Introduced in 2021, the Volkswagen ID.4 is the brand’s first dedicated electric vehicle based on the company’s all-new MEB architecture that will be the building block for many models to come from WV, Audi and Porsche.
The ID.4 is a crossover SUV by its design, tall and wide. It’s longer and taller than a VW GTI but shorter than a Tiguan. It’s design is typical Volkswagen DNA in its form and lines, no surprises here other than a few futuristic details and surface renders fitting of its place in the world.
As expected there’s LED lighting all around, a panoramic moon roof and 19-inch wheels on our Pro S AWD tester. And as tested it prices out at just under $50,000.
Upon sitting behind the wheel I was pleased by the familiar Volkswagen smell. If you have owned VW’s as I have you know exactly what I mean, it gives a sense of home. The cabin is very futuristic and new in its design and layout yet retains the quirky character I’ve come to expect from the brand.
Seating here was leatherette with plenty of comfort, space and a high seating position. The instrument cluster is a small compact piece floating above the steering wheel. Its gear selector is a cute and innovative rocker toggle at the right side of it. Quirky but it works.
The main user interface is a floating touchscreen at the center with a few but minimal hard controls for common tasks. It looks nice but not the easiest thing to live with. You have to page back and forth through different menu trees to adjust your HVAC, then to your audio, and to other things. Add to the extra steps for common tasks a level of complication and lack of intuitiveness, its just inconvenient in spite of all its excellent feature content and connectivity.
Packaging for the interior is good however with its 82 kWh battery pack located under its pancake flat floor. It offers a variety of charging formats including DC fast charging which while there are few such chargers about these days, makes it a short snappy deal when you can find one. Rest assured, some day DC fast chargers will be common and the expected. Having its capability is a must.
Powering our ID.4 are two motors front and rear with a total of 295 horsepower. I found that the power is more than adequate to move its 4,600 pounds of mass. The powertrain has the level of refinement and finesse in its daily operation and performance that befits Volkswagen well.
The adjustable regenerative braking and one-pedal functionality is nice too with a strong powerful re-gen capacity if you like using it this way. Unfortunately I found that no matter how you set it up it always defaults back to a factory setting when you turn the car off.
That gets us to the handling experience which for me was fatally marred all week by the standard Lane Assist which is part of the IQ Drive system which always defaults to “on” every time you start the car. If it worked well and could be lived with it might not be such an issue, but it is overly aggressive and over-reacts in a way that is jarring, unnerving and dare I say it almost unsafe.
Driving in the crowded city, it’s constantly grabs the wheel and fights you through traffic, poorly marked roads and construction zones to a point where I just wanted to park the damn thing and walk away. The crux of it is that you cannot permanently turn it off. Instead you have to page through three menu levels on the touchscreen – after it takes its sweet time to boot up – every time you start the car. Annoying AF. Just give us an off-switch on the dash like other car companies do already – not everyone wants a mother-in-law in the backseat grabbing at the wheel constantly.
Looking past that deal breaker for me, the handling of the ID.4 is otherwise delightful. It’s one of the most refined and sporty feeling EV’s I’ve tested of late including the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford Mach-E. The ride isn’t overly bouncy or firm, it very much has the refinement and fun to drive factor as a GTI, albeit a very heavy one. It’s just a shame the Lane Assist system gets in the way of joy at every turn.
This is a car that I almost absolutely liked and loved to the point I would recommend it in the form of our Id Buy It list but for the compulsory aggressive driving aids. It’s pricing, features, performance and livability as well as refinement and quality are all top notch. Give me an off-switch for the controlling mother in law, and I’d buy it.