It’s frankly hard to see how any vehicle could live up to this much hype, but we’re pleased to report that the Volkswagen ID. Buzz has indeed been worth the wait. It’s not quite as practical as its van-based rivals, admittedly, but it trumps the myriad SUVs it competes with when it comes to space and family-friendly features. It’ll sell on image alone, but beneath the retro styling and functional cabin, there’s a really capable, compelling EV. Only the high price counts against it.
There can’t be many new cars or vans launched in the past 12 months that have been met with as much fanfare as the all-new Volkswagen ID. Buzz. It already has a cult following, despite the fact that first deliveries aren’t due until November. Now it’s time to decide if this really is the electric minivan that we’ve all been waiting for.
First things first, the price: this isn’t a cheap family car. Prices for the Life version start at £57,115, rising to £61,915 for the better-equipped Style on which our Euro-spec test model is based.
So what do you get for your money? The ID. Buzz Life comes with 19-inch wheels, a 10-inch infotainment display with navigation, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a reversing camera, heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Clever touches such as a USB slot in the passenger door, a hidden wireless phone charging pocket on the dash and the totally flat floor really make the ID. Buzz feel like a vehicle that has been designed with thought. You can even add a three-pin plug underneath the front passenger seat.
No matter which version you go for, Volkswagen claims a WLTP range of more than 250 miles. On our test in warm conditions, we were seeing almost exactly 3.0mi/kWh, which translates to a real-world range of 231 miles.
VW claims a maximum 170kW charge speed at a suitable public charger, too, which is good for a 5-80 per cent top-up in around 30 minutes. A 7kW home wallbox should return a full charge in 11 hours.
The cabin feels roomy wherever you’re sat. The two front seats (three in the cheaper Cargo panel van) offer almost armchair-like comfort. The sliding rear doors are a boon in tight spaces, but you don’t get three individual seats like you do in the Citroen SpaceTourer, and only the two outer chairs have Isofix child seat brackets.
With the seats removed, the ID. Buzz has a simply cavernous load bay, but even with five passengers, the ID. Buzz’s boot measures 1,121 litres – more than double what you’ll find in a BMW iX3 – and if you fold down the middle row the VW boasts a total capacity of 2,205 litres. You’ll need to spec the clever raised floor in order to benefit from a flat load area, but this does also give you a space beneath to store the charging cables.
The battery is mounted along the floor, so the centre of gravity is low, while the rear-mounted motor frees up space over the front axle, while improving handling. Body control is fantastic for a vehicle of this kind, and the steering is direct and well weighted. We’d prefer the brake energy recuperation to be a bit stronger, but it’s the same set-up that’s in the ID.3 and ID.4.
The 0-62mph dash takes 10.2 seconds, but the VW feels more alert than this, due to its smooth transmission and the instant torque from the 201bhp electric motor. While it feels fast enough for daily use, we weren’t able to try the car fully loaded.
Regardless, the ID. Buzz is very refined for such a bluff-fronted vehicle, and while it’s perhaps a little firm around town, it doesn’t crash through potholes or over broken roads. You’ll find it strikes a really favourable rhythm at higher speeds, too.
There’s very little wind and road noise, and the ID. Buzz is free from any of those characteristic shakes and rattles you might find on passenger cars converted from commercial vehicles. The Cargo van echoes slightly with an empty load bay, but it’s no deal breaker; existing Ford Transit Custom or VW Transporter owners won’t find this cause for concern.
|Model:||Volkswagen ID. Buzz 77kWh Pro Style SWB|
|Powertrain:||77kWh battery, 1x e-motor|
|Transmission:||Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive|
|Max. charging:||170kW, 5-80% in 30 min|