Volkswagen changed the world in the 20th century with the advent and proficiency of the classic Beetle. One of the longest running vehicles in history, the Beetle was heralded as the “People’s Car”, a direct translation of Volkswagen’s name. Controversial Beetle origin story aside, it is one of the most recognizable cars on the road, boasting over 21 million original Beetles sold. The concept of the People’s Car was centered around affordability and simplicity, and that is where ID.4 enters the conversation.
Simplicity is key with the ID.4, and it delivers impressively. There is a fine line in balancing something existentially boring versus something utilitarian. The exterior styling carries VW design ethos into a new era, with high shoulders and smaller greenhouse window effects. There are many angles and creases, with closest resemblance to the Atlas in existing VW design, but it’s still a distinct departure from their traditions. With good reason, being the first major ground-up EV, the ID line of vehicles brings their own taste and even LED signature on the front fascia.
It’s not my favorite looking EV on the road, and in fact it reminds me of recent Nissan CUV designs, but it’s non-offensive and utilitarian, something even the harshest critics can appreciate. Opting for the Pro S over the Pro will grant illumination of the entire front grill and even the VW logo, which I am on the fence about. But it is a unique signature, especially at night. The grill itself is slim, a welcome departure from many EVs that retain the large grill element in faux form.
The side profile highlights the slim windows and uses lower plastic cladding to simultaneously protect lower paint and to create a slim profile line. I think it works quite well, and especially optioned with 20” alloy wheels and black/silver roof accents with the gradient package, it looks streamlined and classy.
Minimalism, we meet again. I was impressed by the lack of buttons and simple layout of everything in the interior. The steering wheel is backed by a “floating” 5 inch display, with another larger display floating above the center of the dashboard. The center console itself features cupholders and a storage cavity with a rolling door. The seats feature nice materials with unique designs in the pattern in the case of cloth, or ID.4 perforated into the leatherette seats on the Pro S trim. Seats and steering wheel are heated by default, with massaging function optional on the leatherette-featured Pro S seats.
In my opinion, however, the lack of buttons was taken a bit too far. The driver’s door has an interesting choice of only two window switches, with a “rear” capacitive switch that oscillates whether you control the front or rear windows with the single button. I would have greatly preferred 4 separate switches, though there is a neat trick to roll down all 4 windows by simply holding down the “rear” button. The lack of climate control immediately available also surprisingly disappointed me a bit, but more on that in the tech section below.
The gear selector also took some getting used to. It’s absolutely learnable, but I had to train myself to rotate the top forward to move forward. I realized it felt strange due to typically moving shifters forward to go into reverse. The panoramic moonroof is But all things considered, there is very little to complain about in the simplicity that is the ID.4 interior.
This tends to be the hot topic surrounding EVs, even with the standard consumer appliance shoppers. 0-60 times aren’t often discussed when shopping for say, a Honda Accord, but in the early-onset hype of EVs, it’s all the rage. Like the Beetle from last century, this people’s car is not built for speed, power, or maximum range. But it is far above adequate for those concerned shoppers. In fact, it is faster off the line than a new MINI JCW, if you need bragging rights. For those who wonder, the AWD does sprint to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, much quicker than the RWD version. In a more unique sense, here is a video showcasing its rally potential!
The AWD ID.4 is built on the MEB platform, and produces a total output of 295 hp and 339 lb-ft torque from the dual electric motors. But you can’t actually use the full amount of power unless battery is above 90%. This is somewhat disappointing given that by default, ID.4 recommends not charging above 80% on a daily basis to protect the battery. However, I never found it lacking even at low state of charge. Thermal management is also more than adequate, actually out-performing a Mustang Mach-E when engaging in spirited driving. This is done via a liquid thermal control system, though there is not yet an option for a heat pump in the US market.
The motors are 150 kW permanent magnet rear motor with 70 kW induction motor on the front. With normal cruising, the induction motor can truly shut off, resulting in comparable range to the RWD version of ID.4 as it only has to carry the weight of the front motor and not actually use it. Blending heavier throttle will engage front motor for better performance.
The gross battery capacity is 82 kWh, with roughly 77 kWh usable. This can charge at peak rates of around 125 kW, with a steadily declining yet respectable charging curve overall. The stated range is 240 miles rated by the EPA for the AWD Pro S, or 249 miles for the AWD Pro, which is a minor setback from the RWD variant. In our testing, we didn’t quite hit the EPA numbers due to its mixed number. Focusing on the highway rating, it’s very close to accurate, and is a respectable and usable range for most driving. Road trips are certainly feasible too, given the charging capability. It’s certainly not a segment leader in terms of range or charge speed, but it is easy to live with and far from the worst.
