Volkswagen ID. Buzz overview
It's been a long time coming, but the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is finally on the road in Ireland. We say a long time, because VW has been teasing retro-themed MPVs ever since the New Beetle became a sales hit when it was launched in 1997. Using the same formula of creating a modern take on a classic shape, Volkswagen brought us concepts such as the Type 2-inspired Microbus in 2001, the Bulli of 2011 and Budd-e in 2016, before the ID. Buzz concept first appeared in 2017.
Six years later, and the road-ready ID. Buzz retains most of the concept's funky looks, but is it all style and no substance? The only way to find out is to put this head-turning machine to the test in the rough and tumble of everyday life.
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz model range
The VW ID. Buzz range starts from €69,770, and there are four models in the Irish line-up, all of which feature a 77kWh battery and a 204hp electric motor that drives the rear wheels. This combination delivers a 0-100km/h time of 10.2 seconds, which is decent for a car weighing in at more than 2.5 tonnes. More importantly, VW quotes a range of 400-425km, depending on specification, which puts the ID. Buzz ahead of the few electric MPV rivals available for range. That big battery takes 12 hours to charge from flat to full capacity from a 7.4kW AC source (i.e. a home charger), while fast charging can take it from 5-80 per cent in 34 minutes from a powerful enough DC supply.
Life trim is the entry point to the range and it comes very well equipped. There are 19-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights, tinted rear windows, heated and folding mirrors, keyless entry and starting, two-zone climate control, armrests for the front seats, a heated driver's seat, a heated synthetic leather multifunction steering wheel and no less than seven USB-C sockets around the cabin.
Infotainment comes courtesy of a 10-inch touchscreen display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, wireless phone charging and internet connectivity. Safety equipment is also generous, with front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, intelligent speed assist and traffic sign recognition, lane assist, driver tiredness alert and Car2X connectivity to communicate with other cars and systems to warn of dangers.
It's a €3,270 hike to Family trim, which adds a different 19-inch wheel design, LED lights at the rear and matrix beam units up front with an illuminated bar between them. There are twin armrests and heating for both front seats, while the upholstery is 'Seaqual,' a recycled material made from PET plastic bottles. The trim itself comes in a two-tone finish with light grey and another colour determined by the car's exterior finish. Tech upgrades include adaptive cruise control that also works in stop-start traffic, high beam assist and park assist.
An extra €1,600 is needed for Tech trim. This adds 20-inch alloys, illuminated exterior door handles, a powered tailgate and a larger 12-inch infotainment system. Lane-change assist, and an even more advanced main beam control system are thrown in, too.
At the top of the range, the ID. Buzz Max is over €10,000 more than the entry model, and includes 21-inch wheels, electrically opening sliding doors, comfort seats up front with adjustable lumbar support and colour-changing LED cabin lighting.
The only options offered on the ID. Buzz are different wheels and exterior colours. However, supply issues mean that while our test car featured two-tone paint, this isn't currently available. You should be able to add Candy White over yellow, green, orange or blue hues for €2,060, so if you're keen on that look - and we think it's a worthwhile upgrade - then it's worth contacting your local VW dealer about availability.
At the moment, the ID. Buzz is only sold as a five-seat MPV, but VW has revealed a seven-seater that should arrive in Ireland next year with a longer wheelbase. Volkswagen also offers the ID. Buzz Cargo van. It's not the most spacious model around, but it matches the MPV for head-turning looks. Other options that are on their way include 4Motion four-wheel drive, while a faster ID. Buzz GTX is also on the cards.
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz interior
There's no doubt about it, the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is possibly the most head-turning car that the company has ever built, and it's especially distinctive in our car's white and yellow paint scheme. It's a big car, too, measuring just over 4.7 metres long and a touch under 2.0 metres wide, while that area is filled by a smooth one-box shape - this is a van-based MPV after all, even if it is an extremely stylish one.
Climb aboard (and you do climb, thanks to the high seat position) and the ID. Buzz uses its size to its advantage to create a vast cabin. Build quality is good with the wavy wood-like material on the dashboard adding a classy touch. The light-coloured two-tone upholstery, dashboard and steering wheel are likely to need a bit of effort to keep clean when faced with the challenges of everyday family use, but the 'Seaqual' seat trim feels grippy and is a decent eco-conscious alternative to leather.
