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Long-term review

Volkswagen ID. Buzz - long term review

Price: £62,995/£66,607/£680pcm
Published: 08 Jan 2024

Volkswagen ID. Buzz vs VW California T6: which is more practical?

The Buzz is fashionable, yes. But I bought it to do a job. You may remember that back in report three I was debating whether to part-ex my T6 for the Buzz. I didn’t for two reasons: the trade-in price wasn’t quite good enough and – much more importantly – I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced the Buzz was going to do the job we needed it to.

Which was fill the hole the T6 would have left. Initially it did. New car thrills meant few miles going on it, so it was doing local trips, walks, days out and doing those way better than the T6. To drive it really is a generation or three on from VW’s van: smoother, far better riding, way more refined and comfortable. Effortless, where the T6 makes a fuss. And that’s just the way it goes down a road. Electric thrashes diesel in every situation from acceleration and silence to ease of use.

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But not economy. I know, hard to compare the two here, so let’s say this. I’ve long been surprised and impressed how efficient the T6’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel is compared to almost all comparable SUVs. We average about 37mpg. The Buzz, in the chill winter months earlier this year, was averaging about 1.8mpkWh. And that meant that even charging at home it was costing me about 18.9 pence per mile to run the Buzz, and only a fraction more (19.5ppm) for the T6.

The range (we were looking at 140-150 miles in winter) didn’t actually phase me – we’ve used electric cars on several family trips and never (touch wood) come completely unstuck. That wasn’t the deal breaker. The main issue we have with the Buzz is inside. It’s small where the T6 is massive, and it’s just not creative enough.

Size first. Basically the T6 is 50 per cent bigger inside. If you stripped out all the seats, it would have a rear compartment volume of just under six cubic metres (6,000 litres). The Buzz is about four cubic metres. In raw terms that’s a big difference. Outwardly the size difference doesn’t fully explain that. The T6 is 200mm longer and 100mm taller, the Buzz the same amount wider. What’s different is how thick and chunky the Buzz’s monocoque frame is. This is what gives it its refinement, stiffness and low background noise levels, but it means less interior volume.

Next, creativity. What I mean by that is layout flexibility and versatility. This is a Buzz weak point. It’s merely a five seat MPV. The rear bench is split 60:40 and each side slides a little and folds, but that’s it. My T6 is a Cali Beach – it’s a camper with a pop-up roof, but none of the built in stuff: sink, fridge, stove, cupboards and so on. It’s got a bench in the back, which slides about a metre depending on whether you want boot space, legroom or bed space. There are lockers and lights and sockets. It’s useful. The rear cabin can be – and frequently is – a changing room, bedroom, chillout zone, dining room etc. Yes, both have giant rear tailgates that double as shelters when it rains, but only one has two removable folding chairs hidden in its bootlid. And a picnic table in its side door. This is the clever thinking I hoped would be front and centre in the Buzz, and yet VW chose to skip all of it, do nothing to make the rear environment as cleverly detailed as the front. That remains a huge miss.

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Yes, VW announced a LWB Buzz back in the summer. It’s 250mm longer. That’s not enough. The LWB T6 van gains 400mm. That makes a difference. I suspect the designers would only stretch it as far as they wanted, which is probably not as far as customer research told them to. It gets an extra row of seats, but that still makes it a people mover, not a versatile van.

And it’s the latter that I want and need. I still think the Buzz has a great role to play and makes for far more interesting, sunny and fun family transport than any SUV. I still love it. But I’ve had to face facts – it doesn’t do the job our T6 van does. I always knew I wouldn’t be able to camp in it, but I had hoped it would work as a day van, doing beach trips, going mountain biking, festivals and so on. It’s just not clever enough. And the result of all this is that the T6 stays, and the Buzz goes.

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