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The Volkswagen’s ID.4 AWD is the EV Grand Tourer of the Future

The Takeaway

While Volkswagen’s two-wheel-drive ID.4 was a fantastic automobile—earning our Automotive Excellence Award—it couldn’t compete with other more powerful EVs featuring more grunt and two driven axles. The additional motor at the front axle of the ID.4 AWD fills the void where that car fell short.

  • At $43,675—not including the $7,500 tax credit for EVs—the ID.4 AWD is currently the most affordable all-wheel-drive EV on the market.
  • The one-pedal driving system is very approachable for those who are new to EVs.
  • The “Hello ID” voice control system is super helpful, accomplishing simple functions that would normally take your focus away from the road ahead.

    Specs

    • Base Price: $43,675
    • Range: 249 miles
    • Horsepower: 295 hp
    • Torque: 339 lb-ft
    • Zero to 60: 5.4 seconds
    • Battery Capacity: 82 kWh (limited to 77 kWh)
    • Charge time (11-kW home box, zero to 100%): 7.5 hours
    • Charge time (public 125-kW DC fast charger, 5% to 80%): 38 minutes

      Learn More


      What’s In a Name

      While EVs are a comparatively new idea in the automotive industry, Volkswagen already has over 80 years of experience under its belt building excellent automobiles. In a world where unproven startups are prioritizing the chase for efficiency and performance over user-friendly features, VW built an electric vehicle that aims to be approachable for those making the switch from internal combustion.

      Put a Volkswagen badge in front of just about anyone and they’ll be able to successfully identify it. Despite being such a large company, VW hasn’t fallen into the design-by-committee nature of other heavy hitters and has remained committed to focusing on customer feedback. Thanks to over-the-air updates—tech that has rapidly become the industry standard for EVs—the German automaker will be able to actively tend to what buyers want.

      Volkswagen

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      Volkswagen invited me to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to drive the latest version of the ID.4 AWD and tour the factory where the vehicles and batteries come together. The day began bright and early with an out-and-back route passing through a Mennonite community surrounding Chattanooga. After a brief rest stop at one of the local stockades, I drove back the way I came, ending my journey at Volkswagen’s factory.

      Driving Impressions

      Right from the start, Volkswagen’s intentions with the ID.4 AWD are clear. The German automaker’s electric runabout has to accomplish just about everything that an average automobile is capable of. Among other things, it needs to be easy to drive at low speeds, comfortable, and approachable to those that are making the change from internal combustion to electric power.

      While the two-wheel-drive ID.4 was no slouch—putting down 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque to the rear axle—the all-wheel-drive vehicle is simply different gravy. Thanks to an additional motor at the front axle, which adds another 107 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque, the end result is 295 hp and 339 lb-ft. Compared to other AWD electric vehicles including the Tesla Model Y (with 384 hp) and the Ford Mustang Mach-E (with 346 hp) it might not sound like a ton. But trust me, it’s plenty.

      From the driver’s seat, the ID.4 constantly felt like it was in low-earth orbit, cruising along with ease. Just as we had discovered with the previous car, the accelerator pedal is very linear at low speeds, allowing for very smooth power delivery. While the latest variant isn’t anything special when you toss it into a corner, the balance of torque, comfort, and style on the road reminded me of the current piston-powered grand tourers on the market—BMW’s M8, the Bentley Continental, and the GT from McLaren, among others. Despite the impressive performance figures, these vehicles all provide a very comfortable experience on the road.

      Keeping with the GT ethos, when you put your foot down, you’ll be able to pass with ease and navigate on-ramps with absolute confidence. Despite its relative lack of power to other EVs in its class, the ID.4’s acceleration didn’t fail to put a smile on my face. Whether it involved zipping through city traffic or keeping up in the passing lane on the highway, I never felt like I needed any more power.

      Factory Tour

      volkswagen id4

      Matthew Crisara

      volkswagen id4

      Matthew Crisara

      After finishing up our brief journey through some of the best roads that Chattanooga had to offer, Volkswagen gave us a tour of its factory, which, come 2022, will supply the U.S. with ID.4 vehicles. The facility currently employs 3,800 staff, who had previously worked on vehicles like the Passat and the Atlas. Building the ID.4 will introduce an influx of highly skilled jobs bespoke to the processes associated with producing electric powertrains involving the battery itself and the protective shroud. The process of installing the battery is quite involved as well, using special fasteners to hold the pack together while retaining mounting holes to mate the assembly to the chassis.

      As I was riding in the passenger seat of the golf cart taking me and three other journalists along for the tour, we could see AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) transporting components to key areas of the build process. These transports are guided by magnetic strips in the floor, allowing them to get from a to b without getting lost.

