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VW brings nine models to Frankfurt

September 15, 2009 | 12:12 pm


With home-court advantage at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen has chosen this moment to showcase just how aggressive its integration into the American market will be. At the show this year there are nine relevant concepts and models, and a number of them will actually appear in U.S. dealerships (though some might not make it to the party until 2013). The company certainly knows its target audience; the selection includes alternative-fuel concepts, boy-racer dream cars and a much-anticipated three-door. Almost every one is a compact.

It's a brilliant move to highlight the small and green offerings of the line (not a whiff of the Touareg this time around), especially when America is desperate to fill the roads with more fuel-sipping, guilt-assuaging vehicles.


It's been confirmed that the Polo Three-Door will be ours next year. The car's been in production since 1975, and 2010 marks its first entry into America's marketplace. The mini hatchback (not to be confused with Mini's Coupe) has a few things going for it, not the least of which is its lack of participation in slightly terrifying ad campaigns. More importantly, its array of small displacement engines -- including a diesel option -- and low curb weight make it a fuel-sipper. Smaller than the Golf, it will slot in at the bottom of VW's lineup.

This isn't to say VW is rejecting our need for speed. In fact, it's embracing it. With a 2.0-liter TSI that produces 265 horsepower, the brand-new 2010 Golf R is the most powerful production Golf ever. All-wheel drive treatment and the addition of the DSG gearbox make it a worthy replacement to the R32. America will get to test its 5.5-second zero to 60 mph time sometime next year. 


VW's biggest news this year comes in the form of two alternative-fuel concepts. The E-Up! concept has been heralded (by VW itself) as "Beetle of the 21st Century" and is slated to arrive in 2013. It may look like a more futuristic Tata Nano, but its lithium-ion battery will provide a range of 80 miles without a recharge. For longer jaunts, VW revisited its 1L concept, now called the L1 and transformed it into a two-seater, 1000-pound Honda Insight with the styling cues of a carbon-fiber Enterprise aircraft carrier. A 1-liter TDI engine and electric motor should combine to make an estimated 170 mpg. VW is saying it will be ready for production by 2013, but will we be ready for it?

-- Alison Lakin

Alison Lakin is a staff writer at

Photos (from top): Volkswagen L1 Concept, Polo, E-Up! Concept. Credit: Volkswagen