► Our first drive of the new VW ID.4
► It's a high-rise ID.3, but better for it
► High-spec 1st Edition costs £37,800
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 crossover. And when they drive it they shouldn’t be disappointed.
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Where the VW ID.3 hatchback 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 much 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 at 4.6m long, but is closer to the latter in terms of exterior dimensions – and the interior is even roomier thanks to the packaging efficiency of the electrical gubbins. The rear passenger compartment is especially capacious, with that flat floor bereft of any propshaft intrusion.
We've now tested the production versions on UK roads; for now, only the lofty First Edition is offered for sale, costing £40,800 before government grants, but a range of different ID.4s will be in Volkswagen dealers soon.
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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 isn't as fast as you might hope for, performance hampered by that lardy 2.1-tonne kerbweight. Throttle response is sharp off the line, 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.
It's a really hushed, cossetting drive, and best driven at a relaxed gait. This will help the battery range and also brings out the best in the comfort-orientated chassis.
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.
A word on the seating position: it's highly adjustable and the chairs are comfortable, letting you sit notably lower than you would in a rival Ford Mustang Mach-E. Special mention also to the rear seats, which offer a huge amount of space – and lots of headroom (in the non-sunroof-equipped cars) plus neat little pockets in which to stow your mobile phone.
Once the full range of ID.4 models arrives in the UK, expect a choice of four power outputs; fitted with a smaller-capacity 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, 310 miles for the larger, but less than that in real-world usage. Our 77kWh test car showed 217 miles when full on a cool March spring morning, disappointingly some way off the claimed 310-mile range – at least the range meter appears accurate, so long as you drive gingerly, avoid stamping on the accelerator and go easy on the heating controls.
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. These high-performance electric cars are likely to be badged GTX.
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, says Volkswagen. As standard you get 50kW charging.
Our test car was well kitted out, with excellent seats and if you do order the full-length glass roof, it makes for a bright and airy interior. 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 sub-menus.
What didn't we like? The weird haptics on the steering wheel buttons are downright strange; car makers have already designed perfectly normal thumbwheels and switches and it feels like VW's gadgetry team came along and ordered that haptic feedback was required for this PlayStation-generation EV. Jog the volume up or down and the smooth plastic buttons vibrate weirdly. It's not at all intuitive.
The bootspace on offer is generous. The ID.4's loadbay swallows 543 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, swelling to 1575 litres with the second row folded away. It's sensibly shaped and there are handy cubbies under the floor to stow the charging cables.
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. Have a good look at the standard equipment list before you tick any boxes, is our advice.
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.
As is so often the case, price will determine how well the ID.4 sells. So far only the gussied-up 1st Edition has been announced for the UK, weighing in at £37,800 after the £3k plug-in car grant from the government has been deducted. It's open for order now, with first deliveries starting in spring 2021.
Given the price differential with the ID.3, expect an entry-level ID.4 Life to retail for around £31,000 when order books open a little later in 2021. We suspect the cheaper, more mainstream specs will be a more compelling buy – this is fundamentally an excellent e-SUV that'll make going electric even easier for British families considering taking the plunge and plugging in.
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