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Volkswagen ID. Buzz long-term test

2022 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by CJ Hubbard Published: 16 February 2023 Updated: 16 February 2023

We’ve been waiting decades for an electrified reboot of the old rear-engined VW vans, can the Volkswagen ID.Buzz live up to the hype? We’re living with a top-spec Style for six months to see how it handles family life.

Reports by Alan Taylor-Jones

VW ID.Buzz long term writer with car
Folding your pushchair is optional with the ID.Buzz.

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Update 1: Welcome to the fleet

Introducing the Volkswagen ID.Buzz Style SWB 77kWh Pro

Over the next six months, we’re going to be living with a top-spec VW ID.Buzz to see just how good it is. After all, you can draw a few conclusions from a few hours or days behind the wheel, but an extended test really lets you get under the skin of a car, or indeed van.

That’s right, despite sitting on VW’s MEB platform that also underpins the ID.3 hatchback and ID.4 SUV, the ID.Buzz is sold through the brand’s commercial vehicles arm. It’s the same story with the Multivan MPV and Transporter minibus, though.

At the time of delivery there was only one choice of battery and motor for the Buzz; a 77kWh and 204hp. Similarly, there was only the short-wheelbase five-seater bodystyle, with a longer seven seat model on the horizon. Like other VW ID products, expect more power and a longer range in 2024.

Picking your ideal Buzz is made even easier by a mercifully simple trim lineup. There’s entry-level (but still well-equipped) Life or top spec Style and I’ve gone for the latter. You’ll be spending nearly £5,000 for the privilege, but for that you get a few key upgrades that make it worthwhile.

VW ID.Buzz long term static front
Two-tone paint is a pricey but striking option.

Standard equipment for Life includes:

  • 10.0-inch infotainment system with smartphone mirroring and nav
  • Two-zone climate control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Heated front seats, steering wheel and windscreen
  • Front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera

With the key equipment Style adds being:

  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Dual armrests for both front seats
  • Multi-flex boot separator
  • Gesture controlled power tailgate
  • More exterior lighting

Then there’s the small matter of options. Despite costing nearly £64,000 before you’ve added anything, I’ve managed to bring the total spend to just over £72,000. That’s split into:

  • Two-tone paint (£2,790)
  • Infotainment package plus (£1,560)
  • Comfort Seat Package – ArtVelours (£2,305)
  • Retractable towbar (£980)
  • 21-inch alloy wheels (£515)
  • Type 2 charging cable (£190)

You could argue that the two-tone paint is an unnecessary extravagance, but that and the 21-inch wheels make the most of the concept car styling. A Type 2 cable is a necessity in my book, while the larger screen the infotainment package plus brings should make it easier to control.

VW ID.Buzz long term rear cornering
Despite being so tall, the ID.Buzz can be hustled along surprisingly well.

As for the towbar, I figured it could be handy for the odd tip run rather than mess up the interior, although I’d have to buy a trailer first. Finally the seats are both a sensible and terrible idea. The pricey pack adds memory electric seats which make sharing a car with someone else so much easier.

There’s also a massage function which is a bonus, but the light-coloured velour seats may be somewhat incompatible with a toddler. That’s not something that can be said about the boot which is ludicrously big.

As many parents out there will know, buggies and prams can be exceptionally bulky and tend to not want to fold at the worst possible time. Even with the multi-flex false boot floor in place I can still perch an unfolded buggy in with space to spare for the various bags, toys and other accessories that come with a small person.

VW ID.Buzz long term interior
Light, airy and absolutely chock-full of hard plastics.

It’s a bit of a shame the interior isn’t a bit more flexible, though. I’ll cover this in plenty of detail in a future report, but the seats don’t really do anything that clever, even compared to VW’s own Multivan. We’d also expect more than two Isofix mounts.

As for the driving experience, it feels a little quicker than its 10.2 second 0-62mph time would suggest most of the time. There’s certainly enough punch not to be disgraced and the traffic lights although an A or B road overtake does require some planning. It also handles far better than you’d expect and is mostly comfortable despite the giant wheels.

