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Motor Trend

The Good And The Bad
Based on the positive reactions it drew from passersby on our test drive in and around Copenhagen, Denmark, the ID Buzz successfully channels the fun vibe of the old Microbus, providing you choose the two-tone paint scheme. It's practical, too, a comfortable, maneuverable, appropriately sized electric vehicle that can effortlessly carry five people and their stuff. Or, with 77.9 cubic feet of load space available with the second row folded flat, just a whole lot of your own stuff.

But the Buzz needs brakes with better feel, Volkswagen's user interface is still clunkier than it should be, and the single motor needs more power to cope with the ID Buzz's mass. The first two issues are software- rather than hardware-related and so should be easily fixable. And VW sources confirm a power boost for the rear motor is on the way, and should be in production by the time the extended-wheelbase models arrive in the U.S.

That's why, despite the annoyances, the standard-wheelbase ID Buzz is a minivan that makes you smile, just like the old Microbus, which, truth be told, had plenty of flaws. While most minivans struggle to be anything but appliances, there is a coolness and quirkiness, a charming mix of style and practicality to the ID Buzz that's hugely appealing.


At present, the ID. Buzz waltzes to 62 miles per hour in a lethargic, manufacturer-estimated 10.2 seconds. The single electric motor’s 201 hp and 229 lb-ft has to motivate a 5,500-pound van, or half a ton more than a rear-drive ID.4. If this is the Buzz VW offers in North America, the German automaker will be selling the slowest all-electric vehicle on the market, full stop.

And yet, it feels like a vehicle that's just powerful enough for European roads – the initial burst of all-electric torque fades quickly, but the Buzz scoots to and stays at 35 happily. In fact, its relatively narrow profile (just under six feet from door to door) and zippy low-speed performance makes this van kinda entertaining around Copenhagen. The high-regen B setting is a good partner in urban areas, arresting speed via accelerator modulation, although the Buzz lacks a proper one-pedal driving mode.

But on the massive Øresund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden by road and rail, the Buzz struggles with higher speeds. The listed max according to VW is 90 mph, but I was only in Denmark for about 48 hours. Joking aside, the Buzz will do highway speeds, but it requires far more accelerator pressure than I'm used to giving. I switched out of B and into the low-regen coasting mode, hoping that the Buzz wouldn't be fighting against itself, but it made little difference. Ditto cycling through the three drive modes.

Car and Driver

Superficially, the Volkswagen ID.Buzz fits into the current roster of U.S.-market minivans. It will, after all, have power sliding doors, three rows of seats, and plenty of cupholders. But this isn't really a direct salvo at the likes of the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica. For one thing, it's electric. And it's rear-wheel drive. And it looks cool. As in, people in Copenhagen were breaking their necks to stare at it during our drive of a Europe-spec Buzz. It's a learned reflex to think of minivans as anti-stylish, but this one is unabashedly fresh, a concept car made real in two-tone candy white and lime yellow. Climbing into the ID.Buzz makes you want to quit your job and become a surf instructor in Hermosa Beach, or go backpacking across Peru, or raise alpacas so you can knit organic-wool drug rugs for everyone in your commune. This is new territory: minivan as status symbol and halo car for an entire brand.

Given Volkswagen's success in squeezing Beetle nostalgia for a couple of extra decades' worth of sales, it's amazing it took this long to apply the same formula to the Bug's incense-scented cousin, the Bus (or, as VW affectionately calls it in Germany, the Bulli). But resurrecting the Bus with anything like the original snub-nosed proportions was never really feasible with VW's internal-combustion platforms—much easier to rebadge a Dodge Grand Caravan as a Routan than to engineer some sort of front-drive cab-over-engine people hauler. But on VW's MEB platform for EVs, the ID.Buzz can faithfully hew to the template of its beloved, painfully slow progenitor: rear motor, rear-wheel-drive. The vents in the D-pillar may be fake, but at least they correspond to the actual location of the motor.


Looking beyond the retro-inspired suit, the Buzz represents Volkswagen’s return to America’s minivan segment. The cabin certainly feels the part: it’s spacious, well-lit, and cleverly laid out. Sitting high, the driver faces a three-spoke steering wheel, a 5.3-inch digital instrument cluster borrowed from the ID.4, and a huge dashboard with horizontal trim that augments the sense of width. The familiar, generally disliked infotainment system is displayed on either a 10- or a 12-inch touchscreen depending on the configuration and the floating center console clears up space between the center stack and the front seats. You can slide from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s seat even if you don’t have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. The build quality is pretty good overall but it doesn’t take much poking and prodding to find hard plastics.

Sliding doors provide access to the sliding rear seats, though the rear windows are puzzlingly fixed, and the Buzz offers the cavernous interior you’d expect from a vehicle shaped like a toaster. There are some cool features, like folding tray tables with cupholders integrated into the front seatbacks. As for the retro-ness, it’s there if you know where to find it: the grab handles look just like the units Volkswagen fitted to some of its air-cooled models. Keep looking and you’ll spot some of the Easter eggs hidden in the cabin. The Buzz’s silhouette appears on the plastic trim that covers the bottom part of the rear seats and the center console’s two dividers double as a bottle opener and an ice scraper, respectively. There are several more eggs, including one that’s hidden in plain sight in the gallery. Can you spot it?

From a packaging point of view, one of the downsides to the Buzz’s air-cooled predecessors was the engine placement. It was rear-mounted and consequently took up a great deal of space in the cabin. In the Buzz, the loading floor is completely flat and 87.8 inches long with the second-row seats folded; that’s big enough to sleep in. Don’t look for a frunk, though: the panel that the big Volkswagen logo is mounted on flips down to reveal a big piece of Styrofoam, various cables, and the washer fluid filler. Volkswagen explained adding a frunk was possible but it would have made the front overhang longer.