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VW Up Lite news - VW Up Lite: almost real - 2009

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This is the Up Lite (actually, it’s the Up! Lite, avec exclamation mark, but we won’t subject you to that punctuation horror) – a 116mpg eco-concept from VW that’ll emit just 65g/km of CO2.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: impressive numbers, but it’s a concept, innit, come back when it reaches production.
Stop thinking. The Up Lite is, believe it or not, damn close to production reality. VW has already devoted 18 months of R&D to it, and it could reach showrooms in three years.
There’s nothing here from concept-land: the Up Lite is powered by an 800cc twin-cylinder diesel engine, essentially half of VW’s 1.6-litre TDI with a couple of added balance shafts. There’s a dinky electric motor wedged between that 51bhp engine and the seven-speed DSG, good for about a mile of all-electric propulsion drawing power from a lithium-ion battery.
That’s decidedly modest power, but the Up Lite weighs just 695kg, meaning it’ll crack 60mph in 12 seconds – respectable enough for a city car. Admittedly you won’t manage anything like 116mpg if you’re aiming for that sort of acceleration – maximum economy is only available when you press an ‘eco’ button to limit the engine’s boost.
The Up Lite seats four in two-and-two configuration, making it unusually narrow – good news for squeezing through traffic. If you need any more evidence that this is close to production, VW quotes the exact specification of the Up Lite’s tyres: 155/60 R16s, since you ask.
Its success, if and when it reaches the road, will depend on price: back in the ‘90s, VW’s 91mpg ‘three-litre’ Lupo flopped because it simply cost too much.
If VW can get the Up Lite into showrooms for under, say, £15,000, do you think we’re looking at the future of suburban transport?

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