Somewhat along the lines of battery is the “B” mode, actually denoting “Brake”. Twisting the drive selector forward a second time will switch from D to B, implementing the maximum regeneration instead of cruising when letting off of the throttle. It’s not quite 1-pedal driving, but gets pretty close, and returns power to the battery fairly well, up to 0.13 g on lift off, or 0.3 g when adding the brake pedal.
The AWD variant is lifted 0.6 inches, sporting slightly larger brake rotors as well. Brakes are adequate, with a sometimes stiff pedal depending on traction control interference in sporty driving situations, but excellent blending between regeneration and physical braking. The beefed up suspension allows for a bit more capability off-road, but can also negatively affect ride comfort ever so slightly, as we felt that the RWD ID.4 rode a bit softer. Still, the AWD is well-damped and instills confidence in the corners.
The turning radius is negatively affected by having the front motor, but it still out-performs many vehicles of this size. Turning radius is just over 36 feet, up from the 33 feet of the RWD. Turning feel itself is well-sorted, being comfortable at low speeds and tightened in higher speeds, but pretty standard for electrically-assisted steering.
ID.4 is impressively practical, much more so than the Beetle I compare ethos with. Though there is no “frunk” to speak of, something many electric cars do feature, the cargo area is spacious. The trunk hosts an impressive hair over 30 cubic feet, with over 64 cubic feet by folding the rear seats. Volkswagen compares it to the Tiguan as far as interior room for those who need a mental comparison.
Efficiency is also respectable, coming in at around 3-3.5 miles per kWh. This is very similar to Mustang Mach-E, though a bit worse than the Model Y which comes in under 3 mi/kWh consistently. But even with buffers at the top and bottom of the battery pack, one can expect well over 200 miles of driving with any ID.4 variant, much more than the average daily driving even in larger cities.
The audio experience in ID.4 is one of the better “default OEM” options I have heard. It does reach somewhat of a volume ceiling around 60%, but as it’s increased it compresses rather than breaks up or distorts, which is a safe alternative to blowing ear-drums. You can also set the ID.4 to have a maximum startup volume when entering the car and adjust the parking volume depreciation. I really enjoyed the amount of personal calibration, true to German design.
Climate control operation is another unique experience, featuring capacitive piano gloss black surfaces that respond to various gestures. Swiping left and right will raise and lower the temperature, with a single tap producing a single degree change. Holding both fingers on up/down temperature will turn on that side’s heated seat. To change more in-depth climate control settings you do have to navigate to a specific menu, though they do have easy-to-understand prompts for adjusting various climate needs.
The safety technology on the ID.4 is excellent, with their IQ.DRIVE driver assistance and safety being standard. The lane centering and adaptive cruise control is some of the best in the business, providing confidence to the drive and implementing one of the best driver awareness tools I have seen: a capacitive steering wheel. Rather than requiring a specific torque input from the driver to tell the car they are paying attention, it simply relies on the natural conductivity of the human body via touch. Thus, you can have your hands lightly on the wheel or simply touch it to let the system know you’re there.
It’s not perfect, but it should absolutely be a high contender for any consumer in the market for electrification. The attention to detail and simplicity is appreciated, even to the point of default driving being coasting rather than strong 1-pedal driving. The entire concept is built to make owning an EV simple. Sure, there are quirks. The center console is impressively minimalist, somewhat to a fault. Piano black is used almost exclusively on touch-points, but these are minor nitpicks on an otherwise fun and engaging ownership experience.
Priced as tested, $50,870 is comparable to many CUVs on the market. This is especially proof to the nay-sayers, showing that EVs don’t have to be high-priced luxury vehicles. The ID.4, like the Beetle, aims at being catered to the masses rather than the few. When you factor in the starting price of $39,995 and remaining government incentives, this places the ID.4 in the running for one of the most affordable EVs on the market, especially in its segment. Volkswagen has a lot riding on the advent of their MEB vehicles, and the ID.4 meets many marks of being a proper appliance-with-character. It’s relatively simple, affordable, fun, and practical. If this is the “New Car of the People”, I can’t wait to see where it leads.
- Exterior design 8/10
- Interior design 8/10
- Materials 7/10
- Build quality 8.5/10
- Comfort 8/10
- Capacity 8.5/10
- Acceleration 7/10
- Handling 7/10
- Efficiency 8/10
- Connected services 9/10
- UI/UX 7.5/10
- Active Safety 9/10
Editor’s Assessment 8.7/10
- Value 9/10
- Market placement 9/10
- Editors Influence 8/10