I only spent about ten minutes poking around the Volkswagen I.D. concept at the Paris Motor Show, and I left the scene without managing to take a single decent picture of the thing, due to the massive crowd its retracting steering wheel attracted on the first day of the French show. But I left with a smile.
It's pretty clear that Volkswagen really, really wants you to "Think New" instead of thinking about TDIs or internal combustion in general—despite all of those ads they ran before. The automaker has already cooked up a new modular platform called MEB, specifically for an upcoming electric lineup , which will be used as a base for everything from VW's compacts to the largest Audis. And it's the smaller side of the spectrum where the I.D. concept comes into the picture.
An electric car based on a dedicated platform will drive much better than the previous e-Golf, which was basically a regular Golf converted into electric drive. The I.D. has a low center of gravity, a rear-mounted engine and a very tight turning radius. The concept also promises a range of 370 miles and a top speed of 99 mph, with these numbers only getting better as the battery packs get more efficient every year. Volkswagen also believes the car can –hence the funky steering wheel mechanism.
Most design features of this concept–like the sliding doors, the illuminated roof sensors in the four corners and the single-display dashboard–clearly won't make it into production. We shall see about the digital mirrors by then.
Yet with its theatre-style folding rear seats, door-mounted climate control panel, spotlessly clean interior surfaces and somewhat familiar tail lights, you can't help but look at the I.D. as a Golf in a purified form, getting ready to bring VW to the next level after a failed diesel scheme.
When you take away the makeup, its a basic machine, offering lots of space for its size and a low-maintenance motor at the back. So, it might just be a Beetle after all.