Volkswagen is starting the new year by presenting an affordable, uncommonly economical and highly agile mid-engine roadster. Its name: Concept BlueSport. Fuel consumption is claimed to be an average of 42mpg combined, Highway is closer to 50mpg).
Behind the front seats is an exclusively charged TDI or TSI engine that delivers dynamics - these are high-tech engines that consume little. In the case of the Concept BlueSport version being presented in the USA, it's a 180hp
Clean Diesel (TDI) with common rail injection and downstream NOx storage catalytic converter. At a low 1,750rpm the 2.0 liter turbo-diesel develops its maximum torque of 260 lb-ft.
A six-speed dual-clutch transmission - the most economical and agile transmission in the world - transfers power to the rear wheels. It is shifted either automatically or via shift paddles on the steering wheel. In just 6.2sec the sportscar is moving at a speed of 60mph; its top speed is 140mph.
Volkswagen defined just two objectives in the car's development: maximum driving fun and minimal fuel consumption. And so a mid-engine sportscar was implemented that makes no compromises, that aims at low weight and maximum agility right from the start.
Although it boasts a rigid structure, the Concept BlueSport weighs in at less than 2645 lb. The results are performance that's impressive for everyday situations, in addition to the cited fuel economy and emissions.
Low weight was attained by consistent application of lightweight construction methods (among other things, the soft top - at 60 lb - is the lightest in its class, and the hoods are made of aluminum), and compact dimensions.
Despite all of the sportscar fascination, it still offers a respectable level of utility. In the cargo area under the front hood, for example, the Concept BlueSport can stow 112 liters of luggage; the rear trunk can handle an additional 70 liters of cargo volume.
Also extended is the distance between fuel fill ups. With a fuel tank volume of 50 liters and the noted fuel economy of 42mpg, the theoretical range is greater than 710 miles.
Making a positive impact on the car's range, fuel economy and emissions are two technologies that could become commonplace in the future and are part of the Eco mode on the Concept BlueSport: an automatic start-stop system and braking energy regeneration. The place where automatic start-stop shines is in city traffic. When the Concept BlueSport stops at a traffic light, for example, it automatically shuts off its engine. As soon as the light turns green again, just tapping on the gas pedal is enough to start the engine. Its entire operation is absolutely intuitive and saves up to 0.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers in the city.
Furthermore, when the brakes are applied, energy is generated by the alternator (regeneration), which relieves the engine and further improves fuel economy.
The Concept BlueSport - painted in Flex Silver and sporting an orange fabric roof - was designed by the team led by Klaus Bischoff (Director of Design for the Volkswagen Brand) and Thomas Ingenlath (Director of the Design Center in Potsdam). "The design," says Klaus Bischoff, "represents a perfect synthesis of technology and aesthetics. Its form is very clear and is reduced to essentials; the car body itself has a lean and linear structure."
The proportions of the Concept BlueSport give it an exceptionally powerful and impressive appearance. Besides its low height of 50", the car's image is shaped by the wheelbase (96") appearing to be large compared to the car's overall length of about 157", and the track width is large relative to the car's width (69").
In its dimensions, the powerfully styled body of the Concept BlueSport is significantly shorter and flatter than that of the new VW Scirocco, yet it is longer and a lot wider than the current Polo, for example. And with precisely these proportions, the roadster makes an especially powerful impression on its custom designed 19" wheels.
The interior of the sportscar exhibits a high level of aesthetics. Immediately eye-catching is the touchscreen in the style of its counterpart in the Volkswagen Up! concept car. It is located on the imaginary transmission tunnel. All information and entertainment functions are controlled from this touchscreen. In front of it "where a gearshift lever would be - there is now a multifunction wheel that is used to operate the dual-clutch transmission.
Above the touchscreen are the three large control dials for the dual- zone climate control system. They are located on a cockpit section traversed by vertical slats. These slats simultaneously serve as both air vents and style features. When the control dials of the climate control are turned to the left, in the "colder" direction, the control unit's display becomes increasingly more blue; when higher temperatures are set the display turns "reddish".
Visually similar to the climate controls is the light switch located to the left of the steering wheel. In terms of color, the orange of the convertible top is repeated in the basic illumination of the cockpit switches. The designers also redesigned the large round instruments and the multifunctional steering wheel. It is equipped with keys for controlling the audio system, telephone, on-board computer and dual-clutch transmission.
Perfectly adapted to the interior are the lightweight, leather-upholstered sport seats with their one-piece seatbacks. Behind the integrated head restraints with embossed VW logo is the Concept BlueSport's roll bar. Directly behind this is the opened convertible top; the soft top is actuated manually here. Thanks to a classic Z-fold and low weight, this can be done in a matter of seconds.