Volkswagen builds diesel-powered Elise
11 January 2009

Volkswagen has unveiled this mid-engined two-seat roadster concept at this week’s Detroit show. It’s the latest step in the firm’s long-running flirtation with a Lotus Elise rival.

Powered by a transversely mounted 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, the VW Concept BlueSport is a sports car designed with current emissions and budget-sensitive times firmly in mind.

With a kerb weight of less than 1200kg, the roadster has been conceived to appeal to keen drivers. It’s capable of cracking 62mph from rest in 6.6sec and hitting 140mph flat out.

And yet, thanks to its advanced diesel powertrain and modest weight, the car should also be capable of around 50mpg on the combined cycle and better than 60mpg while touring.

>> Read Chas Hallett's blog on the VW Concept BlueSport

Exhaust emissions should be modest and clean too, with VW’s Blue TDI technology bringing CO2 emissions down to just 113g/km. It should keep NOx and particulates emissions low too.

At just under four metres in length, the VW Concept BlueSport is a little longer than a Lotus Elise, but within centimetres of the British roadster’s width and height. Its diesel engine provides 178bhp and 258lb ft of torque.

The VW Concept BlueSport is fitted with a six-speed DSG gearbox and both auto stop-start and brake energy regeneration, which will also be fitted to the BlueMotion version of the latest Golf. Lightweight construction and aluminium panels contribute to the BlueSport’s low kerb weight.

As is still the norm for roadsters at the affordable end of the market, the BlueSport has a manually operated cloth roof that stows behind the seats.

VW claims that, with 112 litres of storage space in its nose and another 70 in the rear, the car can swallow a weekend’s worth of luggage. Boosting its touring credentials is a 50-litre fuel tank, which gives the car a range of more than 700 miles.

The BlueSport is VW’s third roadster concept since 2003. Insiders suggest that the car has “a very strong chance” of appearing in VW showrooms within three years, as it is a more mainstream proposal than its predecessors.

“The feeling within the company towards this car is very good,” one source said, “and the platform and materials are production-feasible too.”

Expect VW’s Elise rival to have a price tag of less than £25,000, powered by a choice of 2.0 TDI diesel or 1.4-litre TSI petrol power. And don’t be surprised if other VW Group brands spin off their own versions.

Matt Saunders

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