Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept: specs and review

We get behind the wheel of the electric Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept for the first time at Pebble Beach

The Volkswagen ID. Buggy electric concept has made its off-road debut, ahead of an appearance at the famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event in Monterey, California.

The German carmaker says the purpose of the ID. Buggy is to demonstrate the flexibility of its new MEB platform, which the company hopes will be suitable for both mass-production and low-volume electric vehicles. The platform will underpin the carmaker’s forthcoming electric range, including the ID. hatchbackID. Crozz SUV and ID. Buzz minibus.

Volkswagen ID. Buggy performance

The Volkswagen ID. Buggy is powered by a 202bhp electric motor, mounted at the back for rear-wheel drive. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 7.2 seconds, with the top speed limited to 99mph.

The battery is a 62kWh unit – the same size expected in the top-spec ID.3 hatchback – and Volkswagen says it'll deliver a range of 155 miles on the WLTP test cycle.

No charging information has been revealed, but if the ID. Buggy were to offer the same 125kW rapid charging capability expected on the ID.3, a 0-80% top up would take no more than 45 minutes using a CCS connector.

Volkswagen ID. Buggy design

Volkswagen says the ID. Buggy has been inspired by American dune buggies of the 1960s and 1970s, which were often built on the chassis and running gear of the popular Beetle.

However, these buggies weren’t a Volkswagen creation: the idea was conceived by Californian engineer Bruce Meyers, who shortened the Beetle’s chassis, bolted on a fibreglass body, tuned the engine and added chunky tyres for better off-road ability.

Put into production in kit form as the Meyers Manx, the buggy was very successful – especially in desert racing – until the company folded in 1971.

In the present day, the ID. Buggy concept aims to recapture the original’s sense of fun: the body is made from just two fibreglass panels, with a roll hoop offering protection to occupants in the event of the Buggy overturning. A detachable canopy offers some protection from the elements, although the doors remain open at all times.

The ID. Buggy rides on 18-inch wheels, with BF Goodrich off-road tyres giving the concept a good deal of go-anywhere pedigree. Meanwhile, the absence of a grille at the front – together with LED highlights and split-tone paint job – should make its electric status obvious to onlookers.

"A buggy is more than a car," Volkswagen’s head designer Klaus Bischoff told us at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019. "It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels. These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create."

Inside, the panel that forms the nose of the ID. Buggy creates a deep storage shelf under the windscreen. Unlike most modern cars, there’s no infotainment system: instead, Bluetooth connectivity allows a smartphone to be connected to the car’s speakers.

Audio playback is controlled by touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel. Meanwhile, a digital driver’s display shows the vehicle’s speed, with column stalks operating the indicators, lights and drive mode selector; Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park settings are offered.

Elsewhere, there’s a zipped cubby for small items in the centre of the footwell, with a larger storage area in the rear for bigger items. The seats are made from a waterproof material so they can be hosed down after muddy off-roading, with drainage holes in the floor to allow water to escape from the cabin.

Volkswagen ID. Buggy concept review

Ahead of the Volkswagen ID. Buggy making its public debut at Pebble Beach, we were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the concept for the first time.

Rather than borrowing heavily from a Beetle, the Buggy looks to the future; it's based on Volkswagen’s MEB electric-car platform, which will form the basis of the ID.3 hatchback, the Skoda Vision iV SUV and many more electric vehicles besides.

The MEB architecture is so promising that Ford has bought access to it for its own forthcoming electric cars.

The purpose of the ID. Buggy is to demonstrate just how flexible MEB can be, which is why Volkswagen has – for now, at least – not committed to selling the Buggy to the public.

Our test car was limited to running at just over 20mph, but it still managed to recreate the wind-in-the-hair thrills of its predecessor. The steering – also taken from the ID.3 – is light and precise, while the familiar electric-car trait of instant acceleration features, too.

Meanwhile, the ride is soft and adept at soaking up bumps in the road, although we would like to have seen what it was capable of on rougher terrain. Volkswagen says it could add a second 100bhp motor to the front axle to provide four-wheel drive, which would boost the ID. Buggy’s off-road credentials considerably.

For the time being, Volkswagen is focused on making the ID.3 hatchback a success, although there are signs the company is warming to the idea of making the ID. Buggy concept a reality.

As it did with e.GO Mobile earlier this year, Volkswagen is open to licensing out production to a third party, which means we could see the Buggy – or something very like it – go on sale in the mid-2020s.

It all depends on whether there’s a viable market for the car. We can only hope that there is, because from behind the wheel, the ID. Buggy feels ready to go in almost every respect.