I don’t like motor shows – there, I’ve said it. Thanks to the Internet the concept of a surprise show reveal is no more. It’s either been leaked or scooped by the media or a car maker has blasted it out far and wide ahead of the show. So much for the ‘wow factor’ when the covers are pulled off a new model.
The new surprise and delight mechanism is the concept car – an often outlandish blue sky project that rarely sees the light of day in a showroom. Still, if you want to generate column inches, you’ve got to have a concept car.
This precession of not-going-to-be-made wonder cars can also be as tedious as the lack of any genuine, surprise announcements on the day. Moreover, it’s doubly frustrating when concepts make repeat experiences at shows. Seriously guys, either think of something new or just build the darn thing.
At least Volkswagen is finally going to step up to the plate with the Bulli. Son of Microbus – a concept that’s been hawked around shows for some time now – the Bulli will be built in one form or another. It might have taken the explosion in eco-car popularity to give the maker a nudge, but the suits have at last done a man from Del Monte impersonation and have said yes.
It’s about time Volkswagen swallowed a bold pill. We’ve got used to its conservative line-up, and it would be good to see something different. Saying that, the firm’s current approach does work; Golf, Passat, Jetta and the like appeal to people seeking a modest purchase. And don’t forget, the Golf has done wonders for the company’s bottom line.
But it would be a criminal waste if VW turned its back on its rich and popular heritage. Everyone has fond memories of the various camper vans, while there’s no denying the impact the Beetle had on the world. Blending the best bits of these two iconic vehicles would be an inspired move.
Whether you made the trip to the Geneva show or not –despite the best efforts of the party-pooping Internet – you couldn’t have failed to notice the main theme: eco vehicles.
And if you want to appeal to a younger audience, there’s nothing better now than aligning yourself with all that newfangled technology. Crucially, it’s got to look and feel genuine and credible, otherwise you’ll be tossed aside like an underperforming MP3 player.
All of which makes it absolutely critical for Volkswagen not to be tempted to water down the look and character of the Bulli. The same goes for any car maker and its new potentially production ready offering. So often a key design feature or clever functionality element has been downgraded or has disappeared, changing a car’s appeal. The Bulli looks great so, please Volkswagen, deliver on your promise.
By Iain Dooley