A VW spokesman said: 'At more than five metres long and almost two metres wide, Project D1 will confirm that a large and very serious new luxury car has arrived bearing the Volkswagen name.'
This is intended, above all, to frighten Mercedes-Benz. While VW would be happy to convert drivers from BMW, Jaguar and Lexus, the D1 project has been driven by a desire within VW to challenge Mercedes-Benz in its core market. If Mercedes can move into Golf territory with the A-class, then VW can move into E/S-class territory with its own luxury saloon.
The new car will, of course, be of no more than passing interest to many fleet managers - although the D1's arrival does signal that VW will soon be able to supply a full range of fleet models for the first time.
In addition to the new luxury model, VW is also developing a 4x4 sport utility vehicle with Porsche and a small minivan based on the next Golf platform.
Five engines will be available in the D1, including the world's most powerful passenger car diesel unit - a 5.0-litre V10 TDI, producing 313bhp. At launch two petrol engines will be available: a 3.2-litre 241bhp V6 and a 6.0-litre 420bhp W12. The doors, boot lid and bonnet will be made from aluminium - the doors using a system of laser-welded diecast aluminium for extreme rigidity. (November 2001)