Out of all of the occasions I had the pleasure of attending at Monterey Automobile Week and Pebble Seaside – every week crammed with priceless classics, beautiful hypercars, and the type of rarities that give automotive fanatics palpitations – I wasn’t anticipating a vibrant inexperienced electrical prototype to be essentially the most memorable. I acquired an opportunity to take the VW ID Buggy for a spin, and it’s truthful to say it left a long-lasting impression.
There was no scarcity of competitors for that, thoughts. It was every week of unforgettable check drives, the truth is. I acquired behind the wheel of the Karma Revero GT prototype after which rode shotgun round Laguna Seca in an Audi R8 LMS GT2 with nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen. I inform you that to make it abundantly clear that the week was completely not in need of pace or star high quality.
We acquired our first glimpse of the VW ID Buggy on the Geneva Motor Present earlier this 12 months. On the coronary heart of the VW ID Buggy is Volkswagen’s formidable MEB electrical platform, however its soul is that of a modernized Meyers Manx dune buggy. Longer and wider than the unique automotive, true, however the identical pared-back, pure targeted ethos.
The day did its finest to dampen my enthusiasm. Monterey in August is usually all sunshine to go along with automotive week’s shrimp, however once I arrived on the VW drive – staged in a parking zone alongside the seaside – the climate had turned for the more serious. Clouds rolled in with excessive winds, however I wasn’t about to let depressing climate smash my enjoyable.
There was a ray of sunshine to assist me there, too. Sitting inside a VW Atlas, admiring his creation – a purple Manx dune buggy – was Mr. Bruce Meyers, 93-years younger and in excessive spirits. We had a couple of nice exchanges, reminiscing again on the nice previous days of the Meyers Manx. “I can’t consider they sought me out to remake this factor,” he instructed me, humbly.
I’m glad they did. VW didn’t replicate the Manx, however as an alternative took the core idea of the buggy and remodeled it right into a minimalist canvas for anybody who may care to construct it out. The Manx has a VW Beetle engine mounted within the rear, whereas the ID Buggy has the identical structure with a rear-mounted electrical motor.
“It’s an idea automotive that’s based mostly on VW’s MEB electrical platform,” Mark Gillie, Sr. Supervisor, Product & Expertise Communications at VW of America defined, as we climbed throughout the ID Buggy’s excessive sills and into the spartan inside. Neither precisely an idea nor a correct prototype, Volkswagen remains to be unclear if this automotive is meant for manufacturing. “Our purpose for doing the Buggy was to indicate that you are able to do some bizarre stuff,” Mark joked. “The MEB platform isn’t just about rational automobiles.”
If the retro styling cues are any indication, that is going to be a enjoyable check drive, even when my check automobile is restricted to below 30 mph. The ID Buggy packs a 64-kWh battery pack below the ground, good for 155 miles of vary based mostly on European WLTP testing. The official US EPA numbers shall be decrease than that, however this automotive shouldn’t be about lengthy street journeys in the identical method that Oxfords usually are not appropriate for working.
With a single electrical motor powering the rear wheels, the ID Buggy makes good use of the obtainable 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. It accelerates briskly and immediately with a prod of the pedal, and that is with RWD. I can solely think about what a correct all-wheel drivetrain might do to the identical type of automotive.
“The MEB structure is versatile sufficient that we are able to do an all-wheel-drive model with 302 horsepower and 60:40 break up between entrance and rear,” Gillies identified. “As an organization, we’re wanting if we are able to get exterior firms taken with utilizing the MEB structure to drive the volumes up. And clearly, the factor with electrical is the extra quantity you get, and the associated fee will come down for the batteries as a result of the costliest factor in an electrical automotive is the batteries.”
With that, you possibly can consider the VW ID Buggy as a case examine or an experiment, if you’ll. Volkswagen is placing on a contemporary face by introducing a brand new company emblem on the Frankfurt Motor Present in September, and I can consider no higher strategy to specific this variation than by exhibiting what the German carmaker is able to with its modular MEB platform.
Make no mistake about it, the VW ID Buggy appears to be like, drives, and feels very very similar to an idea at this stage. The steering really feel is somewhat lifeless, and the trip a bit uneven. Nevertheless, all these points are turned to naught because the wind comes dashing in your face at 25 mph. It’s enjoyable, visceral, thrilling, and high-tech all on the similar time.
Residing in Phoenix, aside from the scorching summer season warmth, the climate is just about wonderful all year long. I can see myself having a blast in a manufacturing model of the ID Buggy – particularly if the value is saved fairly low. And, being a mother or father of two women on the age of six and 9, I can’t consider a extra enjoyable automobile to chauffeur them to high school, dance courses, gymnastics, or perhaps a film on the drive-in (if solely these had been nonetheless round).
In brief, all of the highlights of an EV are there: punchy acceleration, quiet drivetrain, and a contemporary really feel. However, not like different EVs, I’m driving the ID Buggy with no roof, no correct doorways, and no rear seats. All that provides as much as a singular expertise, one not like I’ve ever felt earlier than. And with the eye-popping electrical inexperienced paint job, the VW ID Buggy garnered sufficient approval and ‘likes’ on social media.
In reality, my co-pilot and I had been grinning ear to ear contained in the ID Buggy. Essentially the most wonderful factor is the grins of individuals waving at us as we handed by, their smiles as extensive because the idea’s frog-like face. Prompting that type of response is a tough factor to do within the face of hyper-exclusive exotica just like the Bugatti La Voiture Noire and Lamborghini Aventador SVJ63 Roadster lining up the fairways.
“I’ve been right here for the final day and a half, so it’s not precisely shabby being by the ocean in Pebble Seaside,” commented Mark of VW, as I pulled over close to the tip of my check drive. “However enjoying round with the ID Buggy and our Meyers Manx is fairly good enjoyable.”
To that, I’ve to agree wholeheartedly.
After returning the ID Buggy again safely, I wasted no time climbing into the Manx. Surrounded by classic automobiles price more cash than my home, I felt like I used to be having rather more enjoyable driving this factor. The four-speed guide gearbox was an absolute pleasure, although at first, I used to be considerably terrified of presumably breaking the darn factor – or, worse but, stalling in entrance of the watchful eyes of the sizable crowds lined up alongside the aspect of the street.
“Preserve revving it, rev it up,” Mark exclaimed, and that’s precisely what I did. If I’m being utterly trustworthy, it was 100 instances extra enjoyable driving the Manx than the ID Buggy, not least as a result of there was no pesky pace limiter kicking in to spoil issues simply as they began getting good.
All the identical, it’s clear that the ID Buggy represents one thing massive and vital for Volkswagen. Whereas its manufacturing destiny might not but be determined, the automaker has given the green-light to one thing nearly as sudden, within the form of the ID BUZZ electric Microbus. That stands out as a four-wheeled flight of fancy in a sea of earnest EVs and offers me hope that as critical as VW could also be about its electrical future, it’s additionally prepared to “hold revving it” in relation to automobiles that stir the soul.