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ID.4 and ID.5 first look and drive: VW’s practical solution to electric driving

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, id.4 and id.5 first look and drive: vw’s practical solution to electric driving

Image source: https://media.vw.com/en-us/gallery/images/13326

One of the delights – and frustrations – of driving an electric car in Europe and the UK is to see the rapidly expanding range of electric car options – many of which are simply not available in the EV-starved Australian market.

Over the past 10 days while driving a Polestar 2, rented via Hertz in the UK, and an electric Peugeot 208 rented from Sixt in France, the number of different EVs on the road and in the charging stations is simply breath-taking.

Three of the models that have attracted my attention in the UK were the VW electric car range of the ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5.- mostly because their release in Australia is now finally on the horizon – and also because I had had a taste and a test drive of the fun ID.Buzz electric Kombi in Germany a month earlier.

EVs now account for nearly seven per cent of VW’s overall new car sales, and the ID.4 and ID.5 for around half of those. The ID.4 won “car of the year” awards when it was released in 2021, so the company must be doing something right.

None of VW’s electric range has made it to Australia yet because the previous federal government gave it no reason to. Like other car makers, it has focused on the EU and other markets that require them to meet strict emissions standards, which ultimately means selling a lot of EVs.

VW electrics to finally make it to Australia

That sad situation is about to change. The new federal Labor government has made efforts to actually welcome EVs into the Australian market, and start the process of introducing emissions standards for cars, and VW has made it clear that it will start bringing its electric offerings to the country within the next 12 months.

The first off the rank – to be officially unveiled later this year with local pricing and specifications, and likely to enter the market in 2023 – will be the ID.4, an electric SUV, likely followed closely by the ID.5, the coupe version.

The ID.4 is a car that has been around in other markets for a while, as the rally shot at the top (taken from 2021) indicates. I came across a few of them at various charging stations in the UK, and they looked good and the feed-back from their owners was positive.

Each commented on the joys of electric and the “unexpectedly big” interior space, and after helping one new owner to plug in (the fact that it was his first time was betrayed by his 45° angle parking in the EV charging spot), I decided to go to the local dealer for a closer inspection and, hopefully, a test drive.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, id.4 and id.5 first look and drive: vw’s practical solution to electric driving

The Volkswagen ID.4. Source: Volkswagen America

It wasn’t a detailed look, and I have since managed to lose my mobile phone, so I have no original photos to share. I’ve had to resort to those supplied in the left hand drive market of the US. But here are a few thoughts about the new offering.

Like most other things electric, VW is suggesting that the base model ID.4 will be sold in Australia at around $62,000, which places it in the same basket of cars such as the base model Tesla Model 3, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, and the Kia Niro (which seemed to be everywhere I looked in the UK).

Interestingly, that also puts it at around the same price range of the VW petrol Tiguan, of which it seems to be a slightly bigger, spacier, and quieter and less polluting version. The ID.5 is pretty much the same as the ID.4, but shaped as a coupe rather than an SUV at the back.

So, what have they got that the others haven’t? The best way to summarise it is “practicality”, and the brand.

VW, like other car makers, is not trying to scare the horses, or their loyal customers, with a radical leap into the future. These are carefully designed for family folk wanting to continue their driving life as normal, using electrons rather than liquid fossil fuels.

That’s not a frunk!

Some brief observations. There is no “frunk” as the electric motor takes up all the space under the bonnet, and while there is plenty of room in the boot, particularly with the rear seats folded down, it is not a flat floor (just in case you were thinking of putting camping out).

Elsewhere, though, there is a sense of greater space. There’s plenty of room for cups, bottles and takeaway lattes in the middle console, and the dashboard is clean and relatively free of buttons. Most of the controls are found in the middle screen (smaller than Tesla’s), and around the wheel.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, id.4 and id.5 first look and drive: vw’s practical solution to electric driving

ID.4 electric SUV. Source: Volkswagen

The arm rests for the driver and front passenger are thin and can be raised (It reminded me of a plane), which will please some folk, but not others.

As for performance … well, it’s no Tesla. The VW specifications I was given in the UK talks of “racing” from 0-100kms in nine or 10 seconds, depending on the model. In EV terms, this is relatively sluggish, although it is still more than adequate for most driving situations.

The ID.4, and the ID.5 which I took for a ride for a grand total of 10kms, are quite possibly the quietest EVs I have come across in that price range. That might have more to do with the better quality English roads, but VW have clearly gone to some effort to cushion the road noise.

Don’t scare the horses

The range is advertised at 300 miles (480kms), again depending on the model, but that won’t always be the case. The ID.5 I was in suggested it had 220 miles (350km) left with an 80 per cent charge. But it was a performance version (which comes with sun-roof), so has sacrificed some range for better acceleration.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, id.4 and id.5 first look and drive: vw’s practical solution to electric driving

Volkswagen ID.4 GTX. Source: VW

The handling, in the limited time I had, was just fine. It’s what you come to expect from an EV: Quiet, instant torque, holds the road well. That’s impressive enough for those new to electric, but it doesn’t push the boundaries in terms of performance like the Model 3, or interior space and future thinking like the Ioniq 5.

But that’s not VW’s intention. It has proved its ability to innovate with the multiple options of the ultra-cool ID.Buzz, the modern electric Kombi that can act as the ultimate camping or surfer van, or as  a transporter, cargo van, mobile kiosk or even a mini dump truck.

The ID.4 and ID.5 seem like a safe transition to electric for family motoring. Clearly it has hit the spot, and we look forward to a deeper dive when they are finally presented – after the exhausting “homologation” process – to the Australian media and public, with their Australian specifications and price tags.

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