The e-Bulli is a feel-good electric classic VW bus

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and eClassics have electrified a T1 bus – the classic camper – from 1966. It’s called the e-Bulli, and if you want to swap you air-cooled power for ions, you can: eClassics will take commissions for conversions.

As with VW’s previous classic electric conversions, the e-Bulli T1 exchanges its choppy, unreliable, smoggy and slow air-cooled motor for an electric drive system from a modern VW EV. It packs an 83hp electric motor in place of the original 44hp four-pot. Amazingly, this is the most powerful T1 that Volkswagen has ever made.

It’s not just Volkswagen that electrifies its classics. We’ve driven a Volkswagen Beetle that’s got EV power courtesy of electrogenic.

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

Drive goes to the wheels via a single-speed transmission. The new lever, instead of swapping cogs, swaps between P, R, N, D and B. The first four are relatively self-explanatory. B, meanwhile, allows the driver to vary the degree of energy recovery under braking. The e-Bulli can be charged up to 80 percent in 40 minutes, using CCS charging. A full battery will get the electrified bus 124 miles up the road before it needs to juice up again.

It may look like a proper classic, but it’s not just the powertrain that’s changed underneath. A new multi-link front and rear axle with coilover shocks join a new rack-and-pinion steering system. The e-Bulli also features internally ventilated disc brakes.

E-Bulli: still a classic?

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

All that said, there are exterior hints as to the e-Bulli’s reinvention under the skin. There are new round LED headlamps, with day-runners.

At the rear, there are also LED charge indicators, so you know how much juice it has as you walk up to it. What is hidden, is the charging port, neatly behind the rear number plate. Overall, it’s subtle enough to retain the original’s classic style.

Volkswagen electrified T1 bus

The subtle update continues on the inside, while being rigorously faithful to the original’s style. The dial is old-school, but with a digital element within. The wheel is as was, while the seat trimmings match the exterior.

Out of sight, on the roof console, is a tablet which features Volkswagen ‘We Connect’, with all the connectivity features you’d expect on an ID.3 You can even check the charge status of your 1966 e-Bulli camper via your smartphone. The radio has a proper retro look, but has DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and USB built in. The best of both worlds, like much of this build.

I want one

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We like it too, but it will cost you. A T1 conversion from eClassics will set you back more than £58,000. T2 and T3 campers can also be converted, and conversion kits can be sent to qualified dealers for the work.

This Canadian Volkswagen fan has created the ultimate custom GTI

Ultimate Volkswagen Mk1 GTI

Many car enthusiasts live to seek out the thrills they had behind the wheel of a car when younger.  

However, Canadian Derek Spratt took things several steps further in the pursuit of the Volkswagen hot hatch from his youth. 

After thousands of hours in effort, and big sums of money, Derek believes he managed to create the ultimate Volkswagen GTI.

Living the dream

Ultimate Volkswagen Mk1 GTI

Derek’s story began in the early 1980s, as a 21-year-old college student in Ontario. Canadians had been able to buy GTI-branded Volkswagens since 1979, but these were low-powered versions with the same drivetrain as normal Rabbits. 

However, Spratt was one of the first to buy a North American Rabbit GTI, fitted with a 90 horsepower 1.8-liter engine. Although still down on power compared to European models, it at least gave the compact GTI some extra performance. 

The car would allow Derek and his wife, Cheryl, to create some amazing memories touring North America. One notable trip saw the Spratts take the GTI on a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco, following Highway 1.

Creating the ultimate GTI

Ultimate Volkswagen Mk1 GTI

Derek would eventually sell the GTI, but turning 50 made him want to find another one. Incredibly, Derek was able to find a GTI with the same build date as his original, giving him a great base to work on. 

Rather than just reliving his youth, Derek wanted the car to “feel and drive like an original Mk1 but with modern capabilities.” He wanted it to “show that you can take an old car to the point where it operates like a supercar—without taking away the fun factor.”

Derek’s project would see him spend more than $140,000, with the it taking more than 12,000 hours. A 220 horsepower naturally aspirated engine, touchscreen digital dashboard, and heated seats were just some of the special features fitted.

