As always with all of my reviews I do my best to put aside any potential bias or preconceptions on a vehicle/brand and just focus on the car and the whole ownership/test experience, however, I must admit that my previous love for VW is still tainted by Dieselgate and I will continue to try hard not to forget that but I must admit it’s refreshing to see VWs push to EVs (even if they were forced).
The ID.4 fills a gap that more and more car drivers appear to want (myself included), a crossover SUV that provides the best of all worlds with essentially enough space for a family, a dog and plenty of luggage; performance that doesn’t suck when it’s just you driving alone; decent all-round visibility and plenty of modern features. After what felt like an eternity (full story at the end for anyone interested) in getting this test drive, I finally can now give my initial impressions:
- It’s an EV, which instantly makes it better than 95% of cars on the road, it’s simple to drive and doesn’t require you to read the manual (except how to use some of the lane assist stuff).
- VW offset the carbon produced in the manufacturing and delivery of the car as standard (why do other companies, especially Tesla not do this as standard?)
- Probably the most obvious and important positive, it’s a crossover / SUV which makes it spacious and an ideal size for a family, lots of head and foot room for both passengers and driver with a flat floor in the back for the middle row person.
- Visually appealing from the side and rear, the front I’m not fully sold on though but I think that will grow on me and that is of course personal opinion.
- A hatchback (praise the lord) and a decent boot size makes it extremely practical and decent for dog/s and things like pushchairs etc.
- The turning circle is impressive and the steering is light (could be perceived as a slight negative to some).
- High vehicle giving great forward and side visibility (obviously this will hurt range).
- Decent all-round visibility (although I amazingly couldn’t manage to adjust the left-hand mirror positioning).
- The ID Light (big light bar which stretches the width of the car under the windscreen) is a nice touch (same in the ID.3) although not that well integrated, works really well for navigation though.
- Some pleasant LED lighting in the cabin.
- Throttle response fairly dull and the performance, in general, is ‘OK’ but feels quite sluggish, however, I suspect for most people (excluding performance EV owners) it’s plenty fast enough. The 30-50mph performance is more enjoyable than the 0-30mph which is saying something for an EV!
- Quite a bit of wind noise in the cabin, nothing that would mean you needed to increase the level of conversation between passengers but noticeable when driving alone with the radio off at 60-70mph.
- Rear-wheel drive only, other cars at this price point are AWD (GTX Model ‘Coming Soon’ with AWD)
- 4 year/50,000 mile warranty and 8-year/100,000 miles warranty on battery, this is good but would be nice if it was longer for the main car. Servicing is included for 2 years/20,000 miles.
- With a 77kWh battery I would expect a decent range but 180-290 miles (based on EV-Database) is on the edge of acceptable for me, in short, anything under 200 miles I find adds to stress levels and given half of the year it’s cold in the UK I’d imagine range would be close to 200 for quite a chunk of the time.
- Only 125kW capable DC charging would be nice to see 175-250kW in 2021 although nice to see 11kW onboard charger (clearly aimed at EU market).
- Only the ‘MAX’ (£49,990+) comes with an electronic boot (with foot operation), HUD, Heat Pump and Dynamic Chassis Control. I wish the boot and heat pump were standard.
- The van/truck-like front end look (personal opinion) but not great for efficiency.
- Navigation was OK but painful at times, e.g. asking for a full address to be entered and not just a rough area.
- Drum brakes on the rear, the argument is that the power isn’t needed, it’s better for maintenance and provides less resistance when driving but it feels like they’re cheapening out personally. I think the jury is still out on this one.
- No obvious way to keep regen braking on all the time apart from selecting ‘B’ on the gear selector.
- Noise from the motors reminds me of an old 2014/15 Model S that’s well driven, a slight hum when accelerating (especially at 70%+ throttle) and when using regen.
- The seats aren’t sporty, so they’re not hugging the driver/passengers around corners but that’s obviously fine for 90% of the time considering it’s a family car!
- When cornering there is quite a lot of body roll which is exaggerated with the seat issue above and is primarily due to the height of the car, it’s obviously reduced quite a bit thanks to the heavy battery at the bottom of the car but it’s still very noticeable.
- The Auto Hold is slow to release giving a lag feeling / or ‘dead pedal’ feeling, making it clunky when moving away from roundabouts etc and once it gives you full power it actually pushes you harshly back in a jerky motion. This is the same on the Hyundai Kona EV and several others with this similar system.
- No one-foot braking and therefore regen could be a lot stronger.
