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‘The best engineered failure in motoring history’

1 year ago

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Peter Robinson | Journalist


27 March 2023

Volkswagen – the People’s Car – had remained true to this humble philosophy throughout its existence. Until 1997, at least, and the arrival of the first of a series of W12 concept supercars, which didn’t look much like cars of the people at all.

Few thought VW boss Ferdinand Piëch was serious about taking on Ferrari with a W12, but Piëch, being Piëch, was deadly serious. He remained that way until VW gained control of Lamborghini in 1998, after which the chances of the beautiful Giugiaro-styled supercar making production rapidly waned. But two years later came another VW concept, taking the People’s Car into another sector it had never before dreamed of entering. This was the Concept D luxury liftback, and Piëch was not going to be dissuaded from pushing this one through to production.

At its unveiling during the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show, VW made no secret that this large – over five metres long – hatchback was the precursor to a new luxury saloon aimed directly at the Mercedes S-Class. So, no flash-in-the-pan concept, but a near wholly realistic prototype of the limousine VW planned to launch in 2002.

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