After months of anticipation – and leaked images – Volkswagen has finally unveiled its first ever electric SUV, the ID.4.
The family-size motor becomes the second model in VW’s electric-dedicated ID range, following the recent arrival of the ID.3 in the UK earlier this month, and is one of 75 battery-powered models the German brand has promised to launch by 2029 as part of its ongoing volt-backed effort to repair its reputation after the Dieselgate scandal.
Two limited-edition launch models – restricted to a total of 27,000 units – will be on sale before the end of the year, with prices starting from €49,950, so around £46,000 in the UK (though prices and specs aren’t yet confirmed).
We’ve identified 10 things we think you need to know about the car that is almost certain to become one of the most in-demand electric models of the next 12 months…
Can we see your ID? This is highly anticipated Volkswagen ID.4 – the German brand’s first ever fully-electric family SUV
The ID.4 is one of the most eagerly awaited electric models to hit the market, jointly due to the features and driving range it posses and the months of leading to its unveiling, which included a series of leaked images of the new plug-in VW
1. Only the Tesla Model 3 and Model S will go further on a full charge
There will be just two versions available from launch: the ID.4 1st and ID.4 1st Max – as revealed in a selection of accidentally leaked images from a Chinese Government website earlier this year.
Both use the 77kWh battery from the rangiest of the ID.3 line-up, which sends power to the rear wheels via an electric motor close to the rear axle.
Linked to a one-speed gearbox, acceleration is swift – as you would expect from all electric vehicles.
The electric cars with the longest ranges
Want to know which current battery electric cars have the claimed longest driving distances on a full charge?
This is Money revealed the top 10 models currently on sale in the UK.
With their right foot planted, drivers will hit a speed of 62mph in just 8.5 seconds and can hit a limited top speed of 99mph flat out.
A top-of-the-range model with even more power and all-wheel drive is set to follow in 2021. while entry-level ID.4s will feature a smaller battery pack and power outputs of either 146bhp or 168bhp.
But it’s arguably the driving range that’s the most important performance figure for EV buyers – and the SUV doesn’t disappoint.
VW claims it will do 520 kilometres on a full charge, which equates to 323 miles – enough to drive from London to Newcastle-upon-Tyne with battery capacity in supply.
Only two electric cars on sale today can beat that figure, and both are Teslas.
The Model 3 Performance (329 miles) and Long Range (348 miles) narrowly beat the ID.4, while the Tesla Model S remains well ahead in the repeated specifications (367 miles from the Performance, 377 miles for the Long Range and over 520 miles for the 2021 Plaid).
That said, the Model 3 is a much smaller vehicle – though comparatively priced to the VW – while the Model S will set you back almost double the amount than a launch-edition ID.4. In terms of sub-£50,000 electric family cars, the VW is at the top of the list.
Entry-spec ID.4s available from next year will have a shorter range of 224 miles on a single charge.
Permanently excited synchronous motor (PSM) located just ahead of the rear axle is powered by a 77kWh battery stored in the chassis floor. This means the cabin has a flat floor and loads of interior space. The battery will retain 70% capacity after 8 years, says VW
2. It has a guarantee of retaining 70% battery capacity after 8 years or 100,000 miles
Volkswagen has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety and durability of its 77kWh battery.
The unit, which weighs a massive 493kg – which is almost as much as a classic Mini – has an aluminium housing and is protected by a strong frame and a base plate with integrated water channels to regulate its temperature.
Volkswagen guarantees that the battery will still have at least 70 percent of its original capacity after eight years or 100,000 miles of use.
The battery can support up to 125kW charging, which the UK doesn’t even have the capacity to provide yet.
However, plug an ID.4 into one of the VW’s partner’s Ionity DC rapid charging stations that is already available and it can replenish the battery with 200 miles of driving range in 30 minutes.
When the driver unlocks the ID.4, the headlamps swivel in a motion to welcome you – though it will more likely look like the big SUV is rolling its eyes at its owner
The rear lights have dynamic indicators that beam in the direction the car is about to move. The brake lights are the ‘X’-shape cluster in the middle of the LED arrangement
3. It rolls its eyes at you when you unlock it
VW has fitted the ID.4 with a raft of new lighting features not yet seen from the German brand.
One of these is the ‘interactive’ IQ Light LED matrix headlights that come as standard on the more expensive 1st Max version, which will cost €59,950 (around £55,000 in the UK, which means it won’t be eligible for the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant that’s capped at £50,000 vehicles).
When the car is unlocked, the lamps roll their eyes at the driver by ‘swivelling their lens modules’. We’re not sure why, but we like the idea.
Users also won’t have to worry about dazzling other motorists, as the headlights emit ‘intelligently controlled continuous main beam’, which claim to illuminate the road brightly without blinding oncoming traffic.
The 3D LED tail light clusters (also standard in the ID.4 1ST Max) are just as impressive and – as previously seen on the latest Audi models – provide dynamic turn signals, which run from inside to out. The brake lights also glow in the shape of an ‘X’ to warn following driver that you’ve activated the anchors.
Many buyers of big SUVs want them to tow caravans or trailers, which isn’t an option with electric cars – until now. However, the ID.4 can only pull an additional weight of 1,000kg
It can tow (but not much)
There aren’t many electric cars on the market that get the green light to tow, but customers can buy an optional bracket for the ID.4 to allow it to pull a trailer.
However, the weight of the hitched addition can be no bulkier than 1,000kg, as to not dramatically reduce the driving range.
