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Return of the Bus! Volkswagen ID. Buzz Shows Off Production Design

Return of the Bus! Volkswagen ID. Buzz Shows Off Production Design

Our promising first look at the electric minivan

  • Our hands-on look inside the production version of the ID. Buzz
  • Fully electric van with charming, voluminous interior
  • Euro-market version shown, with U.S. model to follow next year
  • Part of the first ID. Buzz generation introduced for 2024

What is the ID. Buzz?

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz is a fully electric van that harkens back to the original VW Microbus — a cultural icon of the 1960s and '70s for its representation of a free and adventurous lifestyle. The modernized ID. Buzz borrows some traits from the Microbus and adds a new flavor of its own.

Right now, only the European-market ID. Buzz has been shown to the public. Volkswagen plans to unveil the version coming to the U.S. sometime in 2023, with deliveries beginning in 2024. All U.S.-bound models will feature three rows of seats in an extended wheelbase. However, there are otherwise very few changes from the Euro ID. Buzz, so the one you see here is a fair representation of what's coming stateside.

What's under the ID. Buzz's hood?

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Since it's an EV, there's no engine under the hood of the ID. Buzz — there's not even a front trunk, or "frunk," for additional storage. Instead, drivetrain components are located under the floor of the van. There's a large battery pack with a total capacity of 82 kWh (with 77 kWh of usable capacity), sending power to an electric motor at the rear wheels. That motor creates the electric equivalent of 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. The top speed of this modestly powered ID. Buzz is listed at 90 mph. Those looking for a little more oomph under the … floor … might want to wait a little longer; a dual-motor setup is expected to be offered sometime after the launch, and we expect it will produce 295 hp.

The ID. Buzz uses the same powertrain as the Volkswagen ID.4, an electric compact crossover that launched in 2021. In the smaller ID.4, the battery and electric motor hits 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds and provides up to 280 miles of all-electric range. Given that the ID. Buzz is significantly larger and likely much heavier, we expect slower acceleration and less range. But these figures provide a baseline for our expectations until we're able to test the van in full.

How's the ID. Buzz's interior?

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

The outside is eye-catching, but it's the cabin that truly sets the ID. Buzz apart from other minivans. The model we climbed inside was packed with personality — it featured a wide range of textures, patterns and colors throughout the interior. There are also playful icons, including several hidden ID. Buzz silhouettes and even an embossed smiley face, as well as "Play" and "Pause" symbols on the accelerator and brake pedals. The ID. Buzz may win over buyers on charisma alone.

Space is a major strength. The short-wheelbase version that we sampled had two rows of seats, with plenty of room for taller drivers and passengers in each. The second row slides forward or backward a few inches, and the seatbacks recline to find a comfortable position. There will also be a longer-wheelbase version with a third row of seats. The U.S. version of the ID. Buzz will only be available in this long-wheelbase three-row form.

How's the ID. Buzz's tech?

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

A 10-inch center display comes standard on European models, and a 12-inch display is optional. This setup will likely carry over to North America. There is also a small digital display in front of the driver to show speed, battery levels, navigation and other information.

The overall look is very similar to that of the ID.4 and carries forward a major complaint that we've had in recent Volkswagen models: an absence of physical buttons and dials. It opts instead for touch-capacitive controls. They tend to lack responsiveness, sometimes require tapping over and over again, and can generally be frustrating to use. Perhaps they'll have improved by the time the ID. Buzz hits public roads.

One key difference between the ID.4 and the ID. Buzz is the placement of the gear selector. In the ID.4, it's a rotating stalk that is attached to the digital driver display, located just above the right stalk for controlling the windshield wipers. In the ID. Buzz, the gear selector is the lone right-side stalk, and the windshield wiper stalk has moved to the left side of the steering wheel.

How's the ID. Buzz's storage?

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Of course, storage is one of the main reasons to consider buying an ID. Buzz. Up front, there are large pockets and rubberized trays to store small items, including a deep well next to the steering wheel for slipping your smartphone inside vertically. There is also a center storage bin with folding openings at the front and rear, and it can even be fully removed to create a clear path to the second row. It will be interesting to see whether this feature makes it to U.S. models too.

The cargo area behind the second row of seats is inarguably large. The van's upright shape gives it a low load floor and high ceiling. There's also a wide opening and deep volume from the hatch to the rear seats. Volkswagen says the cargo area offers 39.6 cubic feet of maximum capacity, which is far more than the space behind the third row of the Chevrolet Tahoe (25.5 cubes) and just shy of the most spacious minivan on the market, the Kia Carnival (40.2 cubes). The longer extended-wheelbase ID. Buzz is expected to offer more space when it eventually debuts, while the vocational ID. Buzz Cargo and its single row of seating affords 137.7 cubic feet of room behind the front row.

Edmunds says

There is a major cool factor with the ID. Buzz. The van silhouette and associated benefits are spot-on and, in person, its charm is undeniable. The ID. Buzz is a true successor to one of the most beloved vehicles of all time, and we (not-so-patiently) await the official North American unveiling with bated breath.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Volkswagen ID. Buzz