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The VW I.D. Vizzion is our electric, autonomous future

Latest concept from VW's I.D. series does without a steering wheel. Because FUTURE

Welcome, Internet, to Volkswagen’s VIZZZZZZZION of the future. Quite literally, as it happens. Only with fewer Zs.

Beginning in 2020, VW will start to launch its ‘I.D.’ range of EVs. Three have already been presented as concepts – the Crozz, Buzz and plain old I.D. – and now we have a fourth. It’s called the Vizzion, and it’s in the shape of a “avant-garde premium class saloon”, that naturally offers much in the way of autonomy.

But sooner than that, in 2021, there will be a production version with our old friend Mr Steering Wheel and his team of Pedals. It will become, VW boss Herbert Diess tells TopGear, “the VW brand’s flagship”.

You might remember that in 2015, in the Dieselgate aftermath, VW announced it was stopping development of a petrol/diesel powered replacement for the Phaeton, and would do a big EV instead. TopGear asks Diess if the Vizzion is that car. “Yes,” comes the no-nonsense reply.

VW says the production car will ‘progressively’ be able to drive itself. The Vizzion concept is designed for ‘Level 5’ autonomy – the highest level, where a car’s autonomy is so unconditional and absolute it no longer needs any controls whatsoever. Not even for emergencies. VW reckons this kind of thing could be a reality as soon as 2025.

Diess says it will achieve its range through advanced low-drag design. He admits it’ll be a heavy car because of the battery, and because, what with VW being a mass-manufacturer, they aren’t planning widespread use of carbonfibre or other exotic stuff.

But the way you interact with the Vizzion is straight out of 2030. The concept is operated via augmented reality, where occupants use voice and gestures to issue instructions based on a “virtual interface” made visible by Microsoft Hololens glasses. Clever.

Energy comes from a 111kWh lithium-ion battery under the floor. The front and rear axles get an electric motor each, giving a total of 225kW, or 301bhp in old money. VW claims a little over 400 miles of range per change, which is either via a conventional plug/charging point or inductive, i.e. through thin air. 0-62mph takes a claimed 6.3 seconds, and the top speed is governed to 112mph. Oh, and those wheels are 24s. In case you were wondering.

But then at 5,163mm long, 1,947 wide and 1,506 tall, there’s no doubt this is a big car, and therefore deserving of such vast wheels. Those dimensions make the Vizzion longer than a Bentley Bentayga, and almost as wide. The interior is thus quite generous, all the more so for not featuring a steering wheel, pedals or a conventional dashboard. The on-board personal assistant offers various ‘travel modes’ which alter the position/rake of the seats, ambient lighting, infotainment features and so-on. The car can even recognise its occupants via facial recognition and adjust things accordingly.

But does it actually look like a VW? TopGear puts the question to VW design chief Klaus Bischoff. “It’s departure for VW design, shaped by the wind. But you can see remembrances of the Arteon in the roof line.”

He says the light design at the front is close to the other ID cars. But that’s deliberately different from VW combustion vehicles. So is the rest of the car. He adds that the sustainable ethos of the car is reflected in the natural materials throughout the cabin – wood, soft leather and a woollen carpet that can only be described as shag-pile.

In the past, Bischoff has said autonomous vehicles could have completely different cabin layouts, with the seats not even facing forward. So why is the Vizzion’s so conventional? Because, he says, it is designed to meet seatbelt and airbag laws that might not change before self-driving becomes reality. Refreshing to see such realistic thinking in a concept.

He says the dash of the first production version, the one with the pedals and wheel, will still have a very minimalist organic-looking dash, in harmony with the interior we see here.

The future, ladies and gentleman. Full of Zs.

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