Why ID.4 is breaking new ground for Volkswagen

You don’t need a key to start the ID.4. In fact you don’t even need to press an ignition switch.

A £50,000 motor. It only seems like good value when you realise how well equipped it is.
A £50,000 motor. It only seems like good value when you realise how well equipped it is.

We are in a hi-tech world nowadays where you simply need to be in the car for it to switch itself on.

Putting it delicately, your bottom is the key. If the car senses you are there – and mine had little option – then it will fire up. Quietly, of course, for this is an electric car.

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Lighter weights among you may need to plonk down with a thud, but to be honest the car is sophisticated enough to detect even a slim posterior. And that’s something I never expected to have to write in a roadtest report.

It might seem austere but it is in fact wonderfully easy to live with

This is the world of Volkswagen. Once we had proper wind-based names – Golf (Gulf), Scirocco, Jetta (jet stream), Passat (trade wind)\ and Polo (polar winds) – but now a new family is born.

Now we have the ID group of electric vehicles with ID standing for intelligent design. And tested here is the ID.4, which is officially an SUV but feels like a performance estate.

It is huge and quick. Any fears that such a lumbersome beast might struggle are swiftly evaporated when it ever so silently touches 60mph in 8.5 seconds. Motorway speeds aren’t really any noisier, even on a blustery weekend in Yorkshire which toppled trees and part of a friend’s house roof.

It has huge wheels, which threaten to be noisy but aren’t, and a vast boot which starts at 543 litres and rises to 1,575 with the seats folded. It has the look of a van inside but is slightly more graceful outside. Does it look like a Volkswagen? Not yet but we aren’t fully au fait with the ID family yet. Give it time.

It is stunningly well equipped, as you might demand for a fifty grand car, but it feels sparse. The cabin is incredibly uncluttered. Even the “lights on” symbols are tucked away down below the steering wheel. Perhaps a little too concealed for my liking. Not that you need to switch on the lights, for like most things lights are automated.

The only data you really need are speed and battery percentage, and both are prominent. It also has a very easy to crack the cruise control, which is intelligent enough to maintain a safe distance from traffic ahead.

The stereo needs a degree in modern technology, but actually it gets easier. You can set mood lighting – I don’t know anyone who would break from the factory settings – but it does give the car a luxury air.

All electric cars need some getting used to. But things are improving. It has a range of 317 miles, and it can be replenished from 0 to 80 per cent in 38 minutes – time for a coffee and browse of the The Yorkshire Post.

This Volkswagen is its first full electric SUV and the brand’s first global electric vehicle. Following the ID.3, the ID.4 is the second model from Volkswagen to be based on its new modular electric drive platform known as MEB.

Volkswagen wants to be the world market leader in electric mobility and is investing more than £9bn by 2023. It expects to produce 1.5m electric cars per year by 2025.

The ID.4 models came in ‘Pro Performance’ specification with a 77kWh battery and 204PS motor, with ID.4 Life, Family and Max trims also using this setup.

Customers can now opt for the 77 kWh ‘Pro’ battery (with 334-mile range), or the 52 kWh ‘Pure’ battery (with 216-mile range). Pro models are available with a 204PS motor, while Pure models are offered with a choice of either 148PS or 170PS. All come with rear-wheel drive, except the ID.4 GTX, which features dual-motor all-wheel drive.

The rear-wheel drive layout provides agile handling and good traction, especially when accelerating from a standstill. It also has the added benefit of a compact turning circle of just 10.2 metres.

ID.4 is designed to be a pleasure to drive, thanks to its low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution.

The production-ready ID.4 was unveiled in September 2020 and the ID.4 1st Edition went on sale in the UK last January. Now we have the ID.4 GTX and GTX Max. Current top-sellers in the ID.4 range are the Pro Performance powertrain, tested here

It is a stunningly well equipped car with some sophisticated features such as a drowsiness monitor to sense if your attention is wavering and a three-zone air conditioning system, plus keyless entry.

It has land assist, emergency braking and a camera controlled warning system should the vehicle drift from its lane. It also has Alexa-style voice control systems and a camera which can read road signs.

Does it feel like a £50,000 car? Not until you start analysing what you get and it suddenly feels like a bargain.

Volkswagen ID.4 Pro Performance

Price: £45,345. As tested it cost £49,400.

Motor: An electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery via rear wheel drive. It emits 204ps and charges to 80 per cent in 38 minutes

Performance: Top speed 99mph and 0 to 60mph in 8.5 seconds

Range: 317 miles

Emissions: 0

Insurance: Group 30P

Warranty: Eight years, 100,000 miles battery warranty