The Volkswagen ID Buzz ushers in a new era of family cars

Road trip!
by Ollie Kew | Mar 10, 2022
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PHOTO: TopGear.com
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Twenty years of concept cars. Six decades of history. And here, at long last, we are. Volkswagen has reinvented the Microbus for the EV age—and called it the ID Buzz.

The new all-electric sliding door van’s zany name is actually a bit of a pun—in Germany, these things are known as ‘bus,’ so add in the hum of an electric motor, and Franz is your Onkel. The silly name is just one of the touches that aim to give this car what EVs sorely lack. Character. Personality. Soul.

You’ll have spotted the almost flat front by now, the minimal overhangs, the long wheelbase. All thanks to the same MEB platform that brought you the VW ID.3 and ID.4, Audi’s Q4 e-tron, Skoda’s Enyaq, and a smattering of Cupras. This architecture means a tall van can have a super-low center of gravity—by mounting the motor at the back—and be just as rear-engined and rear-wheel drive as the 1960s Beetle-powered original.

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That’s not just a retro decision, of course. Putting the drive system at the back means the Buzz has a turning circle of just over 11,000mm because the front wheels can pivot that much further without driveshafts in the way, making this big family bus as maneuverable as a Golf. All-wheel drive ones will come later (with a larger turning circle), and there’s even insider mumblings of a performance-flavored ID Buzz GTX...

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Speaking of different versions, you’re looking at the OG ID—the standard-wheelbase, 77kWh Buzz Pro, good for just over 200hp. Expect a real-world range of around 320-400km. Next year, there’ll be an entry-level Buzz Pure with a smaller battery, a £50,000 (P3.43 million) entry price, and a long-wheelbase which will up the chair count from five allowing more seating plan variation. It’ll also have a bigger battery between the axles. 

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Of course, the one you really want is the surftastic all-electric ID Buzz California campervan. Not until 2025 at the earliest, apparently—VW is in no hurry to replace the diesel-powered Cali while it’s selling as well as it is. 

When it does arrive, bi-directional charging will allow the ID Buzz to discharge itself while parked to juice your drinks fridge or campsite jacuzzi. Whatever you like. In the meantime, VW is touting this an eco-friendly way to lower your energy bills: charge up the Buzz during the day on cheaper electricity, and use it to power your home storage battery (we’ve all got those right? No, us neither) in the evening. 

Other near-future tech in the Buzz includes car-to-X communication. It’ll download data from nearby Volkswagens in the cloud and learn of missing road markings or traffic nearby that could upset the sat-nav.

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There’s also a self-parking function that can learn and remember tricky maneuvers like a narrow driveway. So, you pull it off once to prove it can be done without crashing, Buzz records your inputs, and does it hands-free next time. Clever. Until you forget to open the gate before pressing the big ‘go’ button. 

Actually, that’s a lie: buttons are few and far between in the Buzz. Volkswagen insists its haptic, touch-sensitive nonsense is improving and the software in the Buzz will be better than the awful interfaces in the current Golf and ID cars, but we’ll believe it when we see it. The design and materials are very light, cheery, and BMW i3-ish, though. That’s a good thing. Lounge vibes. 

VW’s reborn bus has been a long time in the making. On first impression, was it worth the wait? 

Volkswagen ID Buzz

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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