2021 Volkswagen ID.4 review

VW’s ID.4 will rival the new Tesla Model Y, we see how it stacks up ahead of its launch.

Welcome to the Volkswagen ID.4 – a seismic follow up to the ID.3 hatchback. That’s because, while the ID.3 is the Golf’s electric brother, the ID.4 is essentially an all-electric alternative for the brand’s best selling model – the Tiguan.

At 4,580mm in length it sits in between the Tiguan and the Tiguan Allspace for size. In Europe where it is first available, there are ten pre-configured models, including the 1st Edition car driven here. There’s a higher spec 1st Edition Max model, but our car makes do with 20-inch wheels, full LED headlights, automatic climate control, a rear-view camera, parking sensors at both ends and heated seats. There’s also satellite navigation linked to a 10-inch central touchscreen, and fully digital instrumentation.

The ID.4 1st Edition is priced from €49,950 – around $80,000 in Australian dollars – in Germany before any incentives.

The broad line-up planned for the ID.4 means the starting price will drop into the low-mid £30,000s (around AUD$50,000) when entry level versions arrive. That means it’ll achieve price parity with mid to high spec versions of its popular petrol and diesel powered sibling the Tiguan.

A tall driving position and easy access: that is what buyers like about SUVs. With the ID.4, there’s another key ergonomic benefit as there is no centre-tunnel. You sit elevated in the back for excellent visibility. Feet and legs are as free as you like with acres of space, but the surprising height of the rear seats means taller back seat passengers may want a bit more headroom.

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As for boot space, Volkswagen claims 543 litres. That’s a strong showing, upping the level of space in the back of the regular Tiguan, and expanding to 1,575 litres with the rear bench folded flat.

You can see and feel where the ID.4 steps up in quality over the ID.3. While the hatchback is primarily aimed at Europe, this car will certainly be sold in the US, so better interior quality is in demand. The door panels feel softer from halfway up and some plastics on the dashboard are nicer, but from the B-pillar onward it gets cheaper, and unfortunately anything you touch below the dashboard feels a little hard and scratchy as well.

One huge technological advance is the arrival of the impressive augmented reality head-up-display, artificially projecting information and navigation commands straight onto your view of the road ahead. It’s the best system of its kind this side of the latest Mercedes S-Class, but is a pricey option.

The ID.4 1st Edition has a 150kW/310Nm electric motor driving the rear wheels and a large 77 kWh battery; the smaller battery of 52 kWh will also be used later in combination with 109kW or 125kW motors.

With the 77kWh battery it gets a 521km range according to WLTP standards – not a bad figure at all, and realistically you’ll get around 402km with little effort. Recharging tech is solid enough too – it charges at 125 kW. Find a suitable roadside plug and theoretically, after 30 minutes, 319km worth of charge goes into the battery. An 11kW on-board charger is also standard on the 1st Edition, for use with a home wallbox or a charging point at work.

You don’t drive ID.4 for super-sharp handling – it weighs-in at over 2.1 tonnes, thanks mainly to the near 500kg battery. Some 30 years ago this would have been around two VW Golfs in mass. However, this SUV is fun to drive. It zips off the line with decent acceleration, taking 8.5 seconds to reach 100km/h, but then tailing off to a relatively slow top speed of just 160km/h.

It rides nicely too, disguising the weight of the hefty drivetrain with almost magic qualities that can be put down to the optional electronically controlled dampers. Around town a turning circle of 10.2 metres is impressive for a car of this size.

While you can feel the mass in the way the ID.4 builds speed, in the corners you don’t really notice the huge weight – it’s surprisingly agile and links nicely with the light and accurate controls. It’s a textbook EV and will serve as a good demonstration to diesel and petrol family SUV buyers as to what the all-electric fuss is about. With simple driving modes and braking regeneration settings to flick through too, it’s very easy to get on with.

With the ID.3 catering for hatchback buyers and focused on Europe, the ID.4 SUV is Volkswagen’s first serious global Tesla rival. It represents an impressive yet different alternative to the longer range, flashier Model Y with its anticipated higher price tag. When entry level ID.4 models begin to hit the market next year buyers will be offered a stylish and straightforward electric SUV with a fair price tag. It’s no-frills electric family motoring, and we like that.

Andreas May

Final Verdict:

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