A cutting edge icon – The Bulli 6.1

Aug 29, 2019

It is the original in its class: the Bulli. Sold around the world some twelve million times. The epitome of ‘form follows function’. Even the very first T1 version – unveiled to the press in 1949 – offered this ingenious combination of maximum space utilisation and very clear design. Bauhaus on wheels. For six generations the DNA of an icon. Now, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has brought the cult model into the era of digitalisation with the T6.1. A cutting edge icon. The Bulli 6.1 goes online, provides information if desired fully digitally, offers partly automated driving functions, upgraded features and an updated design. Advance orders have just started to be taken in the first few countries, with the launch following this autumn. The time in between traditionally belongs to the media, who can now test drive the Bulli 6.1 for the first time. Between the T1 press presentation and that of the T6.1 lie 70 years – no other commercial vehicle in the world has been on the market for such a long period and no other commercial vehicle is therefore as fully developed as the
Bulli 6.1.

The Bulli 6.1 goes online. At all times

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is connecting the Bulli 6.1 with the outside world more than ever. The Bulli 6.1’s completely redesigned instrument panel is being offered for the first time with fully digital instruments: the Digital Cockpit. Adjoining it on the same visual axis are the latest Modular Infotainment Matrix systems (MIB2 and MIB3). Together, the Digital Cockpit and the respective infotainment system produce a new digital architecture. All infotainment systems are connected as standard with an online connectivity unit (OCU). Integrated in this is an eSIM. The OCU forms the interfaces to a new spectrum of Internet-based functions and services – bundled together under the names ‘We Connect’ and ‘We Connect Plus’. Available to companies as a fleet management system is ‘We Connect Fleet’. In addition, the online connectivity enables the general use of completely new technologies in the Bulli 6.1, such as natural voice control: “Hey, Volkswagen!” is all it takes to make the T6.1 listen to your requirements. For example, for navigation: instead of entering a destination via the display unit keyboard, all you have to do is say where you want to go, e.g. “I want to go to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.” With natural voice control the Bulli 6.1 demonstrates a new intuitive level of operation.

The Bulli 6.1 offers a further refined workplace

The new instrument panel meets not only the requirements of digitalisation, but also the aim of providing high levels of everyday practicality. The panel has therefore been equipped with an additional shelf in front of the driver and a now larger, open storage bin and extra shelf in front of the front-seat passenger. Also new are the cup holders near the A-pillars, plus a larger tray for a smart phone with, as an option, an inductive interface for charging. Perfection in the detail: the air vents in the dashboard can now be adjusted in every direction and simultaneously opened or closed using one slider control. Previously a second slider was needed for opening and closing. The steering wheels have also been redesigned. On the new multifunction steering wheel there is now a View button, which enables the driver to switch between the Digital Cockpit’s different display configurations with just one click.

The Bulli 6.1 steers electro-mechanically

Electro-mechanical power steering is being used for the first time in the T6.1. This has two major benefits: unlike the hydraulic system it replaces, the new steering system can be controlled as needed and thus reduces fuel consumption. At the same time, through its controllability it opens up access to numerous new driver assistance systems. Example 1: Lane Assist. It uses cameras to register road markings and helps the driver to stay in lane. Example 2: Park Assist. It simplifies getting into and out of parking spaces. When enabled, the Bulli 6.1 automatically weaves its way into the parking space and steers out of it too. All the driver has to do is operate the accelerator and brake and monitor the surrounding area. Example 3: Trailer Assist. Every model in the range makes an ideal towing vehicle, with a towing capacity of up to 2,500 kg. Manoeuvring with a trailer is now made easier in the T6.1 by Trailer Assist. It relieves the driver of having to mentally adjust to the fact that when reversing with a trailer the steering wheel has to be turned to the left to make the trailer go to the right. Using the rotary knob of the electrical wing mirror adjustment system (which for this purpose becomes a joystick) and a display in the Cockpit, the driver simply sets the angle at which the trailer needs to be reversed. The Bulli 6.1 takes care of the steering.

The Bulli 6.1 offers excellent handling and comfort

The electro-mechanical power steering system transmits steering commands to the wheels more directly than the systems in previous models. That makes the Bulli 6.1 noticeably more agile and precise. In order to utilise the potential of the new steering system combined with the new range of tyres optimised for low rolling resistance, the tuning of the conventional and regulated chassis versions has been further optimised in the direction of driving comfort and handling. With the introduction of the second-generation chassis control system (DCC) the adjustment options have increased. Via driving profile selection, the driver can now set the desired level of damping almost seamlessly using a slider control. On the conventional chassis versions the damping forces are set dependent on the spring travel and thus ensure that the T6.1 is smoothly kept stable in all load situations. The range of familiar slip and braking control systems has been expanded through the addition of the XDS function, which improves the handling and traction characteristics of the Bulli 6.1 through gentle application of the brakes. As a result of the combination of electro-mechanical power steering, vehicle dynamics control systems and adapted chassis adjustment, an appreciable enhancement in handling and driving fun is a feature of the T6.1, while it continues – including on longer journeys – to offer the familiar high level of ride comfort.

