2021 Volkswagen ID.4: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll New
At the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen introduced the first I.D. electric vehicle concept — an initial look at VW’s plans for a series of EVs. Since that first reveal, the German automaker has subsequently unveiled a range of EV concepts and now the first production model arrives — the brand-new 2021 Volkswagen ID.4. Given the popularity and versatility of crossovers, it makes sense that VW’s first extended-range production EV comes to market as a crossover.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThe People’s EV
“The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric — and fall in love with Volkswagen again,” said Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh. “It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package,” Keogh observed.

© Volkswagen of AmericaDedicated Platform
Volkswagen builds the new ID.4 on the automaker’s new modular electric drive architecture called MEB, designed for use in multiple VW Group vehicles. This purpose-built EV platform possesses enough flexibility for it to be used in multiple vehicle types. And though the ID.4 rides on the most advanced VW electric platform to date, the small crossover still has ties to the past. The ID.4 platform has its electric motor mounted at the rear — the same location as the original rear-engine people’s car, the Beetle.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVW Styling
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has a clean look up front thanks to the absence of an internal-combustion engine under the hood — another link to the original rear-engine Beetle. Large LED headlights wrap around the fenders, and an available light bar connects the headlights and outlines the hood, meeting in the middle at a large VW logo that can also be illuminated. This setup represents a new style for VW — and one likely to adorn future electric models.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSleek Silhouette
The ID.4 features a smooth, flowing roofline that starts at the base of the windshield and runs neatly to the rear spoiler. Adding considerably character is a beltline that slopes in an initially opposing direction but then flows upward to meet at the rear. Flush door handles add to the futuristic style and aerodynamics of this EV, while the lower cladding and available 20-inch alloy wheels add strength to the overall look.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
At the rear, the 2021 ID.4 gets similarly bold character treatment with LED lights spanning the liftgate to give the small crossover a wide look. A large VW logo at the rear can also be illuminated.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceToday’s Beetle?
Volkswagen hopes the ID.4 becomes the people’s electric car — a modern-day take on the Beetle’s original role. The ID.4 is available in three trim levels: Pro, Pro S and 1St Edition. All trims have rear-wheel drive as standard equipment — dual-motor AWD will be offered on the Pro and Pro S later this year for an additional $3,680. Prices shown are base MSRP and don’t include the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit or other state credits and rebates.

© Volkswagen of AmericaVolkswagen ID.4 Pro
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro has a base retail price of $39,995 and comes well equipped with dual-zone climate control, multi-color ambient lighting, a 10-inch color touchscreen with navigation, wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, a heated multi-function steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers. LED headlights, taillights and running lights are also standard, as are 19-inch alloy wheels.

© Volkswagen of AmericaVolkswagen ID.4 Pro S
With a base price of $44,495, the Volkswagen ID.4 Pro S upgrades the ID.4 Pro with leatherette seat trim, a panoramic fixed-glass roof, 12-way power front seats, a 12-inch color touchscreen display, hands-free liftgate operation, LED projector headlights with dynamic cornering lights, and an illuminated front light bar and VW logo. The Pro S is also available with a Gradient Package that adds 20-inch machined alloy wheels, a black roof, silver anodized roof rails and silver roof accents for an additional $1,500.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience1st Edition
Volkswagen has also created a limited offering of a 1st Edition ID.4, priced at $43,995. The 1st Edition is exclusively rear-wheel drive and includes all the features of the Pro S and the Gradient Package. The 1st Edition stands out thanks to a white steering wheel, radio bezel and door armrests; 1st Edition badging inside and out; and black mirror caps. Unfortunately the 1st Edition is already sold out.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePause and Play
The 1st Edition also gets these fun pause and play pedals. The pedals are not currently available on other trim levels, although we expect VW will make the unique pedals available for all ID.4 versions at some point.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePowertrain
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is initially powered by a single rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor producing 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. Later in the year Volkswagen will introduce an all-wheel-drive ID.4 with dual motors that produces 302 horsepower. Rear-wheel-drive variants can tow up to 2,200 pounds; the tow rating AWD versions has not been released.

