The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 battery-electric compact CUV has been selling at a rate of around 2,000 per month since its launch in March as rear-wheel drive. Today VW delivered the missing piece of any SUV lineup: the all-wheel-drive ID.4.
When VW put the 201bhp single drive motor in the back of its MEB electric car platform, it meant that the 94bhp motor added to the front axle would never be the dominant propulsion source for it. the AWD version. Instead, the second motor improves traction, resulting in significantly faster acceleration out of line. Volkswagen quotes 5.4 seconds for 0-60 mph (97 km / h), compared to 7.6 seconds for the RWD version. The ID.4 with AWD, in other words, accelerates out of line as fast as VW’s GTI hot hatch.
It is difficult to identify an ID.4 AWD
You’ll be hard-pressed to distinguish an ID.4 with four-wheel drive from one without. There is a little “AWD” badge on the tailgate, but that’s about it. Colors stay the same, trim levels are largely the same, and most people won’t notice the 0.6in. (15 mm) increase in ride height. Likewise, you’ll have to drive both versions back-to-back to notice the increased turning radius of the all-wheel drive: 36.4ft (11m) versus the unusually tight 33.5ft (10.2m) of the all-wheel drive. RWD version.
We drove three different ID.4 Pro AWD models over 240 miles on winding mountain roads outside of Nashville in September. It was a good reminder that battery-powered electric cars tend to offer good handling (as the heavy battery is mounted under the cabin floor) but continually remind us of their weight when cornering (for the same reason).
On the road, the ID.4 AWD accelerates quickly, but that’s a far cry from the explosive and explosive effect of some other EVs. More powerful regenerative braking is available via the “B” setting rather than the conventional “D”, but although it offers largely one-pedal driving, the driver still needs to brake to bring the ID.4 to a full stop. Riding modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Traction, and Custom, but after experimenting with Eco (slower) and Sport (a little faster), we left it in Comfort by default.
Designed to be different, not weird
Although VW is touting it as a crossover SUV, the ID.4 looks more like a raised wagon or long hatchback than the tall, upright utilities sold today. Perhaps the requirements for lower aerodynamic drag in electric vehicles to maximize range will lead to more “SUVs” on a human scale.
The interior is clean and uncluttered, with plenty of storage space and many functions accessible via the central touch screen. Much has been written about the sluggishness of the infotainment system; VW promises continuous live updates to improve responsiveness and add functionality. Otherwise, the interior is roomy and family-friendly, although some quirks remain: why the hell did VW remove the rear window switches from the driver’s armrest, swapping a separate button so drivers have to switch between the front and the rear, using the same two switches for both?
Not that effective
The ID.4 range is just not as energy efficient as other EVs, especially any comparable sized Tesla. The AWD Y Long Range model, for example, has a 75 kWh battery and is rated by the EPA at 326 miles (525 km) of range. The ID.4 AWD, with an increasingly larger 77 kWh pack, only manages a range of 249 miles (401 km).
Our AWD test car’s digital display told us we got 2.7 to 3.1 miles (4.4 to 5.0 km) per kilowatt hour. This directly translates to a lower range than any Tesla. A Tesla is more expensive, of course, but it has over a decade of experience in the efficiency of every facet of an EV. Volkswagen is not doing this yet.
Yet the ID.4 (photo above) clearly finds buyers. In part, that’s because it’s the first non-Tesla EV compact SUV to hit the market with all-wheel drive and a starting price of less than $ 40,000. It is now the place to be in the new car market, with hundreds of thousands of Toyota RAV4s, Honda CR-Vs, Nissan Rogues and a host of others competing for couples and young family buyers, including VW’s Tiguan and Taos.
Target Toyota more than Tesla
But Volkswagen does not pit the ID.4 against other electric CUVs. Instead, it’s targeting those popular gasoline vehicles – and executives say the ID.4 brings VW “a lot of wins” among buyers who’ve never owned a Volkswagen before. The electric CUV is also the best-selling model in the VW lineup, rotating every 12 days.
It remains to be seen if this will last once VW has exhausted its reservations – more than 10,000, according to executives – and new competitors enter the market. Two of the most likely are the ’22 Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the ’22 Kia EV6. Volume deliveries of both are expected to begin in the first half of 2022, giving buyers at least five mass BEV crossovers to compare and contrast.
Today all ID.4s are delivered from Germany. But VW regularly works on building ID.4 at its only US assembly plant in Chattanooga, TN.
The ’21 Volkswagen ID.4 is not the best among BEVs in a single metric. Its autonomy is sufficient but far from impressive, given the size of its battery. It offers nothing like Tesla Levels of Efficient Energy Use. The acceleration is sufficient but far from being like a rocket. The shape and design are not stunning. Its interior mixes convention and simplicity, but will not surprise or particularly delight most passengers. And the infotainment system clearly needs more work.
Still, the ID.4 adds to a subtly attractive package. The AWD version is the icing on the cake and will likely increase sales of ID.4 in states experiencing winter conditions. Prices start at $ 43,675 (plus $ 1,195 shipping), which is $ 3,680 more than the RWD model. Deliveries started in September.