Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept Debuts at 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show

As the crossover market continues to heat up, car companies are being challenged to engineer more practical and fuel-efficient vehicles that stay on the cutting edge of style and design. Volkswagen’s answer to this challenge is a range of CrossBlue concepts that were displayed at the Detroit, Geneva, and Shanghai auto shows in the last year. One of these vehicles, the Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe, was first shown at the Shanghai auto show this past April. The small five-seat crossover concept is scheduled to make an appearance at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show with updated U.S. specifications.

CrossBlue heralds a new generation of design and engineering for Volkswagen and demonstrates the direction VW is headed when the time comes to update the styling and conventional powertrains seen in current SUVs like the Tiguan and the Touareg.

Modern Looks and Innovative Tech

The five-seat CrossBlue Coupe concept that will be shown at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show is essentially identical to the model seen in Shanghai. The vehicle is 192.5 inches long and is reasonably wide and low at 79.3 and 66.1 inches, respectively. Its low-slung and forward-arched appearance is enhanced by the CrossBlue Coupe’s extended A-pillar, sharply raked rear roofline, and large diagonal C-pillar.

The small crossover is characterized by horizontal lines, with a cleanly incised line extending from the rear taillights all the way to the front fender. This shape is echoed by the integrated rear exhaust manifold and dual rhombus-shaped steel tailpipes. Up front, Volkswagen’s signature two-strut horizontal grille extends upward over the free-standing headlamps, mirroring the angular shapes on the sides of the front intake. The geometric effect is completed by four neatly spaced skidplates on the underside of both the front and rear ends of the vehicle.

Inside, the CrossBlue Coupe impresses with the clean, refined cabin we expect from Volkswagen, but it also integrates a litany of new technologies. Once the driver’s-side door is opened, the CrossBlue Coupe controls “come to life,” according to VW. When the driver engages the engine’s start button, headlight and four-zone climate control switches rise up, and the proximity-sensitive 10.1-inch color display activates. The screen changes its display depending on selectable driving modes that include Sport, Eco, Charge, and EV (all-electric), helping to create a distinctly different atmosphere for each setting. This is continued in the instrument cluster, where traditional analog gauges are integrated with built-in software that varies display content depending on driving mode; the cluster will highlight engine speed and torque while in Sport mode, while measurements like fuel level and battery status are indicated in Eco mode.

Gear shifts are made using a joystick-style lever that returns to its standard position with each flick. An integrated pushbutton switches the Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe into park.

Flexible Powertrain

Volkswagen’s CrossBlue Coupe uses a 296-hp, turbocharged direct-injection V-6 engine that is mated to two electric motors (54 hp in the front and 114 hp in the rear), producing a total of 415 hp. Peak torque is 516 lb-ft at just 1800 rpm, which helps send the crossover from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and on to a 147 mph top speed.

While operating in hybrid “Eco” mode, the CrossBlue is estimated to achieve 70 mpg with a maximum range of approximately 570 miles. On all-electric power, activated by selecting the “EV” driving mode, the crossover can travel for 13 miles at a max speed of 75 mph. The center tunnel-mounted 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged either using an external 230-volt connection or by selecting the “Charge” driving mode, which will deactivate the electric motors and rely only on the turbo V-6. Additional charge is continually supplied via brake regeneration.

Although this Los Angeles auto show concept will not go into production, its new Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture is capable of supporting a variety of powertrains. The platform could fit either four or six-cylinder engines compatible with gasoline, diesel, or natural gas (CNG) fuel. Volkswagen has similarly addressed this need for a modular architecture in the compact segment, as it is also planning to display the MQB-platform 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf at the 2013 LA show.

This flexibility represents a key engineering victory for Volkswagen, because the MQB architecture has the functionality to remain usable in an industry where technology advances at a rate with which automakers often struggle to keep pace. No doubt Volkswagen will benefit down the line by having a foundational architecture that can support an ever-growing market for SUVs and crossovers. It’s a major investment that has the potential to pay off in spades.

We’ll be sure to provide more details and coverage when the Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe makes its U.S. debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show this month.

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