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Concept BlueSport: Is A VW Sports Car Just Around The Corner?

Volkswagen Concept BlueSport (copyright image)

Does the Volkswagen Concept BlueSport, which debuted at the 2009 Detroit Motor Show, have a future in the expansive VW model range? Next Car's Editor suspects so!

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22nd June, 2009

This Roadster will make people long for summer and the future: the Concept BlueSport from Volkswagen, which debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in January. Characteristics: maximum dynamic performance with minimal fuel consumption. Average fuel consumption of 4.3 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres sets a record; no other sports car consumes less. And so its CO2 emissions are low too: just 113 grammes/kilometre. The VW Concept BlueSport impressively fulfills the Euro-6 standard that does not come into effect until 2014. The two-seater is still a concept, according to Volkswagen; but as a production car it could have the best talents for turning the segment of compact, genuine sports cars upside down (so to speak). That is because this roadster is sporty, sustainable and affordable all at once – a people’s car and a sports car for a new era.

Comeback of compact agility

Behind the two sport seats of the 3.99 metre long Concept BlueSport (axle load distribution: 45:55) is an exclusively boosted TDI or TSI engine that delivers dynamics – these are high-tech engines that consume little yet deliver a lot. In the first prototype, it is a 132 kW strong Clean Diesel (TDI) with common rail injection and downstream NOx storage catalytic converter. At a low 1,750 rpm – right from the engine speed ‘cellar’ – the 2.0 litre turbo engine develops its maximum torque of 350 Newton-metres. A 6 speed dual clutch transmission – the most economical and agile transmission system in the world – transfers this power to the rear wheels. It is shifted either automatically or via shift paddles on the steering wheel. In just 6.6 seconds the sports car is moving at a speed of 100 km/h; its top speed is 226 km/h. These are the key parameters of a new and yet classic sports car philosophy. The Concept BlueSport may evolve into a car that is a lot of fun to drive and at the same time makes an unmistakable statement about sustainability.

Concept without compromises

Volkswagen set just two objectives in the car’s development: maximum driving fun and minimal fuel consumption. And so a mid-engine sports car was implemented that makes no compromises, and that aims at low weight and maximum agility right from the start. Although it is best-in-class when it comes to body rigidity, the Concept BlueSport weighs in at less than 1,200 kilogrammes. The results: performance that is exceedingly impressive in all of life’s situations, complemented by the fuel economy and emissions advantages. Low weight was attained by consistent application of light weight construction methods (among other things, the soft top – at 27 kilogrammes – is the lightest in its class) and by a body layout with succinctly compact dimensions.

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Despite all of the sports car fascination it packs on board, it still offers a respectable level of everyday utility. In the cargo area under the bonnet, for example, the Concept BlueSport can stow 112 litres of luggage; its counterpart in the rear can take an additional 70 litres of cargo. Altogether that makes 182 litres – enough for working documents or an extended weekend trip for two. Also extended, by the way, are the distances between any two fuel fill-ups. With a fuel tank volume of 50 litres and the noted fuel economy of 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers, the car’s theoretical range is greater than 1,150 kilometres.

Two technologies already being used in the latest so-called Volkswagen BlueMotion models are making a positive impact on the Concept BlueSport’s range, fuel economy and emissions as part of the so-called Eco mode: an automatic start-stop system and braking energy regeneration. The place where automatic start-stop shines is in city driving. When the Concept BlueSport stops in traffic, for example, it automatically shuts off its engine. As soon as the driver taps on the accelerator the engine start-up automatically. Its operation is fully intuitive and saves up to 0.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in the city. Furthermore, energy is generated by the alternator (regeneration) and stored in the vehicle battery primarily when the Concept BlueSport is braked, and this relieves the engine to further improve fuel economy.

Design without gimmickry

The Concept BlueSport – painted in Flex Silver painted and featuring an orange coloured fabric roof – was designed by a team led by Klaus Bischoff (Director of Design for the Volkswagen Brand) and Thomas Ingenlath (Director of the Design Centre in Potsdam). “The design of the Concept BlueSport,” 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.” Thomas Ingenlath adds: “Emanating powerfully from this car body are the circular wheel housings, flared out in three dimensions as on a sculpture. The radial surfaces, edges and blending of forms emphasise the wheels and thereby the agility of the BlueSport concept car. The lateral air intakes are identifying features of the mid-engine layout, and their volume-redu­cing styling offers visualisation of the car’s sporty low weight.”

