Test – Volkswagen ID.Buzz: the perfect vehicle for electric van life?

Test - Volkswagen ID.Buzz: the perfect vehicle for electric van life?

After no fewer than three concepts introduced over two decades, we no longer really believed in marketing a 21st-century Volkswagen Combi. And yet here is finally the ID.Buzz, which we were able to drive in Denmark.

For more than 20 years, Volkswagen has been trying to bring out a modern version of the Combi, this once-humble truck that has managed to rise to the notoriety of Porsche models over time. Fans of the brand will surely remember the Microbus Concept proudly unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2001 to support the New Beetle. The latter was left at the prototype stage for various reasons and both the 2011 Bulli and the 2016 BUDD-e suffered the same fate. The identification. Buzz is the exception: introduced in 2017, it received the green light from managers and arrives in dealerships before the end of 2022 in a sheet metal and glass version.

Retro? Yes and no.

Launched in 1997, the New Beetle was part of a wave of retro cars that was felt on both sides of the Atlantic. A quarter of a century later, this fad is no longer fashionable, so the ID. Buzz looks less like the famous split window that the New Beetle was reminiscent of the Beetle. The headlights are not round, for example, and are much taller than the Combi’s. It’s the same at the rear: the Buzz takes on a modern look that pays homage to the vintage models without completely copying them.

The silhouette stays fairly true to the hippie Combi: it’s not impossible to confuse the Buzz with a big toaster if you forget to put on your glasses and this point partly explains why it took Volkswagen 20 years to revive the Combi. In the 1950s, the idea of ​​sitting a few inches from the front of a pickup truck shocked no one. In the 2020s, you can offend more than one — including Euro NCAP dummies. Finding a balance between design and safety standards was more complicated than we imagined, explains the brand.

Volkswagen adds that it is the idea that counts, not the appearance. Like its ancestors, the Buzz offers a cave-like interior while remaining relatively compact. It measures approximately 471 centimeters long (including 290 centimeters of wheelbase), 198 centimeters wide and 195 centimeters high. It’s not gigantic, then, but you can fill 2,205 liters of business by lowering the rear seats.

At the wheel, the word “retro” means rather an object that is used to see what is behind: only the handles that facilitate access to the rear seats are reminiscent of the Combi models equipped with the famous “quatraplat” engine. Volkswagen plays the simplicity card with 100% digital instrumentation and a 10-inch touchscreen that displays the infotainment system (a 12-inch screen is available as an option). This is the same technology found in theID.3 and theID.4, so the infotainment software isn’t terribly complicated to use, but a button to control the volume would be welcome. There are several USB-C sockets available for the front and rear passengers.

Even sitting in the back seat, with small folding tables at your disposal like on an airplane, the interior is spacious and light. This is one of the great advantages of the moving box template, but nothing is perfect: the windows of the sliding doors are curiously fixed.

utility roots

One of the only buttons left on the dash is the one that powers the electric motor. Attached to the rear axle, it develops 204 hp and 310 Nm thanks to a 77 kWh battery that promises up to 423 kilometers of autonomy in the WLTP cycle. It’s not huge, but it’s a pretty decent result considering the Buzz’s dimensions and 5,500-pound weight. It takes 10.2 seconds to reach 100 km/h and does not expect to exceed 145 km/h – stops there. Volkswagen says that increasing the top speed would be entirely unnecessary, as 145 is already well above the speed limit in the vast majority of countries, except Germany of course.

It is important to note that the Buzz is not a Volkswagen model. Not quite. Its design is actually from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, so it comes from the same design office as the Transporter and regards the Golf more like a cousin than a brother. And yet, the most curious thing from a driving point of view is that the Buzz behaves more like a crossover than a van. Its turning radius of around 11 meters approximates that of a Golf, making maneuvering around town relatively easy, and the battery (by far the heaviest piece of this puzzle) sits under the floor, which considerably lowers the center of gravity and avoids half. -corner scares.

One of the aspects that differentiates electric cars from thermal ones is the regenerative braking system. Some manufacturers, like Lexus, don’t want to hear about that: the RZ has one pedal to go forward, a second to brake, and that’s fine according to them. Others, like Mercedes-Benz, find this technology useful and make various levels of regeneration (often accessed with paddles) available to the driver. volkswagen is a midway between these two camps: “D” and “B” modes familiar to ID drivers (except those for whom ID remains a stripped-down DS) are available in Buzz. In “D”, the engine brake is approximately equal to that of a thermal vehicle. In “B”, the engine braking is much more powerful and it is possible to drive without touching the brake pedal to a certain extent. — you can slow down without using the hydraulic braking system (which, like old Combis, has a drum on the rear axle), but you have to brake to stop at a red light, for example. We found that a level beyond B would not be a bad idea.

In “B” or “D”, the Buzz is comfortable and pleasant to drive: you can already imagine yourself on a road trip with good music, a beautiful view through the huge windshield and a nice picnic in the trunk. But is that the purpose of a van? By the way, yes. For others, a van is a simple tool like a key. a shock or a cement mixer, and it is in this scenario that Buzz’s figures are not entirely flattering. Volkswagen tells us that the Buzz can tow up to 1,000 kilos and delivers a payload of 529 kilos for the glass version (648 kilos for the panel version), while a TDI Transporter can tow around 2,500 kilos. Even a Golf VII it is capable to pull up to 1,800 kilos. Forget the idea of ​​buying a Buzz to tow your 1957 Combi to the next Volkswagen meeting.

Our test was too short to test the autonomy and recharging capacity of the electrical system. Volkswagen promises that charging from 5% to 80% takes approximately 30 minutes at 170 kW, while a full charge with the 11 kW on-board charger takes seven and a half hours. Power flows in both directions: an available 230-volt outlet as an option turns the Buzz into a generator, giving you the ability to power tools and other equipment. If you’re going into the woods, bring an extension cord: Even when it’s off, the Buzz will run your chainsaw, sound system, and streetlamps.

read also
Volkswagen: good start for ID.Buzz orders

A good idea)

It took more than 20 years to see a modern interpretation of the Combi, but the fruit of patience is sweet. Despite its not 100% retro lines, the ID. Buzz remains comfortable, practical and very friendly for both driver and passengers. It plays the same role in the Volkswagen range that the New Beetle played in the late 1990s: it’s an updated automotive myth designed like a flagship, not in terms of price, but in terms of image. Although the prices would make those nostalgic for Woodstock pale, with a bill of at least €56,990!

The first models arrive in dealerships before the end of 2022. At launch, the Buzz will be available in a single configuration: with an electric motor in the rear and a 77 kWh battery. Nothing is official at the moment, but it is not difficult to imagine a more complete range with, in particular, a twin-engine version. A long-wheelbase Buzz will soon be available for the US market.

We are left with one question: when will the California version arrive?

#Test #Volkswagen #ID.Buzz #perfect #vehicle #electric #van #life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.