In Part One of this post, we looked at why the Volkswagen ID4 is the company’s next big gamble, and whether it met basic price and practicality requirements for UK drivers. Now let’s turn to the other ingredients for SUV success — has VW cooked up a Sunday lunch or a dog’s dinner?
If you really can’t find five minutes to read Part One of our article, here’s our summary: so far, so good. In other words, VW’s latest electric offering does what’s expected of an SUV and doesn’t cost too much. Still, as we pointed out last time, motoring history is littered with affordable, practical cars that no one bought. To succeed, the ID4 needs to avoid three potential sales-killers:
- It can’t look boring or naff
- It must be a nice place to sit in
- It mustn’t drive like a barge going through custard
How does the ID4 measure up?
When you’re a VW Group specialist, it’s pretty difficult to be objective about how a VW Group car looks. But trying to put bias aside, we think Volkswagen’s designers have got the ID4 just right.
For an SUV, the ID4 looks sleek and streamlined. That’s reflected in a drag coefficient of just 0.28 (for comparison, the closest ICE equivalent, the VW Tiguan, can only manage 0.35). Losing the internal combustion engine has also allowed the designers to shorten the bonnet, giving the SUV a much better visual balance. Other welcome design touches include the slimline lights, which flow nicely into light bands that stretch across the front and rear.
Viewed from any angle, the ID4 looks unfussy without being severe, characterful without being divisive, futuristic without being contrived. It’s the type of smart design that we think has mass appeal.
Interior Design, Comfort and Equipment
The ID4 cabin looks like a pleasant place to spend time in. VW has continued the minimal-but-not-too-minimal theme seen on the outside into the interior. Although the 5.3-inch instrument cluster and 12-inch centre console take care of the display and most controls, VW has not gone full-on Tesla. In this way, the cabin manages to look unfussy without being boringly featureless. VW’s decision to retain some physical controls has practical advantages too: it avoids the silliness of having to scroll through submenus to do something as basic as opening an airvent.
The cabin materials look suitably plush, at least in the only variant currently available to reviewers — the high-end First Edition. As with any car, expectations might have to be dialed down for the lower spec models. However, the physical proportions of the interior won’t vary, and owners can look forward to a cabin that feels spacious and airy — aided by the slim A-pillars and panoramic sunroof.
Driver aids are plentiful, with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, and pedestrian monitoring as standard. The rear-mounted reversing camera is complemented effectively by a simulated bird’s-eye view.
Infotainment is in line with what might be expected at this level, with the ID4 supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There ares some reports that the voice controls are less than stellar. However, as the ID4 offers over-the-air software updates, owners will automatically benefit from any improvements as time goes on.
Just to be clear, we haven’t yet driven the ID4 ourselves. What we can do is gather together the views of journalists who have. And the consensus is really positive.
Car Magazine, for example reports that:
…the ID.4 rarely puts a foot wrong. It’s impressively composed on the bumpy cross-forest gravel piste, the banked high-speed oval, the topsy-turvy handling course and the watered skid pad.
They go onto say:
Thanks to the low centre of gravity and the balanced weight distribution, the ID.4 hugs the road like a velcro-strapped centipede.
Auto Express concurs, commenting that:
It’s relaxing on the move, too. Despite the 1st Edition trim’s 20-inch alloys, the car rides and handles fairly sweetly. At a cruise on A and B-roads, only the biggest bumps upset the car’s relaxed gait.
As for acceleration, the figures tell us what we need to know. For the 0-62mph sprint, the ID4 clocks in at a respectable 8.5 seconds. That’s not going to trouble any performance SUVs, but it’s still more sprightly than much of the direct competition. For comparison, the 148 bhp petrol-fueled Tiguan petrol can only manage 9.2 seconds, and the less powerful 1.5 litre variant takes a leisurely 10.9s.
All in all, the ID4 offers a driving experience that’s more than adequate for its target market.
Drumroll, please… the verdict!
VW has described the ID4 as their most important car since the Beetle. They had to get it right, and they’ve poured everything into making it a success. Looking at the key requirements for a mass-market SUV, we think they’ve cracked it. The ID4 isn’t the first all-electric SUV, but in terms of design and desirability, it’s a leap forward. We’ll be watching the sales figures with interest!
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