Man, I’ve been traveling a lot lately. After Monterey Car week, I ended up in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I got to drive one of the cars you see above there, and will soon be able to tell you all about it. But which one? They’re both interesting options. Let me give you some clues, why not? That’ll help you figure it out.
Okay, so the car I drove and will be writing about has fewer than three cylinders, is not currently available for sale in the U.S., is kind of tall and narrow, and sports two-tone paint. Does that help?
Alright, alright, fine. No, there are no owners of 40 year-old Citroën 2CVs flying me out anywhere. The car I drove is the new Volkswagen ID.Buzz, the electric re-birth of the classic Type 2 bus. This one is the Euro-spec short wheelbase version, and will be a bit different from what we’ll end up getting in America in 2024. But it’s close enough, and while I can’t talk about how it is to drive or anything yet, I can tell you that almost everyone who saw this thing looked and smiled.
And those were Danes, who seem to have a reputation for not smiling in public. This thing seems to help them break that unwritten rule. So, stay tuned! And, if there’s anything specific you’d like to know, tell me in the comments and I’ll either see what I can do or not read your comments at all. One or the other. It’s win-win!
Try and stay a little longer next time:
August is the absolute best month for old car centric activities in Denmark.
We have the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix, the Rømø Motor Festival and the Classic Car Festival in Sorgenfri, and a LOT of not so official car meets all the time all around the country in the usually warm and nice weather for that time.
I don’t really care about the retro design any more (it had 20 years to fizzle out), but I think that it’s nice of VW to try and bring back a low floor high roof roomy quite sensible minivan car shape to the market, in a time where everyone is bying those stupid high floor low roof SUVs.
Am currently sharing an AirBnB with 4 smiling, laughing (and now sleeping) Danes. They exist I tell you! I’m sure you’ve left Copenhagen already so we won’t be crossing paths. Just hope you got to check out some more vehicular fun out there (e.g. Viking Ship Museum or Egeskov castle) or at least met some interesting Nimbus motorcycle riders.
I see you probably landed in Copenhagen but apparently ended up in south Sweden! If you ever do so again, feel free to get in touch to discover the joys of driving my Fiat Panda Cross in Soccorso Alpino livery (Italian mountain and cave rescue) in the most flat part of Sweden or try out my Land Rover Defenders arousingly round taillights!
There’s one thing I want to know about the Buzz that no one seems to be taking about: is there a reason for the huge ugly gap between the windshield and the… front panel? (Is that a hood? It wasn’t one on the original). I know it’s where the necessary windshield wipers hide, but does it need to be so big? And does it look as weird in person, from a normal human standing height, as it does in some photo angles? To me it looks a bit like the elastic in its undies has gone slack in the front.
Honestly, I started saving for one of these when they announced it. But given the expected price now I would have to seriously warp my world view to think of it as the fun loving tree hugging hippie camper I really want.
I dunno what all the hype is about with the ID.Buzz. Looking at the thing, I can’t help but feel that it obviously lacks any semblance of charm or soul. Take away the two-tone paint and it’s just a boring box with a sourpuss face. For something that’s supposed to be the second coming of the Microbus, they sure managed to make it look nothing like the original.
Seriously. Take that paint job away, and what’s left that’s cool about it? The Emperor has no clothes, people.
I’m far more interested in the 2CV, personally!
That being said, the ID.BUzz is cool….I just hope it doesn’t stick with the touch-buttons theme all VW ID cars seem to go with that I’ve read suck balls, because I LOATHE touch buttons…no idea why companies are still using them despite the fact there are studies and MANY user opinions out there agreeing that they are far less efficient and easy to use. Anything I can’t just simple do/feel by muscle memory while driving without taking my eyes off the road is BS, and anything with voice commands barely works whatsoever without making constant mistakes :/
Can they just give us an the EV Buzz, but….keep it as basic as the original VW Buzz (including only actual HELPFUL safety equipment, i.e. airbags, traction control, ABS) because THAT is what I would want….none of that assisted safety stuff with cameras that slams on your brakes full-on for no reason when the sun reflects on it the wrong way :/
I even hate the capacitative touch buttons on my dryer. Did I hit the button? Did I touch it wrong? Is the dryer just refusing to acknowledge me? There’s no mechanical feedback, and the delay between touching the “button” and anything happening is just long enough to make me wonder if it worked (sometimes it doesn’t, because I touched the button wrong!) and just long enough that operating the thing is an exercise in frustration because it’s always half a beat behind what I’m trying to do. I can put up with it on an appliance that I only use a couple times a week and which I can stand in front of for as long as I need to without crashing into anything. In a car? Fuck that.
