The long-awaited production version of the Volkswagen ID Buzz has landed, five years after the retro-futuristic EV reworking of the original Microbus was shown in concept form at the 2017 Detroit motor show.
Produced in the same commercial vehicle factory as the existing Volkswagen Multivan in Hanover, Germany, the latest addition to the all-electric Volkswagen ID line-up will go on sale in the UK in May in passenger and commercial vehicle guises - the latter known as the ID Buzz Cargo. Deliveries are tentatively planned to begin in October.
Each variant of the new Volkswagen is available initially in single-motor, rear-wheel-drive guise. Power comes from the same rear-mounted synchronous electric motor as that used by other recently introduced ID models, with 201bhp and 228lb ft of torque.
Pricing for the ID Buzz has yet to be officially announced, but the line-up will start at around £40,000 for the van and increase to close to £50,000 for the MPV, which will compete against an increasing number of electric multi-seat rivals, including the Mercedes-Benz EQV. Three different specification levels are planned: Pure, Pro and Packs.
More powerful dual-motor, four-wheel-drive models are set to be added to the line-up in 2023, with an ID Buzz California camper van due to arrive in 2024.
The passenger ID Buzz offers a similar set of bodystyles to the combustion-powered Multivan. Alongside the initial five-seat standard-wheelbase model, Volkswagen also plans to introduce a seven-seat long-wheelbase variant in 2023. Both feature conventionally hinged front doors and sliding doors (optionally electrically powered) on either side at the rear, along with a large vertical tailgate that opens at bumper level.
The ID Buzz Cargo offers the choice of one or two sliding doors along the sides and either a single upward-hinging tailgate or windowless wing doors that open out on exposed steel hinges left and right at the rear.
The production version, based on Volkswagen’s versatile MEB (Modularen Elektrik Baukasten) electric car platform, shares a similarly boxy profile as the earlier concept but is more angular overall. It also receives a slightly more rear-set windscreen for added crash protection and improved aerodynamic efficiency. Details such as the LED headlights, which come with optional IQ Light functionality with adaptive dimming of full beam, and full-width LED tail-lights have also been reworked, giving them a more technical appearance. Wheels range from 19in to 20in.
Smaller than the original concept, the standard-wheelbase ID Buzz is 4712mm long, 1980mm wide and 1938mm tall. This makes it 192mm shorter, 76mm wider and 32mm lower than the equivalent Multivan.
A 2988mm wheelbase is the longest yet for a car based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, which also underpins the Volkswagen ID 3, ID 4, ID 5 and Chinese-market ID 6. This is just 12mm shy of the 3000mm wheelbase of the Multivan, albeit some 217mm longer than that of the ID 4.
Volkswagen has yet to provide dimensions for the long-wheelbase model, although officials suggest it will receive a 250mm-longer wheelbase, providing it with the scope to accommodate up to three rows of seats.
Despite a large frontal area, the drag coefficient is commendably low by commercial vehicle standards, with a Cd of 0.28 for the passenger model and 0.29 for the Cargo.
Inside, there is an ergonomically sound driving position, similar to the Multivan's, in a largely uniquely styled cabin. The front seats are set 261mm higher than those of the ID 4, promoting enhanced all-round visibility. Armrests are also included in the more highly specified Pro equipment level for a true captain’s chair-like feel.
The high-mounted, minimalist dashboard is uniquely designed and houses both a 5.3in digital instrument display and standard 10.0in infotainment touchscreen - the latter optionally 12.0in. Whereas other ID models use a rocker-style controller mounted high on the end of the instrument display for gear selection, the ID Buzz receives a lever mounted on the steering column. It is also used to control the primary drive modes: D (Drive) and B (Battery).
To help break up the large surfaces, Volkswagen offers a range of different colour schemes, including a two-tone treatment. There is also optional ambient lighting to brighten various elements.
Storage space has also been a priority in the cabin, with a compartment that hinges down from the base of dashboard to reveal two large drink holders as well as a pod-like centre console, housing both a bottle opener and ice scraper, called the 'Buzz Box' between the front seats and door trims featuring large bins.
Volkswagen also says it will offer its latest electric model with up to eight USB ports and an optional inductive smartphone charging pad.
In line with other ID models, it also gets OTA (over-the-air) software update functionality via an embedded SIM card, allowing Volkswagen to update various functions as they are developed without the need for the customer to return the ID Buzz to a workshop. In its most sophisticated specification, the new model incorporates over 30 different driver assistance systems, including Car2X communication, local hazard warnings and the latest incarnation of Volkswagen’s Travel Assist with an automated lane-change function at speeds of up to 56mph
The rear seat folds in a 60:40 configuration but cannot be removed to extend luggage capacity, which is put at a nominal 1,121 litres underneath the cargo blind in the standard-wheelbase model, extending to 2,205 litres with the rear backrests folded. The cargo floor is not completely flat, although Volkswagen says it will offer the ID Buzz with an optional raised floor. This will allow customers to turn the rear into a bed.
The cargo area of the commercial vehicle version boasts an overall volume of 3.9 cubic metres. Maximum load length, height and width are put at 2200mm, 1250mm and 1700mm respectively. This gives it the ability to accommodate two Euro pallets end on end. A partition (optional with a window) divides the cabin and cargo area. There are also fastening rails and up to six lashing eyes to keep goods secure.
A recreation of the iconic Microbus Samba, with its 23 individual windows within the sides of the roof, has been ruled out. However, the ID Buzz will be available with an expansive panoramic glass roof among a long list of options.
The initial ID Buzz model bound for the UK later this year comes with a 77kWh battery as standard, concealed wholly within the floor structure to provide what Volkswagen describes as a “a comparatively low centre of gravity for a van of such tall stature”.
Power comes by way of a synchronous electric motor mounted within the rear axle assembly developing 201bhp and 228lb ft. This is the same amount of power but 39lb ft less than that of the Mercedes-Benz EQV. Drive is sent through a fixed-ratio gearbox to the rear wheels.
Volkswagen has yet to provide any official performance figures. As a reference, though, the similarly powered ID 4 Pro, with a kerb weight of 2109kg, boasts a claimed 0-62mph time of 8.5sec. Top speed, meanwhile, is limited to just 90mph.
The battery can be charged at 11kW on household electricity, up to 22kW on an AC system and at up to 170kW on a DC system. A so-called Plug & Charge function allows the ID Buzz to communicate credit card data with the charger on suitable stations. It also supports bi-directional charging on a DC wall box, allowing you to use the ID Buzz to directly power household appliances or top-up home batteries. The official range has not yet been announced, although Volkswagen hints at a WLTP figure of around 250 miles.
Other drivetrains are planned. They include a rear-wheel-drive, single-motor set-up with 168bhp and the same 228lb ft as well as a four-wheel-drive, dual-motor GTX performance version with 295bhp and 339lb ft of torque.
Volkswagen has revealed to Autocar UK that it plans to offer the standard-wheelbase ID Buzz with the same 52kWh battery as the ID 3, ID 4 and ID 5. The long-wheelbase model, which will be launched in the UK in 2023, will also offer a larger, 111kWh unit.
The new Volkswagen is underpinned by a MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear suspension, which comes with Volkswagen's DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) system for adaptive damping and the choice of up to three driving modes: Eco, Comfort and Sport. The lack of a front-mounted electric motor allows a turning circle of just 11m – or over 1m less than that of the Multivan.