2005 Volkswagen EcoRacer concept – A 3-in-1 sports car – 4Legend.com – AudiPassion.com

Volkswagen presented at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show a prototype of an economical and innovative sports car for its time: the VW EcoRacer. Thanks to its carbon fiber body (CFP), this sports car with its mid-engine weighs only 850 kilograms and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds. Powered by a new, next-generation 136hp (100kW) turbocharged diesel engine, it offers a forward-looking synthesis of austere economy and impressive performance. 230 km/h, 6.3 seconds, 3.4 liters per 100 km: these vital statistics are as unusual as they are fascinating. But the goal of development was not to break records. With the Volkswagen EcoRacer, the intention was rather to create a research vehicle that brought together the elements of economy and performance under a very emotional « roof ».

Reduced proportions
The body styling, with its new sports car front end, LED headlights and taillights, restrained proportions and powerful lines, demonstrates that even very economical cars can attract attention wherever they appear. The EcoRacer’s body is 3.77 meters long, 1.74 meters wide and only 1.21 meters high. The wheelbase with specially developed 17-inch alloy wheels is 2.48 meters. The front and rear overhang are extremely short.

Fully functional
The prototype is anything but a show car. It can be driven without restrictions and is intended to serve as a technological test bed. The VW EcoRacer is also versatile: as soon as a door is opened, the roof wing above opens, providing optimal access. The entire T-roof is removable. Even the tailgate can be removed. And, finally, the windshield frame can be replaced by a module with a short, racing windshield. This makes the EcoRacer firstly a coupe, secondly a roadster and thirdly a speedster.

Carbon bodywork
As a mainstay of the EcoRacer, a carbon fiber body (CFP = carbon fiber reinforced plastic) was developed, which is both light and stiff. Structurally, it is a CFP polyshell (the safety structure has been designed to accommodate and protect two people) with a roll bar, CFP protective elements and a CFP skin. The main parts of the polycoque are a frame, two side members and the dashboard. The crash elements in the front area are the CFP damper and an aluminum bumper cross member. Another CFP module carries the motor and the rear axle. The vehicle floor with integrated diffuser is also made of CFP.

Configuration Coupe
The bonnet, tailgate and doors are also made of carbon, as are the roof elements. The door locks of the EcoRacer open electromechanically. This not only releases the door latch – via the Keyless-Entry-and-Go system – but also swings the associated roof section upwards on a gas-pressure damper, to optimize entry and egress . These roof sections and the so-called T-bar, the longitudinal strip between them, can be completely removed and stowed behind the seats.

Roadster Setup
And more: in a few minutes, the entire roof structure, including the panes, can be removed or transformed. First, the tailgate – the rear part of the coupe – is removed. At the same time, the side elements of the front fenders between the front wheel and the door hinge are removed. The roadster thus has its own dynamics. Indeed, without the tailgate or the roof, the coupe now looks like a roadster.

Speedster Setup
In the final stage, the roadster can be converted into a Speedster. To do this, a special latch at the A-pillar is simply released, allowing the windscreen with frame and the upper dashboard housing to be removed. Instead of this module, a minimalist windshield with its own dashboard cover is inserted. The result is a Speedster in its purest form.

futuristic style elements
As for the front styling, the shape of the grille and the twin headlights above are particularly noticeable. They demonstrate a front end that would be conceivable in a similar form on future sports car models. In the area of ​​the B-pillars, the air intakes typical of a mid-engined sports car are dominant. A feeling of power emanates from the muscular contours of the fenders and the 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels that fill the wheel arches.

Undercarriage, light and athletic
Dynamics and innovative concepts also characterize the running gear of the prototype. On the one hand it is very light, but on the other hand it offers quite obvious potential for extreme agility. The double-wishbone front axle is an all-new design. The wishbones are aluminum, as are the pivot bearings. The four-shaft rear axle is based on the derivative used in the Golf V. Its use in a mid-engined sports car highlights the potential for an axle that harmonises perfectly with the front wheels, rear wheels and all-wheel drive. In the EcoRacer (front/rear weight distribution: 40% to 60%), it has been specifically adapted to the mid-engine concept, and deprived of a few kilograms.

New generation TDI engines
Just as unique from a design perspective as the entire body is the EcoRacer’s TDI engine. It reflected the future of the diesel engine: clean, powerful and highly versatile. The 1.5 TDI is still being tested. Like the new TSI engine among gasoline engines with direct injection, the direct injection turbodiesel engine is characterized by greater agility with minimum consumption. Volkswagen engineers refer to it as a downsizing concept.
The four-cylinder engine develops 136 hp (100 kW) at 4,000 rpm. Between 1,900 and 3,750 rpm, the 1,484 cc four-valve develops a torque of over 250 Newton metres. The compression ratio is 17.2:1. The unit is both light and compact, and – not just in the EcoRacer – it complies with the EU-5 exhaust standard of the time and the old future even higher European threshold values. The TDI engine’s gearbox is the DSG dual-clutch transmission. The 1.5 TDI, first shown in the EcoRacer, has the potential to implement the CCS process. The CCS (Combined Combustion System) is a combustion process that combines the advantages of diesel and gasoline engines, using synthetic fuels.

Photos: Volkswagen

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