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New Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept wows at Geneva

The all-electric Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept sits on the brand's MEB platform, and takes its cues from American dune buggies of the past

This is the new Volkswagen ID Buggy, a concept car created with a welcome sense of humour by the German brand to showcase how its new electric architecture can be adapted to underpin different vehicles. The concept takes its inspiration from VW Beetle-based dune buggies that were a fixture of 1960s and '70s American surf culture.

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Auto Express was granted an early look around the car with VW Chief designer Klaus Bischoff ahead of its official Geneva Motor Show debut.

• All the latest from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

“We’ve already created electric versions of our big cars: a Golf of modern times [the ID. Neo], a Passat of modern times [ID. Vizzion], the Type 2 bus or modern times [ID. Buzz], and now this,” says Klaus.

Volkswagen ID. Buggy – design

It’s possibly the most eye catching member of the ID. family so far, and not only for its matt lime green paint job (a colour chosen for two reasons: it’s inspired by the Viper Green shade used on some ‘70s-era VWs, and because it gives its a distinct hue relative to all of the previous ID. concepts). It’s a split tone paint job: the lower greyish blue half gives the body an effect of floating on top of the chassis.

The ID. Buggy shares similarly wild, curving arches of the classic models. Constructed from just two vast fibreglass panels, they cover a set of 18-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in huge BF Goodrich off-road tyres, lending the Buggy some sand crawling potential.

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It’s a look which Klaus believes appreads modern, yet remains clearly Volkswagen. “If you look at our classic air-cooled designs, none of them had a grille, and with electric cars a grille is less important. For many other brands, a grille is part of their identity, but we don’t need one.”

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LED lights five give a clear nod to the round spotlights of older models, which, according to Bischoff, gives a cute look which sits well with the Volkswagen family. “Our designs are non-aggressive - they can be sporty or purposeful, yes, but not aggressive. The ID. Buggy is another example of this.” 

At just over four metres long, the ID. Buggy is roughly the same length as a Polo. A large roll hoop protects the occupants, while a small canopy roof will be available provide some minor protection from the elements. 

The wonderfully simplistic design carries into the exposed cabin. The dashboard is formed from the same panel that covers the nose of the car, and creates a simple sweep and deep shelf below the windscreen. Clearly a ventilation system isn’t necessary, and there’s no infotainment system either - just Bluetooth connectivity to pair a mobile device with a pair of speakers located in the footwells. Audio is controlled by touch sensitive volume and track selection keys on the twin-spoke steering wheel. 

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A small, simple digital driver’s display shows speed and drive selection, and that’s pretty much it. Even the column stalks are pared back to the bare minimum: rotate the left side to operate the indicators (and press in to operate the lights); rotate the right side to change between Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park.

Practicality with beach life in mind has been well considered, too. A waterproof coating is applied to the fabric seats and, thanks to drainage holes both in their bases and in the car’s floor, enables the whole to be just hosed down when it gets covered in sand. There’s a single zipped cubby to hold small items in the middle of the footwell, while at the back there’s a deep lockable storage space to hold clothes and other valuables. 

Platform and powertrain

Underpinned by the VW Group’s MEB platform, the fully-functioning concept is powered by a 201bhp electric motor which, like the air cooled models which inspired it, is rear-mounted and rear-wheel drive. The Buggy can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, while its top speed is limited to 99mph. The Buggy’s 62kWh battery is enough to deliver a 155 mile range on the WLTP cycle

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In contrast to many modern EVs, the buggy lacks any self-driving tech. Klaus explains why: “modern EVs are very safe and clever, but we need to have a counterweight to the modern technology, and create cars like this that are just about the fun.”

So will it ever make production? Well Volkswagen won’t rule it out. “We need to make at least 100k sales a year [of MEB-based cars] to justify doing limited run cars on same platform,” says Bischoff - a target which, given the number of cars set to use the layout, can happen easily.

Arguably even more exciting is that MEB could see the return of the coachbuilder. VW is keen to sell the platform to smaller companies, allowing them to design their own body and drop it on top of MEB. “The platform is so versatile” Klaus says, “that as well as mass production, could also allow smaller firms to custom make their own cars, in units of 50 or more, as firms like Karmann did in the past.” 

Volkswagen bosses stated that, with an outsourced platform, roughly 75 per cent of the vehicle would be Volkswagen tech, with the remaining quarter taking up all of the superficial parts of the design.

In other words, even if VW doesn’t go ahead with it, we might see someone else recreate a dune buggy in the future.

Would you like to see the VW ID. Buggy make production? Let us know your thoughts below...

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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