Diesel Hatchback Weekend Edition: Volkswagen Auto 2000

Continuing with diesel hatches and Volkswagens, it must be noted that VW did see the future quite clearly in the early 1980s. They envisioned a diesel hatchback of the turn of the millennium, and sort of designed the late-’80s Passat while they were at it.
The 1981 Volkswagen Auto 2000 concept was an interesting-looking three-door hatchback, that looked a lot like the forthcoming new Passat.

The 750kg Auto 2000 was powered by a three-cylinder diesel engine, and it was built on a Golf platform. Along with the thrifty powerplant, the lightweight construction and formidable aerodynamics enabled it to reach 60 mpg, or under 4l/100km.
Inside, it was a combination of austerity and fax machine resembling details.
Currently, the Auto 2000 prototype resides in a pavilion at Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsburg. It feels like the only thing Volkswagen didn’t get right was the three-door bodyshell, as five doors would have been even closer to what 2000s customers would have gone for most of the time.


  1. I remember car magazines saying at the time that this concept was revealed that it was a prediction of the second-generation Golf/Rabbit. Sadly, this was not the case. Not that the 1983 Golf was ugly, but it looked bland compared to the VW 2000.

    1. On the other hand, a diesel 2000 Passat was able to break 60mpg highway on the Euro cycle, despite weighing about twice that, and having a larger engine, so progress wasn’t all bad.

  2. That tail end also heavily suggests the 2nd gen Scirocco that’d come out later that year – any chance those would actually be the same taillights?

    1. It doesn’t look like it though there are similarities. The Scirocco taillights wrap around the corner.

      1. We had one as a family car after reunification. Drove 4000km to Portugal with it, among other things. Sitting in the heat, drinking 40°C orange juice for days on end killed the Scirocco for me, forever.

  3. As a boy, I had a book about the future of cars heavily featuring this. You know, elevated highways and glasstowers kind of future, colourful drawings. Never knew they made one “in the metal”. Great specials this weekend…

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