Friday, April 11, 2008

VW Mini (2)

FRANKFURT — Volkswagen is building the Beetle again. OK, not really, but thanks to a trendy campaign and a cute little car called the Up!, VW is set to take on the likes of Smart and Scion as early as 2010. The new mini-car is part of the company’s plan to get back to its roots, building affordable rides for the masses.

Despite its diminutive size, the concept has four seats and room for a fair amount of luggage—plus a variable interior for fitting in awkward objects. User-friendly buttons on the steering wheel are reminiscent of those on an iPod (or at least an iPod Classic), while most of the dash controls can be accessed via touch-screen.

VW will offer the Up! (we feel as ridiculous typing it as you do reading it) with two- and three-cylinder engines—an obvious result of the group’s focus on efficiency and economy. It’s claiming the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive car gets some 67 mpg, but VW is trying to raise that number even higher. Despite these claims, the company has remained vague with regard to future powerplants.

The car looks awfully similar to a Smart from the outside, with a body draped around the drivetrain and cockpit. Small overhangs and R8-style LED lights mounted up front add flair to Walter de Silva’s design. You might expect to see these on American streets—VW chairman Martin Winterkorn said today that the car will be sold in other continents, but with different features, as well as in emerging markets. —James Tate

VW Mini (2)


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