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First look: Chop-top Golf tees off

Two-in-one: The VW Concept C is both a coupe and convertible, Benz SLK-style.

VW’s Concept C is a preview of the new Golf/Passat-based convertible

2 Mar 2004

VOLKSWAGEN has unveiled a lightly disguised version of its Golf Cabriolet replacement.

Dubbed Concept C, the four-seater drop top features a retractable steel roof in the vein of the Peugeot 307 CC and Renault Megane CC.

The production version may be shown as early as September, at the Paris motor show. Australian sales would most likely follow later in 2005.

But despite its similarity to the French fresh-air seekers, VW is expected to base the productionised Concept C on the all-new front-wheel drive Passat platform that’s also due to debut this year at Paris.

It is believed the next Passat will sit on a stretched version of the new Golf V platform that also underpins the upcoming Audi A3 Mk2, amongst other VW Group products.

Like the show car, the Golf/Passat hybrid Concept C features its own unique body panels, which are reminiscent of the Concept R two-seat convertible first shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

It all points to a car that has grown substantially from the model it effectively replaces in VW’s model line-up, the Golf Cabriolet.

VW says the Concept C is 1.81 metres wide, 1.43m high and 4.41m long, describing it as “a fully-fledged four-seater.” Today’s Passat is 1.74 metres wide, 1.46m high and 4.7m long.

The Concept C also features a world-first sliding glass sunroof within the five-part retractable roof.

Boot space – the bane of all current folding roof mechanisms – is halved from the 400 litres available when the turret is up. A ski hatch allows cabin access for longer items.

Power comes courtesy of VW’s 110kW 2.0-litre FSI four-cylinder engine. Production models are likely to include V6 engines up to 3.2-litres in capacity, as well as VW/Audi’s acclaimed DSG dual clutch gearbox.

While it is too early to accurately speculate how much the Concept C will cost, expect it to easily exceed the old Golf Cabriolet’s $52,990 price tag, but also sit under the Saab 9-3 Convertible’s $72,900-plus ask.

Despite being late to the coupe-convertible club, VW is a pioneer of relatively affordable four-seater drop-tops.

German coachbuilders Karmann produced a convertible Beetle from the early 1950s until the late ‘70s, when the original Golf-based Cabriolet took over. We first saw that model in 1990.

The second Golf Cabriolet was the Mk3-based version released here in early 1995. That was discontinued during 2003, when the Mexican-made New Beetle Cabriolet replaced it.

The existence of that car has allowed VW to move up a size (and price) segment with the Concept C-derived model.

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