If the success of a brand new car may very well be judged purely on kerb attraction 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 charming exterior is a sensible individuals service that’s straightforward and enjoyable to drive.
At launch, this eco minibus has 5 seats and incorporates a 150kW electrical motor powered by a 77kWh battery pack that delivers its energy to the rear wheels. There’s additionally a less expensive business 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 in case you have a house wallbox it’s going to cost in a single day.
Should you’re acquainted with 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 essential 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 street 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 may assume. What’s extra, it has a turning circle of simply 11.1 metres.
My check automotive additionally got here with Park Help Plus which might memorise as much as 5 particular person parking manoeuvres – akin to you backing into your storage. All you do is park up, save the spot, and it’ll park itself mechanically subsequent time.
On the street, 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 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. In truth, 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 greater ranges of brake regeneration when you’re driving (particularly helpful on downhill stretches or when braking from pace for junctions).
However it’s not nearly straight-line pace, the ID.Buzz is remarkably agile on twisty nation roads, solely let down by the brakes which appear to have quite a lot of journey earlier than they have interaction, which means that slowing down requires a little bit extra anticipation and isn’t as clean because it may very well be.
As you’d anticipate with an EV, it’s clean and refined. Sure, the experience is on the stiff aspect, so it’s not so forgiving on poorer surfaces, however total it has extra in widespread with a big automotive than a van.
Add direct and properly weighted steering and it appears to defy physics and positively places a smile in your face.
To date so good, however maybe the most important shock is that the ID.Buzz is so costly at launch. There’s at present simply the one mannequin obtainable with two trims.
Beginning at an eye-watering £58,915 for the entry-level Life spec, subsequent up is the Model 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 mentioned, boot capability is among the its greatest strengths. Even with 5 passengers on board, there’s 1,121 litres of cargo area. 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 excellent and there’s positively room for enchancment which future variations will tackle, however total VW has executed an excellent job with the ID.Buzz, which oozes fashion and character.
Awards for the ID.Buzz up to now embody Automobile of the Yr and Finest Massive Electrical Automobile on the What Automobile? Awards 2023, plus Finest MPV and Electrical Automobile of the Yr on the 2022 Prime Gear Awards. It’s additionally filled with 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.