While the much awaited VW ID. Buzz has been officially revealed, a little while ago we took to the boulevards of Milton Keynes to test drive a couple of pre-production mules prior to the electric vehicle’s Ireland arrival in Q4.
The ID. Buzz design blatantly taps in to a rich vein of nostalgia as it pays homage to VW’s famed T1 Bulli van. Initially a five-seat ID. Buzz and three-seat ID Cargo van will go on sale with an 82 kWh battery powering a 150kW motor. A few months later a longer bodied, seven-seat version featuring an extended driving range will launch. Like the famed hippy van the ID. Buzz has a rear motor and is rear wheel drive. The ID. Buzz is built using VW’s scalable electric car platform that underpins the ID. Range of 3 and 4. The Buzz is the largest ID yet. When viewed side on the ID. Buzz looks quite retro with a cab-forward design. In a classic VW minibus the driver’s toes can almost touch the front bumper. Closer inspection reveals the same trick VW did with its ‘new Beetle’ in 1997. The windscreen glazed area has been moved very far froward, with the driver remaining well behind the front wheels. The ID. Buzz has a classic box van shape. It is nearly 2 metres wide, quite long at 4712mm and while taller than a traditional full size MPV at 1937mm its roofline is significantly lower than a typical van (e.g. VW Caravelle is 1990mm tall) to ensure car-like access to height restricted car parks etc.
First up we took the five seat Buzz out on the far from California roads of Buckinghamshire. Five adults and their luggage will fit with ease in the Buzz. The driving controls were familiar from the ID.3 and 4. The electric powertrain is simple and effortless to use as one would expect from any EV. The Buzz is a wide yet the tall driving position makes it easy to place on the road (our test cars were lefthand drive). The vast glazed area up front makes the cabin incredibly airy. Roundabouts of all sizes were easily dispatched in the rear wheel drive EV. On a variety of surfaces including some quite poor B roads the suspension delivered a composed and comfortable ride. The ID. Buzz may be a large block but it is very manoeuvrable with a tight turning circle of just over 11 metres that just slightly more than a VW Golf. There are the usual driving modes with comfort the default. Acceleration is impressive and its top speed is limited to 145km/h. The 200hp/310nm electric motor is integrated in to the rear axle. Ease of access is great and all get a commanding view and a very relaxing experience. Rear passengers get large seats and acres of room. The boot is vast too at 1,121 litres with the rear seats in place! The seven-seat version will have a longer body with a longer range battery yet to be announced.
We also tested the commercial version of the ID. Buzz called ID. Cargo. It features three seats in the front, a bulkhead behind them to separate the circa 3.9 m3 cargo area with its 700kgs load capacity. The rear deck can fit two euro pallets. The Cargo has classic twin rear doors with expanding hinges for fork lift loading. VW will strongly recommend specific ID approved lightweight racking is fitted in the cargo area. The ID. Cargo features stiffer rear suspension to meet its load carrying requirements and you will notice a more sporty feel to the ride when unloaded. It is firm without feeling harsh or agricultural when traversing a speed hump where many unloaded commercials can buck like a mule. The ease of use is the most appealing thing with Cargo. VW stressed to us that ID. Cargo was designed from the off as an EV and not simply a modified diesel van re-engineered to be an EV. In general any electric van driving experience is superior to a diesel (range excluded obviously) yet the ID. Cargo experience is superior again due to its projected long range ability of circa 400-500km from a full charge.
The passenger ID. Buzz will be available in 32 VW dealerships with the ID. Cargo available in its 24 VW van centres. Pre-booking will open shortly. Alan Bateson, VW Ireland’s commercial vehicle boss says public interest in the vehicle is huge. Initially buyers will be private owner/operators. As of now VW Ireland’s ability to supply/facilitate large fleets is not there yet, but is ramping up. In general limited supply of vehicles will be an issue to surmount across Europe.