If the success of a brand new car might be judged purely on kerb enchantment and cult standing, then the Volkswagen ID.Buzz is a winner.
This retro-cool reboot of the long-lasting VW camper generated extra curiosity and optimistic feedback from full strangers throughout my road-test week than absolutely anything else I’ve pushed over the previous couple of years.
However right here’s the factor – the 100% electrical ID.Buzz isn’t simply eye sweet. Beneath that charming exterior is a sensible individuals provider that’s simple and enjoyable to drive.
At launch, this eco minibus has 5 seats and contains a 150kW electrical motor powered by a 77kWh battery pack that delivers its energy to the rear wheels. There’s additionally a less expensive industrial model (marketed because the ID.Buzz Cargo Van).
Sharing its underpinnings with the smaller ID.3 hatchback and ID.4 and 5 crossovers, it has a claimed vary of as much as 258 miles (nearer to 200 miles in real-world driving).
With a charging energy of as much as 170kW, it’s potential to replenish the battery from 5-80% in as little as half-hour (utilizing a speedy 150kw connection), and when you’ve got a house wallbox it’ll cost in a single day.
When you’re accustomed to Volkswagen’s ID household of EVs, you’ll recognise the minimalist entrance cabin which options a big central touchscreen and a ‘twisty knob’ gear selector positioned behind the steering wheel.
Sadly, this infotainment system just isn’t with out its critics. Too lots of the car’s foremost performance is accessed through the touchscreen (together with local weather management), whereas the contact delicate sliders beneath and on the steering wheel are fiddly.
Fortunately, the electrically adjustable driver’s seat is comfy with a commanding driving place, providing an expansive view of the highway forward. There’s loads of glass round the remainder of the ID.Buzz too, so with the assistance of the reversing digital camera, manoeuvring isn’t as difficult as you would possibly assume. What’s extra, it has a turning circle of simply 11.1 metres.
My take a look at automobile additionally got here with Park Help Plus which might memorise as much as 5 particular person parking manoeuvres – corresponding to you backing into your storage. All you do is park up, save the spot, and it’ll park itself robotically subsequent time.
On the highway, the ID.Buzz is amazingly nimble for its dimension (L= 4,712mm, W= 2,211mm x H= 1,937mm) and weight (as much as 3 tonnes).
There’s one thing uncanny about driving a van-sized car with immediate torque that may speed up from 0-62mph in simply 10.2 seconds. The look on different drivers’ faces as you flooring it to overhaul is priceless – and it feels swifter than the official acceleration determine suggests.
There are numerous drive modes (eg Eco, Consolation and Sport). Inevitably, Consolation is simply wonderful for on a regular basis motoring, as a result of Eco dulls the driving expertise and Sport is simply wonderful for energy-sapping quick bursts of enjoyable. In truth, the one noticeable distinction between the settings is the responsiveness and output of the throttle pedal.
Oh, and don’t overlook the ‘B’ setting on the gear selector which can be utilized for greater ranges of brake regeneration when you’re driving (particularly helpful on downhill stretches or when braking from velocity for junctions).
However it’s not nearly straight-line velocity, the ID.Buzz is remarkably agile on twisty nation roads, solely let down by the brakes which appear to have a variety of journey earlier than they have interaction, that means that slowing down requires slightly extra anticipation and isn’t as easy because it might be.
As you’d count on with an EV, it’s easy and refined. Sure, the journey is on the stiff facet, so it’s not so forgiving on poorer surfaces, however total it has extra in widespread with a big automobile than a van.
Add direct and effectively weighted steering and it appears to defy physics and positively places a smile in your face.
Up to now so good, however maybe the largest shock is that the ID.Buzz is so costly at launch. There’s at present simply the one mannequin out there with two trims.
Beginning at an eye-watering £58,915 for the entry-level Life spec, subsequent up is the Fashion trim for £63,715. A flagship GTX will be part of the vary quickly, and it’ll have a twin motor four-wheel drive system.
An extended wheelbase model and camper van are additionally coming, and the latter will handle the opposite present annoyance, which is the MPV cabin’s lack of flexibility.
At current, the rear seats can recline and slide to both enhance the cavernous boot or improve legroom if pulled ahead.
Ideally, ID.Buzz homeowners need to have the ability to swivel the entrance seats spherical and have the power to take away the rear seats altogether.
That stated, boot capability is among the its largest strengths. Even with 5 passengers on board, there’s 1,121 litres of cargo house. With the rear seats folded and pushed ahead there’s a van-like 2,123-litre capability.
And a particular point out for the intelligent ‘Buzz Field’ – a detachable storage compartment between the motive force’s seat and entrance passenger seat.
So, it isn’t good and there’s positively room for enchancment which future variations will handle, however total VW has completed an amazing job with the ID.Buzz, which oozes model and character.
Awards for the ID.Buzz to date embrace Automotive of the 12 months and Greatest Giant Electrical Automotive on the What Automotive? Awards 2023, plus Greatest MPV and Electrical Automotive of the 12 months on the 2022 Prime Gear Awards. It’s additionally full of security and driver help tech, reaching a most five-star Euro NCAP score.
Verdict: Funky, purposeful, enjoyable to drive, comfy and secure, the retro-cool Volkswagen ID.Buzz has room for enchancment, however such is its character, all is forgiven.