VW baby on way UP!
A baby Volkswagen concept is confirmed for production, reports PAUL GOVER.
THE baby price leader so essential to Volkswagen in Australia could finally be coming.
A production version of the Up! concept cars has been confirmed for 2011 and all the signs point to a car that will be the right size and price to slide in below the Polo.
Volkswagen has given few specifics on how the Up! will go from motorshow tease to showroom reality, but it has chosen Slovakia as the production site for what is being called the “New Small Family”.
This could mean one car or many, to satisfy the needs of the Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda brands.
But there will definitely be three and five-door hatchbacks, at least at first.
Volkswagen Group began its search for a price fighter in 2007 when it unveiled the original Up! concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show, complete with a rear-mounted engine.
It stretched the idea into a baby people-mover a few weeks later at the Tokyo Motor Show. It has now chosen the factory at Bratislava to build the car, partly because the site already supplies four brands.
“Our team at Volkswagen in Slovakia is ideally prepared to provide the flexibility required for the production of the New Small Family,” Volkswagen Group chairman Martin Winterkorn said.
Volkswagen is expected to get the Up! first, if it carries that name, followed by Seat and Skoda.
The plans for Australia are murky, though Volkswagen says it is keen to get the car.
“The Up! is still a concept and they have not confirmed the production car,” said Volkswagen Group spokesman Karl Gehling.
But he said the “New Small Family” was being watched closely.
“It’s something we’ll certainly be looking at,” Mr Gehling said.
“It will have to be price competitive but it looks a promising product to expand our range.”
In the meantime a hard edged Volkswagen Tiguan shows how a go-faster R version might look – if it gets the go-ahead alongside the R32 Golf, R36 Passat and R50 Touareg.
Volkswagen said there was no plan for a full-scale Tiguan R, but that had not stopped a body upgrade on the compact SUV.
The R-Line model has just gone on sale in Europe with a deep front air dam, fatter wheel arches, 19in alloy wheels, sill extensions and a small roof spoiler.
But it will not be coming to Australia. And it does not point to an imminent R-style tweak for the Tiguan.
“Unfortunately, we have to take away some of the excitement,” Mr Gehling said.
“It’s just the Volkswagen Individual exterior modifications. It’s not like the R range of vehicles.
“We’re not offering the R-Line. It is only a cosmetic upgrade, not a performance upgrade.”
On the way: Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn with the Up! concept car at Munich in 2007. Volkswagen has announced it will be built in Slovakia from 2011.