Apple's iPad mini could get itself a huge new ride, if Volkswagen green-lights production on the six-seater CrossBlue SUV concept shown off at the North American International Auto Show today. Coupling ample interior space with surprising efficiency given the bulk, thanks to a diesel-electric hybrid engine capable of 35mpg combined - or 89mpge in all-electric mode, albeit with a maximum range of just 14 miles - the CrossBlue looks to Apple's tinier tablet for its rear passengers, with dual docks for a pair of the iPads in the back of the front-row headrests.
They're piped through the Fender audio system, as is the front-passenger entertainment kit. That centers on a 10.2-inch touchscreen with 3D navigation, while touch-sensitive keys control HVAC. Volkswagen even changes the color-scheme of its dashboard lighting depending on whether you're in Eco or Sport mode, the illumination switching between blue and red accordingly.
It's what's under the hood that's likely most important, however, for Volkswagen's mid-sized SUV plans in North America. A combination of the new Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) front and rear suspension, and the 190HP TDI Clean Diesel engine, paired with the twin electric motors pushing out 133 lb-ft at the front and 199 lb-ft at the rear, and a Li-Ion battery hidden in the center tunnel, the company says there's a good chance they'll show up in future SUVs.
Unsurprisingly, there are compromises to be made in full-electric mode. As well as the paucity of range, Volkswagen limits the CrossBlue's top speed to 75mph (from 127mph when the diesel engine is active), and you only get rear-wheel drive. Should the power run out, the diesel engine kicks in automatically. On the flip-side, it's possible to run the CrossBlue solely on the TDI engine, or in an Offroad setting Volkwagen calls "propshaft by wire" where, with the front wheels driven by the diesel plant, the front electric motor is repurposed as a generator to power the rear motor, allowing for all-wheel drive even if the batteries are depleted.
If it makes it to showrooms, Volkswagen says the production CrossBlue would likely have a trio of seats in the middle row, making for seven altogether. The eye-catching 21-inch alloys would probably get smaller, too. No word on when that might happen, nor how much it would be, though the company predicts it would fall in-between the Tiguan (from $23k) and the Touareg (from $43k).