Volkswagen's stylized CrossBlue Coupé hybrid
April 23, 2013
Just when you thought you couldn’t fit one more SUV into the market, along comes Volkswagen with the new CrossBlue Coupé concept. With the unveiling of the Coupé (which isn’t really a coupe) at the Shanghai Show, VW clearly has its sights set on impressing the burgeoning Chinese market.
Volkswagen’s showing of the CrossBlue Hybrid at the North American Auto Show in January helped whet the appetite for the automaker’s newest hybrid, but its styling could be forgiven for being overtly GMC Envoy familiar. With the new CrossBlue Coupé however, questionable stylistic comparisons can now be avoided.
Stylistically the CrossBlue Coupé kills its haunchy sibling in the ring. The Coupé’s contemporary styling aspects are evocative of BMW’s X series, with channeled flanks, smoothed-out subtle haunches, a narrowing roofline and a rising waistline detail that is eerily similar to that of Land Rover’s Evoque.
The narrowed nose and smallish rectangular headlights closely retain design elements from the Evoque and new-gen Camaro. Proportionally speaking, the CrossBlue Coupe comes off as stylish and sporty thanks to its low profile, wide track and short overhangs up front. A fast raked rear window, integrated spoiler and 22-inch alloy wheels all work to support the Coupé’s sporty intent.
The CrossBlue Coupé's hybrid system utilizes VW’s V6 turbocharged direct-injection engine (TSI) and two electric motors, producing a maximum power output of 305 kW (415 hp). With this kind of on demand power, the CrossBlue Coupé can reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.9 seconds, with a maximum speed of 236 km/h (147 mph).
Mileage returns definitely don’t suffer with the new hybrid setup. VW reports mileage figures for the CrossBlue Coupé at a mere 3.0 L/100 km (78 mpg). Even in hybrid mode fuel consumption – sub-cycle with discharged battery using only the V6 – the crossover consumes only 6.9 L/100 km (34.1 mpg) of fuel. Volkswagen then reports a “theoretical range” of around 1,190 kilometers (739 miles) before refueling is needed. The Coupé can also be driven as an all-electric via an eco-mode button but don’t expect to get far, as range is limited to a mere 33 km (20.1 miles) at a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph).
The CrossBlue Coupé's electric motors are used to motivate the car as often as possible, but when running in Sport mode the system utilizes both gasoline and electric. With the electric motors contributing 180 Newton meters (133 lb.ft) up front and 270 Nm (199 lb.ft) to the rear, roughly 305 kW of power is available when factoring in both the TSI + battery inputs. When “boosting” in Sport mode, the drive system can produce up to 700 Nm (516 lb.ft) of torque. Eight lithium-ion modules with an energy capacity of 9.9 kWh make up the battery pack. When the V6 is the sole power source, the Coupé runs as a straight front wheel drive vehicle.
Ports for the fuel tank and battery are cleanly integrated into the Coupé's design. The electrical outlet is located symmetrically on the left side and consists of one socket for charging the high-voltage battery and another for connecting electric devices. This unique dual-interface (16 A, 230 V) enables the Coupé to act as an emergency generator if required.
Like the CrossBlue Hybrid, the Coupé has room for five and enough storage space for 1,101 liters (290.8 US gal) of luggage, with seats down. Volkswagen also reports the CrossBlue Coupé to be one of the safest SUVs worldwide thanks to its electronic stabilization program, which manages power, torque and braking to the vehicle’s all-wheel drive setup. The system senses body roll, wheel slippage and other critical factors, then adjusts the lot according to inputs. In the event of an accident, 10 airbags are in place to keep passengers safe.
Another fascinating bit of German technology is on hand in the form of VW’s “propshaft by wire” system. In Offroad mode, for example, when the battery is low on charge, the front electric motor derives its energy directly from the V6, which in turn operates as a generator, re-supplying electricity to the rear axle motor.
iPad Minis are integrated into the headrests to allow passengers to watch movies, listen to music or access online content. Nappa leather seats, anthracite colored inlays and aluminum accents populate the cockpit. A clean, contemporary-styled dashboard runs the width of the vehicle with the only interruption coming from the gauge binnacle. All switches of significance are soft touch, with the exception of the hazard lights.
A 10-inch infotainment screen integrated into the dash provides not only the info-entertainment, but also status reports on the hybrid system. The CrossBlue’s visuals change according to the driving mode. For instance, when navigation is activated and the car is in Sport mode, buildings are “suppressed” in the 3D map – i.e. they recede out for a clearer, less busy image during faster driving. But in Eco mode, the display shows an animated 3D representation that populates the screen with buildings rising up on the horizon – a feature (or gimmick) apparently inspired by scenes from the Leo DiCaprio film, Inception.
The concept’s instrument cluster is designed with analogue hardware in the form of two classic round instruments, or tubes as VW puts it. The software is digital and programmable offering a wide variety of display options.
Depending on what mode you're in – Eco, Sport, Offroad, EV or Charge – the way information is presented changes. For instance in Eco mode, the Powermeter and battery status are shown in the left instrument space, while the right instrument shows speedometer and fuel status. When flipped to Sport Mode, informational presentation is again changed.
The middle instrument in Eco mode shows the gear indicator, driving ranges, compass, weather, and clock. In Navigation mode, remaining distance to the destination is given, while in Sport mode, the left instrument shows the tachometer, torque and battery status. Color information is also critical in distinguishing modes – for instance, Eco mode readout is animated in orange, but switches to red during Sport mode. Switches controlling drive mode settings are located in the middle of the console to the right of the shift lever.
A 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual capabilities manages power to the all-wheel drive system. A selector lever located at the left of the gearshift panel is connected to the new “by-wire switch logic” system. Like a spring-loaded joystick, the selection lever automatically returns to its center position after gear selecting. Drive, reverse and neutral are activated by a short kick in the pants, while Park is controlled by a separate push button integrated into the selector lever.
VW currently has no plans to produce the Coupé at this time.