November 25, 2011

VW Bulli is a turkey

You know CelloMom loves Volkswagens. But it was with dismay that she first greeted the new VW concept microbus, nicknamed the Bulli. Allright, it was actually a viscreal reaction: "Eeuw!". The Bulli gets CelloMom's 2011 Turkey Award.

The new 2012 Beetle was actually a runner-up, but someone has already stomped on that one so it now looks like a squashed bug, saving CelloMom the trouble. But the more she heard about this Bulli thing, the more it started to look like a Christmas tree festooned with glittering gimmicks.

First gimmick: it was designed, and even painted, to remind of the very successful VW Type 2, variously known as the VW bus, the camper, the hippiemobile, etc. Tug the heartstrings, cue the violins - I mean the Grateful Dead.

You might argue that the T1 was ugly; but it was ugly with character. It invariably invokes an "AawwWW!" from CelloMom's chidren whenever we spot one on the road. Besides, you learned to love its homeliness for all the good times you had travelling in it. Even when it did break down you could repair it in the comfort of its shelter. CelloMom is not tall and appreciated the T2 because she could swing the kitchen out of the way, remove the engine cover, sit over the engine and really reach in, even using leg strength for tightening the fan belt. Try that with a front-engine model.

If the Type 2 was called a microbus, the Bulli should be classified a nanobus. It is not long, about the length of a Honda Fit. It is said to carry six, because its body is quite wide. But still, behind that protruding engine in the stubby nose, and two rows of seats, there is barely room in the very back for one cello. Perhaps a guitar and a small amp. Forget about camping gear.

So it's wide, short and boxy on the back. Only a piece of plywood with the same frontal area has more air resistance. Even a turkey (with its tail down) has better aerodynamic design.

The model rolled out at the various auto shows this year was fitted with an electric engine: another gimmick playing to the current infatuation with EVs.

And that iPad installed on the dashboard! CelloMom has nothing against iPads - except when they live on car consoles. Can you just see the roadside scene, police cruiser's lights flashing: "OK, driver's license. Right. Say, officer, can you hang on one minute? I'm on this online game and I just need 5 more points to get to the next level."

Let's hope the Bulli will never see the production line. What's wrong with the VW Sharan? Except for its utter unavailability in the US.

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