Why nostalgia is the buzz word for this very modern Volkswagen
Mini started in twice. First with the genuine one in the 1960s and then again with the BMW-version in 2001.
Both were incredible. They set the scene for the decades ahead, enjoying reputations which went far beyond the car showroom. The 1959 Mini was an engineering masterpiece and the 2001 version a triumph of style.
Now Volkswagen – a brand with heritage if ever there was one – is getting in on the act.
We love VWs. The Beetle came to signify the hippy culture, as did the VW camper. And the camper is enjoying something of a renaissance among the young and not so young for whom it is a timeless and remarkably expensive classic.
So you can’t blame Volkswagen for hitting us with a new camper. It is part of the ID family of electric vehicles and is called ID.Buzz.
It captures second glances and is remarkably well built. As ever with electric vehicles, even the extraordinary price doesn’t seem to deter: £58,044? Worth every penny, say some. Me? I gulped but I should be used to extraordinary pricing by now.
It is a lot of money for what is essentially a five-seater multi-purpose vehicle rather than a proper camper, with many rivals doing the same job for half the price.
Except for one thing: to say it is expensive is missing the point. Armani, Tag Heuer, Versace and co all have vastly cheaper alternatives but some people are prepared to invest in style.
OK, so VW will never quite be a Versace but you get my point.
So, what do you get for the best part of sixty grand?
It’s a fully electric “bus” built with some of the character of the classic, though underpinned by some of the latest battery technology.
You might expect it to be underpinned by a platform sourced from a conventional van, but no. The platform that this retro model is sitting atop is the same that you’ll find underneath other Volkswagen Group EVs like the VW ID.3, Cupra Born and Skoda Enyaq iV.
The idea behind this is to make the ID. Buzz more car-like in the way it drives, yet this scalable platform means there’s plenty of space on offer too. In fact, for me the biggest feature is the vast boot – more than 1,000 litres.
For now, the ID. Buzz is a strict five-seater, too, though it’s expected that a long-wheelbase version with space for seven is on the horizon – so hold out a little longer if you’re after a more people carrier-focused option.
Though you can get cars like the ID.3 and Enyaq with a variety of battery and motor options, there’s just one available with the ID.Buzz. Like other Volkswagen Group EVs the Buzz is rear-wheel-drive only for now, with a 201bhp electric motor sending power to the back wheels.
This motor is hooked up to a 77kWh battery which helps to deliver a claimed range of up to 258 miles between charges. Plus, because it can be charged at speeds of up to 170kW, a five to 80 per cent top-up could take as little as half an hour if you’re hooked up to a rapid charger. Plus, the ID.Buzz has been future-proofed through bi-directional charging, which allows it to store energy and then send it back to the grid during times of high demand.\
The cabin will be familiar to anyone who has driven any of Volkswagen’s recent EVs. The switchgear, steering wheel and key touchpoints are all like-for-like, so it’s easy to get accustomed pretty quickly.
On the move, the ID.Buzz is quiet and refined. Despite its on-paper 0-60mph time of 10.2 seconds, the Buzz feels a lot sprightlier to drive.
It’s hard to stop and park in the ID. Buzz without someone coming over to ask about it, which goes to show just how eye-catching this electric model is.
The split-colour design is particularly striking, but it’s all tied together in a package which takes some cues from the past, but blends them well with current proportions.
Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform has been used to its fullest in the ID. Buzz, as there’s loads of space inside and plenty of storage options. There’s a completely flat floor, too, which means there’s no penalty for the person sitting in the middle seat in the back. Having said that, given how exciting the exterior is, we might’ve wanted a little more flair in the cabin of the ID.Buzz. It’s far from badly made, but the interior is a little bland compared with the superb outside.
But there’s loads of space on offer, with 1,121 litres of boot room available behind the second row of seats. Fold them down and this increases to 2,205 litres. Remember too, that if outright storage capacity is what you’re after, Volkswagen offers a more van-like ID. Buzz Cargo.
Prices for the ID. Buzz kickstart from £58,044 in entry-level Life trim, which brings 19in alloy wheels, 10-colour interior ambient lighting and a full navigation system with a 10-inch screen. As we’ve found in other Volkswagen models, this infotainment screen isn’t the easiest to navigate, but it’s definitely at its best in the Buzz. Other standard features include a reversing camera, heated steering wheel and heated front seats.
ID.Buzz is here to show that electric cars needn’t be sterile or boring. The price is a massive hurdle but one many enthusiasts will happily tackle.
Volkswagen ID. Buzz
Engine: Single electric motor
0-60mph: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 90mph (limited)
Range: 258 miles