We really admire VW. After the Dieselgate trauma, the brand was really on the ropes, especially here in the U.S. We wouldn’t have been surprised if the German brand would have pulled out of the US market. But they didn’t. Instead, the fixed what was wrong with the Diesels, and started building exciting new models, like the all-new GTI and the Jetta GLI.
VW also threw itself into being one of the leaders in EV tech. The first offering we saw was the E-Golf that we really enjoyed, but like many other carmakers, it was taking an existing vehicle and re-engineering it to be electric.
The ID.4 is a whole different ball game. Designed from the get-go as an EV, it shows VW’s unique point of view on the electrified future. Does it have enough to charge us up? Let’s look.
Sleek and Sporty Design
While VW taunted us with an EV Transporter Van at car shows, that’s not what we’re getting – at least not yet. But we’re not complaining – this is one sweet-looking ride.
The face is fresh and light, with the familiar VW badge in the center of the nose – illuminated on our Pro S trim model – with large premium projector LED lights, while an illuminated LED line across the top works as a daytime running light. There’s a large mesh pattern lower grille that adds a touch of sport with a nice chrome-style trim at the bottom for a little bling.
The overall size is interesting. While the swoopy lines and tough stance make the ID look big, it’s quite sensibly sized, being nearly 5-inches shorter than the Tiguan. It should easily fit in your garage.
The profile is especially sporty, with muscular fender flares and a coupe-like sweptback line. Our tester had the optional Gradient Package, that adds silver roof rails and accents, a black roof, and massive 20-inch alloy wheels that really sell the sporty vibe. Many people kept saying how it reminded them of the new Mustang EV – not bad company at all.
The rear echoes the front, with large VW badge, and a lighted line that crosses the width of the tailgate. Up top, a rear spoiler adds an aero touch while the lower fascia is blacked out with silver accents. Our tester was finished in Dusk Blue, and we really loved the color, making our ID.4 stand out in a crowd of white, silver, and gray SUV’s that seem to be the colors du jour.
Elegant and Minimalist Cabin
The interior of the ID.4 is a showstopper. Even if you’ve been in any recent VW’s, this is a major departure. The first thing that captures the eye in our tester is the elegant two-tone effect with the upper dash and door panels in a warm brown, sitting atop what VW calls Galaxy Black. The leatherette seats have a simple design, but with 12-way power adjustment for both front seats, and memory and massage for driver, it’s easy to get comfortable.
Getting in is a kick, since the key fob not only allows keyless entry, but you also find that once you sit down the car is up and running (as it were) and you have full usability once you put your foot on the brake. No ignition button – it takes a little while to get used to. Same on exiting – you push Park, it starts shutting down, and once you open the door and it senses you’ve left the driver seat, it’s off. Very cool.
Like many EV’s, there’s a large 12-inch Tesla-like tablet in the center dash, with a smaller 5.3-inch customizable display behind the steering wheel. On the right hand “ear” of that small display is a twist-type knob you use to select gears. Simple and effective.
That simple and effective mantra covers much of the interior there are very few switches, but the haptic-style controls on the steering wheel let you cover a lot of functions. (We do miss a volume knob, though). To keep everything fun and clutter free, the info-tainment includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus wireless charging for your smartphone.
That only takes you so far though, we found the info-tainment platform clumsy and frustrating to use. This is a new system, unique to the ID.4, and we’re sure they will iron out the issues, but for now we are not fans of the interface.
Part of the benefits of the EV design, the interior is spacious, the rear seats are comfy for adults, and when they are up, luggage space is good. Flipping the rear seats gives loads of room. VW was also clever in giving you a couple of hidden storage spaces below the floor – one is great for stowing stuff; the other is for the plug and adapter that allows you to charge the ID at home.
Electric Glide in Blue
Driving the ID is a treat – but you have to be careful. For those who think this swoopy little guy will be an electric version of the lovable GTI, or the new EV Mustang, you might be a little disappointed. Instead of punchy power, VW tuned for rapid progress that’s smooooooth.
Our tester was the single-motor rear wheel drive version (a dual-motor, AWD version is coming later), that pumps out a strong 201 horsepower, and of course, being an EV, all that power is available as soon as you touch the accelerator. Many competitors like to wow you with tire-shredding zip off the line – instead the ID is more measured, but in Sport setting it feels quick, and the complete lack of noise makes it seem whoosh, whisper quiet. Fun.
The ride and handling are matched to the power tuning, so you’ll find the VW rides smooth and quiet, and turns in responsively. It’s a lovely vehicle to drive – it just doesn’t make you want to go find your favorite twisty road.
More important than outright acceleration for most ID buyers will be the range, which is a very good 250 miles. Competitors like the Hyundai Kona EV at 258 miles, and the Kia Niro at 239 miles put the VW right in the fray. It’s more than enough for the average driver – you won’t be suffering range anxiety unless you’re planning a long vacation.
When it does come time to charge, you can choose DC fast charging, or use the adapter for 110 or 240-volt connections.
The ID is also well equipped with safety gear, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go – which works superbly with the EV’s silky power delivery – Lane Assist, Emergency Assist, Forward Collision and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. It makes the already comfortable drive even more relaxing.
What’s the Charge for VW’s EV?
Well, like most Europeans, it’s all in how you spec it out. The base ID.4 is the Pro edition, starting at $39,995. Don’t forget, the government wants you to drive one of these babies, so that price drops to $32,495 after potential federal tax credit. Your state may kick in as well.
Our tester was the Pro S (which stands for Statement), that ladles on the luxury, with premium LED projector headlights, illuminated grille and VW logo, a monstrous panorama roof, Pro Max navigation with 12-inch display, 12-way power adjustable front seats with leatherette, and hands-free liftgate. Yours for $44,495.
Our tester also had the Gradient Package, for $1,500. Add in $1,195 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $47,190. Remember that you can probably knock $7,500 off that with the tax credit.
Competitors would include the Mustang Mach-E starting at $47,840, it’s stylish and sporty, but you will be dealing with slightly less range, (230 miles) if that matters to you. We enjoyed the smaller Kia Niro EV which starts at $45,825. Those with European tastes will want to look at the Volvo XC40 Recharge, but starting at $55,085 and with a 208-mile range, we’d choose the VW.
Smooth, stylish, elegant, and comfortable, the VW ID.4 is a delight – and should be on any EV-buyer’s shopping list.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.