If VW’s senior management is waiting for an impressed buying public to glow about its latest concept car, the BlueSport roadster, before it commits to making it, can I be the first to say ‘yes please?’
Remember the EcoRacer concept? This was the last lightweight two-seater VW made, an 850kg part carbonfibre creation powered by a 134bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine. It was bright orange and not very pretty. But that didn’t matter because, despite the fact that it was capable of 80mpg, it felt every bit as agile and fun to throw around as the best mid-engined sportsters.
Truth be told, VW quoted even better performance stats for the EcoRacer than it has for the Concept BlueSport.
I spent a very happy few moments at VW’s German test facility, Ehra Lessien, threading this one-off concept between cones, marvelling at the willingness of its little diesel engine and the sophistication of its DSG transmission.
Largely because Lotus’ Elise occupies that unique position in the market, you assume there must be something innately difficult about building small mid-engined cars that really handle; that attempts by the likes of VW must therefore be decidedly second rate.
Toyota’s second-generation MR2 was, after all, eyebrow-raisingly willing to spin. But the EcoRacer certainly wasn’t. It was an utterly benign, thoroughly charming and genuinely peppy little car.
Driving it left me wondering what good reason VW could possibly find not to put the car, or one like it, straight into production. Evidently they found one. But now that VW’s having another crack at the mid-engined market, I sincerely hope they can make the business case add up.
One of these VW roadsters powered by a twincharger 1.4 could be light enough to feel like an Elise, but also torquey and more driveable than the Lotus; more reminiscent of a Vauxhall VX220, perhaps. If it handles like the EcoRacer it could push the Lotus pretty hard in terms of grip and outright dynamic brilliance too.
The stage is set then; over to you, Wolfsburg.