• May 3rd 2006 at 1:01PM
  • 37

Volkswagen's shocking GX3, the California penned roadster-cum-motorcycle that rocked the Los Angeles Auto Show is likely to shake up the North American car market like few vehicles have in recent years -- provided it's a success. Many other world markets have a goodly number of oddball, small volume vehicles like the GX3 -- Britain and Japan come immediately to mind. But in the U.S., unorthodox offerings have largely been confined to the margins of the market, fringe bets by fringe players. VW's GX3 has the potential to turn that convention on its head.

But if it sees production (as it looks as if it will), the automaker may pick an equally unconventional manner in which to launch the trick trike -- a "junior brand" legally separated from the parent company. According to Automobile Magazine, there are those within the VW fold who "... have concerns about handling, roadholding, and controlability and who question the appeal of the vehicle to U.S. buyers." This has a few around Autoblog Towers thinking that VW is fearful of America's reputation as a sue-happy, litigious people. Given the GX3's minimalist ethos (which brooms such items as air bags, a windshield or electronic aids), this could be a legitimate worry, even if the GX3 is legally classified as a motorcycle. Rumored suspension and steering fiddling by Lotus may go a long way towards convincing sportscar and bike buffs, but the British legend's involvement is unlikely to sway the company's hardnosed legal teams.

If the GX3 is green-lighted, Volkswagen sees the potential for 10,000 units/year and could have examples in dealerships late next year. Of course, it remains to be seen whose flag is flying out front.

Our thoughts? Provided the GX3 is as good as it has the potential to be, our advice to Bernhard's boys is: "If you build it, they will come."

[Source: Automobile Magazine; Volkswagen]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      In the end buyers will ask themselves if they'd rather have pure toy for $15K-$20K or a full-featured convertible (MX-5, Solstice) for just a few thousand more. For $20K I'd likely pick the MX-5, but at $12K-$15K this makes more sense. It's actually competition for cruiser/sportbike market. Only a motorcycle fan would dare commute in a car like this.

      The finances of buying a toy are rather like the Jeep vs. ATV or power boat vs. personal watercraft decision. The smaller versions seem to do well because they undercut the price of the larger ones by at least 50%.

      [Also, the market is limited because those with the money are likely to pick a 4 wheeled Lotus Elise, Caterham 7, or Ariel Atom over this.]
      • 9 Years Ago
      Short of duct tapeing a JATO bottle to a BigWheel and sending it down I-95 I can't think of a more insane vehicle for the street. This from a Guy who owned a Texas sreetlegal Lotus 11 Westfield for a couple of years. When the highest point on the car is 3 foot tall and your combing your hair in a Escalade's hubcap at stoplights don't plan on ANYONE seeing you and if they do it's worse..They head right for you...
      Gordon Polson
      • 9 Years Ago
      I would buy one but only if the price was held within reason. I would like to drive a Smart car too, but with a price range of $22K to $28K it is just ridiculous. I don't see how they can justify a price like that, considering European prices. Keep the price down and I am willing to bet they will fly off the shelves.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Here are the most reliable specs to date:

      Weight: 1255 lbs. (give or take +/- 10 lbs.)
      1.6L four
      0-60: Under 5.7secs.
      Top speed: 125mph
      Economy: 40+mpg (estimated)
      Official price target is: $17K
      • 9 Years Ago
      Stop comparing this to a T-Rex. A Ferrari and a Ford Focus both have four wheels and a roof but they don't get compared. And for the nay-sayers regarding safety - STOP IT. Motorcycles aren't safe and according to the DOT this is a motorcycle. Let those who want it buy it.
      david e holmes jr
      • 9 Years Ago
      this vehichle needs a windshield and a weatherproof canopy ie slideback and with disclaimers it will sell in the US. I would have bought a motercycle years ago if not for the safety issues this vehicle seems to already have.
      Robb Breading
      • 9 Years Ago
      Love the vehicle, hate the price. $20K? No. $8k, hell yeah
      • 9 Years Ago
      $5499 for a Honda Big Ruckus?

      Or about $17000 for a GX3?

      It's a no-brainer. The GX3 doesn't fit my current needs, but for many commuters it would be perfect. (Easy pass to the HOV lanes)

      I'm glad someone is thinking outside the box. Too bad GM didn't start doing it 30+ years ago.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I really do hope this does make production - seems like a genuinely unique car. And the prospect of having a seperate brand for the car seems well-founded, it's certainly not a 'normal' VW and should be marketed as such.

      I'd love to see this seperate brand get up - with a model range of the GX3 and the EcoRacer Concept shown in Tokyo last year.
      • 9 Years Ago
      If they sell them in Wisconsin I WILL BUY ONE, without a question. I have my luxury car, my work car, now I just need the autocross and track day, and all around shocker type of car to own. :) Just imagine pulling up at a gas station. ;)
      • 9 Years Ago
      I'd drive one in a heartbeat, but I might like a windshield. I just hate "helmet hair," the sole bummer of riding a motorcycle.
      • 9 Years Ago
      LOL, looking at those specs... so much for GBH's Z06-bashing fantasies. Not bad for $17K though. I'd still prefer to drop ~$50K on a 300HP Atom though, and have a lot more fun at the track, thanks.
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