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volkswagen microbus revives camper van legend at geneva

Mar 7, 2001

Following its world debut in Detroit in January, the Volkswagen Microbus concept car is now attracting attention in front of European audiences at the Geneva Motor Show.

The Microbus follows in the footsteps of the original Volkswagen bus, the legendary ‘camper van’ or T1.  It was penned in the Volkswagen design studio in Simi Valley in California, with particular focus on the US market.  However it is not simply intended to be a copy of the T1, but a new definition of the phenomenon. 

The Microbus’s very short front and rear overhangs and space-efficient design are reminiscent of the T1.  However its dimensions - at 4.7 metres long and nearly two metres high and wide - are approximately equivalent in size to the T4, the fourth generation Transporter, which is sold in Europe as the Caravelle and Multivan and in the USA as the EuroVan. 

Its looks, too, with a wide and shallow aspect to the headlamps and rear lights, are distinctly different from the T1’s famous round headlights.  Another difference is the Microbus’s front-mounted engine.  Its 3.2-litre V6 liquid-cooled unit develops 231 bhp and 236 lbs ft of torque and is coupled with a five speed tiptronic gearbox.

Inside the cabin, large lights integrated into the roof give a feeling of space and light.  The dash board is asymmetrically designed and positioned close to the driver, further enhancing the feeling of space.

The gearlever is integrated into the dash and so does not clutter the floor.  The Microbus has three rows of seats, and those in the middle row may be turned through 180 degrees.  Add to this no less than seven TV/video plasma screens and a back seat that turns into a table, and it’s clear the Microbus is as much a space to live as to travel in.

The Microbus is not based on any Volkswagen currently on offer; the floor assembly, for example, corresponds to that of a future commercial vehicle generation.  No decision has been made on whether the Microbus will be put into series production.

Technical specification - Microbus 

Length - mm 4,722  Width - mm 1,909
Height - mm 1,904  Wheelbase - mm 3,000
Front track - mm 1,644  Rear track - mm 1,644

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