In Why We Drive, Matthew Crawford has a great related vignette where he ends up test-driving a Audi RS3.
He cites all its prodigious abilities and performance stats, but then relates how the actual driving experience left him completely annoyed. He got this vague feeling that with all the computer-mapped throttle and gearing action, the car doing was really largely controlling the experience. Sure, he was nominally driving it, but with every action he took, the car seemed to be basically telling him “we value your input and are glad you’re part of the process” as it ultimately decided the final application.
(great Autotopic book BTW)
“that I’ve read suck balls” have you actually, you know, driven a Mk8 GTI/GolfR or an ID4? How long, on average, do the writers spend in the vehicle when reviewing? Check out some Mk8 forums (or spend some time in one if you can) because most of us are just fine with the controls after a few days at most. Not a perfect car for sure but I don’t even think about the controls any longer.
Hey were the Danes smiling or laughing? There is a difference.
In all honesty, can you give us the Citroën review while we’re waiting for the VW review?
Very excited for this, just waiting on price and availability. I’m concerned this is going to be priced as a low-volume/high priced nostalgia trap rather than a production vehicle meant for dailying.
As I’ve commented often, I am in the market for a three row family hauler and would strongly prefer either a BEV or PHEV. The Pacifica and XC90 are the only options currently and both are attractive, but we’re trying to hold off as long as we can in the hopes of some market cooling off. The release date of the buzz is going to be hard to wait for, and I’m not 100% jazzed about buying a launch edition of anything, but on paper this ticks all our boxes.
I want to know how many baguettes you can fit in the VW. Seriously. It’s an important metric for me.
I’m looking forward to the review. I predict that I’ll like everything but the price. To be fair I can say that about a lot of cars.
I was hoping for a 2CV review. The ID.Buzz is sad.
The only cool ID car that actually looked both fun and as good or better than the original was the ID.Buggy, then VW canceled it.
Too bad. The 2CV is a wonderful little niche automobile. A VW bus is a appliance.
Watch for the Bus review on BestBuy. “The cord is kind of short and it took forever to recharge.”
I just don’t see this VW going anywhere.
For one, VW’s jumping on the ‘retrocool’ bandwagon more than 20 years too late. Retro is not cool right now. Not even VW retro. If it was, the New Beetle wouldn’t have been canned.
Two, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a minivan. Americans hate minivans currently. The only people buying minivans are parents with 3+ kids who can’t afford whatever 3-row SUV is necessary to keep up with the Joneses these days. “But Chrysler sold 98,323 Pacificas in 2021! That’s a lot!” 98k is a lot by itself. Until you find out they sold 264,444 Grand Cherokees in 2021, an increase of 54,658 from 2021. Plus 65,935 Durangos, 2,675 Grand Wagoneers, and 5,439 Wagoneers.
Over 3 million SUVs sold in 2021. Who wants to guess how many minivans were sold across all makes and models including commercial only sales in 2021?
Anyone who had 310,000 or just 10% of SUV sales step right up for your prize!
Three, they can’t make enough and it’s not priced low enough. Allegedly they sold out at just 10,000 orders. See above re minivan sales. They allegedly sold out at less than half the Kia Carnivals sold for all of 2021. And it’s expensive as fuck – over $45,000 without ADM in the US, and nearly £60k in the UK (great job with Brexit, morons.)
People who want a ‘cute retro toy’ can’t afford that shit. Part of what made the PT Cruiser successful besides it’s charm and obvious utility was it’s price. You could get into a PT Cruiser for less than an inflation adjusted $26k – cheaper than the average used car price.
And four? The ID.Buzz completely and utterly fails the utility test; the charm will wear off in a matter of weeks. It only has a 260 mile range – that’s it. Forget road tripping, which is what a lot of customers eyeing these are taking into consideration. They’re not buying these to haul kids. They want a ‘modern’ VW microbus and a lot of them are going to be people who already own the original. And this definitely ain’t it.
