A remarkable event in the history of cars has occurred on the first-ever International Volkswagen Bus Day with the return of the microbus after a 20-year break. The T4 model was the last of these iconic vehicles sold in America, and now the electric ID.BUZZ has taken over. This is a significant milestone for the automotive industry.
This vehicle is unique, unconventional, and breaks expectations. Its design stands out from other vehicles. The microbus is not just about looks but has an efficient layout. Despite its small size, the interior is surprisingly spacious, thanks to the rear engine placement.
Piloting a microbus can be equated to asserting a commanding presence on the road. One of the key characteristics is the wheel placement, which is extended to each corner of the vehicle. This design aspect improves driving dynamics, rendering the ID.BUZZ to be more agile and enhances visibility. The extensive glass enclosure around the cabin allows a panoramic, crystal-clear view of the surrounding environment.
This legendary vehicle’s rebirth tailors it for North American consumers. Given this market’s propensity for larger vehicles, the wheelbase has been expanded by 10 inches, an extra row of seats has been added, power output has been boosted, and a larger battery has been integrated. The extended wheelbase fosters improved driving dynamics and a roomier interior.
This newly designed vehicle has a powerful performance drive unit that provides 282 horsepower to the rear wheels. There is also an all-wheel-drive version with approximately 330 horsepower available. The vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries are integrated into the floor, which results in a low center of gravity and improves the overall driving experience.
In terms of dimensions, the two-row European version of the microbus is roughly the same length as a Tiguan but shares an Atlas’s width. With an extra 10 inches added to the wheelbase for the North American market, the microbus deftly balances the proportions of a compact and a midsize SUV. This distinct blend results in a maneuverable and manageable vehicle, yet it offers significantly more interior space than comparable SUVs.
The North American version of the vehicle has an updated look with new color options for both the exterior and interior. The iconic VW logo is illuminated, and color choices include the original European hues such as orange, yellow, dark blue, and bright green, as well as three new options: silver, cabana blue, and grey. This wide range of colors allows each owner to create a unique vehicle that reflects their individual personality.
The North American microbus’s interior outshines its competition. Three unique, custom interiors are available, each designed to captivate and cater to individual preferences. Whether it’s the urban ambiance with dark brown seats and blue door inserts, the coastal theme’s light tones, or the ’70s retro-inspired cognac brown seats with yellow piping, and there’s an interior to suit every preference.
Inside the microbus, comfort and utility reign supreme. Seven seats are standard, with the option to swap out for captain’s chairs, reducing the seat count to six. Standard leatherette seats come with heated and ventilated functionality that features 12-way power adjustment, memory function, and massage, and all are included as standard amenities. As a passenger vehicle, ensuring the comfort of occupants is paramount.
The seating layout is versatile and designed to accommodate various needs and purposes. The middle row, a 60/40 split-fold seat, can also slide forward by approximately 20 centimeters. The third row follows a similar design but adds the convenience of being removable, ensuring that additional cargo space can be made available when needed.
At a height of 6’2″, there was plenty of space for both my legs and head in the second and third rows. I found it much easier to get in and out of the third row compared to any minivan or SUV I’ve tried before. This makes the ID.BUZZ one of the most versatile vehicles for moving people in any consumer class.
In the ID.BUZZ, I found it very simple to remove the third-row seats. A quick tug on a string released the latch, allowing the seats to easily slide back. Additionally, the seats had a carrying handle for convenient transport and storage. Reinstalling the seats was just as easy, with a straightforward reverse process. The ID.BUZZ’s design and execution is notably thoughtful, especially when compared to traditional minivans that have captain’s seats.
The ID.BUZZ also introduces a new 12.9-inch infotainment display, equipped with illuminated sliders for temperature and volume control and a dedicated climate document. The vehicle boasts features that amplify convenience and comfort, most of which are standard in the entry model. Highlights include power sliding doors, a power horizontal sliding second-row window, a power tailgate with a kick-to-open function, three-zone climate control, and minimal optional equipment.
Additional optional features include a panoramic electrochromic roof that considerably opens up the cabin, and a pre-heated windshield, among others.
Safety, convenience, and driver assistance are all consolidated under the IQ Drive umbrella. A standout feature of this suite is the travel assist functionality, which blends adaptive cruise control and lane assist. As long as drivers maintain slight contact with the steering wheel, the vehicle handles the rest, making the journey both comfortable and enjoyable. Other IQ Drive features include Remote Parking, Head Up Display, and an area view.
The return of the microbus is more than just a nostalgic comeback; it represents a complete rethinking of what a vehicle can be. It blends the best of both worlds, with a mix of classic design and modern functionality, creating a perfect balance of style and practicality. This vehicle is more than just a means of transportation; it offers a unique experience, makes a statement, and owning one means possessing a piece of history while traveling into the future. The wait has been long, but the consensus is that it has been worth it. Having had the chance to test drive the European version of the ID.BUZZ, I am eager to share its unique appeal and the joy of operating such a distinctive vehicle—the ID.BUZZ will be available on the market next year, with pricing details yet to be released.