Volkswagen brings back physical buttons for all new cars

VW ID2all interior

The fresh interior of the ID 2all concept, which includes the return of physical buttons, will be a blueprint for future VW models

Interior of ID 2All concept shows how Volkswagen is responding to criticism about over-reliance on touch controls

Future Volkswagen interiors will all draw inspiration from the ID 2all concept car and bring back physical buttons and controls.

This reverses a trend VW started with the current VW Golf and VW ID3 models that has proven unpopular with customers and prompted a complete about turn from the company and the way it approaches design.

VW’s interior designer Darius Watola said the concept “showed a new approach for all models” and was in response to “recent feedback from customers” about an alternative touchscreen-reliant path the company had gone on in recent years – one that VW CEO Thomas Schäfer had claimed “did a lot of damage” to the brand.

The new interior sees a row of physical (and backlit) buttons for the heater controls under a touchscreen and also the introduction of a rotary controller on the centre tunnel to control the screen, much like with BMW’s iDrive. As well as a main central touchscreen for infotainment there was also a second screen for the driver display. Watola said a display in the driver’s eyeline was crucial for safety.

He said that “customers had a different view in Europe” compared to other global markets and wanted “more physical buttons”.

There is also a revolution in terms of material use and VW is looking to phase out hard plastics, glue, leather and chrome. Almost every surface in the ID 2all is soft to the touch, mixing fabrics and Alcantara as part of a sustainability push. There is limited use of some woods and metals, too.

Watola said that there was a desire to see as many features and materials as possible from the concept to the production car in 2025, which now seems unlikely to take the ID 2 name when it reaches showrooms. The goal remains a sub-€25,000 (£22,000) price which might limit some of the more premium-feeling materials in the cabin.

The concept’s screens can be selected in different retro themes that give the displays retro graphics, including from the original Golf. This feature is expected to make production.

VW ID 2all driver's display

Clever storage features are also expected to make it into production, such as the foldable bottom half of the rear bench that allows a bike to be fitted in the rear passenger footwells and a storage space beneath the floor of the 490-litre boot that’s big enough for three big drinks crates.

There is also a focus on reducing the number of components, for example on the doors that combine the door handles, grab handles and armrest in one unit.

This new approach to interior design feeds into the new design approach to make VW a ‘love brand’. The ID 2all concept is a manifesto for that from design boss Andreas Mindt, who moved across from Bentley in February, and is a vision for future VWs that will have a “stable and likeable design, always with a secret sauce” and sense of humour attached to them.

On the new interiors, Mindt said they would be a “better quality and nicer design” and “customers say a pure touchscreen is not enough and they expect physical switches and dials for important functions”.

VW ID 2all buttons

As well as the interior, the concept showcases the brand’s new exterior design language, which draws from classic models such as the Beetle, Golf and VW Polo.

The new Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e rival will be the first model to use the long-anticipated MEB Entry platform that has been developed by the Volkswagen Group. This will also be used for the production version of the Cupra Urban Rebel concept, a future Skoda crossover and a second Volkswagen model: a compact crossover that will feature more rugged styling inspired by models such as the T-Cross and T-Roc.

When it reaches production, it will sit under the ID 3 in the firm’s EV line-up, with VW describing it as being “as spacious as a Golf and as inexpensive as a Polo”. 

Significantly, the ID 2all showcases an entirely new design language that will feature on all of the firm’s future EVs. This is part of a major brand revamp that’s intended to, in the words of boss Schäfer, “make Volkswagen a genuine love brand”.

VW ID 2all

That philosophy involves the firm embracing its heritage as a key point of difference from new EV rivals, and the ID 2all shows clear influences from the Polo and Golf, with more traditional styling than the ID 3.

Volkswagen previously revealed an ID Life crossover concept that was intended to preview the first MEB Entry model, but that has now been shelved after it received a poor reception.

Remarkably, Mindt and his team designed the new concept model in just six weeks, and had to work around the already established fixed points of the MEB Entry platform.

The ID 2all is 4050mm long, making it slightly shorter than the current Polo, but its 2600mm wheelbase is significantly longer, allowing for far greater interior space. 

It features a 490-litre boot, with 1330 litres of capacity when the rear seats are folded down.

VW ID 2all rear storage

Notably, the MEB Entry platform is front-wheel-drive, while EVs built on the existing MEB platform offer rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive powertrains. The front-mounted motor will produce 223bhp, and the ID 2all has a claimed range of up to 280 miles.

The decision to switch the platform to front-wheel-drive was to maximise the space available for luggage, enabling that large boot.

The platform can accept two battery sizes – 38kWh and 56kWh – each of which use different battery cell technology. While that maximum claimed range of 280 miles is for the 56kWh unit, the entry-level £22,000 ones will feature the smaller battery.

Volkswagen describes the drivetrain, battery and charging technology as “particularly efficient”. While the 38kWh batteries will use lithium-iron-phosphate prismatic cells, the firm has yet to disclose the chemistry of the later unit.

Volkswagen claims the 58kWh battery in the ID 2all will be able to complete a 10-80% charge in around 20 minutes, and will have a maximum charging rate of 125kW.

The car has a top speed of 99mph and a 0-62mph time of less than 7.0sec.

Mindt said Volkswagen is “transferring the DNA of our icons into the future”, adding that the ID 2all is “therefore also an homage to the Beetle, Golf and Polo.” He said it shows how future VWs will build on three design pillars: stability, likeability and excitement.

VW ID 2all rear

Classic cues include a C-pillar design intended to evoke the Mk1 Golf, which builds on “a general feature of compact Volkswagen models”. Mindt has also reduced the volume above the wheels in order to give the car a more powerful stance on the road.

The revamped front end features a number of “upwardly rising elements”, which Mindt said are crucial to give the car “a confident smile” and likeability. He added: “It’s important for us that the front of a Volkswagen shows a human expression.”

Mindt said that despite the comparatively low target price, the ID 2all has “high-quality materials” inside to add excitement, highlighting the driving-mode selector switch as an example.

Volkswagen said the ID 2all will be offered with some of the advanced assistance systems usually only seen on higher-end models, including Travel Assist and Park Assist, LED matrix headlights, massaging electric seats and a panoramic sunroof.

The production version will be shown in 2025 before entering production in Spain, alongside the closely related Cupra and Skoda models. 

It will be one of 10 EVs that Volkswagen will launch by 2026, also including the facelifted ID 3, the long-wheelbase Volkswagen ID Buzz, the ID 7 saloon and the compact SUV that will join the ID 2all in using the MEB Entry platform.

Notably, “in spite of all the challenges”, Volkswagen is also working on an EV that will have a starting price of less than €20,000 (£17,600). 

Additional reporting by James Attwood

Source: Autocar

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