If the Volkswagen CrossBlue concept seen earlier this year at the 2013 Detroit auto show will be the Passat SUV, the new CrossBlue Coupe unveiled in Shanghai is its CC equivalent. With a slightly shorter length, a "faster" backlight, more performance-oriented powertrain, and just two rows of seats, the CrossBlue Coupe is the sport to the regular CrossBlue's utility. Yet again, the Germans are annoyingly appending the "Coupe" designation to a four-door vehicle, but we've become so accustomed to its use now, we've learned to live with it.
Like the regular CrossBlue, the Coupe is a plug-in hybrid model. However, instead of VW's ubiquitous TDI diesel four-cylinder, the Coupe has a turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 rated at 295 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. This is paired with a duo of electric motors, a 54-hp unit in the front, and a 114-hp motor powering the rear wheels, for a combined net power rating of 415 hp. The combination is good for a claimed 0-62-mph run of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 147 mph.
Despite this fleet performance, the Coupe can average up to 79 mpg in the European drive cycle test with a fully charged battery and up to 34.1 mpg driven as "normal" hybrid. The CrossBlue Coupe can be driven in EV mode for up to 21 miles with a top speed limited to 75 mph. It's important to keep in mind European fuel economy standards and benchmarks are different from EPA tests, but these are impressive figures nonetheless for a powerful midsize SUV.
In addition to EV and regular hybrid drive modes, the CrossBlue Coupe can also operate in a battery regen mode, "boosting" with full power from the engine and both electric motors, and an off-road mode, utilizing a "propshaft by wire" using the rear electric motor to power the rear wheels.
Speaking of size, the CrossBlue Coupe is actually slightly larger than the Touareg, with an overall length of 192.5 inches -- about four inches longer, three inches wider at 79.3 inches, and two inches lower at 66.1 inches. Lending to its stocky, athletic appearance are 22-inch wheels and tires.
The CrossBlue Coupe's exterior shows styling influences from a number of different sources. LED lighting has become so ubiquitous on both concept and production models, it's nearly become a cliche, but the Coupe applies it tastefully, with "C" bracket accent lighting around the headlights that's bisected by the bumper, and wraps around the lower air inlets, somewhat reminiscent of the new 2014 Cadillac CTS with bisected LEDs on the outer edges of its lights. There's more GM influence in the rear with the taillights, which look like Audi taillights, with a hint of Camaro in the lower dual half-hexagon lights. A pronounced horizontal crease runs from the rear of the front wheel arch all the way to the taillights. The lower bumper gets a horizontal polished aluminum piece with two stainless quadrilateral-shaped exhaust outlets.
On the inside, it shares a resemblance with its three-row concept sibling, with a much sterner color palette of predominantly gray and black. The two-tone Nappa leather seating surfaces are dubbed Anthracite Pearl and Asphalto. The headliner and A-pillars are lined with Graphite-colored Alcantara synthetic suede. Even the spruce wood trim is dark anthracite-colored, giving the interior an almost monochrome appearance. An ambient lighting strip, somewhat similar to that in the new Buick Enclave, adds a touch of color, illuminating to "CrossOrange" matching the exterior color in Eco mode, and turning red in Sport mode. The central display is a large 10.1-inch touchscreen. Rear-seat passengers are treated to two iPad Mini docking stations attached to the front seatbacks for audio, video and Internet options.
An upscale touch echoing the controls in the Range Rover Evoque and newer Jaguar models are recessed headlight and climate control knobs that emerge from the dashboard upon starting the vehicle. The shifter itself is an electronically controlled rocker controlling a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
If the CrossBlue Coupe or something like it is indeed joining VW's U.S. lineup, it would be a handsome addition to the family that we think would have broad appeal to customers. We can't help but think it might cannibalize Touareg sales a bit, but as long as those customers stay in VW showrooms, it's probably a gamble VW sees as worth taking.