Top Gear Garage: the VW ID Buzz has finally arrived in right-hand-drive
“Um, I’m not quite sure how to tell you this, but…”
As opening gambits go, this is rarely a good one. It’s usually pursued by such phrases as “…your cat went fishing in a food blender” or “…that looks like triplets to me”. It precedes something improbable. Which, come to think of it, this was.
But first I need to rewind. My order for an ID.Buzz is in, the dealer has two £1000 chunks of deposit – one placed in March last year, the other in July. In with the second went our chosen spec: 1st Edition, yellow ‘n’ white ice cream van. And then you’re basically in a holding pattern, awaiting the delivery of your new car. And no-one knows when this might be.
This is when the rumour mill spools up. On the forums, social media, from the dealership, whispers from VW UK, friends in the trade – I get it from every corner. And what it mostly says is two things: right hand-drive orders have been put back so the production line can focus on left hookers. And VW is having issues painting the two-tone cars.
During Sept and Oct I get updates from the dealership, Marshall van centre in Reading. The best guidance they have is delivery around Easter/spring 2023. But outside of this other stuff is happening. Global media finally drive the Buzz in August (ahem, five months after TopGear’s world exclusive), and that means the hype train departs the station, destination sales frenzy.
I’m reliably informed by the dealership that the waiting list now extends almost two years. They tell me this, because as you might remember, I’m not fully convinced the ID.Buzz is the car my family need it to be.
Originally my plan had been to part exchange my five year old VW T6 Cali Beach against the Buzz, but now I was less convinced. Here’s why: back during the heady staycation days of 2021, VW camper vans had been all the rage. When mine had gone in for its MOT, the salesman jumped on me. Would I sell it? Depends, I replied. Then he mentioned a figure that was more than I’d paid for it when it was sixth months old, over 4 years and 40,000 miles earlier.
Bloody hell. I didn’t sell it then because all I’d have wanted was another. But I’m anticipating similarly good news now. The offer has dropped eight grand. Ouch. Post-Covid travel has come back, demand has ebbed. He apologises, but even after the ‘phone call to his manager’, £34k is the best he can do. Pragmatically speaking, that’s still a brilliant offer. Five years and 50,000 miles of use and I’ve only lost five grand. I’ve said this before when people have questioned why we have a VW van as our family car instead of an SUV or estate, but they hold their value like nothing else. And they’re just more fun to use. But I know I can do better privately. And because I’m still not sure the Buzz is right for us, I want the T6 to hang around.
The question is for how long. Which brings me back to where we came in. It’s the 19 December 2022. The phone rings. It’s Marshall van centre: “er, I’m not quite sure how to tell you this, but… your Buzz is going to be here next week.”
Improbable, but emphatically good news. It turns out that a few transporter loads of Buzz versions in RHD have snuck through much earlier than expected, and mine – despite the two tone paint – is one of them.
So on 28 December we trot excitedly off to Reading and come home with our new Buzz. Quite the Christmas present. It’s not entirely plain sailing. I don’t know if you’re aware of why car firms do these first edition batches, but it’s not just so the early adopters get something special. It also helps the production line get up to speed by building cars that are near identical. They’ll have some options, but equally they won’t have others. And I’ve failed to spot that the Buzz 1st Editions don’t have electric sliding side doors or an electric tailgate. How did I miss that? It’s not that I mind doing the manual labour, it’s that I wanted this to have all the luxury bits and it doesn’t.
It's a little bit of grit in the oyster of a car that otherwise looks utterly brilliant. Sure, it’s saddled with VW’s sluggish infotainment, and that’s likely to cause issues down the line, but right now it’s the brightest, most cheerful means of transport around.