Volkswagen has been showing that electrified doesn’t need to mean boring or dull, thanks to a series of ID. brand concepts. The latest one is the seventh in the line, and it’s part station wagon, part crossover, and 100 percent cool. This is the ID. Space Vizzion.
The freedom of the electric powertrain allows design teams packaging options never before possible. Or at least not possible that can also meet modern safety requirements. Without those restrictions, VW has been able to bring us cool concepts that are expected to see production like the reinvented microbus ID. Buzz, and the off-roader ID. Buggy. The Space Vizzion takes these ideas and puts them into something that looks a bit more conventional, but still like nothing else. Well, ok, it looks like a wagon, but they probably don’t want you to be throwing the W-word around, even on a vehicle that’s this low, sleek, and cool.
That styling is more wind-tunnel friendly, too, managing an impressive coefficient of drag of just 0.24. That helps range, but also wind noise for occupants. There’s trick aero here where air flows through a panel under the headlights and over the hood, then is directed along the tailgate.
Like all of the ID. family, this one rides on the Volkswagen MEB modular electric platform. With compact components and a battery in the floor, it’s easy to see where the space part of this car’s name comes from. The concept gets a single electric motor in the rear, driving just the rear wheels, and delivering 275 hp. VW says that if it wanted to add all-wheel drive, a motor could be added in the front, another benefit of electric drive, that would bring total output to 355 hp.
With two motors, the Space Vizzion could hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, and it’s limited to a top speed of 109 mph. With the 82 kWh battery pack, VW estimates an EPA range of up to 300 miles. That’s 590 km on the WLTP cycle. On a fast charger, the Space Vizzion could get an 80 percent charge in as little as 30 minutes, VW said.
The cockpit display is replaced by an augmented reality head-up display, with a small gauge cluster showing just basic info. Everything else is projected on a 15.6-inch touchscreen that looks like it’s hovering in front of the driver.
Interior plastic trim is gone from the Space Vizzion, replaced by a new material called AppleSkin. Like the name suggests, it’s made up of leftovers from apple juice production. Volkswagen says that it feels like leather, but replaces around 20 percent of the polyurethane conventionally used. Where trim looks like chrome, it’s chrome paint instead of chromed plastic, saving more unfriendly materials.
After styling, the best part of concept cars is how automakers throw every fancy tech that 10 year old you couldn’t have even imagined into them. After all, they don’t really need to work in a concept, they just need to represent what the automaker thinks they’ll be able to make work in a few years. And the Space Vizzion is full of beyond space-age concept car ideas.
30 colors of ambient lighting are available, and maybe that’s nothing special, but this is: the user can pick and assign individual colors to each touch-activated surface. Letting you see at a glance, or even in your peripheral vision where a group of controls are located. If you don’t want to use buttons, there will be natural speech voice control. The voice commands work for options like “fresh air” to give the driver a climate control breeze, “warm feet” to blow warm air to, well, your feet, as well as other commands.
Even the new steering wheel has capacitive touch panels, with the right-hand of the column becoming a shift lever. For the first time ever in any Volkswagen product, the wiper switch moves to the left side of the column. Which is a strange change to make for a concept car, but putting the gearshift on the left (unless you’re in the UK) would have been a strange choice.
Forget door handles, you can’t have a concept car with those. Instead, touch surfaces on the door light up when the key or synced-up smartphone comes near the car. Touch the pad and the light pulsates, because that’s cool, the pad vibrates, and (what you really want) the door opens. The trunk lid works the same way, but also gets a now less-impressive kick-open feature.
There’s an interactive light strip along the dash VW calls the ID. Light. It lets the vehicle give feedback to the driver, with features like a welcome greeting, indicating that the motors are ready to go, and saying goodbye with a light sequence when you leave the Space Vizzion. It can also give notification of more important vehicle functions like battery state of charge, incoming phone calls, lane alerts, and other driver aid warnings, and acknowledge that voice control is responding.
When VW popped the rear hatch, we couldn’t help but notice the massive skateboard wheels under the power-lifting cargo cover. They’re a pair of last-mile electric longboards, integrated into the cargo area.
The real headlights are VW’s IQ. Light LED matrix interactive units with lamps integrated into the bumper. Near those are honeycomb-look DRLs that tie the design into the rest of the ID. family. The DRLs also work as the turn signals. If you’re looking for concept-car cool, the lights have a digital effect that makes them look like eyes opening. Naturally, there’s a goodbye trick for the exterior lights too. If you’re looking for wow, the Vizzion is loaded with it.
Most interesting of all when it comes to this one? VW’s planning on building it. The ID. Space Vizzion is set to debut in production form, likely with a more conventional name attached, in 2021, to go on sale in 2022.