- Some cheap plastic/materials in the cabin, I expected better.
- Quite a lot of gloss black materials (gear selector/temperature settings/steering wheel buttons), this looks nice until you touch it then it leaves marks/fingerprints/scratches etc and makes the car instantly look dirty.
- The software remains buggy and slow, VW really needs to sort this but I do wonder if they actually will…
- The doors were quite heavy and other than the drivers door actually quite difficult to open (I’m not sure if this was just the test car being new or not but something to double check).
- No powered boot unless you spec the Pro model.
- Slow to load certain menu pages with 5-6 second ‘Please Wait’ loading screens.
- Lane keep system doesn’t alert you when it’s disengaged itself… yet people say Tesla’s system is unsafe 🤷♂️
- Lots of stalks and buttons (e.g. wipers) with no onscreen confirmation of what setting you’re on, so you have to look down to confirm.
- No frunk!
- Doesn’t give tyre pressures as standard, just warns you of low/flats.
- No connected services like Spotify but comes with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto.
- Damn annoying ‘haptic’ style buttons on the steering wheel (personal opinion but it just makes me feel like it’s 2010 again).
- The centre console feels cheap but quite usable, however, the space between it and the dash is wasted space though.
- At this price point, I’m expecting things like electronic memory seats (only on the Pro) instead of a manual handle that reminds me of my VW Polo from 2006.
- No flat-folding rear seats.
- Flimsy charge port (although Model 3 is worse).
Summary / tl;dr
A car that has had clear corners cut to keep it within budget but one that provides a high cabin feel with superb visibility whilst offering all the obvious benefits of an EV, it feels like the Pro spec is the one to go with but at that point you’re hitting over £52,000 which is well into Tesla Model Y territory. It’s slightly sluggish compared to its competitors but for most people that not going to be a major issue. Software is OK but lots of room for improvement but sadly I think that is unlikely to actually happen, at least anytime soon and certainly not from your driveway as promised.
The problem with crossovers SUV vehicles is they’re trying to do lots of things well and the one thing that is always hurt is the aerodynamics which for an EV is so vital to get right, the ID.4 compensates this with the 77kWh battery but other cars with even smaller batteries will likely go further on the same charge, that leads us on to the charging network which we all know is Tesla’s silver bullet solution to any problems you may foresee with their cars, VW try to counter this by providing access to their ‘We Charge’ app which gives you discounts on companies like Ionity IF you pay a monthly fee.
The ID.4 has several obvious rivals in the UK, the Ford Mach-E, Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model Y (when it arrives) alongside several other EVs which are similar but not quite so comparable such as the much smaller Hyundai Kona & Kia E-Niro and all of these cars are worth considering before buying the ID.4
Would I buy one? If the Model Y was available today no but considering we don’t know the date for that my answer is currently a yes but only the top spec’d version and I certainly would be tempted to wait for the ID.4 GTX which offers AWD capabilities…
Poll: Which would you rather have?
Extra: Moan about dealerships
To be clear this is a moan about the dealership model, the processes and steps required to get a test drive NOT the chap I was dealing with, he was friendly, welcoming, keen to learn and apologetic when delays were taking place.
Dealerships can really suck, unlike my recent Porsche or Polestar experience this experience really wasn’t great, the processes that the sales guy had to follow were crap and really harmed the experience, whoever is in charge of this process needs their heads knocked together and to start again, here are a few reasons why:
- It took ~35 minutes from arrival until I actually got in the ID4, in comparison barely 5 minutes with Porsche and under 30 minutes with Polestar (but that included a full-blown presentation).
- I was asked questions like: “If you purchased would you be fully insuring the car?”… 🙄 and “What do you want to get out of today?”, I simply said ‘a test drive’…?
- I had to listen to numerous BS about insurance, legal guidance, finance, gap insurance etc etc even when I had already expressed the fact I was a cash buyer that didn’t need or want any additional services and simply wanted to test drive (he apologised but explained he had to go through it all regardless).
- I had to take in a utility bill to prove my address, OK fair enough, I emailed it in (you know to save trees like we’ve been trying to do for the last 15 years), they then printed it out in front of me, showed it to the manager who then put it in the bin… 🤷♂️
- I was then asked to provide collateral for the test drive in the form of my Tesla key, funny enough you don’t get asked that at Porsche when test driving a £120,000 Taycan 🤷♂️ I asked if the car would be fully insured whilst in their care and soon enough I was in the ID4 with my Tesla key still in my pocket.
- Just give me the key, let me drive it and lets go!