Volkswagen ID Buzz long-term test

Back in 2023 we named this electric people carrier as our Car of the Year, but does it continue to impress when you live with it?...

Volkswagen ID Buzz LT on beach

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 14,970 Price £63,835 Target Price £60,335 Price as tested £66,945 Dealer price now £46,396 Private price now £41,241 Test range 205-260 miles Official range 255 miles Running costs (excluding depreciation) £777.84 (Electricity)

24 March, 2024 – Scooby snatched

I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids! Despite my best efforts to hide it, the man from VW has taken back the Mystery Machine – AKA my Volkswagen ID Buzz. And this time it’s for good. 

Trying to hide it was always going to be fruitless, though, firstly because it’s big, orange and white. And secondly, it’s one of the most eye-catching and head-turning cars I’ve ever driven. It’s sparked countless car park conversations; I’ve lost count of the number of times people have told me how much it looks like Scooby-Doo’s psychedelic van.

Volkswagen ID Buzz Scooby Doo Mystery Machine

Many of those chats were with drivers who are only just coming around to the idea of going electric. They’re sold on the retro styling and the lairy paint – so much, in fact, that they’re willing to put any electric car concerns firmly on the back burner. But are they right to be so excited?

Well, after spending 10,000 miles and six months behind the wheel, it’s apparent that while the Buzz isn’t perfect, it’s a very good car indeed. At the outset, I wanted to find out if it could meld the efficiency required of a long-distance commuter car with the practicalities needed for family transport.

The answer? Absolutely.

In the summer, it easily managed 250 miles on a charge, with an efficiency figure of three miles per kilowatt hour. That’s impressive for what is essentially a big box. Meanwhile, in the depths of winter it dipped to around 200-220 miles; still not terrible for a 2.5-tonne MPV. It comfortably managed a trip from the Essex coast to deepest Somerset without me suffering a whiff of range anxiety.

Volkswagen ID Buzz picnic

As for its credentials as a family car, here the Buzz is pretty much unbeatable. I’m really going to miss those sliding doors, even if they require a big shove to close and the runners are noisy. What’s more, space in the back is first-rate, and not once did I receive any complaints about the fact the rear windows don’t open.

The Buzz is just as usable up front, with tremendous all-round visibility. Many SUVs feel low-slung by comparison, the driving position is very un-van-like, and with fold-down armrests and comfortable seats, it’s proved an exceptional long-distance cruiser.

The huge door bins, dashboard cubbies and removable centre console are great, as is the vast square boot which, despite my best efforts, I’ve been unable to fully fill. But here’s one failing: while it’ll fit bulky cargo, it can’t carry a huge amount of weight. The 498kg payload capacity is 337kg less than that of the Mercedes EQV and 558kg less than the most capable Citroen e-Spacetourer can manage.

Volkswagen ID Buzz airbag error

My Buzz has not been without its faults, either. The airbag software required a reset after a glitch triggered a warning light; one of the side doors would occasionally pop open on the latch when parked, setting off the alarm; and on several occasions, the infotainment crashed and needed to reboot itself.

The only other dramas involved several stone chips in the windscreen. But despite being such a new car, there were enough replacement screens in stock for a quick replacement.

Is the Buzz fun to drive? Not in the conventional sense, because it’s tall and heavy and not remotely sporty. Does that matter? Not really, because like the Mystery Machine, it’s enabled us to get out on all kinds of family adventures – if not haunted castles. My kids loved it, and the prospect of them climbing into the big, orange fun bus made it far easier to get them out of the house in the first place – a challenge many parents will appreciate.

Volkswagen ID Buzz interior clean

Another reality of family life is keeping car interiors clean. And despite the Buzz’s size, this is really easy. The flat floor means it’s possible to push a Hoover over the rear carpet, and the removable centre console allows great access for cleaning. It’s just a shame the boot carpets have gone quite bobbly, and the driver’s floor mat is quite worn after 10,000 miles.

Will I miss the Buzz? Definitely. I love how easily it’s become as much part of our family as Scooby was to Shaggy. I’ll miss knowing I have a vehicle that will swallow anything I could need to carry. And I’ll miss the conversations with strangers that it triggered on pretty much every journey. It’s a great car – as much for its tangible talents as the mysterious.

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