Volkswagen’s city specialist heads for the beach
Amid the raft of new car concepts at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month, one of the head-turners was Volkswagen’s bright orange ray of sunshine, the buggy up! concept.
The buggy up! is inspired by the Californian beach buggies of the 1960s. These buggies, pioneered by people such as American Bruce Meyers, took the simple, reliable Beetle chassis and engine and replaced the steel bodies with glassfibre, creating agile, fun vehicles that perfectly reflected the care-free California in which they were created.
That same California feeling is encapsulated in the lightweight steel construction of the two-seater buggy up!, which brings the beach buggy bang up to date. Based on the brand-new up!, the buggy up! keeps its city sibling’s (reinforced) underbody, running gear and drive technology, while the roof-less and door-less exterior is completely redesigned, and the ride height is lowered by 20 mm. Everything is different: the bonnet is flatter, the bumpers have been reworked and the rear has been completely redesigned.
The buggy up! does not have any C-pillars, and neither does it have a boot like the standard up! model. The bootlid is constructed of two pieces: the main part of the lid lifts upward like a saloon’s bootlid, but the section above the bumper folds down, like the tailgate on a pick-up, making it extremely easy to stow bulky items. On top of the lid, there are also tie-down straps for luggage. Despite all these changes, there’s no mistaking the buggy up! for anything but an up!.
Climb into the buggy up! and you’ll find specially designed neoprene-covered seats that are 58 mm lower than those in the production model. To match this, engineers reduced the basic angle of the height-adjustable steering wheel by four degrees to an angle of 21 degrees, creating a go-kart like driving position. Passengers also get something to hold on to, in the shape of a sturdy handle on the dash panel, because you never know what lies over the next dune.
Even if there are rainclouds over the next dune, that’s no problem for the buggy up!, because as well as a rudimentary fabric roof, the interior is completely waterproof. The seats have drains in them, as do the sills and the floor. Even the controls for the iPod-compatible infotainment system are waterproof, and you can remove the entire module – including the integrated loudspeakers – so that you’ve got a sound system for your beach party. All you need to add is your favourite Beach Boys tracks.