Volkswagen tells enthusiasts not to wait for a mid-engined roadster

2009 Volkswagen BlueSport Concept

Putting an end to a long-standing rumor, Volkswagen has announced once and for all that it is not planning on launching a small, driver-focused sports car to take on the Mazda Miata and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins.

Volkswagen gave us a preview of what its mid-engined sports car could look like when it introduced the experimental BlueSport at the 2009 edition of the Detroit Motor Show (pictured above). The concept instantly generated a surprisingly positive response from potential buyers and enthusiasts alike, and executives seriously looked into giving it the proverbial green light for production. Its development reached a point where the company asked a small team of engineers to secretly build a fully functional prototype for evaluation purposes.

“We have one done, and it looks really good, pretty good. It runs well. It’s a mid-car engine inside,” revealed Heinz-Jakob Neusser in an interview with Australian website Car Advice.

Pictures of the enigmatic prototype have never been released to the public, so what it looks like — and how many styling cues it shares with the BlueSport concept — is anyone’s guess. The project was canned largely because Volkswagen’s bean counters couldn’t make a favorable business case for a low-volume model aimed at a market segment that’s steadily shrinking.

Neusser explains that there were other issues that prevented the roadster from coming to life, notably the fact that Volkswagen isn’t known for making small convertibles, so it likely would have had a difficult time fighting for a share of the segment. Image issues didn’t stop the Wolfsburg-based firm from building the S-Class-fighting Phaeton, but they were serious enough to contribute to the cancellation of the sports car.

The announcement doesn’t mean that Volkswagen is giving up on performance cars altogether. While a standalone model has seemingly been ruled out, executives hint that more sport-focused versions of existing cars are right around the corner. These include a 420-horsepower version of the Golf R, and, possibly, a hot-rodded, R-badged version of the eighth-gen Passat that’s sold exclusively in Europe.