My biggest concern is range. According to official figures it’ll do 255 miles on a single charge, although so far, I’ve got nowhere near that. Show it a motorway and drive at the speed limit and you’ll chew through the battery in less than 200 miles. Here’s hoping I can eke out a little more moving forward.

VW ID.Buzz long term extended boot
You need the hefty false floor in the boot if you want a flat load area with the seats folded.

Update 2: Space isn’t everything

At first glance, you’d think the ID.Buzz was massive. It’s tall for a start, and those slab sides help emphasise its not inconsiderable width. The truth is that it’s around the same length as a Tiguan Allspace albeit around 10cm wider and a substantial 30cm taller.

All that helps the cabin feel more like a room than a car interior. Even with its tall driving position, headroom is exceedingly generous and there’s plenty of legroom front and rear. The Buzz’s generous width also means there’s plenty of room for three across the rear bench.

It’s handy that it can be slid back and forth in the unlikely event that you need more boot space, and the recline feature is good, too. Even so, this feels like a massive missed opportunity. Cheaper van-based electric MPVs such as the Citroen e-Berlingo and Peugeot e-Rifter come with three individual rear seats each with Isofix child seat mounts. Meanwhile the Buzz’s central seat isn’t shaped for bottoms and there’s no Isofix for it, either.

VW ID.Buzz long term rear space
A tall interior and lots of rear legroom means transporting tall plants isn’t an issue.

With no Isofix up front either, it makes what should be a perfect child hauler slightly compromised. It’s a shame as the boot swallows even the largest pushchair, frequently without having to fold it up in the first place even with the false floor present.

I haven’t tried taking it out yet, partially because it’s a very useful way to separate loads, but mainly because it consists of two steel-legged carpeted benches. They’re pretty heavy and would take up an awful lot of space in my garage, space currently filled with myriad kitchen cabinets.

You can fold the rear seats down in a standard 60/40 split, but I’ve not had to so far. That said, an upcoming week off with a few DIY tasks might change that. One thing I won’t be doing is removing the rear seats which astonishingly can’t be removed entirely. Although it’s not something I’d be doing regularly, I should imagine it’d make life a lot easier for cycle enthusiasts, for instance.

VW ID.Buzz long term ice scraper and bottle opener
A small but thoughtful touch.

You won’t hear me complaining about storage up front, though. Cupholders that fold out of the lower dash free up the removable centre console for all manner of detritus. Baby bottles, toys, keys and plenty more fits, and the cubby is deep enough to ensure nothing should fall out.

There are a couple of dividers should you not want one long tray, and they serve a double purpose. One is an ice scraper, not something we’ve had to use thanks to the Buzz’s preconditioning, and the other a bottle opener. If only the whole van had this level of attention to detail applied to it.

VW ID.Buzz long term tight parking
I couldn’t have got out of the Buzz without the sliding doors on this occasion.

While I’ve had no issues finding spaces long enough for the Buzz, finding them wide enough is more of an issue. At least the sliding rear doors mean you can squeeze it into gaps that wouldn’t allow you to open the fronts, although annoyingly they don’t always latch fully open. The optional electric doors are well worth considering. I’d also point out that the huge rear hatch needs quite a bit of space to swing up, and if you’ve misjudged it, requires a firm hand to stop it manually.

A rear camera is standard equipment, with a surround view system optional. Ours has the former, which is OK but could do with a higher resolution and some sort of cleaning device. The surround system is worth considering, as the stubby nose and high driving position can make it tricky to place at first.

Despite these frustrations, I am warming to the Buzz. Not having to worry if we’ve enough space in the car is liberating, and it’s a largely relaxing thing to drive. Range has nosedived somewhat in the winter months though, something I’ll cover in the next update.

VW ID.Buzz front cornering
Even when cornering hard, there’s surprisingly little body lean.

Update 3: Drive to surprise

While I wouldn’t call it a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the ID.Buzz has proved capable of surprising both driver and surrounding traffic on numerous occasions. A double-digit 0-62mph time looks glacial in this day and age, but it just doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Buzz does its best work at lower speeds, taking off from a standing start far faster than a 10.4 second 0-62mph time would suggest. Traction is never an issue, and the responsiveness of the electric motor means you rarely lose at the lights around town.

