I didn’t think Volkswagen had unveiled a campervan version of the Buzz yet?
You would be correct in your assumption there. Volkswagen is taking things slow with the ID. Buzz. The concept was first shown at the start of 2017, but it wasn’t until March 2022 that the production version was unveiled to the world.
The Cargo van arrived shortly after and then the wraps came off the seven-seat, long-wheelbase version in June 2023. We’re yet to see the confirmed GTX iteration though which we know will use a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain with 334bhp, and perhaps more importantly we’re yet to see a proper ID. Buzz California campervan.
So, what am I looking at here?
Well, this is an ID. Buzz campervan, but it began life as an ID. Buzz Cargo before being converted to mobile home spec by East Sussex-based company Love Campers. Fun fact: it was actually the very first Buzz-with-a-bed available for hire in the UK through electric camper hire business Wild Drives, although it has since been sold as the firm refreshes its fleet.
I see, so what was done to it in the conversion?
Plenty. Up in the front seats it’s pretty much Buzziness as usual (sorry), with the standard Cargo’s black plastic dash, rubber floor and laggy infotainment screen. But in the rear, you get a space-saving pull-out slat bed, a little kitchenette, laminate flooring and a bamboo roof. There are solar panels up top too which feed power into a 200Ah lithium leisure battery.
There isn’t a pop-top roof though. That’s because – when compared to something like the VW Transporter – there just isn’t the same catalogue of crash-tested, off-the-shelf parts for camper converters to use on the Buzz as of yet.
Still, Love Campers reckons on a four-week turnaround to go from cargo van to campervan. Not bad at all.
How many people will it sleep?
Great question. This short-wheelbase Buzz is smaller than a Transporter but bigger than a long-wheelbase Caddy – two staples of the campervan conversion market. It also comes with the two-seat option up front, which is lucky because you’ll only just squeeze two people into the small double bed. If you had the three-abreast seating up front you’d need to think about drawing straws to decide which unlucky chuck would be sleeping outside in a tent.
The bed itself is remarkably easy to set up and put away again though, and there’s plenty of storage space underneath.
Is it a comfortable living area?
Without the pop-top there isn’t any standing room in the Buzz, and because the battery is mounted under the floor there isn’t actually a huge amount of headroom when you’re sitting on the bench seat in the back. Some swivelling brackets for the front seats and an external awning would make a big difference, but at this moment in time we’d probably hold off for a long-wheelbase version just to get that bit more space.
There’s everything you need for proper off-grid camping back here though, and on a decent day the 110 watt solar panels will keep the leisure battery topped up nicely.
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What gadgets are there?
Well, you get LED lighting in your living area and USB/three-pin sockets aplenty. In terms of kitchen appliances, you get a decent sized fridge, an induction hob that runs using an inverter so there’s no need for gas, and a sink with a 20-litre water tank.
Does all of that affect my range?
Nope. The Buzz’s 77kWh drive battery is left well alone, so all of the extra bits run solely off the leisure battery. With the extra weight on board you’re unlikely to reach the WLTP mileage of 256 miles, but you can reckon on at least 200 miles on a single charge which is well ahead of most all-electric camper conversions. Plus, you get the benefits of the Buzz’s 170kW DC rapid charging, meaning a five to 80 per cent top up only takes 30 minutes if you find the right charger.
Does the conversion affect the way it drives?
You can certainly feel the weight when you try to slow the thing down, but in an EV your driving style changes anyway so that you’re slowing more gradually and using regen rather than actual pad on disc friction.
And with 204bhp powering the rear wheels, instant torque on tap and a standard 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds, campervans can keep up with traffic and even overtake. It’s a whole new world people.
Anything else I need to know?
If you’re thinking about converting an ID. Buzz into a campervan, get ready to attract some serious attention. Park up at your pitch and you’ll have a steady stream of Transporter owners eager to ask questions and have a poke around. We shouldn’t forget that the Buzz still looks fantastic even in boggo Cargo spec.
Electric vans make great campervans too, with plenty of torque able to mask the weight of a kitchen, bedroom and a load of camping gear, plus the ability to run the car’s own heating systems without leaving an engine idling. And you’ve got a kettle on hand to make a quick brew while charging.
We’d wait for a bigger Buzz or include a proper pop-top roof if we were converting our own new-age VW to create some more living and sleeping space, but it’s good news for conversion companies that the Buzz Cargo offers a decent base to start from. Maybe we don’t need to wait for VW’s all-electric California after all.