If the success of a brand new automobile could possibly be judged purely on kerb enchantment and cult standing, then the Volkswagen ID.Buzz is a winner.
This retro-cool reboot of the enduring 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 few years.
However right here’s the factor – the 100% electrical ID.Buzz isn’t simply eye sweet. Beneath that fascinating exterior is a sensible individuals service that’s straightforward 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 attainable to replenish the battery from 5-80% in as little as half-hour (utilizing a fast 150kw connection), and when you have a house wallbox it is going to cost in a single day.
Should you’re conversant in 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 isn’t with out its critics. Too lots of the automobile’s fundamental performance is accessed by way of the touchscreen (together with local weather management), whereas the contact delicate sliders under 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 digicam, 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 may memorise as much as 5 particular person parking manoeuvres – resembling you backing into your storage. All you do is park up, save the spot, and it’ll park itself routinely 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 automobile with prompt torque that may speed up from 0-62mph in simply 10.2 seconds. The look on different drivers’ faces as you ground 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 superb for on a regular basis motoring, as a result of Eco dulls the driving expertise and Sport is simply superb for energy-sapping brief bursts of enjoyable. The truth is, the one noticeable distinction between the settings is the responsiveness and output of the throttle pedal.
Oh, and don’t neglect the ‘B’ setting on the gear selector which can be utilized for increased ranges of brake regeneration when you’re driving (particularly helpful on downhill stretches or when braking from velocity for junctions).
Nevertheless 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 whole lot of journey earlier than they have interaction, that means that slowing down requires a little bit extra anticipation and isn’t as clean because it could possibly be.
As you’d count on with an EV, it’s clean and refined. Sure, the experience is on the stiff facet, so it’s not so forgiving on poorer surfaces, however total it has extra in frequent with a big automobile than a van.
Add direct and effectively weighted steering and it appears to defy physics and undoubtedly places a smile in your face.
Up to now so good, however maybe the most important shock is that the ID.Buzz is so costly at launch. There’s presently simply the one mannequin accessible with two trims.
Beginning at an eye-watering £58,915 for the entry-level Life spec, subsequent up is the Type 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 tackle 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 enhance 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 likely one of 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 driving force’s seat and entrance passenger seat.
So, it isn’t good and there’s undoubtedly room for enchancment which future variations will tackle, however total VW has carried out a terrific job with the ID.Buzz, which oozes model and character.
Awards for the ID.Buzz up to now embody Automotive of the Yr and Finest Massive Electrical Automotive on the What Automotive? Awards 2023, plus Finest MPV and Electrical Automotive of the Yr on the 2022 High Gear Awards. It’s additionally full of security and driver help tech, reaching a most five-star Euro NCAP ranking.
Verdict: Funky, practical, enjoyable to drive, comfy and secure, the retro-cool Volkswagen ID.Buzz has room for enchancment, however such is its character, all is forgiven.