Volkswagen I.D. Buzz First Drive

2 months ago by Steven Ewing 26

Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

It’s electric, it’s super cool, and it’s finally, actually happening.

– Pebble Beach, California

With a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour, the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz is one of the slower cars cruising 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach during Monterey Car Week. Indeed, the lineup of cars trailing me increases with each passing minute, the bright yellow bus leading the way as I drive along the California shore. But it doesn’t matter. Everyone loves this thing – the folks behind me are holding smartphones out the window to snap a shot, and passersby shout “cool!” and smile. I’ve never received so many thumbs-up in one afternoon.

But what the hell am I doing driving a concept car along the beach? Its showcar tires restrict my speed, the whole bus rattling and trembling as I bounce over bumps in the pavement. No, there’s no real driving experience to talk about here, other than the fact that, yes, the I.D. Buzz can drive under its own power. The steering wheel is weird to hold, what with its rectangular shape, and there’s lots of weight in its action. The throttle and brake pedals feel stiff under my feet, but it’s not like I’m doing much of either, anyway. But hey, at least the turn signals work. Really, though, Volkswagen’s just letting me blast around in the Buzz to build, well, buzz, about its recent (and huge) announcement: the iconic VW bus is coming back.

Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

Yes, by 2022 we should see a new Microbus in U.S. showrooms. It’ll be the third vehicle to launch under Volkswagen’s new electric family of cars, following the I.D. hatchback and I.D. Crozz CUV, both of which have already been confirmed for production. Volkswagen tells us it’s aiming for the production version to make good on the concept’s promise of 369 horsepower (275 kilowatts) and a driving range of around 270 miles. But for now, the hodge-podge concept I’m driving uses a version of the new e-Golf’s electric powertrain, simply because, well, it’s what’s currently available. “This thing was only ever intended to drive on and off a stage,” one Volkswagen representative reminds me.

But this isn’t just some far-away showcar; there are a few production-intent hints here. The size and shape, for example, are largely representative of what you’ll see on the road someday. Volkswagen tells me the width and height are about right, but the road-going car will be a little shorter in length, riding on the new MEB scalable architecture that’ll underpin the company’s new family of electric cars.

What’ll the production car look like? Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve seen Volkswagen pen several modern takes on the iconic bus shape over the years. The Bulli and Budd-e from recent years evolved into the I.D. Buzz you see today – details like headlights and taillights might change, but you can bet the shape will be pure Microbus (with as flat of a face as modern pedestrian crash standards will allow). Side-view cameras will evolve into mirrors; the huge, shiny wheels will be toned down and wrapped in real tires. My only request is that VW offers the production version in this exact shade of highlighter yellow, with matching interior accents.

Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

Speaking of which, the interior will be just as cool and clever as it is on this concept, with a rear bench seat and lots of movable/reconfigurable pieces inside. In the concept, there’s a lounge style, almost couch-like two-seat setup at the rear, with an entertainment hub in the middle of the floor that houses an iPad with internet connectivity, and four USB ports to charge every passenger’s iPhone. You can also slide that module up, between the driver and front passenger seats, for easier access to infotainment controls when you don’t have friends kicking it in the back.

Sitting inside, there’s a commanding driving position, with an expansive windscreen right in front of you. Volkswagen says it wants the new bus to feel just like the old one, with a wraparound glasshouse design and a panoramic view of the world in front of you. If the width and height really does remain the same, expect ample shoulder- and headroom – the bus may have a relatively compact footprint, but there’s a generous amount of space inside.

Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

Don’t get your hopes up for anything too futuristic, though. The rectangular steering wheel with flush-mounted, haptic buttons for the gear selector, turn signals, and other controls? Look for something a bit more conventional. What could happen, however, is the ability for the steering wheel to completely retract into the dashboard, allowing the driver’s seat to turn 180 degrees and face the rear passengers. Of course, that also means the Buzz concept’s I.D. Pilot autonomous drive function would need to happen. But, come on, by 2022, we really ought to have mobile lounges, right? It’s the future, guys.

But until the future becomes the present, so much of the production I.D. Buzz will remain a mystery. The good news is that it’s actually, definitely happening. And considering the hugely positive response that’s surrounded all of VW’s Microbus redux concepts over the years, I imagine this is one niche vehicle that’ll find plenty of happy customers here in the States. Pull out your wallets, California surf folk – Volkswagen’s coming for ya.

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26 responses to "Volkswagen I.D. Buzz First Drive"

  1. Alan says:

    I can almost imagine Dr Evil turning round in one of those front seats, make his way towards the rear bench ans say “how about no, you crazy Dutch B*****d” !

  2. ffbj says:

    Sorry something 5 years away is not actually happening. It probably will happen someday, and it should with all the hype and impetuous VW is putting behind it.

