top of page

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX is here. Meet the new niche-maker

NEWS

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX is here. Meet the new niche-maker

Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX


The fully electric, retro-styled, powered-up ID. Buzz GTX could be madness or it could be a stroke of genius. Ken Pearson investigates what could be the first performance passenger van of its type, but not necessarily the first of its kind.


When RUSH founder, editor-in-chief and divine overlord Craig told me that the BMW Neue Klasse X caught his eye and that he wanted to write about the fully electric SUV, I nearly fell off my chair. So with our great leader having pushed the boundaries of topics for RUSH to cover - and indeed his interests in certain body styles of cars - I thought I’d do the same (I'm still recovering from the buyers' remorse - Craig). So, with that in mind, allow me to introduce you to an electric van from Volkswagen.


You see, vans do absolutely nothing for me other than provide a source of irritation when one with someone else’s phone number on the bodywork is sitting perilously close to my bumper. Whilst my detailed observations of panel-sided traffic tells me that the motorway speed limit for a van is 95 mph with ladder-carrying variants able to do 115, the same cannot be said for the non-commercial variants of the vans that make up the national fleet.


The Ford Transit has long since been the best-selling vehicle in the UK and in recent years, passenger vans have risen in popularity with more models coming from volume manufacturers like Citroen and Vauxhall, along with those from high-end brands like Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Five-seaters, campers, dedicated taxis and wheelchair-accessible passenger vans have all been available for a long time, but there has never been a performance-oriented van on the market, until now.



Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX

Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX


Planting the flag for Volkswagen is the ID. Buzz GTX - a fully electric van which follows the ID. 3 and ID. 7 GTX as one of the first fully electric high performance models to come from the brand. Like its car-based go-faster cousins, it benefits from performance and styling upgrades to subtly separate it from the rest of the ID. Buzz range. The front bumper is home to the GTX-specific secondary running lights in a gentle arrow shape. The black trim leading from the grille to these lights is slightly reminiscent of the Polestar 2 and Vauxhall Astra to my eye. The grille itself now has a honeycomb design, is finished in black and also plays host to the forward facing radar for adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. The standard wheels are 20” with 21” versions available.


Exterior trim, badging and mirrors are black for the GTX with the three-segment trim on the C-pillar also being darkened. A new solid paint colour called Cherry Red is available exclusively for the performance model and this can be paired with a silver upper body for a two-tone finish. Elsewhere, the van is unmistakably an ID. Buzz with the same retro-modern styling that clearly harks back to the original T1 of 1950.


The model is available in a standard or long wheelbase form with total lengths of 4.71 or 4.96 metres respectively. The standard wheelbase version can be specified as a five seater with a three-seat second row bench, or as a six seater with three rows of two seats. The long wheelbase ID. Buzz is able to have five, six, or seven seat configurations and the upholstery features microfibre seats with red piping and accents. Two batteries power the GTX with the standard wheelbase using a 79 kWh capacity unit while the long wheelbase gets an enlarged 86 kWh pack. Maximum charging inputs differ slightly with the smaller battery accepting charge at up to 185 kW with the larger battery able to take 200 kW, but both are said to have the same 26 minute 10-80% top up time when using a DC rapid charger.



Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX

Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX


Available for the long wheelbase model, the optional panoramic glass sunroof which is, unsurprisingly, the largest sunroof that Volkswagen have installed in one of their models to date, is available with electrochromic dimming - similar to Mercedes-Benz’s Magic Sky Control and Porsche’s Variable Light Control which shifts the glass from translucent to opaque at the rub of a capacitive touch sensor on the overhead switch panel.


The main infotainment display is the only thing that disturbs an otherwise flat and shelf-like dashboard and the 12.9” display is running updated hardware and software in a bid to improve usability. The bars for adjusting the air conditioning temperature and volume are now illuminated which brings the ID. Buzz in line with nearly every vehicle manufactured since backlit switches became standardised across the industry. The infotainment is also said to have a new menu navigation logic, improved graphics and faster processing power which is only a good thing - I’ve used modern Volkswagen infotainment more than a handful of times and it is capable if a bit complicated. Hopefully the improvements to the user interface, updated voice assistant and speedier computer running the show will make it easier to get the most out of.


But more importantly than the towing capacity of up to 1,800 kg, the new wheels, infotainment, driver’s display that moves with the steering column, fold-flat rear seats, removable storage compartment with one divider that doubles up as an ice scraper and one that can be used as a bottle opener, the silhouettes of the ID. Buzz being printed into the rear seat bases and the generally high-quality feeling cabin of the base model that the performance variant has to build on is the performance itself.


It’s not just a GTX-Line trim level but a performance model in its own right with some strong stats to match the beefed-up looks. For the first time, the ID. Buzz gains 4MOTION all-wheel drive owing to a motor being added to the front axle. This compliments the rear motor for a maximum output of 335 bhp and 413 lb ft (560 nm) torque and allows for a 0 - 62 mph sprint in 6.5 seconds - not bad considering that the kerb weight will be somewhere in the region of 2.5 tonnes. The top speed is limited to 100 mph and I don’t expect it to take very long to get there at all. We are waiting to see if the fitment of a telescopic ladder to the roof will raise the speed limiter by 15 mph.



Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX

Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX


There appears to be no mention of any changes to the suspension, steering or any other chassis elements for that matter, but I’m not sure how many Volkswagen ID Buzz GTXs will find themselves being used as B-road blasters or track monsters. It’s easy to dismiss the GTX as an exercise in performance over purpose or something that is totally unnecessary when you consider that the current fastest modes of transport on British roads - the commercial cousin of the passenger van - just need a 2.0 litre diesel engine to make any supercar seem slow. However, as bizarre as the very concept of the performance passenger van may seem, I think that Volkswagen may be on to something.


The commercial van segment has a few go-faster options in the form of the Ford Transit Custom and E-Transit Custom MS-RT, the Renault Trafic Sport and Volkswagen’s own Transporter 6.1 Sportline but until the launch of the ID. Buzz GTX, there has been no equivalent in the passenger van segment, or anything remotely close. Now if we think about the passenger van as what it has now become, which is the new embodiment of the MPV, it serves as the first high performance people carrier that I can think of since the Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG and the Vauxhall Zafira VXR. (I’m not counting things like the Audi SQ7 and AMG GLE 63 - they’re SUVs).


The go-faster van will go on sale in the summer of 2024 and we expect it to command a healthy premium over the current top-spec ID. Buzz Style standard wheelbase which starts at £63,000 but rises closer to £69,000 with a few option boxes ticked. Time will tell us whether Volkswagen have created a very quick white elephant or unearthed a niche that has been waiting to be tapped into for over a decade, but I think that the addition of some improved tech, extra performance and refined style of the Volkswagen ID Buzz GTX makes the well-made family hauler more interesting and appealing in equal measure - even to someone who is the polar opposite of the target market for a product like this.



Volkswagen ID. Buzz GTX


Written by

Ken Pearson

Published

19 January 2024

Last Updated

19/01/24

bottom of page