Volkswagen’s rising household of ID-badged electrical automobiles has a brand new mascot: the ID. Buzz. Impressed by the classic air-cooled Bus fashions and previewed by a close-to-production concept unveiled in 2017, the heritage-laced van gives an electrical powertrain, an attention-grabbing design, plus an inside that’s high-tech and virtually lounge-like. I examined a Buzz prototype in England in February 2022 and walked away impressed, and time driving a regular-production mannequin in and round Copenhagen, Denmark, confirmed these impressions. This was definitely worth the wait.
Whilst you can inform that the Buzz is on the identical department of the Volkswagen household tree because the split- and bay-window Buses prized by hippies many years in the past, designers determined to not go full-retro as they did with the New Beetle launched in 1997. The headlights aren’t spherical, for instance, they usually’re a lot larger than the unique van’s. It’s the identical story out again: The lights are horizontal, positioned proper beneath the massive hatch’s window, and linked by a lightweight bar. That is intentional — Volkswagen aimed to echo the unique mannequin with out cloning it.
When it comes to proportions, the Buzz is fairly spot on. The entrance finish isn’t solely flat and the entrance doorways are positioned behind the entrance wheels fairly than over them, however the design is as near the previous van’s as fashionable laws enable. The Buzz variant that I drove in Denmark measures 185.5 inches lengthy, 78.1 inches extensive, and 76.8 inches tall, so it’s about so long as a Tiguan however round 10 inches taller and 5 inches wider. That is what Volkswagen refers to because the short-wheelbase mannequin, and it’s not coming to the USA. We’ll get a long-wheelbase mannequin that hasn’t been unveiled but; it ought to look identical to the European-spec mannequin however with extra space between the entrance and rear axles.
Predictably, the inside went by way of roughly the identical firming down course of as the outside because the Buzz morphed right into a manufacturing mannequin. Up entrance, you’ll discover a pair of particular person seats mounted comparatively excessive, a 5.3-inch digital instrument cluster that appears just like the one fitted to the ID.3 hatchback bought in Europe and the ID.4 crossover, and a 10-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system (a 12-inch unit is non-compulsory). Sliding open the rear doorways reveals a two-piece folding rear bench, kid-approved folding tray tables built-in into the entrance seatbacks, and certainly one of a number of Easter eggs scattered throughout the cabin: the Buzz’s define on the piece of trim that covers every outer seat’s sliding mechanism.
There’s one other Easter egg proper on the driver’s ft: The accelerator and brake pedals are labeled play and pause, respectively. It is a neat contact that we’ve seen on a big selection of ID fashions, together with the cool ID Buggy concept that I drove in sunny California in 2019.
Volkswagen and Pennsylvania-based Argo AI are collectively growing an autonomous, Buzz-based prototype tentatively due out in 2025. We’re not there but, and the Buzz doesn’t drive itself regardless of its futuristic design, but it surely gives a beneficiant listing of know-how options. Car2X know-how depends on swarm information to ship warnings to close by appropriate autos, and the non-compulsory Journey Help perform analyzes this identical set of knowledge to maintain the Buzz centered in its lane even when one of many markings is lacking. The Buzz can change lanes by itself in the fitting situations, although I didn’t get to check out this characteristic, and drivers can educate the Park Help Plus system as much as 5 parking maneuvers.
The infotainment system is comparatively simple; Volkswagen designed it to appear and feel like a pill. It’s fairly straightforward to make use of, it gives sharp-looking graphics, and it responds comparatively shortly to enter. The touch-sensitive sliders positioned immediately beneath the display screen are a special story. They let the entrance passengers management the amount and the varied local weather management capabilities, they usually assist give the dashboard a clear and uncluttered look, however they take some getting used to. Old school buttons and knobs would arguably be extra intuitive.
Volkswagen went to vital lengths to take away as many buttons from the dashboard as doable. Solely a handful stay, together with one used to begin the electrical motor. Rear-mounted, it attracts electrical energy from an 82-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to ship 204 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. That’s sufficient for a ten.2-second zero-t0-62-mph time, and Volkswagen restricted the Buzz’s prime pace to 90 mph. Whereas these figures aren’t jaw-dropping, the Buzz feels comparatively fast off the road (particularly contemplating it’s an enormous field that weighs about 5,447 kilos) as a result of the electrical motor delivers on the spot torque.
It seems to be like a van, it’s marketed as a van, it looks like a van, but it surely doesn’t drive like a van.
Spending time behind the wheel of a regular-production Buzz confirmed my preliminary impressions: it seems to be like a van, it’s marketed as a van, it looks like a van, but it surely doesn’t drive like a van. It feels extra like a crossover, and that’s an excellent factor. Sitting excessive with an excellent view of the street forward, you’re surrounded by an amazing quantity of area; that’s par for the course within the van world. What’s not is a low middle of gravity that retains physique roll in verify (the heavy battery pack is stuffed underneath the ground) and a turning radius that’s on par with a Golf’s. Maneuvering a van in an enormous European metropolis is often the automotive equal of a horror present; the Buzz takes a substantial amount of the stress out.
One of many important facets that differentiates EVs by way of the driving expertise is how the powertrain handles vitality recuperation. Some carmakers eschew one-pedal driving; others embrace it and let drivers dial within the quantity of recuperation they like. Volkswagen’s method is someplace within the center: The system is both on or off. Depart the gear selector in “D” and the Buzz coasts like a gasoline-powered automobile if you carry your foot off of the accelerator pedal. Twist it as soon as into “B” mode and the brake vitality recuperation system kicks in as quickly as your foot comes off the pedal. One-pedal driving is feasible on nation roads however you’ll have to push the brake pedal to return to a full cease.
Volkswagen hasn’t launched the American-spec Buzz’s specs so I’m offering the next figures for context. Constructed on an 82-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the European-spec van gives a most driving vary of 263 miles when put by way of the European testing cycle, which returns larger numbers than the testing cycle utilized in America. Zapping the battery pack from 5% to 80% takes round half an hour if you could find a 170-kilowatt fast charger. For those who’re the charge-at-home kind, a full cost takes seven and a half hours.
Bi-directional charging is obtainable, which means the Buzz can retailer electrical energy from photo voltaic panels through the day and feed it again to your home. And, the accessible 230-volt (that’s the usual voltage in Europe) outlet permits it to energy instruments and home equipment, even when it’s turned off.
It took Volkswagen over 20 years to launch a modern-day interpretation of the unique Bus however the wait was price it. Whereas the design isn’t 100% retro, the idea of carving out as a lot area as doable in a comparatively small footprint is what made the Bus in style when it was new, and this concept lives on within the ID. Buzz. Comfy and versatile, the ID. Buzz is to the Volkswagen model what the New Beetle was within the late Nineties: a re-imagined icon that’s a flagship by way of picture and by way of design, not by way of worth and positioning.
Deliveries on the European market will begin earlier than the top of 2022. Volkswagen will launch particulars concerning the long-wheelbase American-spec ID. Buzz within the coming months and deliveries are tentatively scheduled to begin in 2024. The wait isn’t over for everybody, then.