There are no issues in terms of head- or legroom, with the car's high roof and flat floor delivering plenty of space in all five seats. The front seats feel like captain's chairs thanks to their armrests, and they're comfortable to sit in, too.
In the back, there's a three-seat bench with a 60:40 split, though we'd prefer to have individually folding chairs. The ID. Buzz's seats do fold flat, with the seat bases dropping into the floor at the same time. Shame they can't be removed completely.
Surprisingly, the ID. Buzz only has ISOFIX child seat mounts on the two outer chairs. At least the sliding doors make access easy, especially when they have power opening as on this top-spec version. However, the rear windows are fixed and don't open - your only ventilation option is the air vents above the back doors.
There are lots of handy storage options inside. USB sockets are abundant, including within the sliding doors, so there shouldn't be any complaints about not being able to charge devices, as long as you've got enough USB-C compatible cables. The ID. Buzz has a neat wireless phone charging slot on the dash that holds your device in place when driving, while the design of the drop-down cup holders at either end of the dash is another clever touch.
Then there's the 'Buzz Box' that sits between the front seats. This has a tray on top with dividers that can be moved to hold different sized items, while one includes an ice scraper and the other has a bottle opener. Beneath the tray is a large storage bin that's accessible from the back seats, or you can remove the box completely and take it with you.
In the rear, the power-assisted tailgate is a handy addition that means it's easy to open and close what is an otherwise vast door. Once open, it reveals a huge cargo area featuring a sturdy false floor to create a split-level boot. On top it's level with the back seats when they're folded flat to create a flat space, while underneath there's enough room for a handy drawer to keep the charging cables on one side, and still have space for more gear on the other.
The rear half of the false floor also hinges at right angles to create a divider, further boosting versatility. There are cup holders located at either side of the boot, which seems odd, but makes sense when you realise that the upcoming seven-seat version will make use of the same interior trim.
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz driving experience
Strip away the funky design, and the ID. Buzz is essentially an electric van, so you get a typically van-like high seating position. Combine this with the vast wraparound windscreen and split A-pillars, and this is a car that offers a clear view of your surroundings.
The driving position is upright, and the base of the windscreen is a long way ahead of you, but there's not much bonnet beyond that. It means you're likely to leave a large space ahead of the car when parking until you get used to judging the car's proportions.
While other ID models feature a drive selector on the instrument binnacle, the layout of the ID. Buzz means it's easier for this to be mounted on the steering column. That's no issue because it works the same, and the car 'starts up' as you climb aboard anyway - all you need to do is select Drive and you're away.
Once you're moving, the ID. Buzz is smooth. Even with our car's 21-inch wheels and wide Hankook tyres, the ride is decent, while road noise is only really noticeable at higher speeds - even then it's pretty low, as is wind noise.
The ride is firm, but not uncomfortable, and the firm edge isn't bad enough for the car to be unsettled by rough roads at speed.
The ID. Buzz feels fast enough, but there are limits to what it can do thanks to its tall body. It's pretty composed, but not as enjoyable to drive as the lower-slung ID.4. You can certainly feel that the power is going to the rear wheels, but the electronics cut in well before there are any issues with the back end breaking loose.
Efficiency is so-so, rather than outstanding. The ID. Buzz is a big, heavy, battery-powered MPV, so it's not going to win any economy runs, and we averaged 28kWh/100km during our time with it, which is around 8kWh short of VW's official number. At least the big battery offers plenty of capacity, so you won't be charging it all of the time.
Our verdict on the Volkswagen ID. Buzz
In its eye-catching two-tone paint (or even one of the vivid single-colour options that are currently offered), there seems to be nothing but positivity toward the VW ID. Buzz, and it's easy to understand why it garners such attention. It's a good deal more expensive than an ID.4, but then it's way more spacious in the back and in the boot, and it drives in a similar manner. The long-wheelbase, seven-seat model will potentially make even more sense (although it will be pricier still), but regardless, the ID. Buzz certainly makes for an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous large family SUV. It deserves to do well.