Volkswagen unveiled the latest iteration of its eco-friendly Up! series of super-green concepts at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. Using a number of components derived from those VW is already planning to introduce on its future New Small Family models due in late 2011, the Up! Lite sets a new benchmark in overall sustainability, courtesy of a hybrid powertrain that matches a two-cylinder 0.8-liter/51-horsepower turbodiesel engine with a 13.5-horse electric motor/generator fed by a Lithium-ion battery pack. Driving its front wheel via a seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission, that capable combo endows the four-place Up! Lite with 70 mpg potential when running in ECO mode on the freeway while limiting its CO2 emissions to a miniscule 65g/km -- figures VW contends make it the world's most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly four-seat car. The VW Up! Lite can be driven using either or both power sources, with full EV operation possible in coast-down conditions and for about a mile or so of low-velocity city cruising. Top speed is 100 mph and the 0-60 mph run takes 12.0 seconds.
While retaining many now-familiar Up! styling cues, the latest Lite is both lower and longer than the E-Up! model shown at Frankfurt in September. Finished in Liquid Blue Metallic, this three-door, four-passenger urborunner is contoured and streamlined to yield a superb 0.237 drag coefficient and mixes a variety of high-strength steel, aluminum and composites to hold curb weight to just 1,862 pounds. Inside, the Up! Lite boasts a plethora of tech touches. Three display panels provide access to and control of all key vehicle functions -- including a widescreen unit that shows collective rear and side views from mini-cameras that replace conventional mirrors. Trimmed in a neoprene-like breathable fabric, its lightweight single-piece front buckets seats feature a unified height/track adjustment and even the conventional shift lever gets replaced by mouse-like controller element that changes gears with a fore/aft motion.