A great many buyers will look to the interior of the ID Buzz for a return on the car’s high showroom price by way of space and versatility. And in some respects they’ll find both, but VW certainly hasn’t thrown very many added-practicality features in here as standard.
For now, the Buzz is a strict five-seater with an open floor. VW offers a removable centre console called the Buzz Box, which fixes to the floor via four clips. Our test car didn’t have it, but that left the way clear to pass easily from the front to the back row of seats – a welcome route of egress for those in the front, since the sheer width of the Buzz can leave you with little space to open the front doors when parked in a typical parking bay (where the sliding rear passenger doors can often be opened much more easily).
It’s a sizeable step up into the driver’s seat, in which you sit bent-legged and upright, with plenty of room around you and generous head room in particular. Visibility is good and seat comfort is likewise. VW’s choice of lighter cabin materials (synthetic leather is used in place of the real thing, and recycled plastics and textiles are adopted where possible) confounds the workaday ambience you might be expecting. Cabin storage is moderately well provided but isn’t as abundant as it might be (likewise to avoid that van vibe, we would guess; no newspapers or tools kept on the upper dashboard, please).
The instrumentation and secondary controls are adequately well thought out, if a little odd. The downsized digital instrument screen behind the steering wheel gives you just enough information about speed, remaining range and assisted driving systems settings, although it could certainly do that at a more easily readable scale.
The transmission controls, meanwhile, are on the right-hand indicator stalk – another slightly regrettable decision, because if they had been accommodated on a controller of their own (on the side of that instrument binnacle for example, as they are on an ID 3), then operating the wipers, indicators and lights might have felt more intuitive. As it is, it all takes just a little relearning.
In the back, the second-row seats slide and recline, but they don’t tumble forwards and they can’t be removed. Neither can the front seats spin around like captain’s chairs. All tricks missed, in our jury’s collective view.
In the cargo bay, available space is pretty generous, but folding the rear seats only gives you a fully flat loading area by virtue of the removable ‘multi-flex’ boot board, which effectively raises the boot floor. You can load beneath this, but leave it in place and you’ll only have the accessible maximum loading height (for the easy carrying of bulky outdoor equipment, for instance) of a big SUV.
The strengths and irritations of Volkswagen’s Discover Pro navigation and infotainment system are now well known to the Autocar road test team; in one form or another, it has probably appeared in 20% of our road test subjects over the past two years. In the ID Buzz, it comes with a three-year We Connect Plus data connection for music streaming, connected destination searching and smartphone-based app functionality. Wireless device charging is standard, likewise wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
The system remains distracting to use, the menu shortcut buttons under the screen being a poor substitute for a proper manual input device and the ‘haptic slider’ ventilation and volume controls proving unintuitive and impossible to find after dark. A cursor controller on the steering wheel spokes would make a big difference, would be easy to fit and would reduce the time you spend with an arm outstretched, groping for the function you need.