Sharing the passion

Ultimate Volkswagen Mk1 GTI

After documenting the build in a series of online videos, the GTI was finally completed in 2018. Derek took his 85-year-old father for the first drive in the finished ride. He also recreated his journey from 34 years earlier, cruising Highway 1 with his eldest son.

Attendances at car shows and track days brought Derek’s GTI to a wide audience of fans. Enthusiasts from across the globe had helped source parts and offer encouragement during the construction of the car. 

Then, after years of work and huge expense, Derek decided to give back to the Volkswagen community. He sold the finished GTI to a young couple from Vancouver for a fraction of the build cost, allowing them to enjoy the thrills he had decades earlier. 

According to Derek, it was important “to sell it to someone who would allow me to stay connected to the car”, as the couple will still allow him to take it out for a drive. 

Derek is now working on converting a 1961 Volkswagen to run on electric power.

Volkswagen could buy back prototypes it mistakenly sold

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen has found itself facing an entirely different kind of recall to the type it’s had to deal with over the past couple of years. Buzzwords like ‘emissions’ and ‘dieselgate’ don’t come into it. This time, VW is in trouble for selling ‘pre-series’ prototypes with parts that pre-date valid homologation.

A total of 2,000 cars are currently in circulation, with full buy-backs on the cards for the company. 

The problem began in November of 2018, when it had to recall 6,700 cars. According to a VW spokesperson, these were possibly “models that were used for experimental and testing purposes, and were retrofitted with prototype parts that have not yet been released”.

The same issue has come up again in January 2020, with the company recalling three codes. It’s possible that the cars under 01D7, 01E3 and 01E4 have safety systems not representative of those that come on a fully homologated car you’d traditionally get from a dealer.

VW could buy back your car

Volkswagen Polo

Letters are going out to owners to make them aware of the issue. Particularly interesting, and potentially lucrative for affected owners, is that buy-backs are on the cards. Forum members have reported offers from Volkswagen, expressing interest in buying their car.

Traditionally, prototype vehicles with parts pre-dating homologation for ‘civilian’ road use, have to be destroyed. If it’s a particularly interesting or significant model, prototypes can be saved from the crusher for use in historical collections. 

The affected models

SUV demand slowing down

The age range of affected cars spans over a decade, between 2006 and 2018. Here are the cars the codes correspond to:

Recall 01D7 – 743 cars

A total of 743 cars fall under the 01D7 code, including Bora, Classico, Fox, Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Passat, Polo, Suran, Saveiro, Tiguan and Touareg models. The potentially affected time period is the full twelve years – 06/01/2006 to 19/12/2018.

more than 30 vans stolen every day

Recall 01E3 – 130 cars

Recall 01E3 covers a smaller number of vehicles – just 130. The age range is smaller too, with 2008 to 2016 models affected. Amarok, Caddy, Crafter, T5, T6 and Polo models from between the dates of 29/04/2008 and 07/03/2016 could be at risk.

Recall 01E4 – 1,118 cars

01E4 has a similar coverage of models, but for far more cars – 1,118 of them. Amarok, Caddy, Crafter, T5 and T6 models registered between 17/01/2006 and 16/01/2018 could be affected.

Volkswagen trials ‘car-boot’ delivery service

Volkswagen We delivery to your boot

Volkswagen has partnered with Hermes to make deliveries to your car possible. The plan is to make missed parcels a ‘thing of the past’.

When customers tick the option of a parcel being delivered to their car, a Hermes courier can use a one-time access code to put a package in the boot.

2020 Volkswagen Golf

They find your car using GPS and, once the package is delivered, the courier provides photo evidence, then confirms that the boot is locked. 

This is just one of Volkswagen’s ‘We’ range of digital services, accessible via the Volkswagen ID log-in and We Connect Plus package. The initial trial is being carried out in Milton Keynes. Once that’s complete, feedback will be reviewed and the service may be rolled out further.

Most Volkswagens produced after 2 January 2019 are able to have the Volkswagen We platform and therefore the service. Touaregs from 2 July 2018 or after should also be compatible.

Volkswagen We delivery to your boot

“We are excited to have Hermes on board as our first courier partner to trial We Deliver in the UK,” said Claire McGreal, mobility services manager at Volkswagen UK.

