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Frankfurt show: VW finally kills BlueSport roadster

Power plug: As Volkswagen rushes headlong into an electric future, it’s curtains for the BlueSport two-seater.

Volkswagen talks up hybrid performance but finally kills off roadster dream

Volkswagen logo16 Sep 2015

By TIM ROBSON in Frankfurt

THE legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI is looking down the barrel of a battery-fed future, according to the company’s powertrain chief – but it has meant the end of a long road for one of the brand’s best-loved concept cars.

The 2015 Frankfurt motor show has been a staging ground for the world’s second-biggest car company to thoroughly embrace a hybrid future, and the popular Golf GTI is unlikely to escape scrutiny, according to the head of Volkswagen Group’s powertrain development, Heinz-Jakob Neusser.

While being asked about the possibility of an affordable, lightweight sportscar for the Volkswagen range, Dr Neusser underlined the difficulties of guaranteeing the success of such a car, and pointed out that the company had already built one.

“We have one done, it looks pretty good, it runs well but to be honest, it’s hard to transfer it into a positive business case,” he told GoAuto. “The roadster segment is not growing all over the world, and there are some strong players already in the business.

“When we come with VW initially to that, its not easy for us to establish such a car into the market.”

Dr Neusser was referring to the BlueSport Concept, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powered roadster that made its debut at the Detroit motor show in 2009, was slated for production by 2013, was cancelled in 2011, but reconsidered as late as 2012.

Now, though, the attractive two-seater has been confirmed as DOA, and Dr Neusser said that he believes that the brand’s premier sports offering – the Golf GTI/R family – can offer its own brand of extended sports connection.

“We think that’s it’s also possible to have emotional derivatives of our other cars, like the Golf R,” he said. “We have here (at Frankfurt) the Clubsport, which will come next year, and I was personally with this car on the Nurburgring, and it was a lot of fun. So it is easier for us to enter the market with such a car and to establish it.”

The three-door Clubsport, built to celebrate the model’s 40th anniversary, has up to 213kW on tap from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

Volkswagen Australia is considering the car for the local market.

Dr Neusser said the numbers for the BlueSport roadster simply didn’t add up.

“We have the vision to make our customers happy, but to have also the commercial business case behind it,” he said.

When asked whether a hybrid Golf GTI was part of the group’s plans, Dr Neusser acknowledged that it had been considered.

“That is in principal possible, yes,” he said, adding that the instant torque response of an electric motor suited performance applications.

“With a plug in hybrid, it’s easy to have both economy and performance. When you increase the electrical performance of the car, you get that performance for free.”

He refused to elaborate on the timeline of a hybrid Golf GTI.

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