Volkswagen has fielded a number of Microbus concept vehicles over the past two decades in an attempt to revive consumer affections by reviving the look of the Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus.
While the first Microbus Concept appeared in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, courtesy of Volkswagen’s California design studio. But it had a V-6 gas engine and a stubby nose to house it.
There have been any number of them since, with the most recent concept, the battery-electric ID.Buzz debuting in 2017 at the same venue. Even so, we won’t see the production version here in America until the 2024 model year.
That’s because we will get a long-wheelbase ID.Buzz, with three rows of seats, dual electric motors and rear- or all-wheel drive.
A shorter wheelbase model with a smaller 77-kWh battery pack and rear-wheel drive is already on sale in Europe. This is the one we got to sample at the 2023 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which featured a class of older Volkswagen Type 2 Transporters. Here’s our first impression of the new ID.Buzz.
The 2024 ID.Buzz isn’t a slavish imitation of the last Type 2. Yes, it has vents on the D-Pillar along with a two-tone paint scheme. Its electric driveline allows for flat front end, which is sloped to meet front crash requirements and features lighting similar to other Volkswagen ID vehicles.
The driver sits behind the front axle, not on top of it, which places the front perch surprisingly far back. That said, its overall exterior styling recalls its predecessor but doesn’t mimic it, particularly in the back, where its surprisingly boxy, evoking little if any of the original Microbus.
But the exterior’s two-tone color treatment continues inside, providing lively, fun feel rarely seen in Volkswagen’s typically somber interiors. Material choices seem sleek and durable.
The ID.Buzz employs Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) architecture that’s used for the Audi e-tron and the VW ID.4 crossovers. At 185 inches long, 78 inches wide with a 117.7-inch wheelbase, there’s plenty of space for people and their lifestyle debris. There’s anywhere from 39.6 to 77.9 cubic feet of cargo space. Payload is rated at 1,166 pounds, and the roof can carry up to 220 pounds of cargo.
The positively cavernous cabin provides two rows of seats and large airy windows that provide an excellent view in all directions. Front seats come with arm rests, while their seatbacks contain fold-down tables with integrated drink holders. Options include customizable ambient lighting and massaging front seats.
While Europe will get both a passenger and cargo variant, America will only get a passenger van.
Ours was a base Buzz, with a rear-mounted electric motor generating 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque and a 0-62 mph time of 10.2 seconds. The top speed is limited to 90 mph.
A dual-motor, all-wheel-drive model with 295 horsepower will be offered as well. Volkswagen states the ID.Buzz delivers as much as 264 miles of range on the European WLTP cycle, which runs about 22% higher than the EPA test cycle. Towing is rated at 2,200 pounds.
A full recharge takes 7.5 hours using a Level 2 charger; recharging from 5% to 80% takes a half-hour using a DC Fast Charger.
The ID.Buzz contains switchgear used in other ID vehicles, including the column-mounted transmission stalk. Like other ID vehicles, it has a freestanding 5.3-inch digital display that moves along with the tilt of the steering column. A 10-inch digital touchscreen controls the infotainment; a 12-inch screen is optional. Up front, you’ll find a wireless charging pad and two USB-C ports. In addition, passenger doors contain a shelf with a USB-C charging port. Ambient lighting in 10 colors is standard.
Microbuses were never fast, and the ID.Buzz maintains this tradition. But the power comes on smoothly without the abrupt burst of power that some EVs have. It’s in keeping with the ID.Buzz’s character, however. It’s very manageable to drive around town despite its size. The ride is compliant and comfortable, far more so than the ID.4.
But the compliance doesn’t come at the expense of control, and the Buzz exhibits little of the excess body motion you’d expect given its comfy ride setup. Road noise is moderate, while wind noise is non-existent. And the generous amount of glass makes it easy to see the road ahead from the elevated driver’s seat.
At its heart, the ID.Buzz is an electric minivan, one that uses a hefty dose of nostalgic design detail to transform this rugrat wagon into a true status symbol. But it’s too bad we are not getting the short wheelbase model, as it could attract those who want an ID.Buzz but don’t want three rows or have a huge family to fil it with.
Still, given the happiness it evoked in so many bystanders, it’s sure to spread happiness whether you’re behind the wheel or observing as it drives by.
2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz — Frequently Asked Questions
Will the VW ID.Buzz be available in the U.S.?
Yes. It will be unveiled in mid-2023, with sales starting in 2024.
Will there be a seven-seater ID.Buzz?
Yes, it will be offered solely as a seven-seater.
Is the ID.Buzz a minivan?
Yes, it’s an electric rendition of VW’s iconic hippie bus.