    1. =j says:

      I feel like the new VW van has been “five years away” for the past twenty years.

      1. Doggydogworld says:

        Tomorrow, tomorrow,
        I love you, tomorrow,
        You’re always a day away…..

        1. L'amata says:

          L M A O, This is so true ! That should be VW’s Theme Song, it’s smack dab right On !

      2. john Doe says:

        They have just followed their plan for vans.

        It takes about twice as long between every time a van in upgraded to a new model – compared to a regualar car.

        VW is just like other big companies. Nothing shocking, or out of plan happens.
        Smaller companies are usually quicker to turn around. But when a company of this size is heading in a direction it will make an impact.

        Link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Transporter

    2. L'amata says:

      If the Drive Is any indication of things to come ..VW has a lot of work ahead of itself …My friends have home built cars that drive amazingly well & Tight at all speeds & this one sounds like a huge disappointment considering it’s Designed & Built By a So Called Professional car Company ..~~~Things Don’t Sound/Look Good Here So Far ~~ ~~

  3. bro1999 says:

    Literally a glorified golf cart. I think some stock golf carts can actually go faster than 25 mph.

    Wake me up when this “Buzz” is in pre-production form.

  4. F150 Brian says:

    It’s not here yet but it’s a lot more interesting than a Model 3… and it gives my family an option for something that we may actually buy (the utility of a car is just way too low and drag racing is illegal so ludicrous speed is irrelevant 😉

    But I don’t like two things on this concept:
    1) they might make it shorter? What? Its too short already
    2) the seating needs to fold into the walls or floor. We currently have a Caravan and fold seats into the floor for cargo (mostly camping gear) alot. Having to lift the seats out and put them in a garage is something we left behind in the 90’s

    1. Alan says:

      It’s currently 4.9m + long !

      You must have a very big garage to get that in and be able to open the rear doors.

      1. F150 Brian says:

        Which is shorter than the Caravan (5.1m) and F150 (6.2m) that we currently own 😉

        The Garage is for our boats and other toys 😉

        1. Asak says:

          It looks like the nose will be shorter, so interior space might not be smaller than the Caravan.

    2. VazzedUp says:

      +1 on the no to shorter. The microbus became famous because of this RV capacity, if its squished to become a minivan for soccer trips then iconic it will fail to be. Give it the utility and interior dimensions of its predecessors and the future is bright.

      1. wavelet says:

        Uh, the original Type 2 Microbus was 168.5″ long (the 1950-1967 1st gen w/split front wondow) or 177″ (the 1967-1979 2nd gen).
        The Buzz concept is _195″_, 1.5-2 feet longer than the original Microbus, so certainly not squished. Get out of the stupid US mindset that huge pickup-size vehicles are required for utility. Just Google the European MPV category, and how useful these vehicles can be.

    3. David H says:

      I sign that!

      I also think they should not shorten it too much. For one because it already looks somewhat cramped and not as bus-like as the original Bulli. More lenght and less frontal area would improve air resistance. But also it needs to be long enough to retrofit a bed in the back. Ideally leaving some wiggle room for other camping stuff. This is most critical!

    4. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

      I am guessing that Tesla will have a van out before VW ships this thing.

  5. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    If there was a vehicle that VW needs to push out, this is the one.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      Hogwash. Customers can demand whatever they want. VW is out to make money. Why else would they gimp an EV to 25mph, and have “ahem” take it on a public road for a story? This piece sure is a hit.

      -This post should last. Pretty please.

    2. Mark.ca says:

      No, it’s the ID that has to be pushed into production fast…thatbhas a real chance of selling in numbers not this. The buz will be expensive as hell, i expect it to be over $70k so not that many will buy it.

  6. hpver says:

    I love the VW bus idea, but really have no love for the company.

    They should be embarrassed. Limited to 25 mph? With an existing drivetrain stuck into a shell?
    That and a promise to have something in five years is the best a major manufacturer can do?
    That is beyond failure. It’s laughable.

    And all the show and talk feels like they’re trying to wash away the foul taste of dieselgate with saccharine sweetness.

    It’s not working.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      VW enjoys its dark side image:

  7. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

    Yeah, still not buying it. It takes so little to get good press from some people. If they can’t be bothered to advertise and sell the EVs they have NOW, why should I believe this will exist in five years time?

  8. scott franco says:

    April fools was a while back, you are a bit late.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    SO the real specs of this car are 8 hp and a 7 kwh battery? Probably pulled it out of one of the ‘long range’ Mercedes.

    SO that’s how they get the great range – top speed 25 mph hehehe.

  10. aggri1 says:

    I want real bumper bars, a two-piece windscreen made of flat plate glass which can be swung open forwards, and a bench seat in the front (with option for two seats instead, allowing a walk-through section).

    Perhaps I should just electrify my real Bus, ey?

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