Volkswagen unveiled a couple of fun-oriented new vehicles at the Geneva Auto Show guaranteed to stir up nostalgic thoughts along with daydreams about memorable future moments.
The latest Golf Cabriolet continues a tradition of VW ragtops that began with the original Beetle convertible of which over 330,000 were sold. More importantly, it follows in the tire tracks of its equally iconic successor the first Golf Cabriolet – alias Cabrio in this country. The VW Cabrio was enjoyed by over 684,000 new car buyers and countless subsequent owners, mostly high school and college age females. So much so that many remember it as the ultimate cheerleader/beach bunny mobile.
What sets the latest Golf Cabriolet apart from it’s predecessor is a hidden, automatically deployable rollover protection system in lieu of the B-pillar mounted external roll bar of old. The new car also has a power operated fabric top that folds completely out of the way in 9.5 seconds with no buggy style bulge at the rear. It can also be operated while traveling at speeds of up to 20 mph.
Styling matches the current Golf although a steeper rake to the windshield adds a sporty flair, as the lower profile of the fabric top and tail lamps were borrowed from the GTI.
Alas, although the new Cabriolet will be ready for European customers to enjoy this summer, no indication was given as to when it will come to the U.S. Or how it will be configured in terms of engine choice.
The other fun vehicle displayed by VW also has its roots in an iconic nostalgia vehicle. The Bulli is a concept that pays homage to the Microbus with two-tone red and white paint job and a flat nose embellished with an oversized circular VW emblem.
Designed by Walter de Silva, head of Volkswagen Group Design and Klaus Bischoff, VW brand design head, plus an energetic team of designers with an eye to the future as well as the past, the Bulli includes high-tech touches such as a removable iPad infotainment system and a flat floor with front and rear bench seats that can be folded flat for sleeping or just chilling out in the shade at the beach.
The Bulli as presently configured is electrically powered with a cruising range of up to 180 miles on a single charge. VW also says that the front engine compartment can be configured to accommodate a 1.0 or 1.4 liter gasoline or diesel powerplant.
VW has been down this path before when it teased devotees with a Microbus-inspired Samba concept in 2001, but hints that this time the market may be ready for a return of the Microbus. One that is electric – not psychedelic.
PATRICK PATERNIE "still plays with cars" as a freelance writer/photographer covering new and classic automobiles, racing, and the high-speed lifestyle that surrounds them. His driving exploits include vintage autos and the latest exotics on many of the world’s greatest roads and racetracks. Patrick is the author of seven books about Porsche, Mini, Corvette and muscle cars, and has written articles that appear in AutoWeek, duPont Registry, Inside Line, Robb Report and others.