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When Volkswagen's 80-mpg EcoRacer concept debuted at Tokyo's motor show last year, the diesel-powered roadster received the kind of polite, matter-of-fact coverage that would follow, say, the opening of an Albertson's grocery store in Bolivia. The bright-orange prototype, after all, is largely a fancy wrapper for the company's zippy, new 1.5-liter turbodiesel mill coming out this year, and carries all sorts of messages about the new engine by association: It's sporty! It's earth friendly! It's efficient! It smells like fresh-cut petunias not coal tar! Still, it's a matter of dispute whether the company would seriously consider building such a roadster, diesel or not. Nonetheless, an Automobile writer braved the mild winds of the South of France to take the forward-thinking concept 'round a track a few times, for research's sake.

Test Drive: 2006 Volkswagen EcoRacer Concept [Automobile]

Volkswagen Reveals EcoRacer Concept for Tokyo Show [internal]