2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz Microbus – We are often reluctant to take the time to test-drive future models from automakers. A review of an unfinished car is, necessarily, unfinished–especially as we are inevitably told that anything we don’t like is certain to be changed before the formal launch. We couldn’t say no to this vehicle, even though it was a pre-production vehicle and won’t be available for purchase until two years. It also features a European model that is quite different from the U.S. version. The new Volkswagen bus is what we have been waiting for since 1991 when the Vanagon was retired.
In the years that followed, Volkswagen dropped several hints about bringing back the bus. This included the Microbus concept at 2001’s Detroit auto show. The ID.Buzz, which was shown in Detroit in 2017, presaged the production version. It will be an EV microbus that sits on the same modular electric platform (MEB), that supports the Volkswagen ID.4 as well as the Audi Q4 etron.
2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz Microbus Review
Only a portion of the bus that was shown in Europe-spec was actually the one that will be brought to the States. The prototype was more of a commercial van than a people-hauler. A bulkhead behind the front seats divided the cargo area, while all ours will be passenger versions. The European version will have a shorter wheelbase of 117.6 inches, but the American plan is to bring the longer-wheelbase variant. The U.S. version will have a larger battery pack than the prototype’s 77.0 kWh unit.
You can still be excited about the future. The drive began at the U.K. headquarters of Volkswagen Group in Milton Keynes. This English town was built in the 1970s on what were once green fields. The grid street layout was designed by a Berkeley-based urban designer with roundabouts at every intersection. This is very English. It is a great place for learning about understeer and, in this instance, ID. Buzz’s remarkable resistance to it. The ID.Buzz’s MEB architecture makes it easy to remember a lot, but the Buzz’s interior dimensions and shape show how adaptable architecture can be when there is no need for a large upright engine. Although the battery pack’s height has an obvious impact on the height of this vehicle, it feels spacious otherwise, converting a large percentage of its 185.5-inch length into interior space. According to our sources, all U.S.-spec models will have three rows of seating.
The prototype was powered by an entry-level powertrain that consisted of one electric motor driving the rear wheels. Vanagon would be happy to see its successor keep the same driven wheels. It produces 201 horsepower and 229 pounds-feet torque, just like the ID.4. According to Volkswagen engineers, an all-wheel-drive version with a second motor will be available. We don’t know much beyond the basic dimensions. However, we are told that all ID. Buzz versions will be limited to 90 mph. The short-wheelbase version has a remarkable turning radius of just 35 feet.
The ID.Buzz’s modest powertrain specs are a bit low for an EV. However, it is faster and keener than its air-cooled predecessors. It accelerates quickly off the line using gentle throttle inputs. The ID.Buzz is not a rocket ship. We’d estimate a 60-mph speed of less than nine seconds. As speed increases, acceleration slows down. An exploratory run to the 90 mph limit revealed that it takes a while to get there. The ID.Buzz was utterly content at a cruise speed of 75 mph, which is something that nobody has ever said about the Vanagon and its predecessors.
Although ID. Buzz buyers won’t expect sports-car athleticism from the prototype, it performed well when pushed. The rear-motor, the rear-drive layout was obvious even in tight corners. However, the stability control intervened invisibly to restore lost traction. The front end did not lose grip quickly and remained steadfast to the chosen line despite the winter tires VW installed for our drive. Although the powertrain was almost silent, it was surprising to hear the engine hum as the speed rose. Because panel vans are large and have little sound insulation, they are not often quiet partners. However, even in its cargo configuration the ID.Buzz was quiet with very minimal wind noise during cruising. The ride quality was also impressive considering the commercial-grade underpinnings. However, there was some floatiness in larger undulations which could be eased by some payload. The prototype’s 18-inch wheels were the smallest available and likely contributed to the ride quality. Volkswagen claims that sizes up to 21 inches will soon be available.
2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz Microbus New Design
The Buzz’s interior is still under wraps. Its door panels and dashboard were mostly hidden. It has the same user interface that the ID.4, with a combination of a touchscreen on the dashboard and a smaller screen behind the wheel. It also has the same sensitive HVAC controls. They are positioned so that they are easy to accidentally activate while using the central display.
Many clever functions are hidden away. The ID.Buzz adjusts the speed to meet intersections or restrictions. What appeared to be an inconsistent regenerative brake turned out to actually be the ID. Buzz. The car will also support Plug & Charge technology. This will allow cars to connect directly to chargers, eliminating the need to use apps or cards. Although we don’t yet have an official range, the engineering team claims they are happy with a 250-mile rating using the European WLTP protocol. This is a longer distance than the larger battery packs should be able to deliver under the stricter EPA standards. Although we haven’t been provided with a charging speed, the ID.4 supports rapid DC charging at rates up to 125 kilowatts. Because of the original Volkswagen bus’s hippie credentials, the new model is a worthy recipient of an electric powertrain. There will never be a gasoline version. VW attempted to electrify its original model by creating a unique concept in 1972. It fitted a Type 2 panel van with 21.6kWh of lead-acid battery packs. This filled the majority of the cargo area and drove a 42-hp motor. It was unacceptably slow for the time, even by today’s standards. This one wasn’t worthy to be produced, but ID. Buzz certainly does. We are eagerly awaiting the final version.