volkswagen reveals first details of new luxury model
Oct 17, 2001
Volkswagen is preparing to make its mark in a new vehicle class with the launch next year of a luxury saloon, code-named Project D1. The Concept D was first shown at the Frankfurt Show in 1999, but the first official pictures of the production car have now been revealed.
The saloon’s striking appearance is emphasised by the arrow-shaped contours of the bonnet, a low-swept chrome grille and large headlights. The rear looks equally distinctive, with LED tail-light clusters. Elegant yet purposeful, the third side window gives the car another identifying feature.
What can’t be seen from the photographs is the size of the car: at more than five metres (5055 mm) long and almost two metres (1903 mm) wide, Project D1 will confirm that a large and very serious new luxury car has arrived bearing the Volkswagen name.
A total of five engines will eventually be available in the D1, including the world’s most powerful passenger car diesel unit, a refined 5.0-litre V10 TDI, producing 313 bhp and astonishing maximum torque of 750 Nm. A completely new six speed automatic gearbox will be introduced with this power unit.
At launch, two petrol engines will be available: a 3.2-litre 241 bhp V6 and a 6.0-litre 420 bhp W12. Both are characterised by their outstanding torque curves and outputs, with the 3.2-litre producing 315 Nm and the 6.0-litre a massive 550 Nm.
The running gear
All versions of the new saloon will feature state-of-the-art 4-system pneumatic suspension with stepless, mapped electronic damper regulation. Combined with this, 4MOTION four-wheel drive will be available on some models.
The doors, boot lid, and bonnet of D1 will be made from aluminium. The doors are a technical work-of-art in themselves: using a system of laser-welded diecast aluminium, they have been manufactured to a rigidity which far exceeds any structures previously available in a road car.
In this area the car redefines air conditioning with a completely new system, the 4-Corner Climatronic. This absolutely draught-free system supplies indirect flows of air to defined zones of the interior via automatically opening and closing vents to give the desired temperature.
The interior design itself is characterised by its handcrafted feel. Hartmut WarkuÃ?, Head Designer at Volkswagen AG says: ‘Through the selection of materials and the way they are worked, the textures, and the accentuated design, we have achieved a new balance between progressive and luxurious flair.’
However, Volkswagen has avoided cluttering the interior with controls. All technical equipment available to the driver and passengers remains logical, with technology for the benefit of the customer the supreme development objective.
As a result, the functions of the new information and entertainment centre with a seven inch colour display in the centre console are clear for the user. Depending on equipment specification, these include an audio system with six-disc CD autochanger and concert hall sound, navigation system, TV, on-board computer, telephone and air conditioning. The system combines the highest technical standards with simplicity of use. The interior has a luxury expected in its class and sets new standards for space in a range of dimensions for the front and rear occupants.
The safety features
The highest level of passive safety is built in as standard. This includes, for instance, Xenon headlights with a completely new headlight washer system, a ‘coming home function’ to illuminate the surrounding area using the headlights, rear lights, and two additional lights in the exterior mirrors, front airbags, side airbags in the front and rear, and window airbags.
The name of the Volkswagen\'s new luxury class car will be announced at the opening ceremony of the Transparent Factory in Dresden towards the end of this year. Volkswagen is investing around 365 million DM in this location. When production has started, just over 800 people will be employed in Dresden to produce up to 100 cars per day.
Project D1 will be on display at the Geneva Motor Show in spring 2002, and UK sales are forecast to begin in the later part of that year.