Volkswagen brand CEO Wolfgang Bernhard has confirmed that a coupe-style four-door sedan sized between the Passat and the Phaeton will come to market. It is part of a product offensive which he promised for 2008 and beyond.

The coupe-style sedan was announced at VW's annual North American dealer meeting in Dallas, Texas. Dealers were shown a picture of the car, which they described as a coupe-like, four door sedan similar to the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

VW USA boss Len Hunt also confirmed that such a car was coming, saying it would be placed between the upper-medium Passat and the upper-premium Phaeton sedans.

The announcement comes as a surprise as a similar project called the C1 was thought to have been abandoned. Magazines had speculated the C1 would be a station wagon. But the car Bernhard showed dealers is a sedan.

"We looked at the C1 again and decided to give it another try," said a Volkswagen source in Wolfsburg.

With the new vehicle, VW is trying to move into a profitable niche that is currently filled with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Maserati Quattroporte. But the VW model will be cheaper than both of these cars.

The coupe-like sedan is one of four models Bernhard announced to US dealers.

First of the others is a convertible with a retractable hardtop to be introduced at the Frankfurt IAA this September. It will look like the Concept C concept car shown in Geneva 2004 and be sized between the Golf and the Passat. The vehicle will be named the Volkswagen Cabriolet.

Bernhard also announced to dealers a small SUV, likely based on the Golf, to compete with the Honda CR-V, and a seven-seat minivan. The minivan is an all-new vehicle which is neither identical to the Golf-based Touran nor to the current or next-generation Sharan, said VW's Hunt.

These models are part of the product offensive Bernhard announced in front of journalists and financial analysts last month.

VW will have tough times to bridge until the models arrive, he said. "The Passat Variant (station wagon) is the last of a whole series. Now there are no additional volume models ahead," he grimly told analysts. "It's all cold wind in our faces. There is nothing positive ahead."

Automotive News Europe