2004 VW Concept C

A cabriolet-coupé of exceptional dimension

Taking a whole new approach. What makes this automobile so distinctive is its design, the base technology used and its dimensions. The progressive look of the concept C, with its "Pure Essence” metallic finish, takes the fascinating form first used on the concept R roadster design study, with all deviating contours having been subjected to intriguingly new design ideas. The same is true of the technology used: the concept C features an array of newly developed components.

These components enable a new interplay of vehicle dimensions. The concept C has moved away from the class of cabriolet found in the A segment. Positioned in the mid-class segment, it is as much a cabriolet as it is a coupé. This automobile looks wider than any other cabriolet in the A or B segment - and it is. Because of its extreme width of 1.81 metres (1.43 m high / 4.41 m long), the concept C rests as sturdily upon its wheels as would a beefy, high-calibre sports car. A tread width of the axles is designed to accommodate future vehicle generations and helps to produce exceptional agility and reliable handling properties in the concept C. The result is pure driving pleasure - be it with the roof up or down.

The interior of this fully-fledged four seater. The vehicle's dual-tone interior offers similarly attractive dimensions and details. The upper sections of the compartment (dashboard, spandrel and the instrument panel) are a rich green (known as "Deep Storm”), with a lighter beige tone ("On Shore”) used for the seats, the upholstery and all the interior elements situated below the window rails. The inner section of the seats themselves have been given a particularly stylish touch through the contrasting stripes that run across them. Timber applications on the side panels produce an exceptionally luxurious look. The upper sections of the door panels take on the styled curve of the dashboard. And the newly developed cockpit, with its instruments set in brushed aluminium frames, ideally interprets the sporty character of the concept C. This high-quality material is also used in the design of the air outlets.

The cabriolet-coupé design study was devised as a fully-fledged four-seat vehicle, which is why it features easy-entry rear seats as well as a comfortable and ergonomic seat design for rear-compartment passengers. It goes without saying that the newly developed interior of this car features four airbags and a roll-over safety system.

Attractive market segments. With all these properties (both cabriolet- and coupe-like), with its unconventional dimensions and its claim to excellence in terms of technology and quality, a hypothetical series version of the concept C would find itself positioned in a very exciting market. In western Europe, for example, some 337,000 new cabriolets and roadsters were sold in 2003 (across all vehicle classes). The concept C is a cabriolet! Likewise in 2003, close to 240,000 coupés were sold. The concept C is a coupe! There is a good chance that these 580,000 or so cabriolet and coupé owners will eventually have a new alternative to choose from, i.e. a Volkswagen which is as visually appealing as it is technologically revolutionary, a car with more room and comfort than the derivates of the A class, yet more athletic and versatile than many of its competitors in the B segment. For, to date, the B segment has not produced a four-seat cabriolet which, like the concept C, has both a folding steel roof as well as a glass sunroof. These are comfort features normally only offered in a coupé.

The folding roof:  The most innovative cabriolet roof system in use anywhere in the world

Coupé roof, sliding sunroof and cabriolet roof. The new, five-level, electro-hydraulic hardtop system in the concept C is a multitalented, tri-functional solution: a coupé roof, a sliding sunroof and a cabriolet roof all incorporated into the one system. This type of combination, in this form, is truly unique and special.

The coupe roof: When the hardtop is up, it combines with the vehicle body to form a dynamically homogeneous profile. The benefits are obvious: wind and ambient noise levels do not exceed those of a comparable type of classic coupe, and the safety aspect also comes into play.

The sliding glass sunroof: One of the technical highlights of this hardtop system is its integrated sunroof. It is electrically controlled, sliding open at the push of a button and letting just the desired amount of fresh air and sunlight into the passenger compartment (it includes a tilted ventilation setting). This is basically a conventional sunroof, only that, in the case of the concept C, it is actually fitted into a convertible roof - a convertible roof, that is, with the added advantage of allowing light into the interior of the car event when it is up.

The cabriolet roof: The roof of the concept C is drawn open and back by way of an electro-hydraulic motor. The way in which this intelligently constructed five-part roof system tucks away out of sight is truly astonishing - both technologically and visually.

Once the lock-in mechanism is released, the sunroof retracts to the back of the vehicle (stage 1). Then the rear windscreen (including the C pillar) lifts up and glides forward (stage 2). By this time, the glass sunroof is moved underneath the rear end of the hardtop roof, forming a compact sandwich unit. The system hydraulics now fold the boot lid, to which the rear shelf is attached, all way back (stage 3). The sandwich unit then slides back and into place; only now do the roof rails release themselves from the windscreen frame (stages 4 and 5), folding into a Z shape and retracting into position. The integrated sunroof and the rear section of the hardtop roof are drawn completely back, the roof rails are led into the available cavities (and covered) adjacent to the rear side windows. Sound complicated? It is complicated. But it functions perfectly and looks great.

Because the roof rails do not move vertically, but only horizontally, and because the sandwich unit is so compact, not a lot of upward room is needed to draw the hardtop up or down, thereby allowing roof conversion to function even in low-ceilinged spaces.

Around 400 litres of stowage space and room for skis. Because the hardtop roof folds away so compactly, there is plenty of room left in the boot even when the roof is down (approx. 200 litres). When the roof is up, stowage space is increased to around 400 litres. A tunnel which passes through the rear bench and the bulkhead also enables the transportation of skis or other, similarly lengthy, items.

Design: The shape of things to come

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