Powerful proportions

The proportions of the Volkswagen Concept BlueSport give it an exceptionally powerful and impressive appearance. Along with its low height of 1.26 metres, the car’s image is shaped by the fact that the wheelbase (2.43 metres) appears large in proportion to the car’s overall length of about four metres, and its ample track widths are large relative to the car’s width (1.75 metres). In front, the sports car exhibits a track of 1.49 metres; in the rear it is 1.52 metres. In the sum of its dimensions, first of all, the powerfully styled body of the Concept BlueSport is clearly much shorter and even lower to the ground than that of a car like the VW Scirocco, yet it appears longer and a lot wider than the small VW Fox, for example. And it is precisely these proportions that the compact roadster uses to make an especially powerful statement on its custom designed 19-inch alloy spoke wheels.

Front-end design

In front, the Concept BlueSport is characterised by a new Volkswagen de­sign language that was first introduced on the Scirocco and the new Golf. It is based on a ‘design DNA’ that will shape all new Volkswagens. This design DNA was developed by Walter de Silva (Director of Design for the Volkswagen Group), Flavio Manzoni (Director of Creative Design for Volkswagen AG) and Klaus Bischoff. On the one hand, it preserves historical elements, but on the other it represents a re-interpretation of Volkswagen de­sign. Familiar elements on the new Polo, Golf and Scirocco are the dominant dual horizontal lines formed by the narrow radiator grille and the painted bumper. In the lower area, large air intakes in black extend across the entire vehicle width, and integrated in them – under translucent, dark-tinted plastic covers – are the LED flashers.

Meanwhile, the car’s interpretation of individual features shows just how these style elements can be implemented in a broad the range of vehicles. Consider the headlights and taillights: Although the Concept BlueSport with its bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights is identifiable as a contemporary Volkswagen, it is still extremely independent. The roadster look is evident in details such as the daytime running lights designed as a narrow, C-shaped light strip (in the main headlamp housing) and – in the style of high-performance sports cars – the distinct outward flare of the guards whose shapes are charged with energy.

Thomas Ingenlath, lead project designer for the BlueSport concept car, sums it up this way: “The concept car looks into the viewer’s eyes with a powerful, masterful look; everything is clear and precise. Standing here is an agile 'athlete' displaying strength without an aggressive attitude.”

A systematic approach was applied to everything here, as emphasised by Flavio Manzoni: “Unique, simple, universal – that is the authentic spirit of Volkswagen: clear design features in a complex world – this is the philosophy that currently guides Volkswagen design. These are cars like the Up! and Space Up! concept cars or the Scirocco and Golf, which reflect the concept of aesthetic clarity without compromise. And we are now carrying this forward with the Concept BlueSport.”

Rear end

This approach is evident at first glance in the rear of the car. Lines emanating from the contour of the rear guard frame a shoulder section that would be hard to imagine with greater dynamism or clarity. In the centre, there is a large stripe painted in the car colour, and in the upper section a narrow black line defining the border between the bumper and the engine or rear deck lid. Prominent on this line, which also joins the taillights, is the VW logo. The taillights were intentionally styled to be similar to the headlights in their form. Inside, both lights have a C-shaped LED component that radiates far and extremely brightly into the night with each brake actuation. The third brake light was integrated in the rear deck lid, above the VW logo.

In the lower section, a horizontal surface in black is the defining visual element; the tailpipes are located at its outboard edges – right next to the contour of the guard lines. A surface in the car colour formed by the guard and wheel housing panels on the car’s side defines the end of the bumper. At its centre, the bumper has an area that is aerodynamically styled as a diffuser.

Side profile

On its sides, once again it is the circular shapes of the wheel housings and outer guard edges – typical of Volkswagen – that are part of the clear, precise, powerful and highly aesthetic line work. In addition, extremely short overhangs define the styling of the car’s side profile. Moreover, the ten-spoke alloy wheels with tyre sizes 235/35 ZR19 (front) and 245/35 ZR19 (rear) – which completely fill out the large wheel housings – provide a look that would otherwise only be offered in the realm of super sports cars.

So the Volkswagen Concept BlueSport has had its moment of fame at Detroit's 2009 Motor Show. But the question is ..... will this concept car become a reality? It's widely known that Volkswagen are developing new models to continue their corporate push to become the world's largest manufacturer of motor vehicles. A new sports car would fill a gap in the expansive Volkswagen range, so it can be expected that it won't take too much convincing for VW to give a go-ahead on a production model. A ready market exists for such a model. Perhaps another question is in order. Will Audi and Porsche 'have a go' too?


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