Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept review: First drive of VW’s futuristic, connected Microvan

A few weeks ago, we reported on the Volkwagen BUDD-e Concept; a connected electric bus, and Volkswagen’s latest attempt to get over the dieselgate scandal. Now, our sister site Auto Express has taken it for an exclusive drive – and their first impressions are positive.

Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept review: First drive of VW's futuristic, connected Microvan

As expected, Auto Express reports that the car contains a range of neat solutions. On the outside, the VW uses gesture-controlled handles, while inside the car also features a button-free dashboard. But that isn’t the most impressive thing about the BUDD-e. “By swivelling the rotating seats 180 degrees, both the driver and front passenger can interact directly with those in the rear,” writes Auto Express’ Stefan Grundhoff. “The impression is more of a lounge than a car.”

The Volkwagen also appears to handle far better than you’d expect. Thanks to its Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), the BUDD-e has a low centre of gravity, which improves the handling by reducing body-roll. What’s more, Grundhoff writes “The availability of torque comes as a pleasant surprise, as the car ushers you along at a decent pace. Plus, the AWD adds an unexpected sporty feel.”

Although it’s a concept car, it’s hard not to get excited about the BUDD-e. It’s not as outlandish or as crazy as the Faraday Future concept, but it shows Volkwagen’s desire to build a car for the future, today. Throw in its drivability, Modular Electric Drive Kit, and its feasible button-free dashboard – and the VW could be close to something we’ll see in production. volkwagen_budd-e_review_2

VW announces the BUDD-e Concept at CES

At first glance, the BUDD-e looks like a VW Camper mixed with Tron, and the futuristic design continues to the interior. On the inside the BUDD-e features all the mod-cons you’d expect from a concept car in 2016. Rather than separate screens, the BUDD-e uses a continuous one that extends across the majority of the dashboard.

The result? VW says both passengers and drivers can share the screen, pinging over content from their smartphones and tablets. The steering wheel isn’t normal either, using a combination of swipes, haptic feedback and touch sensitivity to input commands.

Voice activation is also present on the inside of the van, and because the BUDD-e can differentiate between voices, it’s able to change settings for individual passengers. That means rear passengers who want the heating turned up will find it only happens in the rear zone of the car.

Just like Faraday Future’s outrageous FFZERO1, the BUDD-e uses a scalable chassis that will form the basis for the marque’s forthcoming electric vehicles. Called the Modular Electric Platform (MEB), the new system should make it cheaper and easier for VW to produce and even design plug-in vehicles of different sizes.

imgp1103Most interesting of all, however, is VW’s commitment to the Internet of Things. Volkswagen says the BUDD-e will be able to connect with your house, turn off lights, let people in – and even take your deliveries in a small dedicated compartment.

Although it’s only a concept car, as with the Faraday Future FFZERO1, the BUDD-e features some interesting ideas that may well be found in cars ten – or even five – years from now.  

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