I see this having a very, very short production run with low numbers and sales cratering in year two. (Especially with the bullshit VW dealers love to pull.)
Hey Root! Haven’t seen you in a while.
Anywho, it’ll sell as much as they can make.
1) They, along with everyone else, are going to have production constrained by battery-availability, so it’s not like they’ll have huge numbers to move anyway.
2) I, and I am sure many other yuppies, want an EV but need/want 3-rows. What options are there? The Tesla’s 3rd rows are a joke, except for the Model X ($121k). Rivian will some day come out with the R1S (if they don’t go bust first, $78k). The only real competitor will be the Kia EV9 ($50k?).
The Kia EV9 will win because:
2) Likely more range (300ish?)
3) 800v architecture means quicker charging (Max 350w vs. Buzz’s 170w)
However, since Kia will also be production constrained, I feel a lot of people will “settle” on the Buzz rather than wait. Also, VW is making moves to get batteries from Canada, so should qualify for more EV subsidies than the Kia.
If they were to bring the cargo version to the US I think it would do really well. There isn’t anything in that mid size work van niche in the EV market with any kind of decent range so it would fit in. So long as they don’t make the Lightning mistake and decide to force maximum options for higher profits. There is a huge market for a basic work truck/van and an affordable, 200+ range, EV in that area would sell like crazy. I would buy 2.
Man…I have no enthusiasm for this van. VW has been trotting it out for 20 years now and it just never shows up at dealers. There seems to be a relationship of VW getting bad press about something and a big press to-do about this bus; “oh look, we are really cool.” Reality, VW is the Snidley Whiplash of car companies, more big fines and lying staining their floors. There is a stupid amount of nostalgia going on here. Broadloaf vans where death traps. You had almost 2mm of metal protecting you in any collision, lousy brakes, bad handling, noisy and so underpowered they where called “moving guardrails.” As a kid, Ralph Nader came out with his rant selecting the Corvair as the poster child of the death car, kind of missed the mark, the VW van was really the silhouette he should have been shooting at. Not speaking from a vacuum, owned a couple…garbage. This van; be lucky to live so long for it to be released in the USA, unless VW pulls off a bigger screw job than Dieselgate. Totally right about showing it next to a 2VC, itself a legendary death trap. My wife had a group of friend killed in one of those at university in Grenoble, France. It was a totally survivable accident in any rational car.
It seems clear that this is being produced, regardless of the prior concepts, and will meet all current safety standards, even if its forebear was unsafe.
Yeah, I always kind of cringe when I see people put souped-up VW or Subaru engines in old Type 2s. These were vehicles designed before crash tests were really a thing and to have at most 40 HP. It’s a lot like the guys who shoved SB Chevys into Vegas–they were never intended to handle that kind of power.
20 years in the making 10+ being electric concepts. VW needs to get these tot he public much faster. I am sad they went for the 70’s for the front end treatment. the 60’s deep V is more attractive and iconic for sure
It’s been 20 years, why would they suddenly need to move quicker?
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I want a hybrid LWB version. Not ready to take the plunge into EVs yet and I think the hype train has put the cart before the charging infrastructure horse. Alas, corporations have found a cash cow and there’s no going back.
Alas the platform isn’t designed for hybrid drivetrains. Not that there wouldn’t be a market for them.
Jason, I’ll buy you a train ticket to Kalamazoo and plenty of Two Hearted if you want to write a review of my 2CV.
And after that we could go,for a spin in my ‘74 Javelin. ????
We all know it’s a ploy to kidnap Torch and keep him in your collection.
I love my 2CV and always look forward to reading articles about them!!!
Some questions about the Buzz:
1. Did VW make the infotainment easier for Luddites to use?
2. Can it fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood in back?
5. How is visibility to the sides and rear?
3. Can it hold a shrubbery and associated shrubbery planting tools?
+1 for 4×8 fitting in the back. This (and not having AWD) are pretty much my only complaints about my Transit Connect
++1 on the plywood. Or, really, just a floorspace measurement. Makers post the cargo capacity in cubic feet, but that isn’t really what we need. What we want to know is the cargo floor area and dimensions of the door openings. Oh, and can you make the floor flat?
