The Volkswagen Up! Lite which was revealed at the 2009
LA Auto Show arrived hot on the heels of the Volkswagen
1L concept which debuted only a few months before.
Both cars strived to be as fuel efficient as possible.
But whereas the L1, with its tandem seating layout and
limited cargo storage was a relatively impractical vehicle,
the Up! Lite is just like any other compact four-seater
as far interior space and day-to-day usage is concerned.
Even the styling of the Up! Lite looks production feasible.
The hybrid drivetrain of the Up! Lite consists of a newly
designed 0.8 litre two-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine
which produces 51 horsepower, and a 14 horsepower electric
motor. The electric motor works as a pulse start module
(starter, alternator and E-drive), it also reduces the
load of the TDI, provides added power during acceleration
and works to recover kinetic energy (regenerative braking).
In two of its operating phases, the hybrid drive of the
Up! Lite was designed to operate without any TDI propulsion
at all. First phase: In so-called coast-down, activated
by the driver taking his or her foot off the gas pedal
(car coasts, TDI engine is shut off). Second phase: Over
shorter distances, e.g. in residential areas, the E-motor
can power the Up! Lite all by itself. In this case, a
lithium-ion battery supplies the energy. Since it is capable
of pure electric driving, the configuration is classified
as a full hybrid. Shifting work is handled by a 7-speed
Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) like the one used in the new
Polo. Moreover, the Volkswagen is equipped with a Stop-Start
in, this frugal drive system offers 70mpg/highway (2.44
litres per 100km). Top speed is 100mph (160km/h), and
the 0-60mph run is completed in 12 seconds.
Innovative technology is not just confined to the drivetrain
however. The radiator grille closes and opens automatically
depending on the cooling needs of the engine ("active
thermal management"); and instead of a classic rearview
mirror, three cameras perform this job better and more
aerodynamically; when the car is parked outside in the
summer, hot air is vented to outside the vehicle ("passive
park ventilation"); an "optimized Easy-Entry
feature" enables extremely comfortable entry and
exit from the rear seating area; longitudinal adjustments
to the driver and front passenger seats automatically
adjusts seat height as well; when folding the rear bench
seat, the seatback is easily unlatched by folding the
rear head restraints forward ("Easy Switch");
many vehicle features (including ventilation, Internet,
telephone, MP3, video, telephone, trip computer, radio)
are controlled centrally via an intuitive touchscreen
with hand movement sensors.