Auto123 reviews the all-new, all-electric 2021 Volkswagen ID.4.
Here we have Volkswagen’s first vehicle meant, designed and engineered as a 100-percent electric vehicle. Before it there was the e-Golf, essentially a Golf with the combustion engine switched out for one with an electric motor and batteries. But the 2021 ID.4 is built electric, and it offers a healthy range of around 400 km.
Now, Volkswagen is marketing it as an SUV simply because it's fashionable and more apt to generate sales. The ID.4 is a little shorter than a Tiguan, but its engine-less design in the front frees up more room for passengers inside.
The number of units of the all-new model being made available in Canada is ridiculously small in its initial season on the market due to production challenges, and to very high demand in Europe. So if your name isn't already on the long waiting list, you'll have to wait more than a year for your ID.4.
Rear-wheel drive model
Our test car was an American Pro S version with rear wheel drive. We’ll touch on the positive points first. The comfort is appreciable, and the seats are well padded, bordering on soft. We drove it on a few hot days and can confirm the climate control system is very competent. The suspension meanwhile is soft, which has the advantage of absorbing small road imperfections, but at higher speeds, there is a floating sensation in the steering and suspension.
Spacious, but a bit low-end
We liked the high roofline, as well as the generous shoulder and legroom for rear passengers. Overall, the interior environment feels nicely roomy.
Our biggest disappointment came from the infotainment screen. We can understand Volkswagen's idea of wanting to give the interior a futuristic feel, but it still needs to be user-friendly. Alas, there are no buttons; everything goes through two screens, one smaller one in front of the driver, the other, larger, above the centre console.
Really, Volkswagen has made things complicated for nothing. You have buttons for the audio volume that are difficult to use, and a touch-sensitive button to switch from the front to the rear window, instead of just having one button per window. The indicator lights on many of these controls also go dark in direct sunlight, making it hard to tell which mode you're in. Add to that slow responses from the infotainment screen and you have what feels like a potentially dismal experience in the longer term.
VW will also have to take a look at boosting the overall quality of the interior. Our Pro S model is priced at over $50,000 and we felt the fit and finish was closer to a $30,000 model.
Still, there are some good points. There's no ignition or power button to start the car. Everything is in the seat, so you sit down and the car is ready to go; and when you disembark, everything turns off. We also liked the dashboard that moves with the steering wheel, so it's always in your line of sight.
Finally, there's plenty of storage space and 858 litres of cargo space behind the second row and 1818 litres with the second-row seats folded down, more than enough room.
Dynamic though not really fast
Generally speaking, all electric vehicles offer good driving dynamics, and the ID.4 is no exception. The SUV features an 82 kWh (gross) battery and a permanent-magnet AC synchronous rear motor, which generates 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. Later, an all-wheel drive version with 300 hp will join the lineup, and Volkswagen believes it will be the most popular with buyers.
The ID.4 gets a range of 400 km on a full EPA charge. Recharging is quick on both AC and DC power. With its built-in 11 kW charger, the EV can be fully charged in about seven and a half hours at a residential or public Level 2 charging station. At a fast DC charging station, with a 125-kW charge, the ID.4 can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in about 38 minutes.
The version of the EV we drove is not a speed demon particularly; 0-100 km/h acceleration time is around 8 seconds.
Braking performance is excellent in emergency stop situations. But the brake pedal requires some practice. Also, it should be noted that the ID.4 does not have the ability to drive on one pedal. Lifting your foot off the gas pedal triggers regenerative braking, but you still have to press the brake pedal for a complete stop.
Technology on point
Volkswagen has equipped the ID.4 with a solid set of advanced technology, for example standard wireless integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Take note that you only have USB-C plugs in the vehicle. Those like us who still have a USB-A plug can use wireless charging. The audio system is decent, but nothing more.
All ID.4s get a suite of advanced driver aids as standard, including everything from adaptive cruise control with lane keeping to blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. These systems proved effective during our week-long test drive.
The ID.4 delivers great range and it hits the nail on the head with features like a heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors and heated windshield and washer nozzles. A standard integrated heat pump reduces the dependence of the electric heating system on resistive heating, helping to improve the ID.4's range on really cold days.
Unfortunately, not everything is executed as well as it should be; the fit and finish isn't quite up to expectations for a vehicle costing over $50,000, and the infotainment system needs to be revamped. Shortcomings like this don't prevent us from recommending it, however, because by and large, the qualities outnumber the flaws.
Lots of standard technology
Spacious interior with plenty of storage space.
Large cargo area
We like less
Complicated infotainment system
Only USB-C outlets