I drive a 2006 Grand Caravan with Sto-N-Go seats that fold into the floor and it will hold many sheets of plywood and will drive it until the wheels fall off or something better comes along, and I just replaced the wheels.
Keep in mind that this is the short wheelbase version, so cargo volume on US spec models should be about one foot longer.
“3. Can it hold a shrubbery and associated shrubbery planting tools?”
Are you some sort of shrubber? Next you’ll tell me you cut down the mightiest tree in the forest using a herring!
I saw an ID Buzz next to an old VW Bus on display in Berlin recently and I was very impressed – bigger and more handsome in person than I thought it would be. I’m excited about the lwb version, even if it’s highly unlikely that I’d ever buy one.
Looking forward to the Citroen review.
Why not both ¯\_( ͡❛ ͜ʖ ͡❛)_/¯ ?
I have an illogical love for the ID Buzz. I think it’s an absolutely perfect design that looks modern but keeps enough of the cues that made the older VW vans so damn charming. It’s just a cheerful, timeless design that says “hop in friend let’s go have some fun!”
As I’ve said a bunch here already, we have enough angry grayscale cars. More colorful cars that don’t take themselves too seriously are a welcome addition…although if I recall correctly this thing is going to be expensive when it comes stateside. It seems like every desirable EV these days is going to come in at $50,000+ unless you’re willing to buy the least powerful variant…which I personally am not.
My wife and I are definitely EV curious, but due to the current infrastructure limitations and the 300+ mile road trips we have to take a few times a year it would be hard for us to make one work…especially in the price range I listed above. We could definitely make it work, but making it work with the current constraints doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
*we could definitely make it work financially
It’s gong to be over $50K. I wanted one, but got a hybrid Maverick instead.
Hard to argue with a Maverick. That truck ticks a lot of boxes. If they ever come up with a Raptor variant I’m going to be pretty tempted…c‘mon Ford, drop the Focus RS’ 2.3 liter in there already. You know you want to!
A phev sounds like the best thing for you then. We have the Chrysler pacifica hybrid and it’s great. We don’t use gas everyday and can still take long road trips.
Right you are. We’ll be looking at PHEVs when it’s time for her next car in a few years. Hopefully there’s a PHEV Palisade by then…because that’s the car she’s decided she wants and I’m definitely not going to try to talk her out of it because that platform seems amazing…plus being a two Hyundai house is going to make service and maintenance pretty easy.
I too like the design. It’s contemporary with retro elements, rather than an attempt to create a modern version of an old car. Maybe it’s just me, but the nostalgia thing is, if you’ll pardon this, getting old.
EV-ification is the perfect time to break with this.
It’ll be interesting when kids in the future talk about the designs of their now classics in their holographic chat rooms…”yeah the must-have automotive designs of the 2010s were often notable for being designs from the 1960s”.
Agreed. I personally find the outright nostalgia-grab type designs are getting a little long in the tooth. The S-197 Mustang is what I consider to be ground zero for the “make everything look old” design trend and it was unveiled in 2004. The Camaro/Challenger then jumped in to ride that wave too and really haven’t changed much at all (or in the Challengers case, at all) since. I mean, I thought all that stuff was cool as hell when it dropped but I was also a teenager. Plus now those cars are absolutely everywhere…although the Camaro chassis is every bit as good as it’s hyped up to be.
I just think it’s kind of lazy and cynical at a certain point, not to mention regressive. I think VW and fellow VAG family member Porsche do an amazing job of just what you mentioned-contemporary design with retro elements…and although it may seem a bit hypocritical based on what I said above, I do think the current Bronco is great looking car that did the same thing. It’s a modern design with tasteful nods to the past.
It’s funny that you hit on what I’d been mulling of late, that good use of old design cues is kinda like art…it’s hard to define exactly what it is, but you know it when you see it?
I too like the Bronco design (both of them), but I have a relative with an S-197 and I feel exactly that way about it – that it’s just too self-consciously trying to scream “remember Mustangs from the ’60s! Ford does!”
All indications are that pricing will be in the ballpark of the competition, if you think of the competition as loaded minivans.