Sense, Silence,Sensibility
Sense, Silence,Sensibility
VW’s electric beach buggy concept channels the past while embracing the future
Georg Kacher

NO ROOF. NO DOORS. NO FUTURE?

“Why not? These days, anything is possible,” says Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen’s chief designer and mastermind behind the electrified, dune-slaying ID Buggy. “You see, the e-buggy concept fuses a politically correct electric drivetrain with a highly emotional body style, which evokes fond memories of surf, sun, and sand. To me, the buggy concept is as retro as it is modern and contemporary.”

We’re puttering along in the Buggy on 17-Mile Drive, which skirts the shores of California’s Monterey Peninsula. This is the turf of billionaires, but on a hazy Friday morning during the annual Monterey Car Week festivities, our slow-moving greenback attracts more attention than the hordes of Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris rumbling by. Hand-built for the 2019 Geneva auto show, the concept has since evolved into a runner, but in an effort to save its batteries for a long working day, maximum speed is today restricted to 25 mph. According to the press kit, it can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 99 mph. Put together in VW’s own prototype shop, it feels as solid as just about any pre-production vehicle we’ve driven lately.

“The torsional flexibility is absolutely spot-on,” says a beaming Dzemal Sjenar, the engineer who oversees the development of all VW concept cars. “It demonstrates that this running chassis is fit to accommodate almost any body style—even if it lacks natural reinforcements such as a roof and two doors. Like the beach buggies of the past that were based on chopped Beetles, this platform is a perfect starting point for creative coachbuilders.”

During our tour of paradise, the metallic fern green crowd-stopper is mastering rough and smooth like a seasoned crossover—no groans, rattles, or crackles. On sand, you can drift this rear-drive toy like a go-kart. On blacktop, its bespoke 18-inch all-terrain BF Goodrich tires offer plenty of grip and decent ride comfort.

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January 2020