It’s the benchmark. The yardstick. The trendsetter. And that makes each generation of VW Camper very important. The iconic splitties and bays of the mid 20th century went on to bear new generations of cult-creators and it comes to the 21st century and the – slightly reserved – T5 and T6.
Incredibly well respected, the most modern camper is still the epitome of a usable motorhome – the vehicle you can use day to day to pop to the shops and do a school run, yet still go for a week away in the far reaches of Unreachistan. It’s compact enough to go under the radar when exploring single-track roads and not disrespect the white lines of the supermarket car park, yet spacious enough to support human life.
The next generation, the T7, is sure to take those traits and bring them even further into the future. At the moment it’s hard to hear much from VW itself (just watch, the day this goes live, VW will probably launch a T7…) but plenty of talented designers have had a stab at guessing the style of the next icon, like this T1 Revival from David Obendorfer.
In terms of size and space, the formula works now – so don’t expect T7 to be any greedier with its personal space than the T6. Safety for pedestrians and occupants will be a way to step up so expect more crash and impact protection, more autonomy and sophisticated driver aids.
In terms of powertrain it’d be prudent to look to alternative fuels soonish, and expect the T7 to embrace hybrid power. VW created a ‘Buzz’ with their electric van called, er, I.D BUZZ, and the Bulli and Budd-e concepts, but range anxiety for those attempting to explore the depths of what the world has to offer would probably appreciate a petrol engine – there aren’t many fast charging docks available in the third world – and although diesel probably makes sense it would be bold of VW to make it the only option and cower from the backlash as everyone reminds them of their emission issues of the past few years.
Having said all that, it’ll probably be the practicality and looks that get it off the forecourt. Practicality is almost a given – layouts have been well-established since the first camper was proposed in the late ‘40s. The looks, however, are a tricky one. The T7 has to look super cool and yet not alienate purists. This blend of retro style with modern application, thankfully, works very well. VW did it first with the front-engined Beetle in the late ‘90s, and sold bugloads of them. BMW soon jumped on that bandwagon with the MINI, and Fiat whipped up a 500, and the young drivers of Europe practically sold limbs and organs to get them.
Great designs are already popping up from speculators with great graphic designs skills, VW look like they will end up with a sales hit in the T7 unless they somehow manage to cock it up.
How bold will VW go? The T7 could be the most iconic of them all, or it could be the generation that nobody likes to talk about in a few decades’ time.