Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept first drive

Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept first drive
Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept first drive

The Volkswagen Microbus will be revived in 2022: we’ve driven the concept prototype

The Volkswagen ID Buzz is an all-electric concept version of 2022’s modern-day Microbus. By the time it reaches production, the fancy door opening procedure, that involves waving a hand at the car to commence automated swing-open theatrics, may be gone. But the batteries are staying.

And that means you’ll still step up high into it: they’re mounted within the wheelbase. That’s why Volkswagen has installed a little step into the sill. It’s also why occupants enjoy such a panoramic seating position, through a suitably period-feel upright windscreen and huge quarter lights. Otherwise, the interior is minimalist and free from buttons; again, in a way, nicely period.

VW ID Buzz interior

Instead of a wheezy old flat four engine, though, you get two electric motors, one at the front and one at the back. System output is 369bhp and this setup also makes it four-wheel drive; lesser new Microbus will have just one electric motor. Despite it being so big, the firm’s promising a decent range, of over 370 miles. That’s the power of a massive 111kWh lithium ion battery at work.

All the controls are mounted within the electronics-laden steering wheel. It’s touch-sensitive: to start the car, press the starter button icon within it. We do so, but are then warned nobody’s quite sure how much charge is left within the battery, so our drives are limited to a couple of one-mile runs.

VW ID Buzz

It’s still enough to give us a taster; to demonstrate, for example, the impressively purposeful acceleration – and that’s despite this drivetrain, which has been based on the current Volkswagen e-Golf, not possessing its full quota of output power.

It’s very quiet, with no electric motor whine, and it freewheels to extend range when coasting. The steering currently isn’t very good, but will improve, and Volkswagen is also planning autonomous drive functionality, whereby the steering wheel will retract into the dashboard – although our car was resolutely driver-only.

It’s not even very fair to judge the ride – which is pretty loud and harsh – because this will also be evolved enormously by the time it reaches production. Volkswagen will be offering it with rear air suspension, to keep things on an even keel even when fully laden, and also plans to fully exploit the car’s inherently low centre of gravity.

VW ID Buzz

No, this concept drive tells us more about how exciting the overall concept of the new Microbus is. Rear sliding doors, a flat floor and cavernous space for up to eight people, with many times more seating configurations, means practicality will be excellent, and the relative simplicity of its electronic gubbins means they can largely be packed beneath the flat floor, freeing up enough space for two boots.

And, above all, it looks great. This is an impressive start. If Volkswagen can continue to polish the ID Buzz concept over the next four years, we’re almost certain the long wait for a new Microbus will have been worth it.

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