VW unveils slippery four-seat hybrid

Light as a feather and with very little drag

VW Up! Lite

Leccy Tech Volkswagen has given the world a glimpse at its 2011 small car line-up with the unveiling of its Up! Lite concept at the LA Auto Show.

Heralded as the world's most fuel-efficient four-seater, the Up! Lite's power train consists of an 800cc two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which produces 38kW (51bhp), and a 10kW (13.4bhp) electric motor.

VW Up! Lite

VW's Up! Lite and friends (Volkswagen grosse käse)

At low speeds, drive is provided entirely by the electric motor and li-ion battery pack. Speed up a bit and the diesel engine takes over, but put your foot down hard and the electric motor puts its shoulder to the wheel producing a top speed of 100mph and a 0-60 time of 12 seconds.

Not screamingly fast, but not bad for a car with a New European Vehicle Cycle fuel economy of 2.44l/100km or just shy of 116mpg (UK). CO2 output over the same driving cycle is said to be an impressive 65g/km.

The high economy figure is partly down to the Up! Lite's weight - or lack of it - and clever aerodynamics.

Extensive use of carbon fibre, lightweight steel and aluminium means the Up! Lite tips the scales at 695kg (1529lbs) – 35kg (77lbs) less than a two-seat Smart ForTwo - while the slippery body gives it a drag coefficient of 0.237.

VW Up! Lite

Air-dam: now you see it... now you don't

Drag has been further reduced by the use of an articulated air-dam at the front which only opens when the engine actually needs cooling and wind-cheating wheel trims.

VW said that many features of the Up! Lite will be found in its 'New Small Family' series of cars that will begin appearing on roads towards the end of 2011. ®

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