Convertible cars are still in the automotive manufacturers’ spotlight. Above all, in the small and compact car sector, Retractable Hardtops (RHT) have the advantage. Meanwhile, with the Volkswagen Polo at this year’s IAA, Karmann is presenting a soft top convertible, that is setting new standards concerning safety, comfort and flexibility in roof construction: A soft top with a glass sliding roof, an illuminated internal headliner, foldable back seats and a wide-opening tailgate are the highlights.
The principal feature of the innovative flexibility incorporated in this convertible is the Cabrio Overhead Protection System (COPS). The rollover bar does more than just provide occupants with highly effective protection in the event of the car rolling over. COPS means the manufacturers have also been able to get rid of cumbersome body structures with their rigid rear bench seats and small tailgates which have prevented the seats from being folded down in the past. The soft top with z-folding fabric roof comes without soft top box lid and linkage flaps. The top of the roof replaces the soft top cover. The soft top is optimized by the largest possible interior. A deep trunk sill and in particular the innovative rear window mechanism create an unusually large trunk area opening.
To open the tailgate, the window is raised slightly and slides upwards over the fabric cover. The trunk opening aperture thereby gains an additional 30 cm. To close the trunk area, a roller blind lowers automatically and shields the hood area from prying eyes. At the same time, the roller blind also serves as a variable soft top stow. Furthermore, the rear window acts as an additional trunk area opening for small objects. Light pressure on the lower part of the VW logo opens the 30 cm high window independently from the tailgate.
Flexible storage options for large items of luggage or bulky objects is possible thanks to COPS. The modular roll bar system with a U-shaped bracket creates a generous trunk opening aperture. Compared with conventional solutions, weight is reduced. The rear seating position can be unlocked and folded down. The headrests are secured to the roll bar and tilt to prevent them from interfering with the seat-folding action. The convertible’s trunk area can be used almost as flexible as a standard passenger car model. The trunk area capacity is 148 liters with the soft top open and 304 liters with the roof closed. The convertible’s trunk area is therefore 34 liters bigger than the one of the standard model.
Seating comfort and easy access
The removal of bulky frame structures also increases the seating comfort in the rear. In order to facilitate access to the rear seats for the passengers, the concept vehicle is equipped with the “Easy Entry“ function and the rear windows open automatically when entering and leaving the car.
Compared with the standard vehicle, the Karmann engineers have completely overhauled the car bodyshell. The rear has been lengthened by approximately 130 mm. The convertible Polo has also grown by 40 mm in width. The youthful and sporty appearance of the VW Polo convertible has been topped off by design details in the front and rear sections such as the centrally-positioned double exhaust.
“The fabric cover has real advantages compared to the fixed folding roofs,” says Peter Harbig, Chairman of the Board of Management. Less weight means less fuel consumption. The reduced space requirements for cover storage means there is a greater trunk volume. The soft top also leaves considerably more room for new designs. Harbig: „We are looking forward to seeing the public’s reaction in Frankfurt.“
Alongside Karmann, Yokohama tires with the product Parada 215/40 R17 and OZ Germany with the product Michelangelo 10 / 7.5) have been actively participating in the development of the concept vehicle.