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Home / Reviews / Cars & bikes / Electric cars / Volkswagen ID Buzz review: retro revival EV

Volkswagen ID Buzz review: retro revival EV

A wonderful, head-turning all-electric van that oozes fun vibes

VW ID Buzz review lead

The days of being stuck behind an asthmatic VW camper on the way to Cornwall’s annual Run to the Sun event could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to this; the VW ID Buzz. Granted, you’ll need deeper pockets to make the trek now, and even more so on the fully-loaded, nigh-on 70 grand edition you see here, but what a way to go.

While it retains the vibe of the Type 2 Kombi that lots of people have a very soft spot for, this machine brings a completely fresh new approach to the (beach) party. The all-electric ID Buzz is rear-wheel-drive and built on the same MEB platform used for the ID 3 and ID 4. The major difference is the space you get from this 2,989mm-long wheelbase design, which combines retro looks with plenty of interior tech.

On face value, the ID Buzz makes perfect sense for a run to the coast, although it feels like it could do with a bigger battery. Range is officially 255 miles from a full charge, but the reality is definitely a lot lower than that. Nevertheless, if you’re keen to pootle around town enjoying the pose factor it ticks all of the boxes. Longer journeys, however, require carefully planned charging stops. Aside from that though, the VW ID Buzz is a blast. Here’s why…

The styling

There aren’t too many vehicles that can turn heads these days, but if you’re behind the wheel of the VW ID Buzz be prepared for plenty of attention. The looks are retro enough to capture the essence of Kombi vans gone by, but the design is slick, stylish and thoroughly modern. The funky vibe is completed with the colour scheme, which consists of a Candy White/Lime Yellow on the outside and Lime Yellow-Mistral on the inside.

Stop anywhere and you’ll get curious folk wandering up for a look and finger pointing and waves as you drive down the road. The split colour theme works really well on the outside, while the smooth lines are tasty viewed from any angle. The other bonus is it’s going to be easy to clean, with the large panel expanses reachable for most people, aside from the roof, which might take some thinking about. An optional powered tailgate at the back might also prove a necessity for anyone struggling with its lofty reach. At the front, the LED matrix headlights prove particularly impressive out in the countryside after dark, thanks to their dynamic capabilities helping you find your way around darkened lanes.

Inside, the experiment works on most levels, with the white seats feeling functional but comfy – although they were already looking a little grubby on our 3,000-miles plus test example. Despite all the space, there are only five proper seats, with the middle one in the rear feeling a little bit snug for anyone over, say, 8 years of age. You can get more than enough luggage into the area behind that though. There are neat interior touches too, like the Buzz Box between the front seats that can be unclipped and removed entirely if you don’t need to store anything it.

The drive

Although the ID Buzz is quite long and decidedly upright, it’s a fun thing to drive. Plant yourself in the comfy, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and the view is expansive, with a very sizeable front screen offering up a brilliant view of the road. There’s plenty of glass down the sides and a good view out the back, so despite its bulk, you rarely feel intimidated by the car’s mass.

In terms of powertrain controls, there’s much that will be familiar if you’ve driven any other vehicles from the VW group. Simply select D (or D/B for brake regeneration on the move) from a twistable knob to the right of the instrument cluster. With no other drive options, you’re effectively piloting a push-and-go machine. The steering is light and the turning circle isn’t bad at all, which makes parking the Buzz easier than you might be expecting.

Out on the road, the 3,000kg ID Buzz scoots long nicely, although you can feel it struggling to propel all that weight if you suddenly need to put your foot to the floor. On the motorway, it feels fast enough and even better when you get off the beaten track and on to twisty B roads. The VW ID Buzz is actually pretty agile, though does hop around a bit when surfaces get a little unpredictable. It’ll also go around corners without making you fret too much. A reversing camera and sensors prove pretty indispensable when you get to the other end of your journey.

The technology

There’s nothing remotely retro about the tech you’ll find in the cockpit. Right in front of the steering wheel sits a compact digital instrument panel, which can be tweaked to show information including sat-nav directions. It’s pretty minimalist to look at and all the better for that. Meanwhile, the centre of the dashboard is dominated by the 10in infotainment touchscreen, which is good on the eyes and features chunky app icons that can be hit with reasonable ease when on the move.

It’s got everything you need, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a wealth of DAB radio options. The sat nav screen is comprehensive and colourful, and can be worked with a reasonable amount of success using voice control if you prefer. Wireless charging and a plethora of USB-C ports offer easy access to power for folks in both the front and the back. The 9-speaker sound system also proves to be very impressive, perhaps made better by the fact that they’re located in larger sized panels. That said, it never comes across as excessively boomy. Result.

There are some niggles inside the infotainment system though, like the way the heated steering wheel seemed to keep coming on. You can set it to heat automatically depending on the temperature, but even with that set to off it would come on again from time to time. Other core tasks can be hard to reach on the move too, which is the issue with many a touchscreen infotainment system. It’s more of a success story than the earlier VW infotainment setups, however.

Volkswagen ID Buzz verdict

VW ID Buzz review on road rear

The VW ID Buzz is a loveable bundle of all-electric fun, which is let down only by the less impressive range. It can go anywhere, but you’ll need to factor charging into the equation as, in our experience, the range seemed to diminish quite quickly even from the standard ‘top-up to 80%’ routine. Even by nursing it along and with the regeneration on, the ID Buzz powerpack dwindles quite quickly on longer runs, with motorway miles being the biggest usurper of that energy.

Nevertheless, the VW ID Buzz is lots of fun to drive and easier to handle than some van-style designs. It drives surprisingly well and mastering the controls is a doddle. Anyone not keen on touch controls might not be quite so impressed with the way that nearly every task has to be handled via the central screen. While you can turn the radio up and down with a quick digit dab of controls just in front of the infotainment screen, even this basic task isn’t exactly precise. Aside from that though, there’s really not much to grumble about.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

The retro design is a winning formula, but the VW ID Buzz would benefit from a bigger battery and more range to complete the package.

Volkswagen ID Buzz Style technical specifications

Motorrear-mounted electric
Battery77kWh
Power201bhp
Torque229lb ft
0-60mph10.2sec
Top speed90mph
Range255 miles
Charge rate170kWh
Cargo volume1121 litres
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About

Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv

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