With the rear seats in the upright position, the ID.4 has a capacious 540 litres of loading space. With the backrests laid flat, that expands to a van-like capacity of 1,575 litres
5. It betters the Mercedes E-Class for boot space
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a firm favourite with taxi drivers who make their livings predominantly running airport shuttles, not only because it’s comfortable and classy but also due to its 540-litre boot that can swallow a family’s travel luggage.
The ID.4 betters that, with a 543-litre capacity with the rear seat backrests upright. Fold them flat and the electric SUV turns into a zero-emission van with 1,575 litres of loading capacity.
The ID.4 1ST Max also has a power boot lid, which can be opened with a simple foot movement.
Not a button in sight on the dash: Volkswagen has actively decluttered the dashboard of switches to give the cabin a modern feel
The centre console is there for practical and safety purposes, as it houses the central airbag to prevent the driver and front passenger clashing heads in a side-impact crash
Most of the control functions are on the wheel – finished in a rare tone of white on this example – though can also be activated using voice commands
6. The dashboard is a button-free zone
Contemporary design and electric cars seem to go hand-in-hand, and the ID.4 is no different.
To give the cabin a clean and ultra-modern look, VW has eliminated all buttons and switches from the dashboard, leaving just a touchscreen in the central display (10-inches for the ID.4 1st and 12-inch for the 1st Max), which contains all the infotainment features you’d expect, from sat-nav to additional applications.
The system can be controlled using voice activation, triggered by the phrase: ‘Hello ID’.
The centre console is also decluttered and houses a centre airbag that deploys if there’s a substantial side impact and acts as a cushioned divider to prevent the front seat passenger and driver clattering into each other.
Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition: Will it fit in my garage?
Price: from £46,000 (approx)
Battery capacity: 77kWh (net)
Electric motor: Permanently excited synchronous motor (PSM)
Transmission: 1-speed gearbox
Maximum power: 150kW/201bhp
Maximum torque: 310Nm
Range: 323 miles (520km)
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 99mph
Length: 4,584 mm
Width: 1,852 mm
Height: 1,612 mm
Wheelbase: 2,766 mm
Luggage compartment capacity: 543-litres (seats up), 1,575 (seats down)
7. It has an augmented reality display and an internal warning beam for the driver
Many premium models come with head-up displays that project vital driving information, such as speed and sat-nav directions, onto the windscreen in the eye-view of the individual at the wheel.
However, the ID.4’s system (again, only on the top-of-the-line 1st Max) uses augmented reality, meaning the instructions beamed into vision appear to blend into the vehicle’s surroundings.
But that’s not all. All ID.4 models come with something called an ‘ID Light’. This is a single narrow strip that sits just underneath windscreen.
It’s there as an additional warning system for the driver and passengers onboard, pulsating in different colours to highlight a variety of situations, such as sharp turning or heavy braking.
You can connect the ID.4 to your smartphone which then links to the public charger infrastructure to tell you which devices are available and which might be out of use
8. You’ll never drive to a defective public charge point
All ID.4 SUVs have the We Connect Start service, which links the vehicle to the owner’s smartphone and the traffic infrastructure.
The package offers navigation services but also provides up-to-date traffic data and details of nearby charging stations. This information includes live updates to tell you if someone else is plugged into the public charge point or if the device is malfunctioning so you can redirect to one that’s available and in full working order.
Customers will have access to a smartphone app that lets them check on the battery capacity of the car when they’re not near it, and even pre-set the air conditioning so its nice and cool before you get in
9. Get the app and you check the car’s battery status and set the cabin temperature before you get in
Like another electric car manufacturer we won’t name [Tesla], VW will provide owners with a smartphone app called We Connect ID.
From their devices, owners can check the battery charge level and vehicle range available as well as set the air conditioning system to a desired temperature before they get in it.
Volkswagen has equipped the ID.4 with two onboard computers. The first controls or the driving functionality and is locked up to keep hackers at bay
The second computer is dedicated to receiving software updates so all ID.4s can benefit from the latest features and performance enhancements
10. It will take software updates so it won’t become defunct in years to come
One of the biggest current concerns regarding electric car ownership is the rapid rate of development of plug-in vehicles and the fear that models released to the market now will be obsolete in no time at all.
Tesla has avoided this issue with the availability of over-the-air software updates, which can not only add new features but unleash performance and charging capabilities of the batteries fitted to older cars.
VW has borrowed this concept and fitted the ID.4 with two central high-performance computers.
One of these is the control unit for the driving operations – including accelerating and braking – and remains locked-up at all times to prevent hackers from being able to take control of the vehicle on the move.
The second computer is installed specifically to manage software updates via the mobile network. Data is transferred to the vehicle and installed at the end of a journey so that it is ready to use when the SUV is next started. As a result, many functions can be enhanced on an ongoing basis to ensure your ID.4 doesn’t fall behind the times.
Two limited-edition launch models – the 1st and 1st Max, both restricted to a total of 27,000 units – will be on sale before the end of the year, with prices starting from €49,950, so around £46,000 in the UK
With loads of interior and luggage space, an almost Tesla-matching battery range and prices within the realms of the Plug-in Car Grant, the ID.4 is destined to be an instant hit with eco-conscious family-car buyers
The ID.4 is one of 75 battery-powered models Volkswagen has promised to launch by 2029 as part of its ongoing volt-backed effort to repair its reputation after the Dieselgate scandal