I must admit that I am disappointed that the nano-sized Volkswagen Up! - the bold, rear-engined concept car cum production reality - has been altered in a most fundamental way. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn announced that the new micro-VW will not be powered by a rear-mounted engine nor will it be rear-wheel-drive. Instead of being reminiscent of the classic Beetle, the production Up! will be based on VW's modern front-engine, front-wheel-drive architecture.
Winterkorn explained that "the rear-engine layout had to be nixed due to cost constraints and the limitations it imposed on passenger space." It was also announced that the platform change would bump the car's show room debut into 2011.
What a blow to my hopes that Volkswagen was returning to its roots. It seems, however, that the change was made, in part, to keep production costs down. Let's hope that Volkswagen can make good on its promise to offer the Up! as an affordable people's car. At least, that would be in keeping with Volk's tradition, and, it should be noted, serve as a departure from the "up-marketing" philosophy that has produced failures such as the Phaeton and W8 Passat. After all, VW is for the Schmidts and BMW chasing should be left to the Audi end of the organization.