Volkswagen ID.Vizzion: 'electric Passat' spied testing again ahead of 2023 launch

VW's new Passat-sized electric car has been testing again, having been previewed by a 2022 Beijing Motor Show concept

VW ID. Vizzion

Volkswagen's 'electric Passat' – an upcoming sedan and estate model based on the brand's established MEB electric-vehicle platform – has been spied testing on public roads once more, this time near the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. The sleek four-door is being positioned as a zero-emissions version of the Passat and Arteon – and therefore a potential rival for the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai Ioniq 6.

The original ID.Vizzion concept was revealed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, and a 2022 Beijing show concept evolved the design closer to production reality. Speaking at VW Group's annual results conference, CEO Ralf Brandstaetter said the first production examples of the car will be delivered in China towards the end of 2023, adding that "it has an aerodynamic design and a high range of 700 kilometres (435 miles)".

No specific release date for the European market was mentioned, and it's possible that – like the China-only ID.6 – the car may not come to Europe at all, given the declining popularity of the four-door saloon bodystyle in this region. An official name has yet to be confirmed, but Volkswagen has trademarked a wide range of numerical 'ID' nameplates, so the newcomer could possibly wear the ID.7, ID.8 or ID.9 badge.

Although the Beijing concept is a saloon, the car seen testing appears to be a five-door hatchback. This could either be due to dummy bodywork not representative of the finished article, or an indication that the production car will in fact be a hatchback.

A similar range of motor and a battery options as found in existing ID models is expected – including a powerful four-wheel-drive high-performance variant wearing the GTX badge. But the size of this model may allow for the installation of a slightly larger battery than even the longest-range variants of those cars – something seemingly confirmed by Brandstaetter's 435-mile range claim.

In the ID.3 hatchback, the 77kWh battery returns a maximum range of around 340 miles, but it's possible the Passat equivalent could accommodate a circa-80kWh battery for a range of more than 430 miles, thanks to sitting on a stretched version of the MEB platform to offer the long wheelbase favoured by Chinese buyers.

Volkswagen ID. Space Vizzion concept

The estate version of the car was unveiled in concept form – bearing the name ID. Space Vizzion – at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2019. The sleek five-door was described by VW at the time as having "the aerodynamic properties of a Gran Turismo with the spacious proportions of an SUV". The Space Vizzion was developed from the earlier Vizzion concept, displayed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show.

Although we don't have exact technical details for the production version of the car yet, the ID. Space Vizzion stored energy in an 82kWh battery (with a usable capacity of 77kWh), giving it an impressive potential driving range of up to 367 miles. It also had 150kW charging capability, for a 0-80% top-up in 30 minutes.

A 275bhp motor on the rear axle was presented as the standard specification (giving the above driving range figure), while adding a 100bhp motor at the front gives a combined output of 335bhp and all-wheel drive. In the latter configuration, the Space Vizzion will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, with top speed limited to 109mph. VW said the battery and motors were positioned in such a way as to give the Space Vizzion near-50:50 front-rear weight distribution, which promises better balance and handling.

Design

As with many electric vehicles, the ID. Space Vizzion saw close focus on aerodynamic efficiency in its design, which benefits driving range. Air enters through slats in the front bumper and passes through tunnels behind the 'grille' area (located where the engine would be in an internal-combustion car).

It then emerges from gaps in the bonnet and passes over the windscreen, along the roof and through a small gap between the roof and the rear wing, allowing for smooth, continuous airflow from the front to the rear of the car. There's also an aerodynamic diffuser at the lower rear of the car, and the 22-inch wheels fitted to the concept have aero flaps in order to optimise the airflow across their faces.

Up front, the ID. Space Vizzion boasts a slender white light strip, with an illuminated 'VW' logo at its centre. There are also 'IQ.LIGHT' LED matrix headlights integrated into the bumper, as well as honeycomb-style LED daytime running lights and a transparent red light strip that runs across the entire rear end of the car.

Instead of door handles, the concept has illuminated touch surfaces that become active when someone approaches with the car's key (or a paired smartphone) on their person. This further enhances the car's aerodynamic efficiency. The ID. Space Vizzion is 4.9 metres long, 1.5 metres high and just under two metres wide; similar dimensions to the current Volkswagen Passat Estate.

Interior

The ID. Space Vizzion boasts a minimalist interior with a large landscape-orientated touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard – not unlike the arrangement in the Tesla Model 3. There are plenty of sustainable materials, including a plant-based leather alternative called 'AppleSkin', made from the residue of apple-juice production. Chrome-look paint is used instead of actual chrome and Alcantara edging also features.

For the driver, most information is displayed using an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, with the traditional cockpit display reduced to the status of a "secondary mini display showing only basic information". Controls on the steering column are used to select the drive mode (drive, energy recovery, reverse, neutral and park) and operate the indicators and windscreen wipers.

Elsewhere, an 'ID. Light' interactive light strip on the A-pillar can greet the driver on entry to the car, indicate when the motors are operational and display important navigation information and other prompts (such as an incoming phone call) within the driver's peripheral vision. It also works in tandem with voice control to make operating the car's systems in this way more intuitive.

The ID. Space Vizzion concept is a four-seater, although it's highly likely a more conventional five-seat layout would be adopted for any production version. In the concept, a large fold-out centre console between the two rear seats contains storage areas, a drinks holder and USB ports. In the 586-litre boot, VW has fitted the concept with electric longboards that are custom-fit to the area and double up as a raised floor when stored. Also included are helmets for use with the boards, which VW says can serve as "last-mile street surfers".

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