      Contrary to the cutting-edge machines and technology, there is still very much a human element to the Chattanooga factory. Even with Volkswagen’s bespoke manufacturing robots welding chassis components together—a brand-new system that VW wouldn’t even let us photograph— humans still need complete quality-control checks at common intervals to make sure everything is up to spec. While the body shop remains biased toward automation, the battery and battery shroud are largely built and assembled by hand.

      Range and Charging

      With 249 miles of range, the VW ID.4 AWD Pro sits very close to its compatriots. To offer some perspective, the Mustang Mach-E will do 211 miles, while the Tesla Model Y is still the class leader with 326 miles of range. While 100 fewer miles may sound dismal in comparison, the Tesla will cost you an additional $17,815.

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      Charging is accomplished through a Combined Charging System (CCS) socket, which allows you to add juice at home using the 11-kW onboard charger or a 125-kW fast-charging point. If you’re not charging using AC power at home, Volkswagen also includes three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America locations, letting you juice up the 82-kWh battery pack on the go. With 125-kW DC charging, you’ll be able to leap from 5 percent to 80 in just 38 minutes. While EV technology still remains miles ahead of the infrastructure, Electrify America is rapidly expanding its network of fast-charging points, with 2,700 locations and a goal to have 3,500 by the end of the year.

      Autonomous Systems

      While I approach all semi-autonomous driving systems with caution, the ID.4’s Travel Assist technology was expectedly elementary in function. For a vehicle that was marketed to be approachable for newcomers to the EV space, I found it to be slightly underskilled—driving frantically, almost as if it hadn’t earned its learners permit quite yet. Having driven Nissan and Polestar’s interpretation of the semi-autonomous systems, I found all of them to be relatively similar in function and feel behind the wheel.

      To engage in semi-autonomous driving, I first had to active cruise control at above 20 miles per hour. From there, I could press the Travel Assist button to engage the system, adjusting my speed accordingly with the corresponding + and – buttons on the steering wheel. Thankfully, it won’t activate if it doesn’t detect lane markings, and you can easily de-activate it by tapping the brakes or canceling from the steering wheel.

      Interior

      Having driven a 2015 GTI daily for the past five years, I know that Volkswagen has the wherewithal to create a comfortable and stylish interior. As there’s no GTI variant of the ID.4—or GTX version for that matter—the seats aren’t wrapped in plaid but remain just as comfortable. Lumbar support was excellent, even for someone of my smaller stature (under six feet tall and 140 pounds). Throughout the pre-determined drive route, I never experienced any aches or pains and was able to adjust the seat right where I needed it.

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      Apart from the review from the seat of my pants, the retractable cover for the sunroof is one of the clear party pieces of the interior. I’ll spare the name of the automaker, but I’ve driven EVs without any shading device for the sunroof and been slow-cooked in the driver’s seat for hours on end—not a fun experience.

      From the cockpit, there’s no shortage of screen-real-estate. Behind the steering wheel, the ID.4 uses a 5.3-inch freestanding screen in favor of a traditional dashboard. Attached to the steering column, the display—and the gear selector—move with it to present themselves at the best angle for the driver.

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      Meanwhile, the 12-inch infotainment screen is great to look at but a bit of a pain to use. As is the case with many displays, important controls like air conditioning can’t appear on the screen at all times. However, this issue becomes null when using the “Hello ID” voice control system, which can also control navigation and music. As I was getting a bit warm midway through the drive, I asked to lower the temperature, and the vehicle swiftly made the change. Sure, the system is no replacement for Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but it completes basic commands with ease.

      Quality Control

      With Volkswagen’s longstanding experience building automobiles well before the inrush of electric vehicles, I’m happy to report that quality control in the latest ID.4 is second to none. Being no stranger to publicity stunts, the German automaker entered a lightly modified ID.4 into the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 Rally to test the vehicle well outside of its comfort zone. The only modifications involved wheels and tires, suspension, and skid plates.

      With professional driver Tanner Foust behind the wheel and co-driver Emme Hall completing two stages, the pair never experienced any mechanical issues—Foust mentioned that it’s the first 1,000-mile event that he’s completed without any gremlins. Keen readers will know that the rally-modified ID.4 was the rear-wheel-drive spec. However, it’s important to note that very little has changed going from single-motor to dual-motor.

      volkswagen id4

      Volkswagen

      Everything inside the cockpit feels very put together. Aside from the lack of typical squeaks and rattles in the cabin, which has rapidly become the bare minimum for EV interiors, I was pleasantly surprised by the haptic-touch buttons on the steering wheel; with no accidental presses to report, the feedback when using them is good enough to fool you into thinking they’re real buttons.

      So the question you all want to know: Has Volkswagen’s ID.4 AWD normalized the EV? To be completely honest, I’d say that the latest variant is a fantastic automobile in its own right, making EVs finally feel approachable to the masses. For everyday driving, the ID.4 is an absolute joy, with more than enough range and performance given the current state of electric powertrains and charging infrastructure.

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