the beginning of a variety of shows.
21st October 2005.
Sports, fuel economy and environment
care are not necessarily incompatible. That what VW's
EcoRacer prototype will defend at the 2005 Tokyo motor
show when it opens its
doors to the public tomorrow (until Sunday, November 6,
The name says it: Eco, because fuel
consumption and emission are very low; Racer, because the
dynamic potential of this mid-engined sports car is
Thanks to its carbon-fibre (CFP)
bodywork, the EcoRacer weighs only 850 kilograms. Powered
by a newly developed 100-kW turbo-diesel engine, and mated
to a DSG double-clutch transmission, it shows impressive
figure: a top speed of 230 kph, 0-100 km/h in 6.3
seconds... and 3.4 litres per 100 km average consumption!
Driven economically, it can even travel
more than 1000 kilometres on one tank filling (30 litres).
says one of its three "business
Bodywork - The EcoRacer is 3.77
metres long, 1.74 metres wide, and only 1.21 meters high.
The wheelbase of the specially developed 17” alloy rims
is 2.48 metres, with extremely short font and rear
A carbon-fibre (CFP = carbon-fibre
reinforced plastic) bodywork was adopted for both light
ness and stiffness. Structurally, it is a CFP polycoque
with roll bar, CFP crash elements and a CFP skin. The main
parts of the polycoque are a chassis pan, two side members
and the dashboard.
The crash elements in the front area
consist of the CFP crash absorber and an aluminium bumper
cross-member. A further CFP module carries the engine and
rear axle. The vehicle floor with integrated diffuser is
also made of CFP.
The EcoRacer as a coupé:
the bonnet, boot-lid and doors are also made of CFP, as
are the roof elements. The door locks of the EcoRacer open
electromechanically. This not only releases the door catch
– via Keyless-Entry-and-Go system – but also swings
the associated roof wing upwards on a gas-pressure damper,
so as to optimise the entry and exit. These roof sections
and the so-called T-bar, the longitudinal web between
them, can be removed completely and stowed behind the
EcoRacer as a roadster.
The EcoRacer as a Roadster:
in a matter of minutes, the entire roof structure
including the windows can be removed or converted. First,
the rear hatch, the coupe rear end, is removed. At the
same time, the side elements of the front wings between
the front wheel and the door hinge are taken out. The
effect of the thus partially free-standing tyres has
dynamics all of its own. In fact, without the hatch and
the roof, the coupé now emerges as a roadster.
EcoRacer as a speedster.
The EcoRacer as a Speedster:
a special catch in the area of the A column can be simply
released to allow the windscreen (with its frame) and the
upper dashboard housing to be taken off. In place of this
module, a minimalistic windscreen with its own dashboard
cover is inserted. The result is a speedster in its purest
In the area of the B columns, the
typical air intakes of a central-engined sports car are
dominant. A sense of power emanates from the muscular
contours of the wings and the 17” aluminium-alloy wheels
that fill the wheel-boxes.
Running gear - The front
double-wishbone axle is a completely new design. The
wishbones are made of aluminium, as are the pivot
bearings. The four-control-shaft rear axle is based on the
derivate that was used in the Golf. Its use in a
central-engined sports car emphasises the potential of an
axle that harmonises perfectly with front-wheel,
rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. In the EcoRacer (weight
distribution front / rear: 40 to 60) it was tuned
specifically to the central-engine concept, and robbed of
a few kilograms.
EcoRacer: a TDI and yet, it means business
on the track.
Braking is by internally ventilated
discs (front 288 millimetres diameter and rear 286 mm).
The main brake cylinder with its 10-inch brake booster is
a contribution from the Golf family model.
Like the electric parking brake, the
ESP originated in the new Passat,
its software being adapted to rear-wheel drive (Passat:
front-wheel and all-wheel drive). The pedal arrangement of
the EcoRacer, with standing accelerator and hanging brake
pedal, come from the current Golf GTI.
The EcoRacer’s 1.5 TDI engine
is still under trial. Like the new twin charger (TSI)
among the direct-injection petrol engines, the
turbo-diesel direct injection engine is characterised by
greatest agility at lowest consumption.
extracts a remarkable 91.64 PS and 168.46
Nm per litre.
The Volkswagen developers refer to it
as a highly charged downsizing concept. The four-cylinder
engine develops 100 kW / 136 PS at 4000 rpm.
Between 1900 and 3750 rpm, the 1484 cc four-valve
unit develops a torque of more than 250 Newton-metres.
