Volkswagen is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Syncro design study with a new concept that revives the storied Tristar nameplate. The 21st century Tristar will be presented to the public at the 65th annual Commercial Vehicles Show that will open its doors to the press and the public in Frankfurt, Germany, over the coming days.
Up front, the Tristar is standard T5 Transporter fare save for futuristic bits and pieces like LED headlights and a concept-specific, GTI-inspired front bumper that incorporates a winch. Beyond the cab, the Tristar pays an unmistakable homage to the T3 Vanagon, sold under a variety of nameplates including Transporter, Caravelle and T25. It is fitted with body-colored drop-down sides, a feature that was used by all of Volkswagen’s van-based pickup trucks from the 1950s to the 1990s. Similarly, the Tristar concept’s angular tail lamps are visibly inspired by the Vanagon’s rectangular units.
The retro treatment is only skin-deep. The Tristar packs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI engine that generates 201 horsepower and 331 lb-ft. of torque, making it considerably more powerful than its predecessor. Mounted transversally up front, the TDI spins all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, a technology that traces its roots back to the original Vanagon Syncro and even further back to the experimental all-wheel drive T2 Bus built in the late-1970s.
The concept boasts a state-of-the-art interior with an espresso machine, a 20-inch tablet and front seats that can swivel. As expected, it packs modern niceties like a color touch screen on the dash, dual-zone A/C and a configurable thin-film transistor screen in the instrument cluster.
A press release issued by Volkswagen explains the Tristar is merely a design study, meaning it will not be added to the automaker’s lineup as-is. However, Volkswagen suggests the concept hints at what the next Transporter could look like, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the T6 will pay a discreet homage to the Vanagon when it lands in the next couple of years.