Whilst the ID.3 is VW’s ‘Third Pillar’ in its People’s Car trilogy after the Beetle and the Golf, it is the ID.4 that is the important one. This is the first of the German’s new EV brand to be sold in all its important global markets, in other words, North America and China. Not only will it be sold there, but also built in its factories in both territories.
In some respects, this is its difficult second album. The ID.4 impresses because it is so unexceptional at being different. In other words, it won’t scare the VW cognoscenti. If this car had been launched with a ‘Golf’ badge on its rump, it wouldn’t have been a shock.
And that is all very well when you are introducing your very first ground-up new EV, but maybe, after such well-received reviews, it would have been nice to experiment a little with your next one. Let the designers off the leash a little. Allow the engineers to throw off the shackles and have a bit of fun.
But they haven’t. It is another example of a worthy (and in some ways, really quite excellent) Volkswagen. Please don’t get me wrong, this is a really good car, and as family transport, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where you would ever need anything more expensive than the £40,800 VW charges you for the ID.4 1st Edition. The interior is roomy and comfortable. The standard equipment level is high, and the boot simply cavernous.
Even the 204PS motor that powers the rear wheels provides more than adequate propulsion, seeing 62 mph flash past from rest in 8.5 seconds. And as for range, well, according to WLTP figures, the 77kWh battery should be capable of nigh-on 300 miles from a single charge. Which you can fill to 80% from a 125kW charger in 38 minutes. In other words, it could be every car you might ever need.
Except it isn’t enough these days to be good. You have to be better than that, especially given the talent that is about to descend onto the market with the Ford Mustang Mach E, Nissan’s Ariya and the sensational looking Kia EV6. And from within the VW Group itself, Skoda are about to unleash the Enyaq, a car that shares the MEB platform with the ID.4, but is, dare I say it, better looking.
The suspension, whilst comfortable enough, is too vocal on anything other than billiard-table-smooth roads, and the brakes (oddly drums at the rear) don’t give any real confidence. Talking of which, there isn’t the range of adjustment to the regeneration that comes with the majority of cars at this level, not giving you to the option to tailor it how you like.
And the annoying switchgear remains, touch sensitive and fiddly in some areas, but giving you clear and precise haptic feedback in others. It’s as if two separate departments designed the driving environment.
And yet, despite my criticism, this car will sell. Like I said, it is perfectly adequate at everything it does. And for many, that is all that matters, but for the rest of us, you just wish that they had pushed the boundaries a bit further. Put it this way, the ID.4 isn’t Led Zepplin II when it could have been. No, when it should have been.