If you like SUVs, then you’ll love the idea of Volkswagen’s new CrossBlue Coupé. It may look like a slightly squashed Touareg, but underneath its skin lies one of the most impressive performance hybrid powerplants.
For the record, the CrossBlue is slightly longer (4,889mm vs 4,795mm), slightly wider (2,015mm vs 1,940mm) and slightly lower (1,679mm vs 1,732mm) than the Touareg. It also sits on a wider track (1,709 mm front, 1,726 mm rear) and a longer wheelbase (2,980mm vs 2,893mm).
Like many crossovers it blurs the lines between SUV and large estate (or station wagon as they’re called in the US), and while the shape is of moderate note (although not very coupe-like), it’s the powerplant that’s caught our attention.
Remember the new Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid? 410bhp, 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, 91.1mpg and 71 g/km of CO2 emissions. Launched earlier this month, it’s at the leading edge of petrol/electric hybrids, offering gut-wrenching performance with city-car levels of frugality. Pure alchemy.
Well, Volkswagen has gone one better with the CrossBlue Coupé. Power is the same at around 409bhp, but instead of the Panamera’s combined 590 Nm (435lbs-ft) of torque, the CrossBlue raises the bar to 700 Nm (516 lbs-ft). All this from a 3-litre V6 turbocharged direct injection engine and two electric motors.
Fuel economy exceeds even the Panamera’s outstanding levels, with 94.1 mpg on the combined cycle. However being a brick-like SUV, the CrossBlue cannot match the Panamera’s 167mph top speed, but still records a zero to 62mph time of 5.9 seconds and reaches 146 mph flat out, as fitted with a six-speed DSG gearbox.
The CrossBlue Coupé has a theoretical range of 740 miles and in hybrid mode, with a depleted battery powered by the TSI engine can still achieve 40.9 mpg – hence real-world conditions should see something between 41 and 94mpg. Powered by its battery alone, the CrossBlue can cover up to 20 miles as a zero-emissions EV.
In addition to its standard charging mode (where the petrol engine charges the battery while driving) the hybrid powerplant offers five other modes – coasting (decoupled engine/motors), battery regeneration (when braking or decelerating), boosting (full power to all four wheels), off-road and TSI only (pure front-wheel-drive).
Built using Volkswagen’s new Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) components set, the CrossBlue Coupé rivals BMW’s X6, and points the way towards a similar powerplant that will find its way (soon) into the Porsche Cayenne.
Volkswagen say a production version could accommodate many different powerplants – four or six-cylinder engines could be used, configured for a variety of fuels (petrol, diesel, CNG) – but clearly this top-of-the-range hybrid looks so temptingly close to what most of us would choose.
Even though Volkswagen say there no current plans to produce the CrossBlue Coupé, they’ve clearly spent a lot of time developing its flexible hybrid powertrain. Expect to see it used in several high-end VAG products in the very near future.
The CrossBlue Coupé will be on show at the Shanghaia Motor Show, which opens its doors tomorrow.