“Feedback from users in Germany, where the scheme is already live, has been consistently positive and we hope to begin rolling out gradually across the UK by late 2020. Security is, of course, high on our list of priorities which is why delivery details are traceable to specific individual couriers.

“Should the delivery be unviable on the day for any reason – for example, there is insufficient space in the boot or the courier can’t locate the car – then the delivery will default to the user’s alternative address instead.”

New electric Volkswagen e-Up priced from £19,695

Volkswagen e-Up pricing revealed

The updated version of the electric Volkswagen e-Up is here, and it’s one of the most affordable EVs on sale. Prices start at £19,695 on the road, including the government’s plug-in car grant.

For that, you get an electric car with real usable range. The updated e-Up is WLTP-rated for a range of 159 miles – a huge improvement on the 2014 model’s 83-mile rating.

A larger 32.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack offers close to twice the original’s 18.7kWh capacity.

Volkswagen e-Up pricing revealed

The e-Up also comes with a host of updates common to the rest of the Up range. This includes a multi-function camera with lane-assist, curtain airbags and a smartphone integration cradle.

Standard on the range-topping e-Up will be heated front seats, a heated windscreen, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors and cruise control.

Of course, there’s also Volkswagen’s new badge, along with 15-inch ‘Tezzle’ alloy wheels – exclusive to the e-Up. The electric Up can also be identified by its bespoke bumpers and C-shaped daytime running lights. Blue stripes across the grille and boot lid are also a giveaway. 

Volkswagen e-Up pricing revealed

“We are very pleased to have secured limited stock in the UK for this latest electric version of our popular city car,” said Tim O’Donovan, EV marketing manager at Volkswagen UK.

“With a proven electric powertrain, impressive range, and excellent value-for-money the e-Up is a zero-emissions city car that can venture far beyond the city limits.”

Spot the difference: Volkswagen dealer has £2m refit with new logo

The Volkswagen dealer of the future

Meet the Volkswagen dealer of the future. Whether you’re collecting a new ID.3 electric car or servicing your ageing Golf diesel, it’s likely the showroom will look like this.

Agnew Volkswagen is the first dealer in the UK to display the company’s new branding. Note the illuminated totem displaying the new logo. The Belfast dealer spent £2 million on the refurbishment.

The coffee will remain hotter than the sun, the suits worn by the sales team will be shinier than a freshly minted penny, and the smell of cleaning products will be as overpowering as ever. But the showroom and some of the cars are all-new.

Inside, the fixtures and fittings showcase Volkswagen’s new ‘Vibrant Power’ ethos, with a colourful palette and a ‘heavier focus on people’. There’s a dedicated area for electric vehicles, ready for the arrival of the ID.3 in 2020.

Volkswagen says the new identity will be appearing at dealers throughout 2020, with the rollout expected to be complete by spring 2021.

‘Exciting new tone’

Volkswagen showroom of the future

Brian Robinson, franchise director at Agnew Volkswagen said: “These new and significantly improved facilities come in response to the expectations of our customers in the Greater Belfast region and the performance of Agnew Volkswagen in the long-term. We are proud to be the first showroom to showcase the new retail experience and branding in the UK, which now provides a luxurious environment for our customers and staff.”

Chris Stevens, head of network development at Volkswagen UK, added: “The new Volkswagen logo represents the automotive world into which we are moving – digital, intuitive and user-friendly. All of this is happening while Volkswagen moves into a new era of electrification, and democratises electric mobility, just as the Beetle democratised mobility and the Golf, luxury.

“The new ID family of pure-electric models will usher this in as the electric ‘people’s car’, while the revamped logo signifies this step-change to the world.”

Volkswagen launches three-year fixed price insurance plan

Volkswagen launches fixed price insurance

A new fixed-price insurance scheme is available to drivers of passenger-carrying Volkswagen commercial vehicles.

Research shows that 40 percent of owners switch insurance provider every year because loyalty isn’t rewarded. This costs the nation an estimated £4.1bn in excess premiums, says the Financial Conduct Authority and Competitions and Market Authority.

Volkswagen’s fixed-price insurance offer is available on new and used passenger-carrying vehicles. This includes the Caddy Life, Caddy Maxi Life, Shuttle, Caravelle, California and Grand California.

