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VW ID. Buzz First Drive review: Instantly recognizable (and likable)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – One interesting aspect of attending the launch event was that people living and working along the driveway got to see the car for the first time. Some models fly under the radar. The only person recently noticed refreshed Volkswagen Polo is an Austrian woman that I accidentally parked on the lawn to take a photo. Others draw crowds everywhere they go. Lamborghiniof course, but I also didn’t expect that I spent nearly as much time explaining the Citroën C4 Cactus as I drove it. Released in 2022, Volkswagen code. Buzz belongs to the second category.

“It’s new…” I began to explain to the middle-aged couple who were biking.

Ja, ja, we know – it’s the new Volkswagen Bulli! “

Even in Denmark, which is not a mecca for car culture, the heritage-inspired van still turns heads. The difference between Buzz and other companies is that nearly everyone knows what they’re looking at. They waited years to see it in metal. More reaction “finally, it’s here!” rather than “What the hell is this UFO?”

The last time Volkswagen made such a big splash was when they introduced New Beetle in 1997. That’s relevant because, in a way, Buzz fills the void left by modern times. Beetles when it was discontinued after 2019 and proudly the brand’s new style icon. On a secondary level, it concludes a project that Volkswagen has tinkered with and worked on more than 20 years. Buzz may be new, but Volkswagen has toyed with resurrecting the iconic Bus since unveiling the V6 Microbus Concept in Detroit in 2001. car show.

Volkswagen introduced a pair of bus-inspired concepts called Bulli and BUDD-e, respectively, in the 2010s but neither got the green light for production. Why? Well, it depends on who you ask, but the general consensus is that safety regulatory issues and market needs have prevented both design studies from going beyond the concept stage. It was until ID.Buzz Making its debut at the 2017 Detroit auto show, Volkswagen has shifted the project to high-end equipment. In the 1950s, when the first Bus hit the roads of the world, high gears meant fourth. In the 2020s, for the first time – Buzz runs on electricity.

In terms of design, not much has changed in the past five years. The designers toned down some of the concept’s more futuristic styling cues, like the front and rear lights, and the Buzz received an exterior door camera as well as a door mirror instead of a camera. It also gains a space: Volkswagen has expanded the name from ID.Buzz to ID. Buzz. To the devastation of copy editors everywhere, the names ID.3 and ID.4 there will still be no gap. The rest is pretty much what we were promised in 2017: Buzz’s overall proportions are boxy and like Old Buses like Volkswagen can make them while still passing a crash test; The 1950s “you are the crash zone” solution doesn’t fly in the 2020s. The Buzz isn’t as classic as the New Beetle but it’s still recognizable as the heir to the window van.

Here’s where the water gets murky: while Buzz heads to North America in 2024, what you’ll see in our showroom isn’t exactly what you’ll see at your local Volkswagen seller. We’ll have an unannounced long-wheelbase van, and Volkswagen insists it’s too early to provide details on it. For context, the short-wheelbase, European spec Buzz I drove in Denmark is 185.5 inches long (including the 117.6-inch wheelbase), 78.1 inches wide, and tall. about 75.8 inches – it’s about 18 inches shorter and 5 inches taller a 2022 Toyota Sienna and almost exactly wide. It weighs one Ford F-150-like 5,447 pounds largely due to the battery packed under the passenger compartment.

Looking beyond the retro-inspired jersey, Buzz represents Volkswagen’s return to the US small truck part. The cabin certainly feels part: it’s spacious, well-lit, and cleverly furnished. Sitting high, the driver faces a three-spoke steering wheel, a 5.3-inch digital instrument cluster borrowed from ID.4and a large panel with a horizontal border that enhances the sense of width. The often unpopular infotainment system is displayed on a 10- or 12-inch touchscreen depending on configuration, and a floating center console helps create space between the center stack and the front seats. . You can slide from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat even if you don’t have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. Overall build quality is pretty good but it doesn’t take long to find hard plastic.

Sliding doors offer sliding rear seat access, though the rear windows are confusingly fixed, and the Buzz offers the cavernous interior you’d expect from a car shaped like a car. toaster. There are some cool features, like a folding tray with cup holders built into the backs of the front seats. As for retro style, it’s there if you know where to find it: the grips are like the parts Volkswagen equips some of its air-cooled models. Keep looking and you’ll discover some Easter eggs hidden in the cabin. Buzz’s silhouette appears on the plastic trim that covers the bottom of the rear seats and the two center console dividers as a bottle opener and an ice scraper, respectively. There are several more eggs, including one hidden in the gallery. Can you spot it?

