Volkswagen ID.4 2021 Review

Mainstream automakers are gradually catching up to EV pioneers, and their distinctive takes on zero-emission mobility are finally reaching consumers. Volkswagen was ahead of the curve, releasing the fully electric e-Golf in 2017, but while it retained the fun-to-drive characteristics of the gasoline-powered model, its limited driving range severely limited its practicality.

The most recent electric Volkswagen has more than double the range of the original e-Golf. The ID.4 is a compact SUV with dimensions comparable to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. It comes with impressive packaging, a spotless interior, and the most up-to-date gadgets and gizmos.

From certain perspectives, the ID.4 appears to be a brand-new showroom concept car. In others, it resembles a shrunken VW bus, and in this King's Red Metallic paint, it stands out from the blander and more homogenous EV designs without front grilles and exhaust pipes.

The interior is more conventional, with a spacious cabin devoid of clutter and excess buttons. When the rear seats are folded down, there is a substantial amount of cargo room. It is considerably more spacious than the XC40 Recharge. In lieu of a center armrest, the ID.4 employs separate armrests for both front seats, similar to those found in minivans and Range Rovers. And the gear selector is mounted directly above the windshield wiper stalk on the steering column and functions similarly to that of the BMW i3 - rotate up for Drive and down for Reverse.

It is also the first time we've encountered only two window switches to control all four windows. Above the row, there is a button labeled "BACK." When pressed, it assigns the rear window controls to the same two switches. It's a clever way to save space (not that it's cluttered to begin with), but the ergonomics are poor, and we don't like that it's a haptic touch button, so half the time we're unsure if our input has been registered or not. On a side note, the electrically-operated door handles do not pop out like those of a Tesla or Range Rover, but they function well and are not as finicky or ambiguous to operate as those in the Lexus NX.

Similar to VW's other offerings, the ID.4's infotainment system is its weakest link. The audio menu layout is confusing and convoluted despite the large 12.0-inch screen, large fonts, and quick response time. Additionally, the touch capacitive slider buttons are not very sensitive and do not light up at night. It simply lacks cohesion, and we had to resort to Apple CarPlay to prevent our blood pressure from bursting through the sunroof. The touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel are not much of a solution either. Bring back the old hard buttons, like those found in modern Audis.

The news improves as one begins driving. The ID.4 employs an 82 kWh lithium-ion battery and is available in RWD and AWD configurations. The rear-wheel-drive model has a range of 422 km, while the all-wheel-drive model has 394 km. Volkswagen estimates a charge time of 38 minutes from 0 to 80 percent using a 125 kW DC fast charger.

Our test vehicle was an AWD model, so we were unable to drive one of the few RWD Volkswagens produced in modern times. However, the variety stood out the most to us. VW advertises a range of 394 kilometers, and we were able to travel 380 kilometers on a single charge. This also accounted for braking regeneration and a few lengthy highway stretches. In comparison 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 (334 km), this is, to say the least, remarkable (435 km).

However, this does not make it quick. The all-wheel-drive ID.4 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds with 295 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque on tap from its two electric motors. However, it lags behind the Mustang Mach-E (5.1s) and Volvo XC40 Recharge (4.4s) in acceleration (4.9s). At least it's faster than the battery-powered MINI Cooper SE (7.3s). Consequently, the ID.4 is not very engaging to drive, and it lacks the fun and dynamic personality of the e-Golf. The ID.4 excels at comfort and day-to-day driving duties, which is quite common among modern EVs, which focus less on performance and more on comfort and daily driving duties.

But holy Batman body roll. If you throw the ID.4 into corners at higher speeds, you'll wish it had stiffer springs. It was initially disconcerting - typically, with the batteries mounted low for a lower center of gravity, these EVs tend to handle well, such as the lithe and athletic C40 Recharge, which practically begs for a canyon drive. Though there is an abundance of mechanical and tire grip thanks to AWD and large, sticky tires, the ID.4's ride is neither grounded nor stable, but it is comfortable and compliant enough for the majority of drivers to never mind or complain. It is quite a large SUV, but thanks to a light steering rack, excellent outward visibility, and an elevated seating position, it never feels intimidating to drive and is easy to maneuver through tight parking spaces and city streets.

Volkswagen has nailed the mainstream EV formula with the ID.4, which features redesigned exterior sheetmetal, ample interior space, and a low starting price. Volkswagen is currently only accepting orders for 2023 models, as all 2022 models have sold out due to issues with the global supply chain. Even our test vehicle was from the model year 2021, as the 2022 models have not yet arrived. However, the pricing, options, and trim levels remain unchanged.

If you can tolerate the irritating infotainment system and the dull driving experience, then the ID.4 should be on your shortlist. Because if you're looking for a no-frills, roomy, zero-emission commuter car that won't break the bank or cause range anxiety, then the ID.4 is worth the wait.

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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