The fixed-price scheme secures the renewal price for two cycles, meaning it remains the same for the duration of the contract. The price will only go up or down if your circumstances change.

Not that the customer is locked into a three-year deal. Customers are free to cancel or switch, as they would with any other insurance policy. Any repairs as part of a claim are carried out using Volkswagen genuine parts.

‘Hassle, worry and stress-free’

Volkswagen California update 2019

Tom Macintyre, brand manager for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Financial Services, said: “We are responding directly to customer feedback with this insurance offer, which rewards loyalty. We believe owning a vehicle – whether it’s a Caravelle, Caddy Life or California – should be hassle, worry, and stress-free and allowing our customers to secure a fixed price on their annual insurance for three years offers exactly that.”

Audi launched a similar scheme in December. Policies are available for new and used cars, with Audi making similar claims about saving customers from shopping around for renewal deals.

Car insurance is one of the biggest costs of motoring, so it pays secure a good deal. Click here to read our extensive guide to saving money on your car insurance. Our advice includes everything from buying the right car to getting older.

Pocket rocket: The Volkswagen VW Up GTI is back!

VW Up GTI 2020

After a short time off-sale, the Volkswagen Up GTI is available to buy once again in the UK. Not wishing to mess with a fan favourite, Volkswagen has changed very little on its entry-level hot hatch. The most obvious difference is the new VW badge on its snout.

The peppy 115hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine and six-speed manual gearbox remain, which means 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds.

Three and five-door variants of the GTI are available, although the former is now exclusive to the GTI and the entry-level Up. Most of the range remains the same. 

VW Up GTI 2020

“The Up GTI is the perfect example of Volkswagen catering for enthusiasts and regular car buyers alike – the GTI has attracted numerous fans thanks to its unique blend of everyday practicality and usable performance,” said Lisa Hartley, Up product manager at Volkswagen UK.

“Simplicity is the word for the Up, with a rationalised specification range, and streamlined engine line-up reflecting its versatility. The addition of new technologies sees the Up range continuing to set the standard for the city car class.”

Volkswagen e-Up

New to the range is the electric e-Up, which enjoys a useful increase in range to 162 miles.

Also new is the sporty-looking R-Line specification, with big 17-inch ‘Polygon’ wheels. A black painted roof and door mirrors also add aggression. Plush though the R-Line is, we’d still take a GTI. 

Volkswagen Up prices, fuel economy and CO2

Model CO2 (g/km, WLTP) Fuel economy (mpg, WLTP combined) Price (RRP OTR)
Up 3dr 124 51.4 £12,440
Up 5dr 125 51.4 £12,840
Black/White Edition (5dr) 127 50.4 £13,125
Beats (5dr) 125 51.4 £13,490
R-Line 126 50.4 £14,280
GTI 3dr 120 53.3 £15,895
GTI 5dr 121 53.3 £16,295

Strike action could delay Volkswagen Group cars

Volkswagen Polo

Strike action could mean delays to deliveries of Volkswagen Group cars in the opening months of 2020. Two months of strike action are expected at Sheerness docks in Kent, ending in mid-March.

Drivers from logistics firm GB Terminals Ltd will be hanging up their keys over pay, reports the Unite union.

With the recent WLTP regulation changes, plus worries over Brexit, extra issues with the movement of cars into the UK are the last thing Volkswagen will have wanted.

When will the strike be happening?

Seat new car discounts

Over the course of the next two months, a series of strikes is scheduled. In January, 24-hour strikes are expected on the 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st. There are also two strikes planned in February, on the 7th and 14th.

Two 48-hour strikes are planned on Feb 20th and 27th. A final four-day strike is due to commence on March 9th.

If you have an order from Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat due in the coming months, we recommend you press your dealer for updates.

Skoda Superb iV

“These strikes will cause serious disruption to Volkswagen Group vehicle deliveries to dealerships across the UK, including new plate models set for release in March,” said Unite regional officer, Philip Silkstone.

The Unite members cast an 84 percent vote in favour of strikes in response to GB Terminals shutting down pay talks. 

“The responsibility for this situation lies solely with GB Terminals who will have to explain why its actions have led to disruption and losses for Volkswagen,” Silkstone continued.

