Volkswagen has hit a retro bullseye! More than 60 years since the classic camper van debuted, the firm has unveiled the latest incarnation: the Bulli. And we had the opportunity to get to know the newcomer at a pre-show event.
Generations of fans have known successive models as the Camper, Type 2, Microbus and Samba bus, but Bulli was the name given to the original van from 1950. It returns in a concept that borrows classic design features such as the oversized front badge, two-tone paintjob and plunging V in the bonnet.
But this latest camper is a thoroughly modern affair. Unlike the rear-wheel-drive original, the newcomer sends drive to the front wheels via an 85kW electric motor drawing power from lithium-ion batteries mounted under the floor.
VW claims the Bulli can cover 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds and go 186 miles on a charge. Petrol and diesel units from 1.0 to 1.4 litres can also be fitted, hinting at powertrains for the forthcoming Up!
The new car is shorter than the original and 2001’s Microbus concept, at just under four metres long. That makes it a rival to Ford’s B-MAX. It’s much wider than the old camper, though, allowing for two rows of chairs to seat six, plus a 370-litre boot.
The camper element is also carried over: the benches can be rearranged into a flat bed, or the rear bench folded away to allow for a 1,600-litre boot. Functions including Bluetooth and sat-nav are controlled via a centrally mounted Apple iPad.
A spokesman for the brand said this was officially just a design concept, but VW is keeping a close eye on public reaction at the Geneva show. He hinted that if it was to make production it would push VW into a completely new niche - a brave move that could prove to be lucrative for the German firm.