8 years or 100,000 miles
Volkswagen's most significant global EV is this one, the mid-sized ID.4 crossover, here usefully improved. An upgraded motor brings significant increases in both pulling power and driving range, while inside, the cabin's more media-savvy and user-friendly. As before, this contender's practical, decent to drive and reasonable value. And there's the option of AWD if you want it.
The ID.4 was Volkswagen's first global EV, launched in 2020 and tasked with accounting for a third of all the brand's EV sales around the world. It's that important, built not only in Germany (at VW's Zwickau plant) but also by factories in China and the US. Under the skin (and dimensionally) the ID.4 is much the same as its cousin, the Skoda Enyaq iV and (like that car) uses an extended version of the predominantly rear-driven MEB platform we first saw on the smaller ID.3. All though, hasn't really gone to plan for Volkswagen with this car. From launch, its fortunes were hit by Pandemic-related shutdowns and lockdowns, then production suffered due to the global semiconductor shortage and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As well as all of that, there were criticisms of the original model's performance, driving range and cabin quality. All of which makes the introduction of the updated model launched in late 2023, the car we look at here, particularly significant.
The big news with this updated model is the adoption of Volkswagen's latest APP550 electric motor, first seen on the ID.7, which now powers all mainstream ID.4s. This delivers 286PS in the standard rear-driven Pro Performance model and puts out a massive 75% more torque than the original model's motor (up from 310 to 545Nm). The alternative dual-motor AWD ID.4 Pro 4MOTION variant gets a 50PS boost, taking output up to 299PS. So you might not feel the need to stretch to the top sporty ID.4 GTX, which now puts out 340PS (41PS more than before), enough to get you to 62mph in 5.4s. Despite all this extra pulling power, Volkswagen's managed to make this upgraded motor more effcient too: mainstream ID.4 variants are now supposed to make it up to 337 miles between charges (10.5 miles further than before). The battery is a reworked version of the previous 77kWh unit, which has a new charging management system. The brand claims that the steering now has greater feedback than before too. Otherwise, the whole ID.4 experience should be familiar if you've tried one previously. If you haven't, there's a bit to adapt to if this is your first experience of EV motoring. No gearstick, no handbrake, no ignition key and just the sound of silence as the fixed ratio transmission blends an almost endless wave of torque into meaningful and surprisingly rapid forward progress. Like Volkswagen's original post-war Beetle, base versions of this car are rear-driven and when you drive such an ID.4 in town, you quickly realise the real advantages of placing the powertrain - the electric motor and its associated single-speed auto gearbox - on the back axle, thereby freeing up the front wheels for steering duties; the result is a London taxi-like 10.2-metre turning circle. Beyond the city limits, that drive format allows for a near-50:50 almost perfect weight distribution which, together with the low centre of gravity provided by the central battery pack placement, helps disguise the portly weight this SUV must carry around. Traction through the turns is excellent and body roll is checked by firm damping cleverly engineered for suppleness over poor surfaces. All of which ought to provide the recipe for a decently sporting EV - and in some ways it does. There are four drive settings common across the model line-up - 'Comfort', 'Sport' and 'Individual'. Plus you get an 'Eco' setting that, to maximise range, you'll need to frequently use in combination with the available 'B' regenerative braking function, which slows the car significantly when you come off the accelerator. The GTX models has an extra 'Traction' mode too.
