VW ID Buzz officially revealed

Volkswagen brings back the Bulli with all-electric van and MPV range

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, March 9, 2022 / Loading comments

The Bulli is big business, both for VW and its fans. You might know it as the Camper, or Kombi, or Transporter, but whatever the badge it’s become a Volkswagen icon since its launch more than 70 years ago. So much so, in fact, that the only first generation Bulli for sale on PH currently that isn’t POA is more than €100,000 – so it’s big business for those selling them, too…

This is effectively the seventh generation of Bulli, the ID Buzz and ID Buzz Cargo picking up where the old T6 Camper and Transporter left off. Well, almost; the disguise from the prototype drive may now have gone, but VW still maintains both are “near-production concept cars and have not gone on sale yet.” As such, a few key details are missing, range most notably, which feels a very big omission, not to mention a 0-62mph time and energy consumption.

But there’s certainly enough to be getting on with, and it seems unlikely many will be put off by such trifling issues as miles per kilowatt hour. You only need look at the popularity of the Buzz’s old, slow, inefficient predecessors to know that VW van life is about style above almost everything else. And Volkswagen makes no bones about its desire to evoke the classics with the new ID models. “Transferring the T1 concept to the future” is how the design is described, with traditional cues including the tiny overhangs, a V-shaped bonnet, an upper and lower colour split and vents on the C-pillar as a nod to the rear-engined cars. There’s clearly inspiration from the 2017 concept, too, albeit in a more restrained fashion. Drag co-efficient figures of 0.285 for the Buzz and 0.29 for the Buzz Cargo make these the most aerodynamic VW vans ever.

As mentioned in the prototype drive, all the Buzz models are built on the MEB architecture that also underpins the ID.3, 4 and 5, which is some feat of flexibility. Already 30 per cent of cars in the entire VW Group are MEB-based, and by 2025 VW reckons that number will be more than 80 per cent. What that means, as well as the shared 77kWh, 201hp powertrain we knew about, is a carried over interior from those cars as well. No great surprise, of course, though potentially disappointing to anyone with experience of a sloppy infotainment system in a £35k ID.3 now expected to deal with it in a £50k lifestyle van.

The familiar bits are the 5.3-inch driver’s display, a 10-inch (upgradeable to 12-inch) central infotainment screen, the sliding climate controls, the ID Light strip ahead of the windscreen and not a single animal material. But as a van or a camper, there’s even more storage in here than the smaller IDs, with four cupholders upfront, eight USB-C ports (five in the Buzz van) and a new, removable Buzz Box with ice scraper, bottle opener and, er, map of the world. You’ll really need to know the range to make use of that one.

The biggest change – beyond the extra space afforded by a wheelbase stretching to nearly three metres – is the colour choice. Mirroring the split outside, the ID Buzz will be offered with a range of optional two-tone finishes. So Jade Green inside is intended to pair with Bay Leaf Green outside, Saffron Orange with Energetic Orange, X-Blue with Starlight Blue and so on. The Candy White outside is matched to Electric White inside, which sounds disastrous for a lifestyle van pitched at outdoorsy types. But does look quite smart.

Initially the ID Buzz will be offered with five seats, with a longer wheelbase and seven seats coming in time; even in standard form there’s up to 2,205 litres of boot space, with 1,121 available even with all five seats in situ. The Cargo has a 650kg payload and a three-tonne gross vehicle weight, with space back there for two euro pallets. And the turning circle is just 11.1 metres – you’ll be the envy of the yard.

Like the longer wheelbase, it’s expected that more powerful and longer range Buzzes will arrive in time. For the launch, both van and camper will be rear-wheel drive, with 201hp and 229lb ft. It won’t be spectacularly fast, then, even with a kerbweight also unconfirmed, but, again, speed has never really been the point. Interesting developments for the Buzz include a 170kW DC charging capability (the last time we drove an ID 4 its maximum was 125kW) and bi-directional charging, meaning spare juice in the van can be fed back into your home using VW’s wallbox and, one day, to the grid as well. VW says both Buzz and Buzz Cargo will come to market with bi-directional charging already functional. It will make its way to other models in the family via an over-the-air update in time. Sounds very handy for those actually wanting to take their camper camping.

On the subject of charge, it’s probably worth mentioning the new ‘Plug & Charge’ function that the ID Buzzes will come with. VW has agreed an arrangement via We Charge with BP, EON, Ionity, Aral and other charge providers (with discussions ongoing) to make public charging, hopefully, that bit easier. Plug & Charge should mean all authentication takes place as soon as the connecter is inserted – no need to worry about a different account, using a card, or remembering anything. “As soon as the charging cable is plugged in, encrypted, secure communication based on what is known as the ISO-15118 standard begins between the ID. Buzz and the charging station. This authentication takes just a few seconds. Then the charging process begins – a charging card for payment is no longer necessary here.” Which will be just as handy, surely, for van folk on the road all day as any of the natty design features.

Though launch isn’t due until later in 2022, VW has confirmed specs for the Buzz, with a Pro coming first and a Pure to follow later. That means a wealth of standard active safety kit, 19-inch wheels (20s and 21s are available), smartphone mirroring, LED matrix lights and heated windscreen washer jets, plus optional style packs, colours and interior lighting. The standard Cargo comes with 18-inch wheels (though up to 20-inch if offered if it’s a promotional van more than a work van) as well as lashing rails, a load through hatch, a tow bar, rear view camera and other actually useful stuff. It isn’t all just funky styling and assisted driving here.

Even if you don’t really get the buzz (sorry) around what is essentially a fancy van, it’s easy to appreciate the step forward taken by VW. Beyond the design, this is a van designed from the outset to be electric rather than adapted from combustion power, which feels quite important. And the regular Buzz will be sold in the USA from 2023, where people actually go surfing and live the lifestyles you see in adverts. They, along with many others, will surely lap this up. We’ll know for certain soon enough, with European production getting underway in the first half of this year. Therefore expect the rest of the important numbers – a price and a range, most crucially – to follow soon.

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