It is exciting to observe that buses from the car manufacturer Volkswagen have been the focus of great general interest among mobilists almost without interruption for many decades. But why do Volkswagen buses attract so much attention? And is the new VW ID.Buzz a fitting successor to follow in the big footsteps of a 70-year history?
The future is today. The VW Bus goes electric. Volkswagen is adding the new largest member to its electric vehicle family, the ID.Buzz and ID.Buzz Cargo. The bus is equipped with the usual and partly modified components from the ID family and has an output of 204PS/ 150kW and rear-wheel drive like the Volkswagen ID.3.
The car shown is an ID.Buzz Pro Launch with a proud base price of CHF 67'860. -, the optional two-colour paint "Candy-White/ Lime Yellow métallic" and further equipment such as the Assistance Plus Package (CHF 1'600), aluminium wheels "Solna" (CHF 474), Premium Interior Style Plus Package (CHF 3'442), electric sliding doors (CHF 1'993), trailer coupling (CHF 1'002), Comfort Package Plus (CHF 1'982) and the Infotainment Package Plus (1'594) as well as a few small additional things that lead to a resulting and confident price of CHF 85'000. A sum that makes me swallow empty at first. Sure, a family bus from Volkswagen has never been cheap. But so much money for a "standard" bus without any additional equipment such as camping equipment or a third row of seats is a statement.
The Buzz has a handsome and friendly face. Just looking at it puts you in a good mood. Is it the colour? Or is it the whole car? It is striking that the attention is not only on me, but that the ID.Buzz is an absolute eye-catcher, especially in this upbeat colour combination.
What it's all about
Who hasn't seen them: the countless VW design studies and concept cars that should have promised a futuristic bus. Basically, the basic idea of the ID.Buzz is very much recognisable from the VW Microbus from 2001. At that time, however, the Microbus still had the 3.2-litre VR6 engine. We don't even want to dream of this magnificent engine in a new car today, do we?
Onwards to the year 2023: instead of the VR6, we now have an electric rear-wheel drive. That's just the way it is. At least we finally have a futuristic bus in an iconic two-tone livery, as Volkswagen has been showing us for over two decades. The VW Bus has finally escaped its conservative boxy look and shines with a refreshing appearance.
And what are the demands? Everyone! Well, at least all the ones a family imagines. So the recipe for success lies before one's eyes in the form of the previous generations, as if presented on a silver tray. What could possibly go wrong?
Let's dive into the world of adventures - the interior
This is where the world opens up. As long as you're not standing in the queue at the charging station because there's only 10 km of range left and you know that your journey won't continue for another two hours.
However, if you don't need the ID.Buzz as a long-distance motorhome, but as a family bus for everyday life, the car proves to be an almost perfect companion. The VW bus makes it clear that all these lifestyle SUVs and crossovers, which are meant for urban areas, are absolutely unnecessary and impractical. I elaborate: There is 1,120 litres of cargo space under (!) the boot cover. This is equivalent to 3.5 times the volume of a Ford Mustang Mach-E load compartment with a fairly identical vehicle length. Further, the load volume is twice the capacity of a Skoda Enyaq Coupé at also nearly identical vehicle length. To be fair, I admit that the Skoda is the size of a chicken egg shorter than the VW ID.Buzz.
And no, the load space is not the only argument in favour of the bus. Flexibility and user-friendliness are the main features of this car. This can be found in the form of countless compartments, storage space and loading sockets. Furthermore, the centre console between the front seats can be removed in no time at all. (Hint for a future swivelling front passenger chair?). The centre console has several storage compartment dividers on the top, one of which has an integrated bottle opener.
Under the dashboard is a robust flap with cup holders. Speaking of robustness. The materials used in the interior look good and coherent, but their feel is deceptive. But overall, the interior makes a robust and pleasing impression in use.
I will now take off my rose-coloured glasses and hide them in one of the 531 compartments...
Dear Volkswagen, you launch a future classic, a crowd pleaser, and fail to offer a third row of seats at market launch? Instead, there's yet another more expensive variant of every equipment package. Reminds me of a tech giant from California that mainly sells expensive mobile phones and computers. In addition, the ID.Buzz exceeds the price of a VW Multivan by more than CHF 10,000. Coolness and chicness probably have their price.
The rickety and very cheap-looking tables on the backrests, for example, do not do justice to this price at all. As do the inner door panels, which are made of a lot of plastic. And it was almost forgotten: The only openable windows are in the driver and passenger doors. Now that's debatable.
And now for the infotainment system: it worked flawlessly during the test. Apple Car Play could be started effortlessly. The menu is a little more intuitive and has been given a little refresh and works much better than in the Cupra Born, which is equipped with the previous system. However, the many buttons on the steering wheel are still cumbersome. At least these no longer work via a touch function, but via pressure. Unfortunately, however, the buttons give little or no feedback as to whether something has happened or not.
The ID.Buzz is the canary in road traffic; colourful and eye-catching. A favourite with the public and a popular choice. The car attracts a great deal of general interest. Honestly, the Buzz's predecessors already achieved this. But the new bus comes with such a lovely and futuristic face that it literally attracts attention. The good "vibes" naturally give the driver pleasure.
Driving in general is a pleasure. The seating position is high. The overview of the traffic is fantastic. The all-round visibility is almost unparalleled. No kidding, even though the ID.Buzz is not exactly a small car, it is easy to manoeuvre into parking spaces. The small turning circle also helps. But because the driving cabin defines almost the entire size of the vehicle, you can see immediately how much space is still available. And if the parking aid has been rebelling for a long time, there is usually another 20-30cm of space.
While we're on the subject of technology, I'd like to talk about the buttons on the steering wheel again. The cruise control can now be set in 1km/h steps again. It is enormously tedious and fuzzy, but possible. In general; the button layout is more distracting than intuitive.
Thanks to the balanced vehicle weight of 49% on the front axle and 51% on the rear axle, the bus glides smoothly from A to B. When I consider that the Buzz is mainly driven by parents of many children, it is sufficiently comfortably tuned in this respect. It is definitely not a cornering car. It is too spongily tuned and much too heavy for that. We are talking about a tare weight of about 2.5 tonnes. This is reflected in the power consumption; in everyday use, the ID.Buzz runs on just under 30kWh per 100km. The factory specification of 20-22kWh can be achieved at the very most with a forward-looking and very efficient driving style in city traffic. This is because a lot of energy can be recovered through recuperation.
What to buy
Apart from the really bad infotainment system, the VW ID.Buzz is a successful car. But the finishing touches are still missing. Although the bus is very expensive, you get something really practical and a lot of car for the money compared to all those wannabe SUVs. I recommend waiting a little longer until Volkswagen offers a third row of seats or more tailor-made equipment options for camping fans and adventurers.
Finally, I would like to thank AMAG and Volkswagen Switzerland for the opportunity to test the VW ID.Buzz extensively. I sincerely hope that Volkswagen will find a solution as soon as possible as far as vehicle operation via the steering wheel and the screen is concerned.