|Volkswagen Bluesport Concept|
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Volkswagen is starting the new year by presenting an automotive dream - an affordable, uncommonly economical and highly agile mid-engine roadster. Its name: Concept BlueSport. Status: concept. Dynamics: pure. Fuel consumption: an average of 55 mpg / 4,3 l/100 km; less than any other sports car. Positioning: genuine, low-emissions roadster (113 g/km CO2) that makes every kilometer, every mile a driving experience.
Behind the two sport seats of the 3.99 meter long Concept BlueSport (axle load distribution: 45:55) is an exclusively charged TDI or TSI engine that delivers dynamics - these are high-tech engines that consume little but put out a lot. In the case of the Concept BlueSport version now being presented in the USA it is a 132 kW / 180 PS strong Clean Diesel (TDI) with common rail injection and downstream NOx storage catalytic converter. At a low 1,750 rpm - i.e. right from the engine speed 'cellar' - the 2.0 liter Turbo engine develops its maximum torque of 350 Newton-meters. That matches the power response of an approx. 300 PS strong six-cylinder gasoline engine! 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 6.2 seconds the sports car is moving at a speed of 60 mph (0-100 km/h: 6,6 seconds); its top speed is 140 mph (226 km/h).
These are the key parameters of a new and at the same time classic European sports car philosophy. The Concept BlueSport is evolving into a car that is a lot of fun to drive and at the same time makes an unmistakable statement in terms of sustainability. The fact is: if the Concept BlueSport were to go into production it could herald in a renaissance of the compact roadster. Another fact: this car handles just as well in the urban environment of metropolises as it does on very curvy country roads and long expressway routes.
Volkswagen defined 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, that aims at low weight and maximum agility right from the start. Although it is best in its class when it comes to body rigidity, the Concept BlueSport weighs in at less than 1,200 athletic kilograms. The results: performance that is more than impressive for every life situation, in addition to the cited fuel economy and emissions advantages. Low weight was attained by consistent application of lightweight construction methods (among other things, the soft top - at 27 kilograms - is the lightest in its class, and the hoods are made of aluminium), and by a body layout with crisp and compact dimensions.
Despite all of the sports car fascination included on board, it still offers a respectable level of everyday utility. In the cargo area under the front hood, for example, the Concept BlueSport can stow 112 liters of luggage; its counterpart in the rear can handle an additional 70 liters of cargo volume. Altogether that makes 182 liters - enough for working documents or an extended weekend trip for two. Also extended, by the way, are the distances between any two fuel fillups. With a fuel tank volume of 50 liters and the noted fuel economy of 42 mpg (consumption of 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers), the theoretical range is greater than 710 miles (1,150 kilometers).
Making a positive impact on the car's range, fuel economy and emissions are two technologies that could become more and more commonplace in the future and are part of the so-called 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 red 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 lightning fast. Its entire operation is absolutely intuitive and saves up to 0.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers in the city. Furthermore, primarily when the Concept BlueSport is braked, energy is generated by the alternator (regeneration), which relieves the engine and further improves fuel economy.
The Concept BlueSport - painted in Flex Silver painted and sporting an orange colored 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 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 in a sculture. The radial surfaces, edges and blending of forms emphasize the wheels and thereby the agility of the BlueSport concept car. The lateral air intakes are identifying features of the mid-engine layout, their volume-reducing design offers visualization of the car's sporty low weight."
The proportions of the Concept BlueSport give it an exceptionally powerful and impressive appearance. Besides its low height of 1.26 meters, the car's image is shaped by the fact that the wheelbase (2.43 meters) appears large compared to the car's overall length of about four meters, and the sumptuous track widths that are large relative to the car's width (1.75 meters). In front, the sports car exhibits a track of 1.49 meters; in the rear it is 1.52 meters.
In the sum total of its dimensions, it is clear, first of all, that the powerfully styled body of the Concept BlueSport is significantly shorter and flatter than that of the Scirocco already launched in Europe, 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 inch alloy spoke wheels.
At its front, the Concept BlueSport is characterized by a new Volkswagen design language introduced for the first time on the Scirocco and the new Golf. It is based on a 'design DNA' that will leave its mark on 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 from the Golf and Scirocco are the dominant dual cross beams that are formed by the narrow radiator grille and the painted bumper. In the lower area, large air inlets 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 broad the range of vehicles is, in which these style elements can be implemented. Take the headlights and taillights, for example: Although the Concept BlueSport with its bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights is obviously a Volkswagen of contemporary times, 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) or - in the style of high-performance sports cars - the distinct outward flare of the fenders whose forms 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 who has no need to display an aggressive attitude."
We have taken a systematic approach to everything here, emphasizes Flavio Manzoni: "Unique, simple, universal - that is the authentic spirit of Volkswagen: clear design features in a complex world - this is the philosophy currently guiding 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."
The rear end is distinctive at first glance. Lines emanating from the contour of the rear fender here frame a shoulder section that would be hard to imagine any greater dynamism or clarity. In the center, there is a large strip painted in car color, and in the upper section a narrow black line that separates the bumper from the engine or trunk hood. Prominent on this line, which also joins the taillights, is the VW logo. The shapes of the taillights themselves were intentionally designed to be similar to those of the headlights. Inside, the lights both 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 trunk 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 outer edges - right next to the contour of the fender lines. The end of the bumper - together with the lateral fender and wheel housing panels - forms a virtual surface painted in car color. At its center the bumper exhibits an area that is aerodynamically designed as a diffuser.
On its sides, once again it is the circular-shape of the wheel housings and outer fender edges - typical of Volkswagen - that are part of the clear, precise, powerful and highly aesthetic line-work. In addition, the extremely short overhangs define the car's side profile styling. Moreover, the ten-spoke alloy wheels with tires in the sizes 235/35 ZR19 (front) and 245/35 ZR19 (rear) - that completely fill out the large wheel housings - create a look that would otherwise only be offered in the realm of super sports cars.
The interior of a sports car should fit as though it were tailor-made. Everything must be ideally set up to reach, operate, control, and must exhibit a high level of aesthetics. This is precisely what Volkswagen has done with the Concept BlueSport. Klaus Bischoff: "The interior shows finesse in details and conveys a high level of technological fascination. The special flair of the interior expresses itself in the architectonic purity of its components."
Climb in: Immediately eye-catching is the touchscreen - an intuitively operated human-machine interface in the style of its counterpart in the Volkswagen Up! concept car. It is located right at the imaginary transmission tunnel. All information and entertainment functions are controlled from the touchscreen. Right in front of it - on the level where a gearshift lever would be - there is now a multifunctional steering wheel that is used to intuitively operate the dual clutch transmission.
Above the touchscreen are the three large control dials for the dual-zone automatic 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 automatic climate control system 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 (DSG).
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 top weight, this can be done in a matter of seconds - sometimes less is more.
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