The ID.4 is Volkswagen's most important EV yet. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Volkswagen ramps up its efforts in the EV segment with this ID.4 compact mid-sized Crossover. It aims to offer more of a premium choice in this rapidly growing segment. Ready for the EV switch and need a small SUV with a bit of driveway cred? We think you'll be tempted by this one.
If any further proof was needed that Volkswagen is serious about EVs, the ID.4 provides it. This is the first all-electric model the Wolfsburg brand will sell globally and will play a key role in the realisation of the maker's plan to sell 1.5 million EVs worldwide by 2025. Expect the ID.4 to account for about a third of that total - so yes, it could hardly be more important.
As you can see from the pictures, it's a compact mid-sized SUV which aims to take on established similarly orientated EV crossover contenders like the Kia e-Niro and the Hyundai Kona Electric. And new ones like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y. In line with this ID.4's global pretensions, it's being built not only in Germany (at VW's Zwickau plant) but also by factories in China and the US.
As you'd probably expect, all the engineering here is shared with the similar VW Group EVs that campaign in this class, the Skoda Enyak iV and the CUPRA el-Born, two cars who represent arguably this Volkswagen's closest rivals. And predictably, the ID.4 uses the same MEB electric platform that features in the existing (and only slightly smaller) ID.3 hatchback.
Despite its SUV pretensions, the ID.4 is predominantly rear-driven. The range kicks off with a couple of 52kWh battery models, offering either 148 or 170PS. If you want more power and range, there are various 77kWh battery versions, offering either 175PS or, as in the case of the initial 'First Edition' models, 204PS. That latter 'First Edition' variant offers 310Nm of instantly available torque and can manage 62mph in 8.5s en route to 99mph, but you'll be more interested in its projected driving range, WLTP-rated at 323 miles.
Volkswagen is also readying a 266PS variant with the 77kWh battery pack. And a range-topping twin motor all-wheel drive GTX hot hatch version. The ID.4 will be most in its element though in town, where the long wheelbase and short overhangs contribute to a tight turning circle of 10.2-metres. Talking of steering, Volkswagen's 'Progressive' set-up (where the ratio becomes more direct as the wheel is turned) is offered on certain models. And the multi-link rear suspension layout with optional damping control promises a 'big car' standard of ride. 'IQ Drive' assistance systems available include Lane assist, Braking assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Design and Build
The ID.4 shares many styling cues with its ID.3 hatch stablemate but it's a slightly bigger thing, 4,584mm long, 1,852mm wide and 1,612mm tall. To give you some perspective, that makes it 102mm longer and 13mm wider than Volkswagen's more conventional Tiguan mid-sized SUV. Full-LED headlights are standard and top models get big 20 or 21-inch wheels.
Inside, there's an open, minimalist design with a digital screen behind the wheel for the instruments and a central infotainment touchscreen that'll be either 10-inches or 12-inches in size, depending on the trim level you've chosen. A rocker switch attached to the steering column is used to select the three available drive modes. And all the main cabin features are accessible via advanced "Hello Volkswagen" voice control. One hi-tech feature we really like is the impressive augmented reality head-up-display, which artificially projects key information and navigation commands straight onto your view of the road ahead.
At the back, there's comfortable space for a couple of adults (it'd be a squash for three). And there's a very decently-sized 543-litre boot, extendable to 1,575-litres with the rear seat folded. A tonne of weight can be towed too, this being the first Volkswagen EV to be offered with the option of a tow bar.
Market and Model
For the time being, the only ID.4 variant you can place an order for is the relatively pricey ID.4 '1ST Edition' which uses the 204PS version of the 77kWh battery pack. One of this will cost you around £38,000 (taking into account the government's £3,000 grant towards purchase). There are several features to mark the ID.4 '1ST Edition' apart from future ID.4 models. These include internal and external '1ST' badging, and a striking interior with 'Florence Brown' highlights. Four metallic exterior paint colours will be available for the '1ST Edition': Glacier White, Blue Dusk, Manganese Grey and Honey Yellow.
As you'd want for the money, this limited run version comes with plenty of standard kit. Externally this includes 20-inch 'Drammen' alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, tinted rear windows, and a reversing camera. Inside, drivers will find 'ArtVelours' microfleece seats which - like the steering wheel - are heated, plus 30-colour ambient lighting and a 10-inch infotainment display with 'Discover Pro' navigation. There's also the so-called 'ID. Light', a feature first seen on the ID.3, a dynamic LED band which runs the width of the windscreen, changing its pattern and colour to supplement and support navigation signals, charging status, driver assist technologies or the natural voice control. The model also offers a range of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Assist, and Lane Assist, with parking sensors front and rear.
Cost of Ownership
The initial 77kWh ID.4 model with 204PS offers a WLTP range of 310 miles and benefits from rapid charging compatibility for its 77kWh battery of up to 125kW, with the ability to add up to 199 miles of range in just 30 minutes. As usual with an EV, around 80% of charging will be done via programmable overnight replenishment using owners' garage wallboxes - bespoke versions of these are available through Volkswagen. This electric SUV also comes with the Volkswagen brand's high-voltage battery warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles.
Volkswagen reckons that a typical ID.3 user will save about £730 a year in operating expenses over what they'd pay to run a comparable combustion-engined model. It's not only that your energy costs will be lower: you should also make savings in insurance, road tax and the fact that no oil changes are required. Volkswagen says that its aim is to make sure that the battery pack lasts as long as the car and, sure enough, that battery pack is warrantied to have at least 70% of its usable capacity after eight years or 100,000 miles.
This isn't yet a mainstream Volkswagen model, but the day isn't very far off when it will be. When that happens, we can only hope that EVs will have become rather more affordable than they are now. But if this ID.4 sells globally in the kind of numbers Volkswagen is hoping for, that's unlikely to happen. Like all brands, the Wolfsburg maker will charge what customers show they're prepared to pay.
So is this ID.4 worth its sticker price? Many customers will think so. It has the quality look and feel of a premium brand product; enough (just) to justify its extra cost over its identically-engineered Skoda Enyak iV and CUPRA el-Born VW Group cousins and close rivals. If all you care about in a Crossover EV of this kind is value and range, this won't be your first choice. But if you want a little more 'feel good' factor in a car of this sort, this ID.4 might well have your number.