1990 Volkswagen Corrado

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Asking Price Range
$7,475–$13,023
Estimated MPG

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By 

washingtonpost.com
POLICE DON'T need radar detectors to determine if you're speeding ina 1990 Volkswagen Corrado. All they have to do is watch your tail.Seriously.

Let's say you're in a 40-mph zone going 41 or 42. You're okay, sofar. But something strange happens as you approach 45 mph. A rearspoiler rises from the Corrado's hatch door and extends itself like awing, as if the car is preparing to take flight, which it is.

Of course, Volkswagen did not develop the Corrado's "active rearspoiler" to aid the local constabulary. Quite the contrary. The thing issupposed to help you keep all four wheels on the pavement at, ahem,legal highway speeds. To quote VW's engineers: "In its extendedposition, the spoiler reduces rear-end lift and increases high-speedstability without compromising fuel economy or performance."

The spoiler automatically extends at 45 mph and retracts at 12. Forcleaning, it can be lifted manually by flicking a switch under the leftside of the dashboard.

Frankly, though, I can do without the thing. The squat,front-wheel-drive, four-passenger Corrado probably can run well at 45mph and substantially higher speeds without its flighty spoiler. Lessercars certainly can, and do.

Complaints: The spoiler screws up rear-view vision in its extendedposition. Also, it messes up VW's attempt to market the Corrado as atrue sports car. Spoiler up. Spoiler down. It's a child's game.

The Corrado's front seats need work, too. Trying to get the rightheight on them is a chore. Please Volkswagen, how about somethingsimpler?

Praise: Despite all of the Walter Mitty stuff, the Corrado is awonderful car on the road, particularly after the seats have beenadjusted properly. This thing moves along with inspiring agility,hugging the curves like nobody's business. I dunno, maybe that sillyspoiler does something after all.

What I do know is that the cabin of this subcompact car issurprisingly spacious. Tall folks might have to bend a little to get tothe rear seats; but once they're back there, they can sit in comfort.

Head-turning quotient: The car scores high on the "What's That?"meter. Most people were pleased by its looks and surprised that it was aVolkswagen.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The ride was a bit harsh for peopleunaccustomed to sports cars, which tend to transfer more "road feel" tothe passenger cabin. But acceleration, braking and handling earnedexcellent ratings. This car, equipped with a five-speed manualtransmission, is a driver. Power comes from a supercharged, in-line,four-cylinder engine rated 158 horsepower at 5,600 rpm.

Sound system: AM/FM electronic stereo radio and cassette, factoryinstalled. Good.

Mileage: About 21 to the gallon (14.5-gallon tank, estimated 294-milerange on usable volume), running mostly highway with two occupants andlight luggage.

Price: Base price is $17,900. Dealer's invoice price on the basemodel is $15,792. Price as tested is $19,767, including $ 1,547 inoptions and a $320 destination charge.

Purse-strings note: The Corrado is a very good car. But that priceborders on the outrageous, particularly when you look at thecompetition, including the Ford Probe, Mazda MX-6, Eagle Talon,Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, Nissan 240 SX, Toyota Celica and ChevroletBeretta, to name a few.




    Expert Reviews 2 of 4

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