Kombi? Ja! The VW I.D Buzz is retro-modern done right
SA fans of the hippies’ vehicle of choice hope this tribute will kumbaya sometime soon
Modern adaptations of classics. Always a tricky affair. Sometimes the approach can make for successful results. We all love to see our favourite icons of yesteryear endure through the ages — even in spirit. And Volkswagen knows a thing or two about how to achieve that.
Yes, the Millennium Beetle might not have been an unequivocal hit in certain metrics. But how many of us can admit we did not coo affectionately when sighting one in the metal? The follow-up in 2012 was an endearing thing too, shedding some of the cartoonish proportions of its predecessor in favour of a more muscular appearance.
Then there was the reinvented Scirocco coupé. Pity this one made a quiet exit after just one generation. Maybe it will be resurrected in the near future with an electric spin. Just like the I.D Buzz revealed in production form this week.
This is a model whose roots are (clearly) owed to the iconic, first generation T1 commercial vehicle. From its V-shaped frontal panel to the delectable two-tone paint options, it is a blast from the past par excellence. Visually, anyway. Most will agree it is an instantly desirable piece of metal, dripping cool factor from each of its throwback-inspired panels. Of course, there is far more substance to the Buzz than its nostalgic theme.
It is a carbon-neutral product, relying heavily on recycled synthetic materials in addition to a zero-emissions powertrain. Just like the original, the Buzz is rear-wheel drive. Obviously, you are not going to find a clattering boxer engine in the new vehicle. Instead, an 82kWh battery provides juice to a 150kW electric motor. The battery is sandwiched between the chassis and floor, promising an ideal distribution of weight and a low centre of gravity for assured handling.
The lithium ion battery can be charged from wall boxes or public charging stations using 11 kW alternating current (AC). Fast-charging outlets could enable the I.D Buzz to achieve 80% capacity from 0% in as little as 30 minutes. Bi-directional charging will also feed excess energy back into users’ home power networks (if equipped with such).
Fascinatingly, Volkswagen claims the I.D Buzz is the first multi-purpose vehicle to have aerodynamic properties in line with those of a regular car. Its drag coefficient is as little as 0.29, a figure quite comfortably in the league of many saloons. Two versions are available: the regular I.D and the business-focussed I.D Buzz Cargo. Both have a wheelbase of 2,988mm and a total length of 4,712mm. Including roof aerial, the two versions of ID. Buzz measure, dependent on specification, 1,937 mm or 1,938mm in height. At 1,985 mm, the new model is 81mm wider than a T6.1.
Interior layout looks expectedly versatile. In the I.D Buzz there is seating for five occupants, while luggage capacity is a whopping 1,121 litres. If the second row of seats is folded down, the load capacity increases to up to 2,205 litres. The Cargo model is said to be able to handle two loaded European pallets, positioned transversely (1,200mmx800mm).
The Buzz rides on a newly developed electric vehicle architecture designed by the Volkswagen Group. A modular foundation, it will be used across a number of products in time to come. Also emphasised in the vehicle are semi-autonomous driving capabilities. New software claims to facilitate partially automated driving across the entire speed range and, for the first time, assisted lane-changing on the freeway.
Volkswagen SA has not communicated its timeline around the arrival of I.D Buzz, or if it is destined for the market. We will, however, be receiving the I.D 4 compact crossover soon which will spearhead their local electrification activities in the country.