The Quantum was made to be Volkswagen Dasher’s successor, but its introduction broke no fresh ground nor indicated a beginning of a new line or model. It was basically a 2nd-generation Passat that was marketed in the U.S. as the Volkswagen Quantum and offered in three-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and wagon models. According to the Car and Driver magazine, the Quantum seemed to be aimed at the buyers of GM’s J-car and X-cars as well as Chrysler’s K-cars. The magazine also said that it was slotted in the middle of the budding group of front-drive family sedans, which included the Audi 4000, Nissan Stanza, Honda Accord, and Renault 18i.
1982: Quantum’s introduction in the market
Introduced in 1982, the first Quantum to arrive in the market rode on a 100.4-inch wheelbase and was fitted with a longitudinally mounted engine that was sourced from Audi/VW SOHC four family of powertrains. But the first Volkswagen Quantum failed to draw much interest, so Volkswagen wasted no time. A year after the Quantum’s release, the automaker offered a turbocharged diesel as an option.
1983: The Quantum GL5 sedan
In mid-1983, Volkswagen offered something to those who were seeking for a hunch of performance with the launching of the Quantum GL5 sedan and wagon that shared the same five-cylinder engine with the Audi 5000. This drivetrain was able to displace 2.1 liters and crank out 100 hp. While that doesn’t sound much of a power, during that time, this was Volkswagen’s most powerful engine to be fitted on a car sold in the U.S.
Because of weak sales, Volkswagen decided to axe the three-door Quantum coupe from its 1984 line up. The rest of the vehicles in the lineup were carried over from the previous year. For 1985, the five-cylinder engine’s displacement was increased to 2.2 liters, therefore boosting its output to 110 hp. However, only the sedan was fitted with the five-cylinder; the wagon still carried the four under its hood.
1986: Syncro—Quantum’s all-wheel-drive version
For the 1986 model year, the Volkswagen Quantum wagon was dropped, leaving the sedan the only Quantum model to be offered in North American market. But in mid 1986, Volkswagen released an all-wheel drive version and named it Syncro. This model was basically a rebranded Audi Quattro AWD system. In 1987, VW brought the wagon back with the five-cylinder engine and offered it with Syncro system.
1988: The last year for Volkswagen Quantum
Nothing much changed for Quantum’s final year in the market, except for the retuned engine that was able to produce 115 hp. However, that retuning still wasn’t enough to make people want to buy the car. The low sales lead to Quantum’s demise after the 1988 model year.