Here to clear the air

Volkswagen ID.4

Price: £44,000 (estimated)

Volkswagen might be making a big fuss about the Golf-sized ID.3, but the bigger ID.4 is actually more important. Is it good enough? We drove a prototype model to get an early taste of this crucial new car.

  • Battery size: 77kWh
  • Miles per £: 25.4
  • Battery warranty: 8 years/100,000 miles
  • Emissions: 0g/km
  • Range: 323 miles (WLTP Standard)

Ginny Says

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8/10

“It seems VW have nailed some of the interior quality issues which have been criticised in the ID.3 and made an altogether more useful, SUV-shaped car with a proper range, plenty of space and decent performance. It sounds like it might be a real rival to the Tesla Model Y and the flood of other electric SUVs arriving in 2021.  ”

It’s fair to say that Volkswagen has made a bit of a fuss about the launch of its mid-sized ID.3 electric car, claiming that it is as important in the company’s history as the Beetle and the Golf. But in reality, it is this car – the ID.4 – which is the really big news for the business. While the ID.3 will only be sold in Europe, the ID.4 will be sold all around the world. And if you look at how the Tiguan SUV has now overtaken the Golf in terms of sales, there is little doubt about the importance of the ID.4 as we all move to electrified motoring – even if it will be around £7,000 more expensive than an ID.3, with a starting price of around £44,000 when it goes on sale in the spring of 2021.

To start with, the ID.4 will be an almost 4.60 metre long five-seater, which offers considerably more space than the already spacious ID.3  It’s got more space inside than the longer Tiguan Allspace, but more significantly it also makes the Tesla Model Y look a little tight on room. Even though the Y is a hand’s-width longer than the ID.4 the Tesla is missing six centimetres compared to the VW inside, according to the German company's engineers. 

When compared to an ID.3, the Tesla would be able to fight back with its stylish interior and better materials. But VW has fought back with the ID4, using a cool yet simple design with soft-touch surfaces and plenty of nice details. 

VW was deliberately very careful not to make the ID.4 too crazy looking, both inside and out. Volkswagen is aware that it needs to bring many of its traditional customers from the old world into the new electric era, and they are a little more conservative than those considering other brands. As a result, the design isn’t particularly avant-garde, nor is the driving behaviour very different from a conventional SUV. 

Clearly, the ID4 is a bit heavier than Tiguan and rivals because the batteries under the car floor are weighty. But it also has the spontaneous power delivery of the electric motor, and what it may lack in vigour in corners, the progressive steering and adaptive chassis make up for. 

As a result, the ID.4 is relaxed through the city, smooth on the motorway and happy enough to press on when the countryside appears and the traffic thins. Just like Tiguan, the ID.4 is a ‘do it all’ car which won’t upset anyone who is used to Volkswagen products. 

On the other hand, experienced electric car owners may have to change the way they drive to suit the VW way of doing things. Out of respect for the old habits of the combustion-engine drivers, the ID.4 is reluctant to use regen braking. Even with the selector lever set to B, it doesn’t produce the deceleration you’d expect from an EV.

It won’t recover as much energy either, but this isn’t so crucial given the size of the ID.4’s battery. The ID.4 will launch with a 77 kWh battery pack that can return 323 miles on the WLTP cycle. The battery can be rapid charged at 125 kW, which means it can be charged to 80 percent in around 45 minutes.

VW will also offer a surprisingly wide range of motors. Initially the ID.4 will be available with only one in the rear, which is calibrated by software to four power outputs between 146 and 201bhp. In the best case, this is enough for a sprint from 0 to 62mph in 8.5 seconds and limited top speed of 100mph. Next year VW will introduce a top model and give it a second motor with an extra 101bhp in the front. Then the total system power climbs to more than 300 bhp with there is standard all-wheel drive to match the 4x4-esque looks.

Although the ID.4 looks in many ways a little more finished and promising than the ID.3, VW has not yet solved a big problem. Just like the ID.3, the software for the launch is not complete and a few functions such as the augmented reality for the head-up display are only available later as a free update.

But perhaps a bigger headache for the ID.4 comes from its own ranks. As always, Skoda is stealing the show from its Volkswagen mother. Not only were the Czechs allowed to reveal their Enyaq ahead of the ID.4, but they also built it as a larger car on the same mechanicals and will charge even less money for it. And, at least in the eyes of many viewers, the Enyaq looks even fresher than the ID.4. We'll have to see how the two fare head-to-head when we get them together in the UK.

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