Volkswagen really did shoot themselves in the foot over the whole dieselgate saga. If they had not instigated and integrated the clever but infamous emissions dodging defeat device into their diesel cars the shift to electric would have been averted for perhaps 50 years. Thus, Volkswagen could have gone on merrily selling millions upon millions of clean dirty diesel cars. We know how the story started and how it ended. Volkswagen got their corporate arse well and truly sued. Dieselgate has cost the company over $30BN, and counting, in fines and class action lawsuits. The scale of VW’s fraud compelled the EU to mandate the ending of the internal combustion engine and force through a switch to electric cars.
Germany’s politicians arm-twisted Volkswagen, and Volkswagen complied. One has to wonder if VW’s heart is truly in the great electric car transition. After all, 84 years of developing the piston-powered engine must be a massive cultural shift for what is a legacy car manufacturer. All that engineering knowledge, all that evolution will cease in 2030. How much more efficient and many more improvements could have been made? We’ll never know.
The Volkswagen ID 4 is built from the toxic particulates of Dieselgate. It is a pure electric Phoenix. Ordinarily, it is a pure electric compact SUV available in six trim levels with prices starting at £34k and rising to £56k for the top-spec model. Power is supplied by either a 52kWh or 77kWh battery pack depending on spec. The ID 4 is available in rear-wheel-drive drive or AWD, again depending on spec. Power ranges from 148bhp for entry-level models and up to 204bhp for top-spec models.
The Volkswagen ID 4 1st Edition on test is powered by the 77kWh battery and that means a claimed range of 300miles. It arrived fully charged, although the range was reading 212 miles. I wondered if Volkswagen had fitted a range defeat device to prevent me from being disappointed. I couldn’t find any evidence because my disappointment was present throughout the test. So I took it on my first journey, a 7-mile jaunt of urban and motorway driving.
My disappointment continued as the range dropped to 144 miles after just 7 miles of driving, which consisted of a mixture of sedate, suddenly fast, suddenly slow. It suggested to me that VW has a long way to go in order to maximize the efficiency, range and performance of its battery-powered cars. It also informs me that VW’s electric car technology is being developed at a fast pace and development corners have been cut in order to bring products to market quickly.
But the overall package, visually at least, is well presented. In my opinion, the exterior leans heavily on the Peugeot 3008 design language. And the interior harbors typical VW solidity. However, VW does have a knack for making the interiors of their SUVs feel like a premium van. The gear selector is quirky in that it is integrated into the driver’s instrument binnacle.
The overall interior is minimal with the 5.3-inch digital driver’s display complemented by a 10-inch infotainment system that works well enough. On the move, the electric power is instant and cabin noise is not excessively overbearing. But has VW ironed out the standard and rather dreadful ride quality? Typically VW ride quality leans on the harsh, crashy, and unbearable side.
However, the ID 4’s standard ride was perfect, no complaints. The ride is stiff yet supple and the ID 4 smoothly managed all surfaces equally well while retaining stiffness and acceptable levels of body roll through corners. And over speed bumps it doesn’t throw you around like a rag doll, which is a typical default throughout a large range of VWs models. Finally, I can say something positive about VW.
I won’t bore you about the spec, it’s decent enough and so is the driver safety equipment. The rear passenger space is excellent and boot space is more than large enough either with the seats up or down. And I am not even bothered about the charging capabilities, it’s an electric car, it needs charging, not refueling, deal with it.
What disappoints me about the Volkswagen ID 4 1st Edition is the YoYo range, and that killed the test for me after just 7 miles. The remainder of the test was done out of sympathy. The ID 4 tells me that Volkswagen was caught unaware of what it takes to make an electric car. The ID 4 is unique in that it takes range anxiety to new levels.
I would lay off buying the VW ID 4, and wait for the second gen because early adopters always take the biggest hit. I would opt for a Tesla model 3. And no, I do not own or drive a Tesla, or work for them. Tesla is 15 years ahead of VW right now. The ID 4 simply demonstrates that VW is behind the electric car technology curveball.