Volkswagen went back to the future with its ID. Space Vizzion Concept electric wagon being unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Wagons are nearly extinct in the U.S., including in the VW lineup here, but the electric vehicle concept reimagines a wagon loaded with gee-whiz tech and light features for the zero-emissions future.
Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
In case you are keeping count, this is the seventh VW ID. show car since the first in 2016 when the company made a hard left onto Electric Avenue for its future in the wake of its diesel flameout. All the ID. EVs are based on versions of VW’s MEB modular electric platform, and at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall the company unveiled the first production model, the ID.3, a small hatchback based on the original show car and going on sale in Europe in 2020. VW says the Space Vizzion is a companion to the Vizzion sedan unveiled in 2018, and that they are visions of a production mid-size sedan and wagon that will “be on the market from 2021.”
As a wagon, the Space Vizzion combines the aerodynamics of a car for EV efficiency and range (VW puts the coefficient of drag at a low 0.24) with the cargo practicality that has attracted people to SUVs. The concept is no cramped hatchback. It is within millimeters in dimensions and wheelbase of the latest Audi A6 Avant gasoline wagon that VW’s premium brand is bringing to the U.S. in some variants for 2020. And Space Vizzion is a handsome wagon with hints of that Audi design.
Whether VW’s Vizzion can persuade Americans to rethink wagons — even greener ones — is a question, of course. But in the meantime, here are eight cool things about the electric VW that I was able to check out at an event ahead of the L.A. show at the Petersen Automotive Museum:
1. Power — and Range
The L.A. Space Vizzion show car has a 275-horsepower rear-mounted motor and an 82-kilowatt-hour battery pack that VW estimates could deliver up to 300 miles of range under EPA standards. An all-wheel-drive version of the Space Vizzion adds a second motor for a total output of 335 hp and a 0-60-mph time estimated at 5.0 seconds.
2. Room Inside
The lack of a gasoline powertrain allows the windshield to be moved forward for a surprising amount of interior space. I had plenty of room for head and legs in the front, and in the back behind a driver my size (6 feet, 2 inches). The concept has just four fancy show-car seats with center consoles front and rear, but it could be configured to seat five comfortably. And the cargo space behind the backseat is 20.7 cubic feet, similar to the A6 wagon.
3. Apple Upholstery (the Fruit, Not the Computer Brand)
No animals were harmed for the leather-feel upholstery in the Space Vizzion. And the imitation leather coverings that VW calls AppleSkin are created with a process that replaces 20% of the plastic with a compound created from plant material left over from making apple juice. The interior also uses a more sustainable chromelike paint, not chrome, for shiny trim.
4. Touchpad Doors
There are no door handles to interrupt the air, or eye, flow. Slim light pads glow (along with all the car’s other light features) when you approach with a key fob or connected phone. Touch the pads and the light pulses while the pad vibrates and the door pops out to be pulled open. Very cool — though we’d want to test the operation after a Midwest ice storm just to be sure.
5. Augmented Reality and a Floating Screen
Just a bare-bones mini-display replaces the traditional instruments with the heavy lifting being done by an AR head-up display that provides all needed driving information in three dimensions. Meanwhile, replacing switches and dials for media, climate, setting and online functions is a customizable 15.6-inch touchscreen that sits out from the dashboard to appear to be floating at your side.
6. Color-Coded Light Bar
An interactive light strip — dubbed the ID. Light — at the base of the windshield between the pillars flashes in different colors and sequences to communicate a dizzying array of information to the driver — as well as a hello or goodbye when you get in or leave. It can indicate battery levels while charging or low battery level while driving. It can prompt you to brake — or to answer your phone. It can suggest that you change lanes or that you’re in the wrong lane, among other navigation prompts. And more. Tech overkill? The learning curve could be steep. And what about the colorblind driver? But just for the light show, it’s a ball.
7. Last-Mile Mobility?
If you end up having to park the Vizzion a mile away from where you want to be, there is a pair of electric longboards nesting in custom brackets under the cargo floor along with a pair of helmets in their own cubby.
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8. Spoiler Alert
Good-looking open spoilers integrated into the front edge of the Vizzion and the rear edge of the roof channel the flow of air over the car.
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