretically reach 270 km/h in sixth gear.


Styled under VW’s new chief designer, Peter Schreyer, the Concept-R is aimed at injecting “affordable excitement” back into the German carmaker’s line-up after its costly excursion into the upper-luxury car sector with the Phaeton. It forms part of a line of new niche models chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder has promised for the future, including a rugged-looking Golf-based off-roader.


Insiders say the new roadster’s curvy headlights, chromed grille, elaborate arches and tail-lights draw heavily off the next-generation Passat due to be launched next year.


The Concept-R employs a folding, two-piece hardtop with a large glass panel built into the roof. The roadster gets two separate luggage areas, one up front and another behind the engine. The show car also gets a luxuriously trimmed interior with a facia that adjusts electronically to fit the driver, chunky five-spoke 19-inch wheels, and a space-saving suspension similar to the strut system used on the Toyota MR2.


If Volkswagen has its way, the production version of the Concept-R will challenge the MR2 and Mazda MX-5 on price, but its performance and exotic appeal could draw customers away from the Z4, Boxster and Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming new SLK. What do you think?