There are no significant exterior visual changes to this ID.4. As before, it shares many styling cues with its ID.3 hatch stablemate but it's a slightly bigger thing, 4,584mm long, 1,852mm wide and 1,612mm tall. To give you some perspective, that makes it a little longer and wider than Volkswagen's more conventional Tiguan mid-sized SUV. Full-LED headlights are standard and top models get big 20 or 21-inch wheels. The big difference lies inside, where there's a new bigger 12.9-inch infotainment central touchscreen, with simpler menus, a more intuitive control structure and a more responsivew IDA voice assistant. This offers fresh functions, including cloud-based weather information and the status of sporting events or stock market prices. Volkswagen has (at last) illuminated the cabin temperature control sliders. Plus the driving mode selector has been moved to the steering column and the optional augmented reality head-up display system has been enhanced. You still have to put up with a very small (5.3-inch) instrument display. Overall, build quality is generally good but cheaper plastics still betray the cost cutting necessary to undergird all that sophisticated EV technology. As previously, the interior design has an airy but minimalist and rather clinical feel which Volkswagen has tried unsuccessfully to lift by imprinting 'Play' and 'Pause' symbols on the two footwell pedals. At the back, as before, there's comfortable space for a couple of adults (it'd be a squash for three). And there's a very decently-sized 543-litre boot, extendable to 1,575-litres with the rear seat folded. A tonne of weight can be towed too if you specify the optional tow bar.
Volkswagen isn't bothering with entry-level 52kWh ID.4 models any more (which would clash price-wise with the smaller ID.3), so the remaining 77kWh models start up at around £46,000, which gets you base 'Life'-spec. Most will want mid-level 'Style' trim, for which a £50,000 budget is required. Both use the same 286PS APP550 motor. The top AWD GTX 4MOTION version costs around £54,000, which is the only variant that can be had with Volkswagen's (now improved) DCC adaptive damping system. All ID.4s come with full-LED headlamps, LED tail lights, rain sensing wipers, all-round parking sensors, heated windscreen washer jets and an alarm. Inside, all versions feature the 'ID.Light', a wide, narrow light strip under the windscreen that assists the driver by flashing or moving in different colours to draw attention to various functions. There's also an 'Air Care Climatronic' 2-Zone air conditioning system, a leather-trimmed and a heated multi-function steering wheel. The upholstery is a smart alcantara-like 'Art Velours' microfleece and the front seats are heated, plus there's an auto-dimming rear view mirror, an electric auxiliary air heater, a wireless smartphone charger and an ambient lighting set-up with up to 30 colour options.
As we said in our 'Driving' section, driving range with this improved ID.4 has increased significantly to as much as 337 miles thanks to the new APP550 motor. The other significant change is an increase in charging speed to 175kW - though that only applies to the 4MATION AWD version; the base rear-driven variants still charge at just 135kW. To achieve the quoted range figure, you'll need to frequently use the provided 'Eco' drive mode setting, ideally in combination with the available 'B' regenerative braking function, which slows the car significantly when you come off the accelerator. Whatever ID.4 model you select, your charging regime should be quite straightforward. There's a 'We Charge' app that helps you find and use over 150,000 public charge points. An AC1-phase 7.4kW garage wallbox would replenish the 77kWh battery from zero in about twelve hours. Out and about at a DC3 100kW charge point, it'll take no more than around 30 minutes to recharge your ID.4 with enough direct current to cover the next 137 miles. You should also make savings in BiK payments (there's the usual 2% EV rating), as well as exemption (until 2025) from road tax and ULEZ/congestion charging. Volkswagen says that its aim is to make sure that the battery pack lasts as long as the car and, sure enough, that battery pack is warrantied to have at least 70% of its usable capacity after eight years or 100,000 miles.
This still isn't yet a mainstream Volkswagen model, but the day isn't very far off when it will be. When that happens, we can only hope that EVs will have become rather more affordable than they are now. But if this ID.4 sells globally in the kind of numbers Volkswagen is hoping for, that's unlikely to happen. Like all brands, the Wolfsburg maker will charge what customers show they're prepared to pay. So is this ID.4 worth its sticker price? We weren't entirely certain when we tried this car in its original form, but this updated version's greater power, longer range anfd improved cabin make it a much more credible alternative to established mid-sized class EV rivals. Ultimately, if all you care about in a Crossover EV of this kind is value and driving range, this probably won't be your first choice. But if your priorities are a little broader than that, this ID.4 might well have your number.