The Bulli 6.1 sees and senses its surroundings

The portfolio of new systems is added to by a road sign recognition system. And for extra safety when manoeuvring manually too the side protection system from the Crafter has been adapted for the T6.1. Using ultrasonic sensors, it reduces the risk of any damage. Protection against accidents when reversing is provided by Rear Traffic Alert: the system sounds a warning if there are any vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists approaching the Bulli 6.1 from the side. If the driver fails to react, the system itself takes action by applying the brakes. New to this range, but also a standard feature is Cross Wind Assist, which automatically stabilises the Bulli if ever side winds turn into gales. Also new: in combination with DSG the optional ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) now has a stop-and-go function. In a traffic jam or urban driving situation the Bulli 6.1 automatically gets going again as soon as the vehicle in front moves on.

The Bulli 6.1 uses leading edge TDI engines

Propulsion is provided by leading edge diesel engines. The efficient turbo diesel injection (TDI) engines will have four levels of power output: 66 kW / 90 PS, 81 kW / 110 PS, 110 kW / 150 PS and 146 KW / 199 PS. The 150 and 199 PS versions can be combined with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. All Bulli 6.1 models with TDI engines fulfil the latest Euro 6d TEMP EAVP emissions standard.

The Bulli 6.1 has charisma

If ever there has been a commercial vehicle on this planet with a design regarded as iconic, then it is the T6. Nevertheless, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has further developed, honed and refined it, especially at the front. Particularly striking is the radiator grille, which is now significantly larger and forms a single stylistic unit with the new bumper. All elements below the bonnet, including the headlights and wings, are new parts and yet typically T6. On all versions two chrome-plated cross-bars link the new headlights to the radiator grille. The lines of the two cross-bars are continued as LED daytime running lights, extending all the way into the housing units of the headlights, which depending on specification can also be LED. The grille itself is, as mentioned above, now drawn out into the striking bumper. On the higher specification models a chrome strip also adds a refined touch to the bumper. With or without chrome elements, the new front design emphasises the width and increases the charisma of the Bulli 6.1. Six newly designed wheels, six new exterior colours and seven also newly combined two-tone paintwork finishes round off the exterior update.

With four base models the Bulli 6.1 has all the answers

Part of the secret to the success of the T series is that across its wide range of versions it provides the answers to every conceivable transportation task and situation in life. The product range is divided into four base models: Multivan 6.1, Caravelle 6.1, Transporter 6.1 and California 6.1. The Multivan 6.1 is the MPV/van for family and business use. With up to nine seats, the Caravelle is specialised in carrying people. It is available in two wheelbases: 3,000 and 3,400mm. For tradesmen and businesses the Transporter provides tailor-made solutions. Offered as a panel van, Kombi, pick-up (single or double cab) and chassis (also single or double cab), it too is available in a choice of two wheelbases: 3,000 or 3,400 mm. Cult status, meanwhile, has been enjoyed for over 30 years by the camper in the range, the California. Models offered at the launch of the Bulli 6.1 will initially be the Multivan 6.1, Caravelle 6.1 and – as panel van and Kombi – the Transporter 6.1.

The Bulli 6.1 as Transporter and Caravelle

To coincide with the debut of the Bulli 6.1 Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is upgrading all trim versions. For example, the Transporter 6.1 and Caravelle 6.1: the standard specification is being supplemented here by electric windows, central locking, electrically adjustable heated wing mirrors, new H7 headlights, energy-efficient LED interior lights and the Composition Audio radio system with Bluetooth hands-free function, USB, SD and iPod/iPhone interface. The top Caravelle 6.1 Highline version is additionally being equipped with the new Digital Cockpit, the Discover Media navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, App Connect (smart phone app integration), We Connect and We Connect Plus (mobile online services and functions).

The Bulli 6.1 as Multivan

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has also noticeably enhanced the standard specification of the Multivan 6.1. Even the base Trendline version comes, for example, with the Composition Colour audio system, electrically operated child locks for the doors, new H7 headlights and also a new leather multi-function steering wheel. Additional features on the Multivan 6.1 Comfortline include the multi-colour Premium multi-function display, decorative trim on the instrument and side panels, the Light & Sight pack and more USB interfaces in the passenger compartment. Over and above this,
the standard specification of the Multivan 6.1 Highline has been enhanced with new LED headlights and tail lights, Park Assist (including ParkPilot front and back and manoeuvring brake function), the 8-inch Discover Media navigation system and the Digital Cockpit.

Multivan 6.1 Cruise launch model

Based on the Multivan 6.1, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has developed a highly attractive, exclusively equipped launch model called the Multivan 6.1 Cruise. Features fitted as standard include LED headlights, LED tail lights, a chrome pack, stainless steel tread plates, a 3-zone automatic air conditioning system, the Discover Media radio and navigation system, ArtVelours seat covers and the additional driver assistance systems Park Assist, Lane Assist including Rear Traffic Alert, side protection and ACC Adaptive Cruise Control.

The Bulli 6.1 hones everyday work routines

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has developed some completely new features for everyday work routines. These include a 230-volt electric socket by the driver’s seat and a lockable compartment in the double bench seat on the passenger side. In addition, a new way of loading for especially long items of cargo has been devised; they can now be pushed under the double bench seat on the passenger side (under-seat loading function). This increases the maximum cargo compartment length from 2,450 mm to 2,800 mm and with extended wheelbase from 2,900 mm to 3,300 mm. The Transporter is also equipped with a separate cargo space locking system as standard (for vehicles with a bulkhead) to allow the cargo compart-ment to be locked up separately from the cab. Option 1: Only the cargo compartment is locked (‘Postman’ mode) and Option 2: Only the cab is locked (‘Workshop’ mode). Coming later there will also be a Courier Pack, featuring an even more robust layout for vehicle parts subject to especially high stress, such as the alternator, battery and drive shafts.