Volkswagen’s line of electric ID cars is growing quite rapidly. The ID.3 saloon was quickly followed by the ID.4 SUV, which was then joined more recently by its ID.5 coupé equivalent. There’s even a selection of hot GTX models in the works.
But the next one is a little different. In the coming weeks, VW will unveil its ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo, a commercial minibus and van based on the same MEB platform as its electric passenger cars. This means they will have the same battery options and electric motors as the models launched to date.
To see what’s in store, Volkswagen invited us to pick up a late pre-production ID. Buzz Cargo for a journey on British roads. While the van was still camouflaged inside and out, our outing was designed to give us a taste of the company’s new electric van before deliveries begin later in 2022.
Unfortunately on this occasion the rearmost doors remained locked. Full specs will be revealed later, but we got access to some hard-copy stats to give us an idea of how the commercial EV might perform in the real world. At 4,712mm long, the ID. Buzz Cargo is 261mm shorter than a Ford Transit Custom, but 294mm longer than the smaller Ford Transit Connect.
The VW’s long three-meter wheelbase results in a cargo volume of around four cubic meters, which is somewhere between the two Fords. Volkswagen claims it’s big enough to take two Euro pallets; the identity. Buzz Cargo will be available with a one-piece tailgate or wing-style split doors.
As mentioned, our prototype’s interior was largely disguised with thick felt carpeting. The only items left exposed were the seats and two digital displays – one for driving information and another for infotainment.
Those who sat in an ID.3 or ID.4 will find the layout very similar. You sit high, as you do in most vans, but the instrument cluster is almost identical to that of passenger cars, with an evolution of their column-mounted rotary gear lever. The infotainment system hasn’t really changed either, still with the ID.3’s fiddly climate controls.
Starting the Buzz is simple, and as soon as you pull away it instantly feels more refined than its petrol or diesel predecessors. It’s free of the usual jolts and rattles you normally notice in vans like this; the quality of the materials isn’t great, but everything you touch or interact with is tight as a nut.
The ride was firm, but rarely snappy, even on our pickup’s 20-inch wheels. That means it should be comfortable both around town and on the highway, feeling attached and well-balanced on all but the roughest roads. It should be noted that our test model had no ballast in the charging bay.
Like the smallest ID.3, for now all IDs. Buzz variants are rear-wheel drive; two-motor, four-wheel-drive models will be available at a later date. This, combined with the quick steering and impressive body control, makes the minivan surprisingly nimble and fun to drive. Few owners are likely to throw away their loaded IDs. Buzz Cargo on a winding country road, but it’s nice to know it can and will if you want to.
The overall feeling of refinement continues up to highway speeds, where the Buzz is poised and quiet. It has no trouble accelerating up to 70mph – aided by a healthy 201bhp and 310Nm of torque – and it’ll stay there for long stretches, provided there’s enough charge in the battery.
Speaking of charging, Volkswagen hasn’t released any speed or range figures yet, but said charging capacity will be “in the range of ID models with the 77kWh battery. That suggests a maximum charge rate of 135 kW, for a 10-80% recharge time of around half an hour from a sufficiently fast charge point.
During our time with the ID. Buzz Cargo, its trip computer showed a range of 180 miles with 77% charge remaining, which means 240 to 260 miles should be achievable in normal driving; indeed, with a lighter right foot and warmer ambient temperatures, getting closer to 300 miles is not out of reach.
All in all, therefore, the new Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo builds on what we love about VW’s existing electric hatchbacks and SUVs, wrapping the MEB platform in practical and stylish Microbus-inspired bodywork. If Volkswagen can get the numbers right, it could be the first electric van people buy not just because it saves them money, but also because it offers competitive range, space, charging speed. And much more.