January 10, 2001
Detroit auto show:
VW Microbus concept returns with a front-mounted V6
Click for larger image
Though it was built in Germany, the original VW Microbus was more closely associated with California and its hippie culture. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the new VW Microbus concept was designed in Volkswagen’s Simi Valley, California design studio.
It has very short body overhangs, reminiscent of the first VW bus, but it is bigger: the Microbus is over 4.7 metres long, and both higher and wider than 1.9 metres; approximately equivalent in size to the current EuroVan.
In addition, the Microbus concept has a front-mounted engine, a 3.2 litre V6 engine with 231 horsepower, and front-wheel-drive. It features 20″ alloy wheels with 245/45R 20 tires.
Inside, the floor is made of a semi-transparent material with a geometric pattern: a layer of aluminium is fitted underneath this material (urethane) and this shines through. The dash panel base has an asymmetric design and includes round instruments with an analogue tachometer and digital information, and a gear stick integrated into the instrument panel. Using this joystick, the five speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic can be shifted automatically or manually. The gear stick design does not prevent the driver or front passenger from getting through to the other passengers while taking a break from driving.
Click for larger image
The Microbus has three rows of seats which are covered in leather. The middle centre seats can be turned 180 degrees and the third row has been designed as a bench seat with two individual contoured seats. A rail system makes a multi-variable layout of the two rear rows possible.
All passengers have the protection of an integral seat belt; the belts have an independent belt guide through points in the roof pillars. The electrical seat adjustment has been redesigned with a new layout: the round switch unit is located on the outer side of the seat underneath the seat surface. The seat can be shifted up, down, to the front or back by simply pressing on the desired axis on the round button.
The Microbus can be transformed into a veritable theatre: visual images are provided by a seven-inch screen in the centre console, four large monitors in the backrests of the first and second rows as well as two extendable displays between the second and third rows. The latter are located in the rear bench. When the construction is pulled out to the first stage it can be used as a conventional table in the conference layout of the two rear rows of seats. In the second stage, a display is made visible on both sides when the table is moved to a vertical position.
A second seven-inch screen provides a view of what is behind the vehicle. The Microbus has a so-called ‘backeye’ camera. Along with both the exterior mirrors, this provides a comprehensive view of what is behind the vehicle. The monitor is located in the roof in the exact position where the interior mirror would otherwise be located so that the driver does not have to change their automatic responses when driving. The system also warns the driver via spoken warnings when parking that they might be getting too close to an unwanted bump.
Technical data of the Microbus
Length: 4,722 mm
Width: 1,909 mm
Height: 1,904 mm
Wheelbase: 3,000 mm
Front track: 1,644 mm
Rear track: 1,644 mm
Principle V6 with 3.2-litre capacity
Power output: 231 bhp
Torque: 320 Nm
Gearbox: 5-speed automatic gearbox with tiptronic
Wheels: 8.5 J x 20
Tires: 245/45 R 20