COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—Few autos within the time we have been protecting the business have attracted—or sustained—fairly the extent of curiosity as Volkswagen’s ID Buzz. Half realization of 20 years’ value of idea automobiles and teases, half apology for dieselgate, it is an electrical minivan with retro-cool styling, constructed on a strong electrical automobile platform. US-spec ID Buzzes are nonetheless a way off—we can’t get the Buzz till 2024—however within the meantime, VW requested if we might be excited by attempting out the two-row, European-spec mannequin, which is nearly to go on sale the opposite facet of the Atlantic.
Boxy microbuses have been part of the VW lineup since 1949’s authentic Sort 2, often known as a T1, Kombi, or Transporter. As time went on, the buses advanced to be extra angular, they usually finally began to appear to be another minivan. However as VW discovered with the Beetle idea in 1994, there’s a whole lot of affection on the market for its early designs.
The primary retro-looking revival try was a 2001 idea known as the Microbus. This was earlier than individuals realized you would daisy-chain immense quantities of laptop computer batteries collectively to make a viable electrical automobile, so the 2001 Microbus idea would have been powered by VW’s inner combustion engines—mostly its ubiquitous and cheaty diesels, little question.
Ten years later, a much less gainly idea known as Bulli adopted; it was smaller and had typical rear doorways, solely two rows of seats, and a extra pronounced nostril and engine bay, however theoretically, it will be made as a battery EV or a conventionally powered automobile. With a 102-inch wheelbase, it was too small for the US market, and 2011-era EV know-how would have meant Nissan Leaf-like specs and efficiency.
In 2016, VW confirmed off an idea minibus known as BUDD-e, however the extra attention-grabbing announcement on the time was a brand new modular platform for electrical autos, comparable in idea to the modular architectures that VW Group manufacturers have used to such good impact. By this time, VW’s authorized woes with regulators within the US and elsewhere had been headed towards a conclusion, one the place VW reworked itself into an EV powerhouse, paying hefty fines and establishing Electrify America alongside the way in which.
So what higher solution to garner some constructive press than by giving the group what it desires? Ars first met the ID Buzz on the 2017 Detroit Auto Present; it was nonetheless in idea type, full with a maglev gnome on the dashboard. Public response was overwhelming, and not like the later ID Buggy idea, a enterprise case was clear—the ID Buzz was green-lit for manufacturing.
US-bound ID Buzzes will not arrive till 2024, as getting the ID.3 and ID.4 out the manufacturing unit doorways has been a better precedence. In reality, we can’t even see the US mannequin till subsequent yr. However the probability to spend a day driving the shorter-wheelbase, two-row EU model was too exhausting to cross up.
Beneath that eye-catching physique is an analogous electrical powertrain to the ID.4. Meaning a 201-hp (150-kW) everlasting magnet synchronous motor driving the rear wheels, powered by a 77 kWh (useable, 82 kWh gross) lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the cabin ground and between the axles.
The ID Buzz’s drag coefficient is an honest 0.285, however there is not any getting round its massive frontal space, in order that interprets to a WLTP vary of as much as 263 miles (432 km); for context, an ID.4 has a WLTP vary of 333 miles (537 km) versus an EPA vary of 275 miles (443 km). Over the course of a day’s driving, we averaged 3 miles/kWh (20.9 kWh/100 km), which might equate to 231 miles (372 km) on a full cost.
We did not check recharging, however the ID Buzz can settle for a DC quick cost of as much as 170 kW, which ought to return the battery to 80 % in half-hour. At 11 kW, an AC cost from 0 to one hundred pc state of cost takes about 7.5 hours.
From the motive force’s seat, you’ve a widescreen view of the world, because the cut up A pillars reduce blind spots. However you sit comparatively far again from the windshield—blame the necessity for impact-absorbing crash constructions—and meaning the roof may cause a little bit of a letterbox impact. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless a very simple automobile to position on the street or park regardless of being comparatively extensive at 78.1 inches (1,985 mm). (The mirrors add virtually 10 inches to the width.) That width and the ID Buzz’s large greenhouse conspire to make for a roomy cabin if you’re sitting up entrance.
Our check Buzz ditched the primary version’s white steering wheel and infotainment system for extra sensible black variations, however in any other case, it was a lot the identical because the preproduction mannequin we filmed in Los Angeles again in March. I ought to word that VW’s MIB infotainment system appears snappier than within the final automotive I drove, with noticeable enhancements in swiping between screens and apps. Nevertheless, the voice recognition immediate was a bit too delicate, usually interrupting our dialog after mishearing and considering my driving associate or I had simply stated its set off phrase, “good day ID.”
The three-dimensional plywood on the sprint jogs my memory of the BMW i3 (in a great way), as does the straightforward important instrument show and drive mode selector. And tech nerds might be gratified to see so many USB-C ports arrayed across the cabin—I counted at the very least eight altogether. There is a 230 V AC outlet beneath the rear seats.