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Volkswagen: Concept R

Sports car concept R: V6 mid-engine, 265 PS, sheer dynamics, tangible future

Just seven days after the world premiere of the new Golf, Volkswagen presents a further facet of automobile fascination: The roadster prototype concept R. The great sharpness in design, seen from every angle, combined with outstanding functional solutions indicates what the Brand has in store for the future and also a possible involvement in the world of real and genuine sports cars.

Volkswagen Concept R
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Propulsion for the concept R comes from a V6 mid-engine; It returns 195 kW / 265 brake horse power and accelerates the roadster in 5.3 seconds to 100 km/h. If the propelling power was not governed to 250 km/h, in theory, the top speed would be 270 km/h. The engine torque (350 Newton metres at 2,800 rpm) is transferred to the road via a spectacular Volkswagen direct selection gearbox (DSG / 6-speed) and rear axle. Chosen consciously to provide a contrast, the designers applied colour to the exterior and interior: Frozen sky paint finish, dark earth interior leather.

Volkswagen Concept R
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The design team, led by Murat Günak (Volkswagen Brand Group) and Peter Schreyer (Volkswagen Brand), shows with the roadster concept R how a sports car packed with aesthetics and emotion could look in the foreseeable future with the internationally successful "VW" label. The 4.16 metre long, 1.78 metre wide and just 1.25 metre high two-seater has a convincingly powerful body and an interior that conquers virgin territory in terms of style in every detail.

Volkswagen Concept R
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The basis for the highly dynamic exterior design forms a very clear linear structure, which distinguishes all of today's Volkswagens. But these lines are set sharper than ever and, with a new appearance, frame extremely exciting and well formed surfaces. This new three dimensionality in the important body elements forms, with the virtuosity of a concept bearing the slogan "anything is possible", a path to tomorrow's foreseeable world. The concept R continues where the Phaeton, Touareg, New Beetle Cabriolet and Golf make their mark to further enhance dynamics and emotion with crystal clear structures and functional levels by placing itself ahead without compromise as a forerunner of Volkswagen design.

A particularly avante garde element of the concept R is seen in the front end with its newly designed Volkswagen radiator grille and large V-shaped air cooling inlet below.


  The chrome badge, integrating the VW logo in the centre, is where air is drawn in for the V6 engine to "breath" and the new look of the eye-like headlights creates a face that can immediately be associated with the Volkswagen Brand tradition, even though a complete reinterpretation of the design has been possible. The designers were conscious in their efforts to instil in the front end of this sports car the agility and vigilance of an animal about to jump.

The bonnet of the front luggage compartment (mid-engine!) continues the V of the radiator grille extension and contours it upwards to the A pillars. This V is stressed by two flowing protrusions that separate the wings and bonnet contour on the left and right. The wings are designed more as independent and powerful structures and on both sides feature a further inlet for cooling of the front brakes.

Absolutely dominant: Headlights integrated in the wings with outer, round main element and an inner part narrowing to a point towards the centre of the vehicle. Inline with the Phaeton, Touareg and new Golf, the wing area is extended prominently to the front above the headlights like an eyebrow and underlines in this way the athletic character of the concept vehicle.

True to this image is a technical novelty in the form of headlights with ultramodern LED technology: As soon as they are switched on, a lens begins to open on each side. Before the aperture widens, all that can be seen is a narrow beam of light and then the full lighting power becomes available for dipped or main beam. The optical effect of this focusing of the "vehicle eyes" makes the "concept R" appear to come alive, inline with the whole characteristic design.

The flank of the concept R is distinguished by: a very flat waistline, rising to the center of the rear wheel arches; naturally round, heavily contoured wheel arches; and a very short rear overhang. The new design is also continued here with its own fascination in form and function. And again the term three dimensionality comes to light. Inline with the New Beetle, there are just three prominent lines that form the silhouette of the concept R: Two semi-circles each for the high rise of the wheel arches and one straight line closing to a semi-circle at the rear of the waistline.

Furthermore, the three dimensionality of the design is emphasized par excellence in the side rear end area: The surface of the wings above the prominent semi-circles of the wheel arches is drawn into the rear end and is visible only from the rear to form an extremely powerful and independent unit. Similar to the new Golf, the tail lights have a transparent finish, even when seen from the side, and form an important style element thanks to their crystal clear appearance.

