At the Tokyo Motor Show Volkswagen
presented a prototype that could well make history
as the most economical the sports car of its time.
Its basic data: average fuel consumption of 3.4 liters
for 100 km, a top speed of 230 km/h. Its name: EcoRacer.
Thanks to its carbon-fibre (CFP) bodywork, this sports
car with its centrally located engine weighs in at
only 850 kilograms, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h
in just 6.3 seconds.
Powered by a newly developed 100-kW
turbo-charged diesel of the next generation, it offers
a forward-looking synthesis of austere economy and
impressive performance. 230 km/h, 6.3 seconds, 3.4
these vital statistics are as unusual as they are fascinating.
But the objective of development was not to break records.
With the EcoRacer, the intention was rather to create
a research vehicle that united the elements of economy
and performance under a very emotionally styled “roof”.
Tight Proportions: The styling of the bodywork, with
its new sports-car front end, LED headlamp and rear-light
systems, tight proportions and powerful lines, demonstrates
that even very economical cars can rivet attention
wherever they appear.
The bodywork of the EcoRacer
is 3.77 metres long, 1.74 metres wide, and only 1.21
meters high. The wheelbase of the specially developed
rims is 2.48 metres. The font and rear overhang is
Fully functional: The prototype is anything but a show-room
mock-up. It can be driven without restrictions, and
is intended to serve as a technology test-bed. And
the EcoRacer is also a versatile all-rounder: As soon
as a door is opened, the roof wing above it swings
up, giving optimal access. The entire T-bar roof is
removable. Even the rear hatch can be removed.
last but not least, the frame of the windscreen can
be exchanged for a module with a short, racing windshield.
This makes the EcoRacer, firstly, a coupé, secondly,
a roadster and, thirdly, a speedster. CFP bodywork:
As the mainstay of the EcoRacer, a carbon-fibre (CFP
= carbon-fibre reinforced plastic) bodywork was developed
that was both light and stiff.
Structurally, it is a CFP polycoque (the safety structure
embraces room for two persons) with roll bar, CFP
crash elements and a CFP skin. The main parts of the
polycoque are a chassis pan, two side members and
the dashboard. The crash elements in the front area
are the CFP crash absorber and an aluminum bumper
cross-member. A further CFP module carries the engine
and rear axle. The vehicle f loor with integrated
diffuser is also made of CFP.
The EcoRacer as a coupé: The bonnet, boot-lid
and doors are also made of CFP, as are the roof elements.
The door locks of the EcoRacer open electromechanically.
This not only releases the door catch – via
Keyless-Entry-and-Go system – but also swings
the associated roof wing upwards on a gas-pressure
damper, so as to optimise the entry and exit. These
roof sections and the so-called T-bar, the longitudinal
web between them, can be removed completely and stowed
behind the seats.
The EcoRacer as a Roadster: And more: in a matter of
minutes, the entire roof structure including the windows
can be removed or converted. First, the rear hatch,
the coupe rear end, is removed. At the same time, the
side elements of the front wings between the front
wheel and the door hinge are taken out. The effect
of the thus partially free-standing tires has dynamics
all of its own. In fact, without the hatch and the
roof, the coupé now emerges as a roadster.
The EcoRacer as a Speedster: In the final stage, the
roadster can be converted to a speedster. For this,
a special catch in the area of the A column is simply
released, to allow the windscreen with frame and the
upper dashboard housing to be taken off. In place
of this module, a minimalistic windscreen with its
own dashboard cover is inserted. The result is a speedster
in its purest form.
Futuristic styling elements: As to the front styling,
the shape of the radiator grille and the double headlamps
above it is particularly conspicuous. They demonstrate
a front end that would be conceivable in a similar
form tomorrow on future models of sports car. In the
area of the B columns, the typical air intakes of a
central-engined sports car are dominant. A sense of
power emanates from the muscular contours of the wings
and the 17”
aluminum-alloy wheels that fill the wheel-boxes.
Running gear, light and athletic: Dynamics and innovative
concepts characterise the prototype’s running
gear, too. On the one hand, it is very light, but on
the other hand it offers quite obvious potential for
extreme agility. The front double-wishbone axle is
a completely new design. The wishbones are made of
aluminum, as are the pivot bearings. The four-control-shaft
rear axle is based on the derivate that was used in
the Golf. Its use in a central-engined sports car emphasises
the potential of an axle that harmonises perfectly
with front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. In
the EcoRacer (weight distribution front / rear: 40
to 60) it was tuned specifically to the central-engine
concept, and robbed of a few kilograms.
New-generation TDI engines: Just as unique from the
point of view of design as the entire body is the EcoRacer’s
TDI engine. It ref lects the future of the diesel engine.
Clean, powerful and very versatile. The 1.5 TDI is
still under trial. Like the new twin charger (TSI)
among the direct-injection petrol engines, the turbo-diesel
direct injection engine is characterised by greatest
agility at lowest consumption. The Volkswagen developers
refer to it as a highly charged downsizing concept.
New TDI data: The four-cylinder engine develops 100
kW / 136 PS at 4000 rpm. Between 1900 and 3750 rpm,
the 1484 cc four-valve unit develops a torque of more
than 250 Newton metres. The compression ratio is 17.2:1.
The unit is both light and compact, and – not
only in the EcoRacer – it conforms to the EU-5
exhaust standard, and future further-reaching EU threshold
values. The gearbox of the turbo-diesel is the DSG
double-clutch transmission. The 1.5 TDI, presented
in the EcoRacer for the first time, has the potential
to implement the CCS process. CCS (Combined Combustion
System) is a combustion process that combines the advantages
of diesel and petrol engines, using synthetic fuels.