“The drivers are simply asking for a pay rise in-line with inflation and do not want to go on strike. It would be in the interests of everyone involved if strike action is avoided. For that to happen GB Terminals needs to come back with a pay offer our members can accept.”

Volkswagen ‘confident’

In a statement, Volkswagen UK said: “We are aware of an ongoing dispute between the Unite Union and the local operator GBA and, as a matter of principle, we support efforts towards a constructive resolution.

“With adequate stocks in the country and an efficient logistics operation, we remain confident that we will maintain an adequate supply of cars and vans to our retailers through 2020, including Q1.”

The firm added Volkswagen Group imports vehicles to the UK through a number of ports, not just Sheerness. 

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 review: power to the people

VW Golf GTI Mk1

In 1975, Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik patented a new type of puzzle. Within three years of reaching the shops, his Rubik’s Cube had sold 200 million. At the same time, another surprise success was brewing in Germany. A team of Volkswagen engineers had been working weekends on an unofficial project called ‘Sport Golf’. After some arm-twisting, managers sanctioned a run of 5,000 cars to homologate the Golf for racing. But the new model – swiftly renamed Golf GTI – was such a hit with press and public alike, production was immediately ramped up from 50 to 500 cars a day. One of motoring’s few true icons had arrived.

The Rubik’s Cube and the Golf GTI are both simple concepts. The Cube is three layers of coloured plastic, yet it has 42 quintillion possible permutations. The GTI was merely a Golf with a 110hp 1.6-litre engine from the Audi 80 GTE, stiffer suspension, cosmetic tweaks and (slightly) better brakes. Yet it was brilliant to drive, without sacrificing practicality or reliability. It captured the zeitgeist and defined a wholly new type of car: the hot hatchback.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

Today, that basic formula has hardly changed. The seventh generation Golf GTI has just been phased out (soon to be replaced by the Mk8, while the original has graduated to bona fide classic status. The car pictured here, owned by GTI enthusiast James Bullen, won the ‘Made in Germany’ class at the prestigious London Concours last summer, seeing off a BMW M1, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 and Porsche 930 Turbo LE. Exalted company indeed.

VW Golf GTI Mk1

This isn’t just any Mk1 GTI, though. One of 1,000 Campaign editions built to round-off production of Das Original, it boasts a punchier 112hp 1.8 engine, 14-inch Pirelli ‘P-slot’ alloys (with Pirelli tyres), a twin-headlamp grille, green-tinted glass and a leather steering wheel. It’s also in breathtaking, better-than-new condition. The first owner paid £6,949 in 1983, but a GTI of this calibre could cost £30,000 now. To think I once bought one for £800…

Those memories of my much-loved Mk1 soon come flooding back. Giugiaro’s ‘folded paper’ styling still looks fresh, while that red go-faster stripe – endlessly imitated – hints at excitement to come. Inside, it’s less evocative: upright, functional and slightly austere. Still, a dimpled golf-ball gear knob lightens the mood, and there’s no faulting the textbook Teutonic build quality. The unassisted steering feels heavy and the Golf’s five-speed ’box is obstinate when cold, but it immediately feels peppy and well-suited to city streets. At 3,725mm long and 1,625 wide, it’s actually smaller than a current VW Polo.

VW Golf GTI Mk1

On open roads, the featherweight 840kg Mk1 is plenty fast enough to be fun. Its fuel-injected engine punches confidently out of corners, revving beyond 6,000rpm with real verve, while a fluid, forgiving chassis helps you maintain momentum, despite the modest grip. Push hard and you can lift an inside rear wheel, or even provoke a slide, yet it never feels edgy or unpredictable like the equally iconic Peugeot 205 GTI. Then as now, Volkswagen has always played it safe.

Driven: the cars that shaped Volkswagen’s past – and future

As for the brakes – the Achilles’ heel of right-hand-drive Mk1s, due to a convoluted cross-linkage – they’re actually better than I remembered. Then again, my Golf GTI was hardly perfectly preserved like this one, and I too am erring on the side of caution. Much as I’ve relished driving James’s pride and joy, I’m quietly glad to hand it back unscathed.

Price: £8,000+

0-62mph: 8.2sec

Top speed: 114mph

Horsepower: 112

MPG combined: 36.7

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1: in pictures

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