The terms “green” and “fun” can hardly be thought of as synonymous. All it took was one good, hard look around the 2009 Detroit Auto Show to see what typically passes for an eco-friendly ride. Just take the 2010 Toyota Prius for example. Sure, 50 mpg is cool, but the car probably provides as much driving excitement as a refrigerator box. Then VW came along and showed off its idea of a green machine, complete with a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive and convertible design.
That sort of layout is what you’d typically expect to see out of high-end exotic sports cars – not high mpg machines out to save the planet. VW calls the drop-top the BlueSport Concept and unlike most sports cars out there, this rig isn’t powered by a gasoline engine. Instead, a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel provides a heady 180 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Combined with car’s low-weight design, this little roadster dashes to 60 in under 6.2 seconds.
That’s plenty quick, but straight line dashes aren’t this car’s forte. Instead, its biggest strength shines through at the pumps, where the diesel mill provides for an unbelievable 42 mpg without any sort of hybrid battery pack on board. Also, thanks to VW’s ultra low-emission diesel technology, the engine releases very little pollutants into the atmosphere. Now that’s the sort of progress we can get excited about.
VW has already announced its commitment to turning this concept into a production vehicle, but the company is dependent on its corporate partners before giving the final say one way or the other. As it is, both Audi and Porsche would need to sign off on the car before Volkswagen could move forward. The good news is Audi has already mentioned its own version of the BlueSport Concept and Porsche is interested in creating a model positioned below its current entry-level Boxster.
That means the BlueSport could be the answer to each company’s prayers. What’s more, a vehicle with such low emissions and a high combined mpg would do much to ease pressures from ever-tightening CAFE standards on each automaker. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not VW, Audi or Porsche can convince American buyers that diesel can simultaneously mean “green” and “fun”.
Read Part V: 2010 Honda Insight