With the new BMW Z4 and Bentley GTC Speed both bowing today, along with this new Volkswagen Concept BlueSport, Detroit is, oddly enough, becoming the show for convertibles.
But the Volkswagen concept has a special twist that appeals to environmentally conscious sports-car enthusiasts: a Clean Diesel engine, mounted mid-ship.
The BlueSport Concept likely prefaces a long rumored—and headed to production, according to some sources—roadster based on the Concept-R, first shown more than five years ago at the Frankfurt auto show.
The silver exterior and orange fabric convertible top formed an interesting contrast with the black interior and looked anything but conservative. Wheel wells are flared dramatically outward, and large air intakes just behind the doors signal its mid-engine configuration. The interior features a matte-black look, with an instrument panel that’s rather simple in layout. One-piece seatbacks hint of racing, and as with several other concepts here at the show, a touch screen interface that controls “all information and entertainment functions.”
Volkswagen says in a release from the press preview that the Roadster would be built in Germany.
With a light weight of only 2640 pounds, the BlueSport promises to be nimble and fast. A 180-bhp Clean Diesel TDI engine brings it to 62 mph in just 6.6 seconds, according to the Wolfsburg automaker, and it has a top speed of 140 mph. A six-speed DSG gearbox does the shifting, with power going to the rear wheels.
With regard to those who might think diesels are a bit dirty, the BlueSport is fitted with a NOx downstream catalytic converter to keep it especially clean—and, likely to pass U.S. emissions without the need for AdBlue. Fuel economy rates about 55 miles per gallon overall, VW says, with a driving range of up to 710 miles. The BlueSport also incorporates an Eco mode, bringing an automatic start-stop system as well as energy regeneration to cut fuel consumption in city driving.
Volkswagen is, already, more than a decade late to the roadster party. But rather than cloning any of the existing models, Volkswagen has struck out in a new direction with the mid-engine design and a clear recognition of diesels as a performance powetrain.
The BlueSport has two small cargo spaces—one that’s 4 cubic feet in front and another that’s just about 2.5 cubic feet in back.VW states that it’s “enough for working documents or an extended weekend trip for two.” Two minimalists, that is.
At about 157 inches long, with a 95.7-inch wheelbase, the lightweight roadster looks poised to land somewhere between the Lotus Elise and Porsche Boxster in purpose—though perhaps closer to the much-missed Toyota MR2 in market position.
With Volkswagen talking recently about reviewing its portfolio and potentially trimming its future plans, according to some sources, will it make it to production? We'll just have to wait and see.