Fleet News

Svelte D1 could scare Mercedes-Benz

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed details of its long-awaited luxury car - codenamed Project D1 - five months before the car goes on display at next year's Geneva show. The production-ready D1 is very different from the concept D1 that appeared at the 1999 Frankfurt Show. Whereas that vehicle attracted criticism for its bulbous, eccentric styling, the production D1 features a conservative but classical design, impressive attention to detail - particularly inside - and technical highlights throughout.

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)

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