Everyone remembers the original Volkswagen Campervan, Minibus, Transporter, Type 2, to pick just three of its names.
I say remembers, but some of its adopted keepers may not remember it because of, let’s say, recreational substances they might have been using, in fact they probably forgot where they parked it after a sit-down Peace and Love protest. When asked where they’d left it, the only answer they could come up with was ‘far out man’.
I do remember it of course; in fact, I recall sliding in behind the wheel a few years back. It was hilarious! You sit upright, legs pretty much tucked in, with essentially a thin bit of metal and glass separating you from the road ahead. Not that it was a concern, as you never went much faster than brisk walking pace. Speed didn’t matter, and didn’t detract from the fun factor; even as you crunched your way through the gears you grinned a silly grin, because driving one was just joyous.
70 years apart and the new version looks a lot like that groovy original. The bus is back, except it’s bigger obviously (and there’s an even bigger long-wheelbase available soon). And it’s sophisticated. A lot more sophisticated. It’s like comparing the Soyuz capsule to the Starship Enterprise. And while it might not have dilithium crystals powering it, it does have an electric drivetrain.
But before we get into that, lets tackle the styling. And it took me all of two skips of a heartbeat to fall for it. The styling is spot on. Evocative, yet futuristic, distinctive, fun, exciting. If I could level a criticism at it, and it’s more fanciful than actually functional, it needs a bigger front VW roundel, much bigger. Make it huge!
Because of the nature of what it is, there’s a high level of configurability, so you can have it as a five-seater with tons of cargo space, or a seven-seater with still decent luggage room, and don’t miss the mini depictions of the same vehicle engraved into the interior rear sides. An adorable little touch.
It’s spacious, it’s comfortable and again in contrast to its ancestor, sitting in the driver’s seat is less like squeezing into the economy seats on a budget airliner and more akin to Captain Kirk’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise.
And rather than butting up against the front, the huge windscreen stretches way out into the horizon. Select drive on the stalk, snap open the throttle and it would blow the original into the weeds. It’s on par with modern vehicles of this type, however it’s a little pedestrian compared to its EV brethren. And that’s probably a good thing. You don’t want your passengers pinned to the back window under full throttle, throwing up over those cute etchings.
There’s about 200bhp and 310Nm of torque going through the rear wheels. It can sprint from rest to 62mph in about 10.2 seconds and reach about 90mph. Claimed range is 255 miles
So, I resolved to take it for a gentle cruise along the closed loop of twisty tarmac where I tested it. And initially if feels I’m rewarded with an easy drive, despite the van-like footprint of this thing – it’s marketed not by VW passenger cars, but by its Commercial Vehicles department.
It’s quiet too, refined and the ride’s not at all bad, considering the batteries are housed in the floor, typically making electric cars a little too rigid. And you’d expect that maybe a stiff floor would make the cabin walls a little rattly, but no chance. This thing is solid.
My resolve to keep things calm and measured dissipate when I discover it has driving modes. I select Sport, as you do. And the ID.Buzz certainly buzzes into action. It feels a little more eager, so I start to chuck it about a little.
On these roads, hurl the classic Type 2 along at these speeds, and attempt to manhandle it through the corners and you’d probably see yourself flying off the edge of a cliff shouting ‘Let your freak flag fly!’.
Something strange occurs with the ID.Buzz though, after brief initial push-on understeer, it tightens, grips and goes! It’s actually fun. Oh, what? Am I doing that silly grin thing still? I mean what’s not to like here?
Oh yes, there is one thing, something that means no actual hippy could ever conceive of ever owning one of these – and that’s the price. It starts at just under £63,000. Hence, it’s probably for hipsters rather than hippies. Bummer!