© Volkswagen of AmericaBattery
Power for the ID.4 comes from an 82 kWh lithium-ion battery pack comprised of 288 pouch cells in 12 modules. The pack is housed in a lightweight aluminum structure bolted to the frame for increased rigidity and a lower center of gravity, both of which improve overall drivability. According to the U.S. EPA the ID.4 is rated at 104 MPGe city / 89 MPGe hwy / 97 MPGe combined with a range of 250 miles. The range will vary for each driver based on weather conditions, road conditions and driving habits. During our short drive time in the ID.4 the fully charged battery displayed a range of around 190 miles.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFree Charging
As a further incentive to entice U.S. consumers into VW electric vehicles, the ID.4 comes with three years of no-cost fast charging on the Electrify America network. On a Level 2 charger the ID.4 should gain 33 miles of range for every hour of hookup; a full charge would take about 7.5 hours. With a DC fast-charger, the ID.4 can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in about 40 minutes. During our time with the car, when it was plugged into a DC fast charger the status showed it would add 100 miles of range in one hour. The ID.4 can be charged from a 110-volt household outlet; however, the process is extremely slow.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSafety
All Volkswagen ID.4 trims come with IQ.Drive — VW’s suite of advanced safety features. This includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, an active blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and high-beam headlight assist.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is the most advanced vehicle in VW’s lineup, and the interior reflects this with a thoroughly modern look. The clean design is centered around a large infotainment display that angles slightly toward the driver. Although the ID.4 has a few soft-touch buttons below the screen, almost all controls are accessed via the touchscreen or by voice.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriver Display
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has a 5.3-inch ID.Cockpit that can be configured via touch controls on the steering wheel. The uncluttered display shows speed, range, gear selection and adaptive cruise control settings. Navigation instructions also appear here when in use.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnique Gear Selector
The gear selector of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 sits directly to the right of the driver display; it resembles a big rocker switch rather than a typical gearshift. A turn forward selects drive, a turn back selects reverse, and a button on the end puts the vehicle in Park.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGet In and Go
Although the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has a Start button on the steering column, it really isn’t needed. Getting into this EV with the key instantly brings the vehicle display to life. Step on the brake and the crossover starts — simply select a gear and the ID.4 is ready to go. Upon arrival at a destination, the reverse is true — put the gear selector in Park and exit the vehicle; its shuts down on its own and locks the doors.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePlenty of Space
Taking advantage of the electric powertrain, designers of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 were able to give the cabin an open, airy feeling thanks to the vehicle’s flat floor. With all controls on the steering column or dashboard, the center console offers plenty of room with multiple cupholders and storage cubbies as well as a space for wireless phone charging that keeps the phone securely in place, even during spirited driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
Again, the flat floor of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 provides a spacious, comfortable spot for up to three passengers in the back seat. The center seat is a bit stiff, although all seating positions have decent legroom. Two USB ports provide device power, and the panoramic roof adds to the ID.4’s overall roomy sensation.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is first and foremost a crossover and it possesses the utility befitting of one. The rear cargo area had room for several pieces of luggage or other cargo, and the split-folding rear seat expands capacity to more than 64 cubic feet of space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
We love the instant torque of most electric vehicles, and the ID.4 certainly doesn’t disappoint. Although we wouldn’t necessarily compare the 2WD ID.4 to a GTI, perhaps the more powerful dual-motor version will feel more like VW’s iconic hot hatch. That said, the current ID.4 has brisk acceleration and the car feels peppy with an overall fun-to-drive character. Definitely comfortable and confident for daily driving requirements.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNo One-Pedal Driving
Many new EVs on the road offer one-pedal driving, which uses regenerative braking to slow the vehicle when the driver lifts a foot from the throttle — an engaging feature that drivers will come to appreciate, and notice when it is not available. Shifting the ID.4 into ‘B’ does increase regen braking and slows the vehicle more than simple coasting, although the brakes are still needed to bring the ID.4 to a complete stop. Sadly, no one-pedal driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceA Noisy EV?
A unique feature of electric vehicles is their silent running — no exhaust note or rumbling engine. Unfortunately, the lack of these audible cues can sometimes expose other sounds. While driving the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 we were surprised at the intrusive road and wind noise when traveling at highway speeds. At 70 mph it can be difficult to carry on a conversation, and on long trips this could become annoying. At slower speeds the noise was not an issue.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is a right-sized crossover offering a roomy cabin as well as plenty of cargo capacity. With its long list of standard features, the ID.4 is a decent value. Add in the high efficiency, extended range and fun-to-drive qualities that come with the electric powertrain and the ID.4 is a great option for any consumer looking for a new crossover — electric or not.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Stylish design; efficient powertrain; good utility.
Cons: Excessive road noise; no one-pedal driving.
Bottom Line: The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is a competitive offering in the compact crossover market, with the added benefit of an EV powertrain.

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