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Dec 3 2009

LA 2009: Volkswagen Up! Lite Concept teases with practical, lightweight innovation

Posted by volkszone


Volkswagen has just taken the cover off an all-new concept called the Up! Lite, a sinister looking diesel hybrid that gets (according to VW) 70 mpg combined writes As in both City and Highway. Impressive, even if that only ends up being 90 percent accurate. In fact, should Volkswagen decide to green light the unfortunately named Up! Lite, it would be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly four seat vehicle on the planet. Again, if the Up! Lite comes to fruition, we’ll all be impressed. Interestingly, this concept isn’t the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly car on earth is because another Volkswagen — the L1 from Frankfurt – is. But it only seats two.

Ready for the good parts? The aptly titled Up! Lite barely tips the scales at 1,530 pounds. There are Honda Goldwings flirting with that weight class. This svelteness is achieved via a mix of aluminum, lightweight steel and carbon fiber. For instance, the roof is made entirely from the expensive weave. And those amazing wheels consist of ten carbon-fiber spokes and an aluminum fairing. Nifty, no? The tiny, stylized winglettes replace conventional rearview mirrors and contain cameras instead of reflective glass. The same holds true for the interior mounted mirror, as has been replaced by a camera.

Up front, there’s an active air dam that opens up as needed. The extra cooling will help out the TDI hybrid drive lifted from the two-seater L1. This 800cc powerplant transmits power to the wheels using a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Even though the diesel engine is teeny, when coupled to the electric motor, the Up! Lite can reach 100 mph and hit 60 mph in 12 seconds. Not fast by any means, but good enough – especially for an ultra-high mileage vehicle. And it can haul stuff, too – including humans. Unlike the Up! Concept we saw in Frankfurt, the Up! Lite seats four people, and with the rear seats folded, it can haul 30 cubic feet of stuff. Not bad at all.

Overall, we’re pretty impressed by the looks and promise of the Up! Lite. In our estimation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with blending a Honda CRX with a Volvo C30. Will the Up! Lite ever make it to production? Who knows. VW claims the first Up!s(?) will go on sale in 2011. We get the sense that any future decision will be based on how the two-door Up! does. But we get the feeling the Up! Lite might give the people more of what they want.


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