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VW ID Buggy Concept quick drive review: An EV for the dunes

Volkswagen's little green concept has dune-buggy style with an all-electric powertrain underneath.

VW ID Buggy Concept
The all-electric Buggy is ready to take on the dunes.

The Volkswagen ID Buggy stole my heart when it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show. Modeled after the Meyers Manx off-road dune buggy of the 1960s, the ID Buggy is a throwback to simpler times, but fully modernized with an all-electric powertrain. It's just a concept for now, but VW says it totally wants to bring the Buggy to production. And after a brief drive around Pebble Beach, California, last weekend, all I can say is: do it.

First, the specs: The ID Buggy has a 62-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which stores enough electricity to go about 155 miles, according to European WLTP testing. (The US-spec EPA number would be a bit lower.) That's not quite long-range EV stuff, but given the lifestyle-oriented, second-car nature of this Buggy, I think that'd be fine. Total power output is 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque, directed to the rear wheels.

Now playing: Watch this: We drive the VW ID Buggy concept

Though my drive time is spent exclusively on pavement, the ID Buggy has all the trappings of a decent off-road runner. The concept has over 9 inches of ground clearance, a front skid plate and meaty BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels. Plus, the whole cabin is waterproof, so yeah, live it up on the beach.

As is par for the course when driving concept cars, the ID Buggy's speed is limited to 25 mph. But even at that speed, it's easy to enjoy the ID Buggy as I wind along scenic 17 Mile Drive. With no doors, no roof and just a bathtub-like shell between me and the outside world, I feel exposed and vulnerable in the best way.

However, the ID Buggy is much larger than the original Meyers Manx -- it's noticeably longer and wider. That'd make the Buggy a bit less scary while driving on the highway or busy streets. Still, there's a lot about the original Manx experience that I miss. The dinky proportions, the distinct sound of the original air-cooled engine... it's not quite the same in this electrified redux, even if I do love the instant torque thrust.

The ID Buggy is a lot bigger than its Meyers Manx progenitor.


The best thing about the ID Buggy, really, is how people react to it. Pedestrians along 17 Mile Drive smile and wave, smartphones snap a million pictures and everyone stops to ask me the same thing: "Will VW build it?"

The ID Buggy sits atop Volkswagen's modular, electric MEB platform. So, in theory, a low-volume Buggy isn't totally out of the question. A third-party upfitter could make one, perhaps, or even do a futuristic take on a Notchback or Thing. Anything is possible, I suppose.

And what does Bruce Meyer, the father of the Manx, think of this new interpretation of his original idea? He tells me he likes it, but "it's too big."

I hear you, Bruce. Here's hoping VW green-lights it anyway.

Originally published Aug. 23.
Update, Aug. 29: Adds video.