Lightweight, eco-friendly roadster and coupe; concept will be seen at LA show.
21 July 2008

Volkswagen has resurrected plans for an affordable, mid-engined coupe and roadster as part of an image building campaign as it sets about fulfilling its ambitious target of selling over five million cars a year by 2018.

According to Volkswagen chairman, Martin Winterkorn, the company is planning to unveil a concept version of a lightweight two-seater at the LA motor show in November. If reaction is positive enough then the new car, which has been styled under the leadership of Walter da Silva, could be in showrooms as early as 2011.

“We are working on a mid-engined concept for the Los Angeles motor show,” a senior source revealed to Autocar, “It is the fifth time in as many years that we have created such a car but this time, more than any other, the signs are looking good that we will get a production green light.”

The new Volkswagen roadster is described as being a cut-priced alternative to the Lotus Elise, designed to be stylish and lightweight while offering genuine performance and class-leading fuel economy.

Power will come from mid-mounted four-cylinder petrol engines, with Volkswagen’s 168bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and a new 125bhp 1.6-litre TDI common-rail diesel both being considered for use. Drive will be supplied to the rear wheels by a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

Anticipate a production version weighing in at under 1000kg, and being capable of combining Golf GTI levels of performance – 0-62mph in just under 7 seconds – with economy to rival a diesel Polo –about 63mpg combined.

The car will likely be built around an aluminium spaceframe, using the expertese of VW’s daughter company Audi. This link is driving specualtion that there may be an Audi version of the car, a so-called R4. Rumours of this car have existed for almost two years, despite official denials out of Ingolstadt. It would have different styling to the Volkswagen version and would likely run more powerful four-cylinder engines than the VW derivative, with Audi’s new ‘EA888’ based 211bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine and an upcoming 204bhp twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI common rail diesel highly tipped.

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In a further development, Volkswagen majority shareholder Porsche is said to have shown interest in the new project, opening the way for a possible resurrection of the 914.

Volkswagen first hinted to plans for a mid-engined coupe and roadster with the Concept R back at the Frankfurt motor show in 2003. It was followed up by the spartan Eco Racer (a R&D exercise rather than a fully fledged design concept) wheeled out at the Tokyo motor show in 2005.

According to Volkswagen insiders, two more mid-engined concepts were created but never revealed to the public. If the car is given a green light it could be assembled by Volkswagen’s long-term partner, Karmann, in Germany.

Greg Kable

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21 July 2008

One can only assume that Porsche will move these two models upmarket in terms of performance and price. If Audi also introduce an R4 model that middle sector for sports cars is going to start looking awfully crowded...

21 July 2008

Yeahhhh, what ever they recon!

Lets face it the only similarity it will share with the Elise will be the fact it is made from aluminium and its mid engined. By the time VW have finished with it, it will be safe and boring. It will have numb steering and an oh so desperately practical interior.

The only one of the three potential VW / Audi / Porsche trio that will be any good will be the Porsche version provided its not just badge engineered.

Porsche will also have to tread carefully. The 914 is not really remembered as one of their better works as it is. What's next, a 2.0 TDi or TFSi engined 911 to remember the 912 of years past! A Sirroco re-badged as a 944. Please no! Stop this madness.

What it will lack is the purity, the fun, the zest that makes the Elise what it is. I don't think Lotus should worry yet.



It's all about the twisties........

21 July 2008

Vauxhall building an "Elise" sounded improbable, but the VX220 didn't turn out too badly.

22 July 2008

[quote Apex Twin]

Vauxhall building an "Elise" sounded improbable, but the VX220 didn't turn out too badly.


That because it WAS an elise! - all vauxhall really did was change the engine and bodyshell design!

I agree that VW seem to have a habit of making all their cars dull and boring so as not to risk offending or upsetting anyone. Whats the betting Porsche will make sure this is the case anyway to stop its own sales been affected.

22 July 2008

I'm pleased to hear that VW are developing a 1.6 diesel, which would no doubt go into other models. All the aged 1.9 has to offer is infrequent servicing, so a more powerful smaller engine seems to be a sensible choice - just like Peugeot/Ford/BMW, Renault's excellent 1.5 dCi and the new Fiat 1.6 Multijet.

As for the car, it does seem to be "oh, we don't make one of those yet, so perhaps we should". It would be good it it costs £13k and is relativly practical - but not an Elise competitor.

22 July 2008

If VW make a roadster that can get you to the end of your street without having to call the AA, that would make it better than an Elise.


I'm The Ωmega Man, always talking to myself

22 July 2008

Probably be front engined and front wheel drive within six months due to stability issues perhaps?

4 April 2014
but it will never be as cool as the fiat 500


ts converter

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