In-depth reviews

Volkswagen ID.4 SUV - Electric motor, drive & performance

It might be heavy, but the ID.4 handles surprisingly well

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Electric motor, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

It may come as a surprise but the ID.4 is rather good to drive. The car’s driving dynamics are helped by the low centre of gravity of its battery, and the rear-wheel drive version we tested has an ideal weight distribution between the front and rear.

This helps a fairly large and heavy SUV handle respectably well, with impressive body control and driving manners. The suspension is supple enough to soak up most imperfections but doesn't allow the body to roll around too much on a challenging stretch of road. The steering is also a good weight and precise, so you quickly feel confident behind the wheel. There are other benefits to the lack of an engine up front, including a sharp turning circle of just 10.2 metres. Thanks to the front wheels being able to turn more acutely with no engine in the way, driving in town and parking manoeuvres are made much easier.

While performance VW's with petrol and diesel engines get the GTI and GTD badges respectively, the marque has now introduced a GTX badge for its fast electric models. This has reached the ID.4 first, and the GTX has upgraded suspension and slightly more aggressive looks compared with the standard car. It turns into corners more keenly than the regular ID.4 as a result, with impressive grip and agility making it feel secure for a car of its size.

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All this means the GTX is not purely about straight-line speed; there's fun to be had too, as the electric motors punch it out of bends at a rate that can occasionally take you by surprise. The lack of noise from the electric powertrain does detract slightly from the experience, with the faint hum and slight whistle from the front motor hardly the stuff of enthusiasts’ dreams. Given performance models like the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT feature immersive artificial engine sounds, we can’t help but feel that VW could have done the same for the GTX to add to the experience.

Volkswagen ID.4 electric motors

With a rear-mounted 201bhp electric motor, the 1st Edition ID.4 can get from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.5 seconds. We've become used to electric models like the Tesla Model 3 offering instant acceleration but the ID.4 feels like it has been tuned to apply power smoothly instead, so it may not feel as fast as you expect. Meanwhile, its top speed is limited to 99mph, making it a relaxed cruiser at the 70mph motorway limit. A more powerful version with dual motors and four-wheel drive is expected to arrive in 2021.

More affordable versions with the 52kWh battery get slightly less power. City, Pure and Style trims get 148bhp, matching the power output of the brand's popular 2.0 TDI diesel engine, found in the Volkswagen Tiguan. It gets the ID.4 from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 99mph. Pure Performance versions of both trims increase power to 168bhp, reducing its 0-62mph acceleration benchmark to nine seconds, while top speed remains the same.

Along with its 201bhp rear motor, the ID.4 GTX also has a 108bhp front motor, giving it 295bhp in total. This can get it from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and it has a higher top speed of 111mph. In normal driving, the rear motor does most of the work but selecting Sport mode brings the front motor into play.

Press hard on the accelerator in the GTX model and there’s enough instant shove to get the nose raised as you pull away. Traction is excellent and the car resists body lean well in corners. The steering feels a little heavier than in the standard car and the additional motor means the it has more punch when you ask for acceleration at cruising speeds.

The ID.4 also has some tricks up its sleeve when it comes to energy recuperation. For instance, when the driver approaches a slower vehicle, the car can automatically use the slowing effect of regenerative braking to match the car in front. There's also a 'B' mode along with the usual 'D' for the gear selector, which increases the braking effect in normal driving. 

However, Volkswagen has stayed away from 'one pedal' driving where the car will brake heavily and even stop if you come off the accelerator, as the brand felt this could be off-putting for drivers who are new to electric vehicles. That's a shame, as we've found it possible to adapt quickly to this style of driving.

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