VW Twin-Up Plug-in Hybrid: The Ultimate Urban Crossover?

German automaker Volkswagen may have taken a while to enter the plug-in vehicle market, but now it wants the world to know it’s serious about them, readying all-electric and plug-in variants of its popular Golf for mass production this year.

Volkswagen Twin-Up! plug-in hybrid electric car

Volkswagen Twin-Up! plug-in hybrid electric car

At its official European press launch last night for the Volkswagen e-Golf, we were treated to a first-glance at the e-Golf, the VW GTE plug-in hybrid and the VW e-Up!, a car we’ve recently had a chance to get to know rather well.

But in one corner of the specially-built venue at the glorious Templehoff airport in Berlin, Germany, we also had chance to cast our eyes over the Volkswagen Twin-Up!: a fully working concept plug-in hybrid with an unusual pedigree.

Externally, there’s very little to mark the Twin-Up! apart from any other five-door Up!, yet Volkswagen tells us this tiny car is actually three centimeters longer at the front than its conventional gasoline or electric powered sibling.  That extra length is to accomodate the ultra-efficient plug-in Diesel hybrid drivetrain from VW’s limited-production two-seat XL1 coupe.

Dashboard is slightly different to the production e-Up and Up!

Dashboard is slightly different to the production e-Up and Up!

In its native environment of the XL1, the tiny two-cylinder Diesel engine sits directly behind the driver, rattling nosily every time it is called into service.  Capable of 47 brake horsepower, the diesel engine supplemented the XL1’s tiny 20 kilowatt electric motor and 5.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack and managed an astonishing 313 miles per imperial gallon (261 miles per U.S. gallon, or 0.9 litres per 100 km)  

Yet its 0-62 mph time of 12.7 seconds betrays the fact that the XL1 is built with efficiency first, not performance.

Plug-in diesel drivetrain hides under the hood.

Plug-in diesel drivetrain hides under the hood.

The same is true of the Twin-Up!, which despite an increase in electric motor size to 30 kilowatts and a battery pack increase to 8.6 kilowatt-hours, really does struggle pick up speed. The dash to 62 mph is reportedly glacial, taking an agonising 15 seconds.

In fairness however, the Volksagen Twin-Up! is not intended to be a car designed for the race track. Like its petrol and all-electric siblings, the Twin-Up! has been designed to offer economic motoring in the big city.

Sadly, given the fact that there’s only one or two Twin-Up! in the world, we didn’t have a chance to get behind the wheel and drive it. But we did have a good look around and snapped some photographs to share with you here.

Internally, the Twin-Up! concept  looks very much like the e-Up!, but with a slightly different gear lever and centre console to the electric version. Gone is the Garmin GPS/infotainment system of conventional Ups and in its place is a larger in-dash touch-screen display.  We think this not only looks nicer than the production version, but seems a little less fussy.

Charging happens via a Mennenkes Type 2 charge port.

Charging happens via a Mennenkes Type 2 charge port.

What do you think of the Twin-Up? Would you like one? Do you think the e-Up is a more useful car?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

Volkswagen provided airfare, meals and lodging to enable us to bring you this first-person report. 

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