Volkswagen took the chance at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show to present its newest concept, the Volkswagen Up! Lite. As the name suggests, it is related to the upcoming Up! city car, but does away with many features from the boxy design to the rear wheel drive and rear engine placement, for a sportier look (presumably testing out reactions to an Up! Sport) and a front-wheel drive, front engine placement.
What’s most interesting about the new Up! Lite is that Volkswagen advertises it to be the second most efficient concept in the world, beaten only by the L1 model which was shown by the German company at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The diesel hybrid sees the same 800cc TDI engine from the L1, coupled through a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox with a small electric engine.
But don’t go thinking that the four-seater model will have rubbish performance figures, as the Up! Lite manages to reach 100 mph (160 km/h) and does 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a respectable 12 seconds. This is largely due to its extremely low weight of just 695 kg (1,530 pounds). As such, the car reaches a fuel economy of 2.44 liters/100 km (96 mpg (US) or 115.8 (UK).
Partly to “blame” for this low weight is the combination of lightweight steel, aluminum and carbon fiber, used in all of its parts. For example the roof is made out of carbon fiber and the wheels are formed by ten carbon fiber spokes, dressed in aluminum. The outside mirrors have been replace with small cameras, as well as the inside one. Another nifty little feature is an automatic air dam, which lifts when the TDI engine needs more air.
Overall, this new Volkswagen Up! Lite concept looks pretty good, and with the promise of transporting four people with such a great economy, it might be a best seller. Until and if it reaches the road, fans are going to have to settle with the normal (phat?!) Up!, which will go on sale in 2011.