Volkswagen ID Buzz long-term test: report 1

Back in January we named this electric people carrier as our Car of the Year, but does the Volkswagen ID Buzz continue to impress in daily life? We're finding out...

VW ID Buzz front right driving

The car Volkswagen ID Buzz Style SWB 77kWh Pro Run by Stuart Milne, digital editor

Why it’s here We want to find out if a more traditional MPV format can still make for an appealing and practical family car. And more importantly, if the funky styling can win over diehard petrolheads.

Needs to Offer effortless practicality to families, yet be the consummate commuter car

Mileage 6844 Price £63,715 Target price £63,715 Price as tested £68,255 Official range 255 miles Test range 260 miles Options Candy White/Energetic Orange paint (£2790) Infotainment Package Plus (£1560), Mode 2 charging cable (£190)

1 October 2023 – A bit of a Buzz

The Volkswagen ID Buzz could be one of the most significant electric cars to ever go on sale, because it appeals to the broadest set of drivers I’ve ever encountered. Why? Well, just look at it.

Yes, this car turns heads like little else on the road, particularly if you go for the striking orange and white colour scheme that I did. And for once with an electric vehicle (EV), when people start to talk to you about it, they don’t bring up the shortcomings of the public charging infrastructure or the (now less looming) 2035 petrol and diesel ban. No, they just want to express their admiration, with even dyed-in-the-wool petrol and diesel drivers starting to imagine themselves owning an EV.

Volkswagen ID Buzz LT rear

So, it seems that referencing the iconic VW Type 2 ‘camper’ via details such as the two-tone paint (an eye-widening £2790 option) and an interpretation of the classic vehicle’s sweeping V nose was a masterstroke. Even the name ‘ID Buzz’ is a riff on ‘Bus’, as the original was known in America.

True, things are less noteworthy under the skin, where the ID Buzz borrows its technology from other Volkswagen electric cars. However, that means the 77kWh battery is mounted below the floor to improve interior space, while a maximum charging rate of 175kW is good, if not stellar; it allows the battery to go from 10-80% in around 30 minutes, using a suitably powerful public rapid charger.

Another advantage of the battery’s position is that it lowers the Buzz’s centre of gravity and makes it feels surprisingly agile for something so tall. But as much as I enjoy driving, my cars are primarily used as family transport and consequently – when the weather permits – are filled with paddleboards, camping kit, bikes and muddy rugby boots.

Volkswagen ID Buzz boot

Fortunately, the Buzz is immensely practical – far more so than the large SUVs you might otherwise buy. You see, unlike them, it’s basically a great big box that only the more van-like Citroën e-Spacetourer and Mercedes EQV really come close to. There’s simply masses of space up front, while three burly adults can sit comfortably in the rear, meaning my two kids present no issues whatsoever. I’ve no doubt there would be plenty of space for an extra row of seats, although that will be reserved for the long-wheelbase model, which is due to go on sale in a few months’ time.

You’ll get more luggage space with that model, too – not that it’s needed. With the rear seatbacks raised, the boot in my car has a capacity of 1121 litres, which is about twice what the massive Skoda Superb Estate offers. How much will fit? I’ve got no idea, I’m afraid, because I’ve not come close to maxing it out yet, even on trips to Ikea and the tip. What I can reveal is that it’s capable of lugging 2.4-metre lengths of timber without you needing to fold down the front passenger seat.

It makes sense, given that there’s a commercial variant: the Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo van. But while the close relationship between the two models means the materials in the passenger variant aren’t particularly luxurious, the design does at least look smart. Plus, neither of the two available trims is short on equipment – and nor should they be with a near-£60k starting price.

Volkswagen ID Buzz interior driving

My ID Buzz is in top-spec Style trim, which counts excellent shape-shifting headlights (to allow you to stay on high beam without dazzling other drivers), a powered tailgate, multi-coloured interior lighting and 20in alloy wheels as highlights.

Flies in the ointment? There are a few: the Buzz has the same unlit volume and temperature sliders that we’ve criticised other recent Volkswagen models for; I’m not finding the steering column-mounted gear selector particularly intuitive to operate; and the huge, top-hinged tailgate means I’m no longer reversing into parking spaces.

Overall, though, the ID Buzz still feels like a game-changer. And that means it’s justifying its title as our 2023 Car of the Year.

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