VW's Mazda MX-5 rival sports a diesel engine - but it never saw the light of day.
The Mazda Miata is an icon. It will likely always be a paragon of affordable sports car fun. Many have tried to dethrone the ever-popular roadster, and many have failed. So, let's talk about the time Volkswagen thought about giving it a try and then thought better of it.
What you're looking at is the long-dead Concept BlueSport. The last time we talked about it, VW was still deciding whether or not the project would go through. We know now that it didn't, but it's worth looking back at what may be one of the last fun gas-powered Volkswagens
To understand the life and death of this car, we've got to go back to the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, where VW debuted the new Concept R, a two-seat convertible with a mid-mounted VR6 motor and a DSG dual-clutch transmission.
This was Genesis for the BlueSport, and three years later, the R was rechristened the BlueSport and sent off to the Detroit Auto Show.
This is where things went from concept to reality. The BlueSport had headlights that fit modern production and safety requirements. It had a motor and a new design consistent with the look of VWs at this point in time. In short, it looked like the Miata would have some competition, and the Porsche Boxster would have a new corporate sibling.
Let's talk more about that motor. Unfortunately, VW killed the VR6 across its lineup three years following the R's debut. It was a dark day in Wolfsburg, as the VR6 was a robust engine with real character. Why do you think the Golf R32 is a $50,000 car nowadays?
In its place now lived a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel. At the time, the powerplant and the DSG it was mated to was bleeding-edge tech for VW, and the brand would've wanted to show it off.
The VW diesel engine was in for the ride of its life in just a few short years. Still, at the time, it produced solid figures. VW pushed 55 mpg from the platform with a healthy 180 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
For reference, a Miata was kicking out 167 hp and 140 lb-ft at the time, so the VW easily outclassed its potential competition there. We'll never know if it was worth the money, of course. VW was working on an Audi version, which would've sat alongside the TT.
Ultimately, it was money that killed the BlueSport. VW math nerds ran the numbers and found that the demand for a small, four-pot diesel roadster wouldn't work. Reportedly, VW could have made a little money, but it had other priorities.
At the time, the now-ubiquitous MQB platform was in the works, and just after that, Dieselgate ensured no one wanted to buy a diesel VW anyways. Especially not one that only came with an automatic transmission.