DETROIT – A year ago at the auto show here, Volkswagen revealed plans to bring production of its small Tiguan CUV to North America as part of its strategy to more than double total vehicle sales in the U.S. to 800,000 units by 2018.

This week the automaker is providing a peek at the model to come in the Tiguan GTE Active Concept that makes its world debut at the North American International Auto Show.

Volkswagen of America officials long have noted the current Tiguan is an inadequate competitor in the North American market, sized a little too small and priced a little too high for U.S. consumers. The shift to production in Puebla, Mexico, beginning later this year and part of a $1 billion investment in the region, will help with the cost side, while the switch to VW’s ubiquitous MQB architecture for the new second-generation model tackles the size issue.

For the show car, VW goes with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, further signaling a future in which it is expected to expand its lineup of electrified vehicles, an effort no doubt taking on further urgency in light of the recent diesel-engine scandal that has triggered a costly recall, spurred lawsuits and sent overall sales spiraling downward.

Switching Tiguan to the Golf’s MQB platform increases wheelbase to 105.6 ins. (2,682 mm), up more than 3 ins. (76 mm) from the current model. Overall length is boosted to 176.9 ins. (4,493 mm), a 2.4-in. (61 mm) jump, and width grows to 74.8 ins. (1,900 mm) from 71.2 ins. (1,808 mm). The U.S.-market Tiguan will be even bigger, as it will be based on a long-wheelbase version of the platform.

Ground clearance is raised from 7.9 ins. (201 mm) to 9.6 ins. (244 mm) and VW includes a front skid plate for added protection during off-roading.

A key feature of MQB is its ability to package any type of VW powertrain, from gasoline and diesel engines to battery packs and fuel-cells, into its standard layout. In the Tiguan GTE Active, the automaker couples two electric motors positioned front and rear, powered by a 12.4-kWh lithium-ion battery, with a 148-hp, turbocharged, direct-injected, gasoline engine. VW doesn’t specify the engine’s size or configuration in its pre-show media materials.

Combined the powertrain is capable of 221 hp, channeled to all four wheels through VW’s 4MOTION 4-wheel-drive system. VW says the CUV can travel 20 miles (32 km) in all-electric mode at speeds up to 70 mph (113 km/h) before requiring help from the direct-driving gasoline engine.

Overall driving range with the 16.9-gallon (64L) gasoline tank and a full charge is rated at 580 miles (933 km), the automaker says.

The concept’s 6-speed dual-clutch transmission is designed specifically for the hybrid-powertrain application, with the front electric motor housed inside the gearbox casing.

The rear motor is used to drive the car when there’s enough battery power, with the gasoline engine and front electric motor decoupled from the powertrain.

Once battery power is depleted or more power is needed for dynamic handling or off-roading, the gasoline engine is started and the front motor serves as a generator to supply electricity to the rear, a setup VW dubs an “electric driveshaft.” All motors decouple during coasting, for better fuel-economy.

Several drive programs can be selected from a rotary/push-button switch on the center console, ranging from Comfort to Eco to Offroad and Snow.

Exterior design is meant to evoke an active lifestyle. The front bumper is trimmed in an all-terrain, “Dark Graphite” polymer. There are tow hooks in the front air dams and the vehicle’s roof is equipped with high-strength cross rails that can hold skis or other equipment.

The theme is carried inside with brushed dark aluminum trim around the instrument panel, dark chrome accents on the steering wheel and air-vent accent trim coordinated with the concept vehicle’s Dragon Red exterior paint.

A new-generation infotainment system rounds out the show-car’s features. It includes a 9.2-in. (23.4-cm) touchscreen with gesture control.

Last year, the entry CUV was one of the bright spots for the automaker in the U.S., which saw sales overall fall 4.8% in a market up 5.8%. In contrast, Tiguan deliveries spiked 42.7% to 35,843 units, WardsAuto data shows.

The second-gen Tiguan is expected to hit the market in 2017.

dzoia@wardsauto.com