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At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volkswagen showed off its latest roadster — the BlueSport Concept. The BlueSport features a 177 hp diesel engine with rail injection and a downstream NOx storage catalytic converter, all in a 6-speed DSG dual clutch transmission.

With a top speed of 140 mph, the 2.0-liter turbodiesel (TDI) delivers 258 lb-ft of torque. The Euro 6 compliant version gets 54.7 mpg where as the US version will get around 42 mpg. I am happy for the Tier II emission standards we have here in the US, and T2B5 standards are close to California’s stricter Level II standards, but do we really lose 12 mpg by those standards?

It’s VW’s eco mode that accounts for the boost in fuel economy: an automatic start-stop system and energy regeneration. Together they propel the Concept BlueSport to an additional fuel savings of up to 0.2 liter per 100 kilometers in city driving.

The roadster is barely over a ton. It’s lightweight construction includes a soft top that is the lightest in its class. It paid off. It will take less than 6-seconds to hit 60 mph. Of course, its weight also pays off in fuel consumption.

Editor’s note: this post was updated 1/24/2009 at 4:12 PST to change a reference to the vehicle hitting “top speed” in under 6 seconds. It should have said it will hit 60 mph in under 6 seconds.

Photos: VWvortex.com