In light of the electric vehicle blitzkrieg launched by many automakers from around the world, it would only make sense for Germany's largest car manufacturer to respond in kind.
And respond they did, in the form of the ID.4.
It's the second mass market vehicle in Volkswagen's all-electric ID lineup (the first being the ID.3 hatch that we did not get in Singapore), while also being the first ever crossover to utilise their MEB platform. And after spending a few days with it, I think the ID.4 is a genuinely commendable effort from them, bar for a few frustrating quirks.
(Full disclaimer: our Volkswage ID.4 Pro press car does not feature the finalised specifications for the Singapore market, and the final figures may vary)
Keeping It Simple
If you peel away the psychedelic yellow swirly whirly decals, the ID.4 is actually a smart-looking vehicle that plays it safe. There are no sharp contours or aggressive lines to be found on it, just smooth and gentle curves on a "traditional-ish" SUV silhouette that should appeal to most buyers.
Front and rear overhangs are kept to a minimum, which translates to easier manoeuvrability along narrow roads and in tight parking spaces. But this also leads to the front fascia looking a bit flat-faced, giving the ID.4 an odd blobby side profile that you can't quite unsee.
Speaking of which, the VW has a distinct and muscular single character line that runs along the side, curving upwards rather dramatically towards the rear with the greenhouse following suit. Interestingly enough, the roof line arches the opposite direction, giving the ID.4 a somewhat sporty look, although you will have to live with a small rear windscreen as a result.
Exterior lights on the vehicle are all-LED (with matrix headlights), combined with gorgeous elements and patterns within their respective glass housings. More importantly, they provide excellent illumination in dark environments, while minimising glare for oncoming traffic.
Welcome to the Future
Keen to break the mold and kickstart a new era for the brand, the ID.4 features a decidedly modern cabin with all-new switchgear and interfaces, and even some easter eggs waiting to be found like the "Play/Pause" icons on the pedals.
Apart for its crisp infotainment screen in the middle, you also get a digital instrument cluster mounted just ahead of the steering wheel, with the twist-operated gear selector neatly tucked away next to it.
While the instrument cluster screen is a tad small, and the selector switch is partially hidden by the steering wheel itself, this means that you ultimately have a lot of forward visibility, plus added perceived sense of space in the cabin.
What's interesting is that instead of the usual four switches on the driver's side door to control all windows, you only get two. To adjust the rear ones, you must press on a capacitive panel for the switches to be reprogrammed accordingly.
Once you've figured out the cabin controls though, things get a lot better. The leather/fabric mix seats are snug and supportive, with unique reflective "ID." motifs imprinted on the backrest. Adjustable thigh supports and seat memory functionality are also available at the front, which are much appreciated.
Visibility is great too, with wide windows to look out of, and high resolution cameras that keep blindspots at bay. It also features what VW calls "ID. Light", which is basically a full-width light strip that runs on the underside of the windscreen.
It features a myriad of light patterns, and adapts according to what application is presently active. For instance, with navigation turned on, the light will flow to the left if a left turn is coming up.
Thanks to the dedicated electric platform on which the ID.4 sits, rear passengers too have massive amounts of space to play with at the back. Even with the sloping roofline and panoramic glass roof, headroom for taller-than-average occupants is assured.
Another plus point is the legroom, which is practically voluminous for a five-seater crossover. With a flat floor and a small rear centre console, three full-size adults can sit at the back fairly comfortably.
Where cargo-loading is concerned, the ID.4 gets the job done without breaking a sweat, outperforming even the more premium BMW iX3 electric SUV. Storing two large luggages at the back proved to be a non-issue, thanks to the 543-litre boot. And with the 60:40 split rear seats folded all the way down, you have a maximum available space of 1,575 litres.
For the more adventurous crowd, you can even go camping or picnicking at the back, as it's really that spacious!
Smooth is Fast
Unlike a stereotypical EV that accelerates like a bat out of hell even with the gentlest of throttle inputs, the ID.4 prefers to get up to speed in a more rational and calm manner. And that's good, because you will not find yourself (or your other passengers) being a victim of whiplash every time you set off.
Power comes from a rear-mounted motor, with an output of 201 bhp (150 kW) and 310 Nm of torque, which is honestly more than sufficient for our roads.
On the road, the ID.4 is a very competent and comfortable vehicle. It soaks up most bumps and undulations without breaking your back, although the 21-inch wheels do mean that driving over potholes and unusually high speed bumps can be a bit stiff. Then again, my experience during this first drive has been exceedingly good, so that bodes well for the final Singapore-spec car.
Sound insulation is excellent, as with most modern Volkswagen cars. Exterior noises were barely audible, so quiet conversations while on the move can be expected. It's not a particularly exciting SUV to drive, mind you. But it's undoubtedly assuring with its well-balanced chassis and competent handling qualities.
Where it falls regrettably short is in the braking department, where there is not much feedback until the pedal is almost halfway down, similar to what I had experienced in the Mercedes-Benz EQV.
Granted, there is regenerative braking that helps slow the car down once the accelerator pedal is lifted, but when "real" braking is applied, I found myself pressing it for harder and longer than I desired, which should not be the case for a family-centric SUV such as this.
At full charge, Volkswagen claims that you can cover approximately 450 km the ID.4. In other words, a road trip to Malacca and back is possible with careful planning and sensible driving.
During my testing, I covered about 386 km even with a heavy right foot at some points, which shows just how power-efficient the VW is.
A Valiant Attempt
The ID.4 is definitely one to look out for once the official Singapore-market variant reaches our shores. It has a lot going for it, and I just hope that Volkswagen can iron out all the kinks and quirks so that its full potential can be unleashed.
Putting aside my criticisms of the ID.4, I rather like Volkswagen's approach towards building EVs, which is similar to what Polestar is doing with their lineup – making sensible and solid cars that just happen to run on electricity.
Volkswagen is finally applying their decades-long experience in building excellent and fool-proof cars into the brave new world of EVs, and even with this short preview, the ID.4 already shows plenty of promise.
Photo Credits: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)
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