One of Volkswagen’s truly underappreciated gems, the Corrado is the two-door coupe for anyone wanting a fantastically styled machine combined with the pinnacle of German engineering prowess.
The Volkswagen Corrado made a name for itself during the early 1990’s as one of the best handling, best performing and most reliable mid-size coupes on the market. It had a low, smooth body akin to the likes of the Audi Quattro, a small but powerful 158hp 1.7L 16V engine taking you up to 150mph, and some incredible front-wheel drive handling that would stick to whatever surface you cared to throw at it. Couple that with Volkswagen’s legendary reliability and you’ve got an absolute match made in heaven.
Sadly, however, most people forget the poor old Corrado and its fantastic abilities, this obscure crossbreed of the Golf GTi and the Passat falling into the shadow of the Mk2 Golf and the Scirocco. Their sheer reliability and the adoration of a devoted fanbase though has kept thousands on the road to this day, with dozens of pristine examples on sale for as little as £5,000. While not a real head-turner of a car and it’s impact on Volkswagen as a whole was very limited, it’s a car that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked.
When it comes to bad things about the Corrado, they are truly very limited. The most notable faults with these cars come down to issues of wear and tear. The last of these cars to leave the factory did so in 1995, so it’s only natural that after at least 23 years many of these machines would be showing their age. While minor faults are usually easy repairs, the Corrado’s main flaw comes to bear in this respect due to it being incompatible with other Volkswagen products. The Corrado was a largely unique machine when it came to its mechanics, only sourcing a few parts from the likes of the Golf, the Polo and the Passat. As such, major components are quite expensive and not easy to come by in the grand scheme of things.
The only other problems I can see with the Corrado come down to superficial concerns, such as the condition of the body; mainly the result of stone-chip damage or forlorn paintjobs in need of a respray. Of course, the usual rules apply when it comes to buying a Corrado. Check to make sure rust isn’t an issue on the body and especially the chassis as many of these cars have likely lived out on the street or in an open parking lot. The famous precision of Volkswagen build quality should be reflected in smooth and narrow panel gaps. Anything wider than your little finger and it could be the result of a botched post-accident repair.
Note also these were once popular track day cars, while others were imported second-hand from Germany early on as supply for these cars couldn’t meet the demand of the UK public. As such, cars which have seen frequent use on the track or spent their early life blasting up and down the Autobahn are likely to be showing signs of wear and stress on the engine, chassis, suspension and brakes. A test drive should reveal some of the more noticeable results of such a strained life, including poor braking, tepid acceleration and smoke from the exhaust. Upon purchase, the best thing you can do is take the car to your nearest mechanic and give the Corrado a once over, mostly for some peace of mind.
Overall though, the Corrado is a superb car and one of Volkswagen’s greatest gems. It’s a shame this car doesn’t get more recognition as it really did give the product range a buzz in the early 90’s. The reason it falls to #16 on this list comes down to its somewhat specialist nature, with spare parts both expensive and difficult to come by. It’s also a small car so anyone hoping to make it a family machine will be hard-pressed to get any practical use out of it, especially if your kids are over the age of four.
Otherwise though, the Corrado is truly a Volkswagen Golf GTi with a touch more class, and more than worthy of being a VW classic! 😀
- Comfort – 7/10 – It’s got some real comfort to it, but being a low-slung sports car has a few down sides
- Practicality – 6/10 – A useful little machine you can put to work daily, but can’t really seat more than two comfortably
- Reliability – 9/10 – It’s a Volkswagen, these cars were built to run for all eternity
- Speed – 8/10 – It’s as fast as a Porsche 944
- Handling – 10/10 – One of VW’s all time underappreciated handling gems
- Looks – 8/10 – A very serious and sporty looking machine, but angles may be offputting to some
- Equipment – 6/10 – Can be a touch spartan, but let’s not forget what it is
- Price – 8/10 – Plenty still roaming the roads, but be aware of some more careworn examples
- Value – 4/10 – Prices are low at the moment, but appreciation for this car’s fantastic features may see that turnaround in the fullness of time
- Total – 66/90 – One of the greatest and most overlooked Volkswagen products of all time.