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VW’s Elise-rivalling sports car scooped

Published: 10 October 2008

Volkswagen is readying a top-secret mid-engined sports car in the mould of the Lotus Elise – a true people’s sports car in keeping with the brand’s populist roots and wearing a tempting price tag hovering around £20,000. CAR has compiled a dossier on the new VW coupe and we’ll see more concrete clues at the November 2008 Los Angeles motor show when Volkswagen whisks the cover off its third small sports car concept in five years.

CAR Online’s artist’s impression reveals a possible look for the new VW coupe, although we admit this image is quite speculative. Little is known yet about the finished look of the newcomer – largely because the production version isn’t likely to be seen before 2013.

The design is still not signed off, but we hear that VW designer Mark Lichte is planning to give the sports car classic proportions, with a long wheelbase, a wide track and short overhangs. Our image wraps up that DNA in a contemporary Volkswagen two-seater design.

So what do we definitely know about the new VW sports car?

The concept being discussed in Wolfsburg is a four-cylinder, mid-engined car. If VW is to achieve that £20,000 cut-price Elise positioning, keeping a lid on costs will be vital.

So engines will come from elsewhere in the group empire and the vehicle architecture will be spun around a new modular steel assembly system. Dubbed Modular Sports Car, the underpinnings will be simple – aluminium is considered way too expensive – but that sadly means that the car is likely to weigh around 300kg more than the Elise.

However, the engineers are targeting a rigid assembly that is stiff enough to have a coupe (pictured) or convertible roadster bodystyles.

Click ‘Next’ to read more about the 2013 VW sports car

What else do we know about Volkswagen’s MSC sports car?

The modular chassis is said to use clever new kinematics in the new strut-based suspension system that does away with the need for pricey, Golf-style multi-link axles. Money pinching is crucial here, but not at the expense of delivering a fun-to-drive, pointy sports car.

To this end, R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg has disclosed to CAR that the new affordable sports car will use parts-bin steering, brakes, electronics and DSG twin-clutch transmissions. Bearing in mind some of the expertise out there on Planet VW, that’s no bad thing…

This car rings bells. Will there be an Audi and Porsche version too?

You bet. CAR Online has already revealed the new sub-Boxster Porsche sports car  and Ingolstadt is developing its own budget mid-engined sportster in the shape of the Audi R3.

The VW version is tipped to use a variety of different powertrains. Bearing in mind its projected 2013 on-sale date, Volkswagen is making sure it can take petrol, diesel, hybrid or full electric power supplies to cope with a remapped global economy.

In the short term, the Volkswagen MSC is likely to be powered by turbocharged 1.2 and 1.4-litre four-cylinder engines offering a mix of power outputs between 105 and 160bhp. Naturally in this cuddly, CO2-obsessed zeitgeist, there is a Bluemotion version planned too, running a 75bhp 1.2 three-pot TDI.

Come back to CAR Online in November 2008 to see the VW sports car concept in full

Should VW build an Elise rival? Or is this icing on the cake that’s distracting from more urgent new models? Click ‘Add your comment’ and let us know