► Our first drive of VW's new ID.4
► We test a pre-production prototype
► It's a high-rise ID.3, but better for it
How excited you’ll be by the new Volkswagen ID.4 depends on how much you like the idea of an SUV-shaped ID.3 or, from an alternative perspective, an all-electric Tiguan. Because that’s precisely what VW’s second new-era EV is. The global success of cars that look like they are handy off-road, but frequently aren't, and the growing readiness to go electric, suggests a lot of people will be getting excited by the prospect of the ID.4. And when they drive it they shouldn’t be disappointed.
Where the ID.3 looks a bit ordinary and unsophisticated, the ID.4 is much sleeker, a little wider and visually better balanced, even though it sits on the same wheelbase. The new crossover is also roomier inside, has a bigger boot, and at 0.28 its drag coefficient is only marginally less slippery.
Size-wise, the ID.4 slots neatly into the VW SUV range between the T-Roc and Tiguan, but is closer to the latter in terms of exterior dimensions – and the interior is even roomier.
In our test drive of a pre-production prototype at VW’s Ehra-Lessien proving ground, the ID.4 rarely puts a foot wrong. It’s impressively composed on the bumpy cross-forest gravel piste, the banked high-speed oval, the topsy-turvy handling course and the watered skid pad. It all bodes very well.
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VW ID.4 review: what's the pre-prod prototype like to drive?
Thanks to the low centre of gravity and the balanced weight distribution, the ID.4 hugs the road like a velcro-strapped centipede. Even when fitted with the optional 21-inch tyres, the ride remains compliant on most surfaces, and it doesn’t fall apart when you switch modes from Comfort to Sport.
This 201bhp/229lb ft version takes off like greased lightning, but performance starts easing off around 50mph. Throttle response is quick, stopping power is strong and mechanical noise is minimal. Above 60mph, all you hear is the wind, the tyres and the synthesised ‘Hey, ID’ voice control.
A toggle switch on the steering column lets you select the level of regenerative braking. Opt for Low and you get early coasting, while High supports one-pedal driving; they’re not extreme settings, and there’s no manual fine-tuning.
With first right-hand-drive deliveries expected early in 2021, precise UK specification and a price for the ID.4 have yet to be confirmed. Expect a choice of four power outputs; fitted with a 52kWh battery, you can go for a 146bhp or 168bhp electric motor, or with the larger-capacity 77kWh battery, 173bhp and 201bhp.
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What's the electric range like? How far will the VW ID.4 go on one charge?
Expect the official range figures to be 213 miles for the smaller battery, 323 miles for the larger, but less than that in real-world usage. These single-motor, rear-drive models will be joined by twin-motor, all-wheel-drive ID.4s later in 2021, with a likely choice of 262bhp and 302bhp motors.
Opt for 125kW rapid charging capability, find the right charge point, and you’ll be able to regain 199 miles of range in half an hour. As standard you get 50kW charging.
Our test car was well kitted out, with excellent seats and a full-length glass roof making the cabin feel bright and airy. If this car is anything to go by, the cabin surface materials are classier than the ID.3’s – a welcome development – and there are direct-access buttons for temperature, assistance and driving modes, rather than hunting for everything via touchscreen submenus.
But it would be easy to end up spending £50k on a high-spec ID.4 with options, if German prices are anything to go by.
So, it’s not perfect. But with more appealing styling than the ID.3 and a more pleasing cabin, the ID.4 feels like the future has suddenly arrived in the present.
The VW ID.4 is roomy and refined transport, if your family is ready to go green – so long as VW gets the pricing right, which it appears to have done with the ID.3, given how well it's selling.
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