Review: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4



Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: May 30, 2022

 



Mainstream automakers are slowly catching up to the EV pioneers, and their unique takes on zero-emission mobility are finally reaching customer hands. Volkswagen has been earlier than most, bringing out the fully electric e-Golf back in 2017, but while it retained the fun-to-drive qualities of the non-electric variant, its meager driving range severely limited its practical use.

 

 

Fast forward to today and the newest electric Volkswagen has more than double that e-Golf’s range. This is the quirkily named ID.4, a compact SUV that’s similar in size to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. With it comes impressive packaging, a clean interior, and all the latest gadgets and gizmos.

 

From some angles, the ID.4 appears like a concept car that’s just rolled off the showroom floor. In others, it’s like a shrunken down VW bus, and stands out from the blander and more homogenous EV designs without front grills and exhaust pipes, especially in this King’s Red Metallic paint.

 

 

The interior is slightly more mainstream, featuring a spacious cabin free of clutter and excessive buttons. Storage options are aplenty and there’s a generous amount of cargo space when the rear seats are folded down. It feels much roomier than the XC40 Recharge. There is no center armrest either, instead the ID.4 utlizes separate armrests for both front seats like they have in minivans and Range Rovers. And the gear selector is mounted on the steering column right above the wiper stalk, and works similarly to the one in the BMW i3 - rotate up for Drive, down for Reverse.

 

 

It is also the first time we’ve seen just two window switches to operate all four windows. There’s a button above the row that says ‘REAR’. When pressed, it delegates those same two switches to operate the rear windows. It’s a neat way to save space (not that it’s cluttered to begin with), but the ergonomics are poor, and we don’t like how it’s a haptic touch button, so half the time we’re not sure if it has registered our input or not. On a side note, the electrically-operated door handles don’t pop out like a Tesla’s or Range Rover’s, but they work well and aren’t as fussy and ambiguous to input as others that have implemented this tech, like in the Lexus NX.

 

 

But like VW’s other offerings, the ID.4’s weakest link is the infotainment system. It’s frustratingly complex to use, the audio menu layout is confusing and convoluted despite the large 12.0-inch screen, sizable fonts, and quick response times, the touch capacitive slider buttons aren’t very sensitive, and they don’t light up at night either. It just isn’t a cohesive experience, and we had to resort to Apple CarPlay just to keep our blood pressure from slamming through the sunroof. The touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons aren’t much of a remedy either. Bring back the old hard buttons please, like what they have in current Audis.

The news gets better when you start driving. The ID.4 utilizes a 82 kWh lithium-ion battery and comes in both RWD and AWD trims. The rear-driven model has a total range of 422 km, while the AWD has 394 km. Volkswagen quotes a 38-minute charge time from 5-80% using a 125 kW DC fast charger.

 

Our test vehicle was the AWD model, so we couldn’t pilot one of the few rare RWD Volkswagens in modern history. But it’s the range that stood out to us the most. VW quotes a 394 km range, and our drive yielded a strong 380 km on a single charge up. That also took into consideration braking regeneration and a few lengthy bouts on the highway. Impressive to say the least when compared to the Audi e-tron Sportback (351 km), Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo (346 km), Volvo C40 Recharge (334 km), and Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD (435 km).

 

 

That doesn’t make it quick, though. With 295 hp and 339 lb-ft combined on tap from its two electric motors, acceleration is decent from a start, and the all-wheel-driven ID.4 will sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.2 seconds, but it pales against the Mustang Mach-E (5.1s) and Volvo XC40 Recharge (4.9s). At least it’s quicker than the electric MINI Cooper SE (7.3s). Which leads us to the fact that the ID.4 isn’t very engaging to drive, and it lacks that fun and dynamic character of the e-Golf. It’s quite a common thing with new EVs these days, which focus less on performance and more on comfort and daily driving duties, which the ID.4 excels at.

 

But holy Batman body roll. Chucking the ID.4 into corners at higher speeds will have you wishing for stiffer springs. It was offputting at first - usually with the batteries mounted down low for a decreased center of gravity, these EVs tend to handle well, like the lithe and athletic C40 Recharge which is just begging for a brisky canyon drive. Though there’s a bucketload of mechanical and tire grip thanks to AWD and large sticky tires, the ID.4 does not provide the most grounded or stable ride either, but definitely comfortable and compliant enough for most drivers to never mind or complain. It’s quite a sizable SUV but thanks to a light steering rack, excellent outward visibility, and an elevated seating position, it never feels daunting to drive, nor is it difficult to navigate it through tight parking spots or city streets.

 

 

Volkswagen has nailed the mainstream EV formula with the ID.4, offering some refreshing new sheetmetal, generous interior packaging, and a relatively low starting price to boot. All 2022 models have sold out, but that’s also due to global supply chain issues, so VW is only taking orders for 2023 models at this time. Even our test vehicle was a 2021 model year vehicle, as 2022 ones haven’t even arrived yet. But the pricing, options, and trims all remain the same.

 

As long as you can live with the infuriating infotainment system and the unengaging drive, then the ID.4 should be on your shortlist. Because if it’s a no-frills, spacious, zero-emission commuter car that you’re looking for, one that won’t break the bank nor cause range anxiety, then the ID.4 is worth waiting for.

 


Photo Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Specifications:

Model: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro AWD

Paint Type: King's Red Metallic w/ Ninja Black Roof
Base Price: $49,995

Price as Tested: $58,490
Powertrain: Dual electric motors, 82 kWh lithium-ion battery
Horsepower: 295 combined hp
Torque: 339 combined lb-ft
Transmission: single-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD

Claimed Range: 394 km
Observed Range: 380 km

Tires: 235/50R20; Bridgestone Alenza

 




 

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