► VW’s ID.7 executive EV driven
► Roomy, comfortable and built well
► But is it a bit too tranquil?
Without the large round emblems that shout Volkswagen, the ID.7 could – like all IDs – be almost anything: French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, take your pick. But perhaps this bland me-too look is exactly what the world market wants.
After all, emphatically pretty Volkswagen like the ID.Buzz or the Arteon Shooting Brake have recently fallen way short of expectations.
So, why should I care about the ID.7?
In the UK, it’s got price going for it from the off. The five-metre-long ID.7 starts from £55k (for now, for the Pro Launch Edition – Pro and Pro S models will launch later), while other Germans like the EQE and i5 have price tags that start with a seven. The Far East competition typically offers more power than the ID.7 but not quite as much space and less brand appeal for roughly the same money, the Genesis G80 and Hyundai Ioniq 6 rank above and below the monetary VW sweet spot, and so do the Tesla Model S and 3, only to a more extreme extent.
Thankfully, the cockpit and the MMI of the ID.7 have very little in common with the slow and unstable infotainment systems which haunted early ID models. Just about the only remaining legacy are the now lit but still imprecise touch sliders which adjust volume and temperature. Standard equipment includes a small centre instrument cluster, a large augmented reality head-up display and a 15in touchscreen which rides high up on the uncluttered fascia. While its bottom bar houses the temperature controls, the top bar accommodates your six favourite functions along with a direct access button to the full set of icons. The most intriguing extras are the variable-tint glass roof and the elaborate heated and ventilated massage seats which offer eleven different treatments performed in sync by cushion and backrest. Take that, Mercedes!
The new ID is very much a full-size saloon, but it doesn’t feel as enormous as the numbers suggest because it is only 1860mm wide, and its turning circle is a tight 10.9metres. The grown up footprint pays the biggest dividend in the back where head- and legroom are a cut above the rivals. At 532 to 1586 litres, the boot duly matches the cabin space. The Tourer estate car due next spring has an even bigger 1714-litre cargo bay.
Like the rest of the range based on the electric-only MEB platform, the new Volkswagen is at this point rear-wheel drive only, and the sole available motor is a more efficient 282bhp unit fed by a 77kWh battery which can be charged at up to 170kW. Boosting the energy level from 10-80 per cent takes about 25 minutes.
How does the ID.7 drive?
Tranquil is the word of the day here, as it best describes the hush-quiet driver environment which adds a touch of class to this unpretentious and reduced cockpit.
Wind and road noise are very well suppressed, and even when it unleashes its maximum torque of 402lb ft, the new APP550 e-motor won’t utter more than a subdued hum. Matching this near-silent ambience is a five-star ride supervised by DCC (dynamic damper control) which sifts meticulously through fifteen steps from Comfort to Sport until you have found your favourite calibration. Just as the tautest setting isn’t overly firm, the most lenient configuration does not permit overly emphatic body motions. The chassis does a convincing job almost irrespective of surface quality and speed, even in combination with the extra-cost 20in wheels and tyres.
The steering, too, deserves full marks for clarity, effort and accuracy. Driven at nine tenths in the wet, an initial flash of instantly squashed tail-happiness is followed by varying degrees of understeer. On dry pavement, easy controllability, plenty of cornering grip and strong traction help to carve in an even cleaner line. Still on the credit side, the brakes have no trouble at all reeling in all that mass and momentum again and again.
Out of the four drive modes labelled Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual, Eco is keenest on energy regeneration but you must lock the transmission in B to relish the full one pedal experience. Try the steering in Comfort, DCC on the halfway mark and the drivetrain in Sport for a fine blend of brisk but never jerky throttle response, a well balanced ride and a safe yet not overly inspiring handling. From memory, the i5 feels firmer, the EQE not quite as composed.
VW ID.7: verdict
While the design looks like a committee effort by Hertz, Avis, Sixt and Europcar, the ID.7 may well be the perfect clean-air taxi. It’s roomy, comfortable, refined and hugely economical around town.