The interior of the concept R

Volkswagen Concept R
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Take one look at the interior of the concept R and view groundbreaking and fascinating form and function in harmony. The interior designers and design engineers developed an interior that has the layout, operating and information spectrum of a time tunnel that paves the way to the future.

All information and operating elements are integrated in a new harmony of form and function.

Example: A so-called OLED screen (flexible in shape and form with extremely high lighting power) breathes even more "life" into the concept R. And in a way that is as unusual as it is unexpected. The typical VW emblem in the steering wheel is no longer a tangible reality; It can now be found stored in the round display. As soon as the driver switches on the ignition, that is, when the concept R is switched to stand-by, the VW emblem begins to pulsate. When the ignition is activated, the pulse stops. Even though the VW logo is generated digitally by a display, it has a tangible appearance as if it were made of chromed metal.

A completely new feature was introduced by the engineers in the way of ergonomics: The two bucket seats of the concept R are no longer adjustable. In fact, there is no way of adjusting them at all. Instead of the seat, the driver moves the polished aluminum operating and information block of the instrument panel, including steering wheel and pedal cluster, back or forth. The adjusting mechanism is activated electrically.

  At the press of a button, the front passenger can also find an optimal seating position by moving a highly polished support element back or forth in the footwell. And this position is truly comfortable: The concept R fits perfectly and offers the highest level of seating comfort on long journeys, such as the winding roads of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife – exactly the reason why the concept of selecting the optimal seating position was reversed.

The seats are mounted rigidly but feature innovative suspension in order to adapt to the contours of the body, not the other way around – that is the essence of ergonomics

Background: Thanks to a sophisticated and newly developed carrier mechanism, the seats are self-sprung; The hardness of the springs can also be adjusted. The seating comfort is enhanced even further by active foam used in the seat structure, which is covered in deer leather. Developed for space travel and adapted for extremely good office furniture with a price tag to match, this foam is being used in a sports car for the first time. It adapts perfectly like a modulated counter-structure to the individual contours of each body and thereby contributes towards an unusually high level of comfort and provides good ergonomic properties.

An optical and technical highlight of the concept vehicle is the instrument panel and centre console. All areas of the operating elements and displays, and also parts of the three-spoke steering wheel (self-climatised), are finished in polished aluminium. As a contrast, the dash cross member is covered in dark deer leather to avoid reflections from the windscreen.
The sports car cockpit captivates its audience by clarity, aesthetics and functional logic. Example: The air vents in the centre console, designed with a turbine appearance, display the selected temperature digitally and can be turned like a dial to set a new value. The combination of display and operation is as simple as it is remarkable. The hand is reached out intuitively to a point where the driver expects the function to be and where the temperature change can be felt directly.

A further novelty are the instruments themselves. The hardware provides digital information here too (with, in places, analogue characters), and here, as the project develops, ultramodern OLED screens will also be featured. Right at the heart of development work was again the need to interpret the harmony of form and function in a fascinating and new way. Example, main instrument or rather main function level: When the ignition is activated (no key required, just simply tap the START switch lightly), it opens up into the centre of the cockpit from the right. In this central display are the classic functions, such as speed or engine temperature.

As soon as the driver activates the navigation system, however, the display is retracted to the side in the instrument panel to make way for the new instrument: Specially designed to aid route guidance, the navigation display now takes a frontal position and all other information is in the background. Important details that have to be displayed permanently, such as speed, are still large enough to be seen.

The navigation is controlled via the Volkswagen MMI (multimedia interface), a circular system which can be found on the centre tunnel. Via MMI, the driver (or co-driver) can also control the audio system, the ride height and basic cellphone settings. The MMI element and the tunnel are also finished predominantly in aluminium in this area. This also applies to the short and neat gear selector of the direct selection gearbox (DSG).

Volkswagen is the inventor of the direct selection gearbox;
The concept R shows that this transmission unit belongs to the future

With respect to the DSG, not only is the selector lever neat but also the whole selection process. And this also harmonises ideally with completely spectacular concept R. As an alternative to the very fast gear selection in automatic mode, the DSG can also be operated manually via buttons in the steering wheel: They can be found within easy reach at the rear of the steering wheel; on the right is the plus button (+) to change up, on the left the minus button (-) to change down. Extremely fast, extremely precise, extremely dynamic. If the concept R were a series production vehicle, there would therefore be only one motto: get in, feel, find a road and experience automobile fascination.

September 2003

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