The radical Volkswagen Up! Lite Concept promises nearly 116mpg – and is not quite as far fetched as you might immediately think.
The VW Up! Lite has been unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show, and is the latest in a line of Up! city car concepts, which should eventually culminate in an actual production model within the next two years. Although the four-seater design of this latest version is a little different to what we’ve seen before.
Light, slippery, and diesel-electric
Using exceptional aerodynamic efficiency – the drag coefficient is just 0.237 – low weight and a diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain, the Up! Lite is said to return up to 115.7mpg while emitting just 65g/km CO2.
It is made from a mixture of materials, including aluminium and carbon-fibre, and weighs just 695kg – nearly 30% less than Volkswagen’s own Fox city car. It is slightly shorter in length than the , and represents a new styling direction for the Volkswagen brand, particularly at the rear.
Up! Lite offers 64bhp
The engine is a two-cylinder 800cc common rail diesel, similar to that fitted to the also ultra-efficient VW L1 Concept shown at the . It produces 50hp on its own, but is boosted a further 14bhp by an electric motor, intended to aid overtaking or for use in low speed manoeuvres.
A seven-speed twin-clutch DSG transmission swaps the cogs, while a Start-Stop system and regenerative braking further increase the economy, especially around town. The engine weighs just 55kg. Impressively, the Up! Lite completes 0-62mph in a respectable 12.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 100mph.
We fully expect to see this drivetrain in a production Volkswagen in the not too distant future.
A viable VW production car?
Helping with the aerodynamic performance, the radiator grille is closed completely when not required, and in place of traditional wing mirrors the Up! Lite has tiny rear view cameras on either side.
The interior is minimalist, with the main controls grouped round the steering wheel, and a central touchscreen handling everything else. Practicality hasn’t been forgotten, as the Up! Lite has fold flat rear and front passenger seats for accommodating larger loads.
Will Volkswagen build it? Well, intriguingly, the press release ends with this statement:
‘Using components from the New Small Family of vehicles set to be launched from 2011 onwards, the Up! Lite is intended as a step towards a viable production car.’
Follow Which? Car on Twitter
The Which? Car team is on Twitter, to offer you help and advice as and when you need it.
We’re monitoring our Twitter account every day, so if you have an account, please send us you thoughts and questions to @whichcar.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got a Twitter account – you can still stay in the loop by regularly checking www.twitter.com/whichcar.