From a packaging standpoint, one of the downsides of the Buzz’s air-cooled predecessors is the engine placement. It is rear mounted and therefore takes up a lot of space in the cabin. In the Buzz, the load deck is completely flat and 87.8 inches long with the second row of seats folded; big enough to sleep. Don’t look for something messy, though: the dashboard with the large Volkswagen logo mounted on it flips down to reveal a large foam pad, various cables, and a washer fluid buffer. Volkswagen explains that adding an extra frunk is possible but it will make the front overhang longer.

At launch, Volkswagen will offer the European-standard Buzz with a single powertrain option. Power comes from a rear-mounted permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor that draws power from an 82 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to generate 204 horsepower to the rear wheels and 229 pound-feet of instant torque. . The 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint from a stop takes 10.2 seconds, and Buzz continues to accelerate until it hits 90 mph. Volkswagen notes that is an off-limits speed in most countries.

The 204hp rating is enough if your vision of the perfect #vanlife is heading down Highway 1 and stopping for scenic picnics, but it’s a bit short if you need a van that’s just an object. other tools in your toolkit. Volkswagen quotes £2,200 sled capacity and payload of 1,166 pounds, and by no means stellar. The diesel-powered Volkswagen Transporter van can tow about 5,500 pounds. Hell, even the last generation Golf hatchback is Rated to tow nearly 4,000 pounds (!) when properly fitted.

Will other powertrains join the portfolio? While this is pure speculation, my crystal ball says yes. The flexible MEB platform underpins the Buzz, so it makes sense that what’s possible in the ID.4 (like full-time four-wheel drive) is also possible here. Don’t hold your breath for an unmodified version of Porsche 718 Boxsteris apartment four to actually drive the “Modern Bus” point home; Volkswagen has developed the MEB platform specifically for battery-powered vehicles, so ID. Buzz is always electrically operated.

Using a car-based platform makes Buzz less of a van than you might expect because it looks like the box it came out of. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles developed this model, but it feels more like the ID.4 than the Transporter sold in some global markets. It’s easy to drive even in crowded cities: steering is easy and the Buzz offers a much smaller Golf-like turning radius. Overall visibility is excellent, although electronic driver assistance hardware (like adaptive cruise control) is oddly and distractingly integrated into the bottom portion of the dashboard.

Volkswagen decided not to add a fake engine sound to make the Buzz almost completely silent on the open road; Only the wind noise and the electric motor whirring through the cabin. It accelerates from a stop smoothly thanks to instant torque and a single-speed transmission but it’s not as fast by any means. It’s not like that: it was developed to transport people and their belongings, not to win races.

Integrating the battery pack (which is the heaviest part of the powertrain by a large margin) into the platform reduces the center of gravity and makes the Buzz less heavy than a comparable petrol truck. There are several body rolls but less in one Mercedes-Benz Metris, For example. The ride, in true Volkswagen style, is mounted on the company’s comfort side. You’ll be surprised if you’re expecting the Buzz to drift off the road and weather the same bumps as its air-cooled predecessors.

Front disc and – look, another classic feature! – rear drum handle brakethough renewable brake system It is almost possible to bring the Buzz to a complete stop when the driver chooses the “B” configuration. Leaving it at “D” allows the Buzz to be like a gasoline car with no modes in between. The brake pedal feels a bit artificial no matter what driving mode is selected, a common feature in EV cosmos, but the system slows down Buzz predictably and confidently. Volkswagen also programmed Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual modes. Eco sets the powertrain to save range, Comfort is the default profile, Sport sharpens throttle response, and Individual lets the driver create their own profile.

I didn’t spend enough time behind the wheel to test the Buzz’s driving range or charging capabilities. Volkswagen quotes around 263 miles of range in the European test cycle, which tends to lean on the optimistic side of the scale, and it notes that charging the battery from 5% to 80% takes about 30 minutes when the Buzz picks up power. from 170- kilowatt fast charger. At the other end of the spectrum, a full charge requires about seven and a half hours using an 11 kilowatt home charger.

ID. Buzz’s appeal extends beyond heritage-inspired exterior design. It’s a stylish take on one of the most recognizable cars ever built, as several travelers pointed out in Copenhagen, but it’s also comfortable, comfortable to drive, and roomy enough to fit. compete intersect. There’s no reason to doubt that the longer American model will make any difference, though metrics like price and driving range will determine whether it turns out to be a serious contender in the field. electric vehicle segment or not.

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