The ID.4 is Volkswagen's most important EV yet. Jonathan Crouch reports.
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 'Pure'-spec 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 'Life', 'Family', 'Max' and 'First Edition' models, 204PS. Those variants 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 up to 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.
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.
Most UK ID.4 customers want the 77kWh battery pack with the fastest 204PS 'Pro Performance' motor, this package offered in 'Life', 'Family' and 'Max' forms, at prices starting from around £41,000 (which, sadly, means that the car won't qualify for the goverment's £2,500 Plug-in Car Grant). From launch, there was also a fully kitted out 'First Edition' variant.
Even base 'Life'-spec gets you 30-colour ambient lighting, split-folding rear seats with a load-through hatch, a centre armrest and 'play and pause' pedals, all as part of the 'Interior Style' Package. The 'Infotainment Package' is also included at this level, incorporating a 10-inch 'Discover Pro' touch-screen system with navigation, and inductive smartphone charging. Luxury and convenience are covered by the included 'Comfort Package', which comprises a heated, infrared-reflecting, sound-insulated windscreen; two front and two rear USB ports; 2-zone climate control; and heating for the front seats and steering wheel.
Next up in the range is the ID.4 'Family' model, which adds attractive 19-inch 'Hamar' alloy wheels and upgraded equipment packs. The included 'Design Package Plus' brings IQ.Light LED matrix headlamps which feature the signature LED strip extending from each headlamp and meeting at the Volkswagen roundel. LED lighting also features in the door handle recesses and in the rear lights, the latter having a unique 3D structure. Privacy glass for the rear windows and a large panoramic sunroof complete the pack. Meanwhile, the included 'Comfort Package Plus' upgrades the climate control to a 3-zone system, and provides convenience-boosting features for the car's luggage area including a net partition and luggage net, while the Assistance Package adds a rear-view camera, and Keyless Access locking and starting system.
As the flagship of the current ID.4 range, the 'Max' is the most comprehensively-equipped variant, including Volkswagen's 'Infotainment Package Plus', which gives you a larger 12-inch Discover Max infotainment system, as well as an augmented reality head-up display. Also included at this level is an 'Interior Style Plus pack' that gives you 12-way power-adjustable heated front sports seats with a massage function.
Across the ID.4 range, you get a range of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Assist, and Lane Assist, with parking sensors front and rear.
The 77kWh ID.4 model with 204PS offers a WLTP range of 323 miles in base 'Life' form (it's 318 miles in 'Family' spec and 314 miles in top 'Max' trim). And all variant benefit 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.