It’s on faster A roads that I usually find myself craving the newer 282hp motor that’s found in the ID.7 saloon or the upcoming twin-motor ID.Buzz GTX. Living in Norfolk and working in Peterborough or further west means I spend a lot of time on the A47, a road that’s chock full of HGVs, tractors and other farm machinery.

With much of the A47 being single carriageway, I appreciate something that’s able to get up to the national speed limit or just beyond in very short order. While an ID.3 with the same 204hp motor is perfectly acceptable, the Buzz leaves me on the wrong side of the road for a bit longer than I’d really like, even with just me in the van.

That said, I am comparing the acceleration of something that Volkswagen classifies as a van to a hatchback. If you’ve jumped out of most other commercial vehicles, the Buzz is almost certain to feel quite brisk.

VW ID.Buzz LT ATJ driving
The Buzz’s steering is well-judged in both weigh and speed.

But we’ve come to expect EVs to accelerate comparatively quickly, the real surprise is how well the Buzz corners. Now, at over two tonnes and nearly two metres tall, it’s never going to feel like a sports car, yet it proves far more capable and enjoyable than you’d imagine.

Because the heavy battery pack lays flat under the floor, the centre of gravity is low, which means the wide tyres can grip and grip without the stability control having a fit thinking you’re going to roll over. Generally, I’m only aware of the electronics having to intervene if I have to clog it out of a busy T junction, with any wheelspin quickly quashed without significantly slowing your forward progress.

If you’re at all worried the rear-wheel drive layout might result in unwanted sideways moments, the electronics ensure you’ll feel only the slightest shuffle from the back before order is restored. I suspect many won’t even get to this point such is the grip available, and there’s no ESC Sport mode or off button to investigate further. It’s probably for the best, although I do wonder how the Buzz would get on in those few slippery situations where a bit of wheelspin can help.

Body roll is certainly noticeable, but there’s much less of it than you’d expect from something so tall, so it never feels worrisome. The steering is precise, well-weighted and feels appropriately geared; you’re certainly not twirling the wheel repeatedly to get around bends, but neither does it feel too quick and therefore nervous.

Ride comfort does suffer somewhat to make the Buzz handle so well, although the optional 21-inch wheels are partially to blame here. There’s always a slight underlying fidget to the ride, while the at low speeds the Buzz can make poorly surfaced roads feel worse than they actually are.

VW ID.Buzz LT wheel
We’d recommend smaller wheels than the optional 21s for the best comfort.

We’d stick to the standard wheels as they should improve comfort and also be a lot harder to kerb. As it stands, at least two of the wheels are concrete rather than diamond turned around their outer edge. The width of the Buzz doesn’t help, and nor do the slightly stretched looking tyres that don’t offer as much protection as I’d like.

One of the Buzz’s biggest annoyances is just how nannying it can be. The first 30 seconds of any journey is spent turning off the speed limit warning and lane keep assist, something that requires a prod of a shortcut icon and then several screen presses in the driver assist menu. I appreciate the icon, but plenty of manufacturers including Land Rover do it better.

To be fair, the lane assist isn’t as annoying as the system fitted to the BYD Atto 3 we ran last year, but still can’t understand why I might want to drive nearer the centre of the road on narrow country roads with overgrown verges. As for the speed warning, there are a number of places where it’s just too sluggish to keep up, telling you to slow down when you’ve already entered a higher limit.

This pales into insignificance if you just want to move the Buzz without putting your seatbelt on. Let’s say I need to shuffle it over a bit on my drive to make way for a visitor. Instead of just jumping in, selecting a gear and going, the sensor on the driver’s seat has to feel my bottom in a very particular spot otherwise it’ll just throw it in park before I’ve even started moving.

I’ve tried manually starting it, but even then, it’s far too keen to stop me driving leading to severe frustration. Yes, I could (and often have to) just stick my seatbelt on, but it’s a pain when you’re literally moving the thing three feet at less than 5mph.