Versus the competiton:
Volkswagen’s Corrado – thanks to an innovative new V-6 engine – has gonefrom half-baked to well-done.
The original Corrado, dubbed the G60, came with a superchargedfour-cylinder engine that under-whelmed a lot of serious sports car drivers.
After all, if you build a brawny-looking sports coupe and hang a $20,000price on the window, some seriously enthusiastic drivers are going to presstheir noses up against the glass and have a look-see.
Your car better be able to deliver the goods when the pedal hits themetal.
VW’s original Corrado didn’t.
The new and vastly improved Corrado SLC does.
This car reminds me – in spirit mostly – of the first versions of Porsche’s944. You felt like you were driving the best-kept secret in the world. Notmany people knew what it could do, but they could tell by just looking that itwould take some serious muscle to outrun it.
You get that same feeling in the Corrado.
The Corrado SLC is the first Volkswagen ever sold in the United States witha six-cylinder engine.
And this isn’t just any six cylinder.
It’s a uniquely designed V-6 that cranks out an ultra-smooth 178horsepower.
The 2.8-liter engine’s cylinder banks are angled only 15 degrees apart; inmost V-6s, the cylinder banks are spaced 60 or 90 degrees in the shape of aV.
The cylinders in the Corrado are laid out in a zig-zag fashion and they aretopped off with a one-piece cylinder head – unique among the world’s V-shapedengines. All other V-6 engines have two cylinder heads, one for each bank ofthree cylinders.
What all that technical stuff means is simply this: VW has installed thesix-cylinder in a space no larger than what was needed for the oldfour-cylinder engine. More power and less weight means higher performance.
The old Corrado did 0-to-60 mph in 7.5 seconds – not slow, but unable torun with such competitors as the Eagle Talon TSi and the turbocharged ToyotaMR2.
The new Corrado does 0-to-60 mph in 6.8 seconds when equipped with thefive-speed manual transmission. The new Corrado also can be bought with afour-speed automatic (it’s $795 extra), but performance drops to 7.8 secondsin the 0-to-60 mph run.
Simply stated, the Corrado SLC is a bullet on wheels. The engine belts outenough low-end power to spin the front tires in first and second gears.
No matter how high you rev the engine it never gets loud, runs rough orloses its composure. It’s as smooth as a rotary engine.
VW made at least one other major drivetrain improvement: The shifter nowclicks smoothly through the gears. On the original Corrado, the shifter wasvague and notchy.
Stripped of the gimmicky supercharger, the new Corrado is now an honesthustler.
Driving this car is exhilarating.
It shoots through a curve conveying the same sense of excitement as a fastroller coaster.
Even though there is a good amount of understeer – a condition where therear tires hav e more traction than the front tires – once you learn the car’slimits, you can have a blast.
And the Corrado is very forgiving should you overdo it while cornering.
Letting off on the throttle is usually enough to bring things back undercontrol.
The suspension is stiff. Speed bumps and minor potholes cause the car toshake and rattle.
VW gave the Corrado SLC all the equipment it needs to be a thoroughbred.Standard items include: traction control, power-assisted four-wheel discbrakes with ABS and power rack and pinion steering.
FIT AND FINISH
There’s some room for improvement here. The black plastic trim near thewindshield frame on the test car’s interior fit poorly. It looked as if it hadbeen warped by Florida’s high heat.
The test car had another fault: The air conditioning system emitted anawful smell of burning plastic when the temperature was set anywhere but fullcold.
In addition, you have to get used to those annoying motorized seat belt sbecause the Corrado doesn’t have an air bag and won’t until 1994, said VWspokeswoman Maria Leonhauser.
Now that that baggage is out of the way, you’ll be pleased to know theCorrado has ample room for, well, baggage.
The rear hatchback area is huge for a car this size. With the rear seatsfolded forward there’s enough room for at least two golf bags.
We loaded the Corrado with four adults and were surprised to find the rearseat area adequate. That’s a rarity in a small hatchback.
The rear doesn’t look too inviting, but two rear seat passengers fitcomfortably.
Cloth-covered sport bucket seats are standard and they are great. The seatsare very firm and supportive; they hold the driver and passenger in placewell.
The Corrado’s competition includes the less-expensive V-6 powered MazdaMX-3, and the Eagle Talon TSi and Toyota MR2.
In previous years, your local VW dealer was no place to look for aworld-class sports car. The Corrado SLC changes that.
Truett’s tip: VW’s Corrado is now worthy of serious consideration if you want sizzling performance in a brawny looking sports coupe.