At first blush, the Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe, debuting at the Shanghai Auto Show, is the exact opposite of truth in advertising. It’s not blue. It’s definitely not a coupe. The only true part of the name is that it’s a crossover. But it’s one very, very interesting crossover, an electric hybrid that doesn’t lack for horsepower or off-road capability.
First of all, this isn’t a crossover with a dinky little engine designed charge the batteries: It’s got a 3.6-liter turbocharged V-6 that provides nearly 300 horsepower of its own accord. The front electric motor gets up to 54 horsepower, and the rear carries 114. The total combined horsepower is pegged by Volkswagen at 415 hp, and it’s got a top speed of 147 miles per hour. That’s not a Veyron, but for a hybrid that’s pretty fast; the Prius only manages 112 mph.
Also impressive is the engineering around efficiency. If you’re on the road, the electric motors can operate the car on their own for up to 21 miles and speed of 75 mph. When it’s not running on electricity alone, Volkswagen pegs the fuel efficiency at 79 miles per gallon, and even the mileage running solely on gas isn’t bad: 34.1 mpg combined.
Beyond that, there are some interesting design ideas. For example, if you go off-road, the gas engine will be the force behind the front wheels, while the front electric motor will serve as a generator and help power the back wheels. It’s an interesting choice not least because this thing is hefty: It’s more than sixteen feet long, more than six feet wide, and has a wheelbase of 117.3 inches.
Unlike some concepts, which are mostly to show off the internals, Volkswagen says it’s working on production versions of this car. It’ll be interesting to see this machine getting on the road, and what survives the production process.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.