That makes a remarkable 91.64 PS and 168.46 Nm per 1000
cc! The compression ratio is 17.2:1. The gearbox of the
turbo-diesel is the DSG double-clutch transmission.
Presented in the EcoRacer for the first
time, the 1.5 TDI unit has the potential to implement the
CCS process (Combined Combustion System) which combines
the advantages of diesel and petrol engines, using
Interior - The two-seater
prototype has leather-upholstered bucket seat, a multifunction
display, with central
instruments and integrated infotainment
functions, all visible whatever the adjustment position of
the steering wheel, and whatever the size of the driver.
multifunction display moves with the
The secret is that the multifunction
display is integrated in the steering column, and
moves with the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself
is a new design with an airbag, and measures 340
millimetres in diameter.
The cockpit offers an enormous range of
functions. At the same time, the number operating elements
concentrate on the essentials. Thanks to the new central
display, only those functions are visualised that are
The central dial allows the driver to
query many different display functions. The predominant
basic setting is either the speedometer or a rev counter;
although they are digital, these functions have an
analogue appearance. If the DSG is shifted manually, the
display can, if desired, indicate when a gear-change is
recommended through a red outer ring.
In addition, the TFT display can be
switched from “Normal Mode” to a “Racing
Mode” with a switch in the gear lever.
In race mode, the characteristics of
the electromechanical power-assisted steering (EPS) is
varied towards more direct steering. The electronics make
this possible (the steering is taken from the Golf).
mode to “Racing Mode” with a switch in
the gear lever.
Overall, the steering of the EcoRacer
has been designed in a very sports-car-like manner, taking
into account the very light loading of the front axle. The
running-gear engineers also adapted the track rods to the
geometry of the front axle.
In “Racing Mode”, the
engine-gearbox characteristics are altered in parallel for
an even more sporting set-up.
A further highlight is “Fingerprint”,
an authorisation system which allows to tailor the
EcoRacer performance, not just preferences, to different
If, for instance, your 18-year-old son
or daughter with little driving experience wants to drive
the EcoRacer, it is possible to activate a mode in which
the sports car does not develop its full power, the top
speed is electronically reduced, and ESP is always active.
This feature can be likened to the
different access/ read / write / execute rights or
privileges that a computer or domain administrator can
grant to each user or category of users.
MMI four function fields: Car, Navigation,
Telephone and Audio.
The various display modes (colour or
monochrome can be selected) are controlled by an MMI
system (Multi Media Interface, well known from Audi).
The MMI with its cursor and four function fields (Car,
Navigation, Telephone and Audio)
is located on the aluminium-effect central tunnel in front
of the DSG gearshift, which is also newly designed.
At this point, there is an integrated
storage compartment with an interface for an Apple
iPod (title display and
menu control via the central display).
The EcoRacer’s 1.5 TDI is started and
stopped by pressing a button on the switchboard (part of
the Keyless-Entry-and-Go system). Also in aluminium
are the knobs that control the air-conditioning, the
inside door handles, the switches for the electric window
lifters and the ventilator nozzles.
The upper dashboard area is painted in
body colour. The rear-view mirror is also mounted on this
painted surface, which is part of the windscreen module,
and can be swapped out in one piece.
LED - Technically, the LED
headlamps and LED rear lights deserve particular
The headlamp modules are built
with a depth of only 55 millimetres, thus allowing the
front end to be completely newly arranged. Hitherto,
especially in cars with a very short body overhang,
conventional headlamps have been installed significantly
higher than the axles. But thanks to the flatness of the
LED headlamps, a much lower position is now feasible, even
in a sports car like the EcoRacer.
In the EcoRacer, Volkswagen use two
chrome plated headlamp tubes in each lamp. The upper tube
is for dipped and full headlights. In addition to the LEDs
for these main functions, the headlamp has an outer ring
consisting of another 50 LEDs. When dimmed, this ring
plays the role of the side light and – at full
brilliance – the daytime driving light that is already
regulation in many countries.
At the same time, the dipped
headlights, reduced to 10 percent, are switched on. The
effect is excellent.
activated in different colours.
The lower tube in each lamp contains
the LED fog lamp and the LED cornering light. Again,
nothing is as you have come to expect.
Take the cornering light, for example:
it is generated by an LED that is angled three degrees
outwards. There being no swiveling headlamp, the depth
required for installation is
reduced here, too.
The construction of the LED rear
lamps is no less innovative. Here, Volkswagen use
extremely bright RGB-LEDs; these can be activated in different
colours, and are located as units on the three LED
circuit boards of each rear light. Each of these circuit
boards can be used separately or additively for the
different lighting functions (tail light, braking light,