The Volkswagen ID.4 is a new era of EVs for the German manufacturer. Smaller than the Tiguan, the ID.4 is “squarely in the middle of the compact SUV segment,” according to a press release.
Volkswagen considers the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 the ID.4’s main competitors, but none of those come in pure EV form. Although the all-electric Mazda MX-30, the Honda HR-V e:HEV and the Toyota bZ4X are all incoming. Even then, most comparisons will be made between the Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 cost and release date
The Volkswagen ID.4 launched with a First Edition model that went to eager EV fans wanting a Tesla alternative. Unfortunately, all of the $43,995 First Edition models have been snapped up, meaning anyone wanting to jump in will need to opt for the Pro model, which has an entry price of $39,995.
The Volkswagen ID.4 First Edition included special exterior accents and badging. Every other ID.4 will use the Pro trim level as a starting point.
The next level up is the $44,495 Pro S. The $1,500 Gradient package, available only on the Pro S, includes cosmetic upgrades such as 20-inch wheels, a black roof, and silver roof rails and exterior accents. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain will add a heated windshield and a tow hitch that enables the ID.4 to tow up to 2,700 pounds, as well as $3,680 to the final price. A potential Federal Tax Credit can reduce the ID.4’s purchase price by as much as $7,500.
The Pro and the better-equipped Pro S (Statement) models are coming this summer in single-motor, rear-wheel-drive configuration; a dual-motor setup with all-wheel drive will be available starting October-December of 2021.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 design and interior
As futuristic as Volkswagen ID.4, it doesn’t have an angular sci-fi exterior design of the Tesla Cybertruck. Instead, VW gave it a friendly face that lights up with the power of LED headlights, Daytime Running Lights, available signature lighting bars between the headlights, and, on the Pro S, an illuminated VW badge. The wave-like shoulder line gently rises toward the back, visually shortening the height of the roof and emphasizing the ID.4’s rear-wheel-drive foundation. A large, centered VW badge and LED taillights connected by a light bar repeat the same friendly message as the front end.
The ID.4’s inoffensive design doesn’t just make it approachable, it also makes it slippery. This enables its battery pack and electric motor to work more efficiently. Volkswagen credits elements such as the roof spoiler, mostly flat underbody, rear diffuser and even the shape of the taillights for helping rear-wheel-drive ID.4s achieve a 0.28 drag coefficient.
The ID.4’s interior shows why the glass area around the passenger compartment is called the greenhouse. Thanks to careful shaping of the side mirrors, an acoustic windshield, and body insulation that guards against noise from the mechanical hardware and tires, the ID.4’s cabin is what Volkswagen deems “unusually quiet.” An available panoramic fixed-glass roof, similar to what Ford offers on the Mustang Mach-E, puts a literal top on the greenhouse.
To keep the main readouts in the 5.3-inch ID.Cockpit display constantly visible, Volkswagen attached the screen to the steering column. It maximized center console space by placing the rocker switch that controls the two-stage one-speed gearbox on the right side of the display.
The main touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard is available in two sizes. Pro models come with a 10-inch Discover Pro unit that controls the navigation system, driver assistance settings, entertainment and other functions. Pro S models get the larger 12-inch Discover Pro Max setup.
While charging the ID.4’s battery may not be a wireless process, charging mobile devices is. It's possible to pair phones with App-Connect, which can run smartphone apps through MirrorLink, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Other tech features add convenience in subtle ways. If you have the key fob on you and you sit in the driver’s seat, Intuitive Start automatically activates the ID.4 and makes it ready to drive. The ID. Light system is a strip of light below the windshield that flashes to give you turn directions from the nav unit, issue braking prompts from the driver assistance systems, and more.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 driver aids and safety features
Properly equipped with a front radar, front camera, two rear radars, and eight ultrasound sensors, the Volkswagen ID.4 provides a plethora of safety features, including Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System and others.
No discussion of a Tesla competitor would be complete without mentioning semi-autonomous driving technology. Volkswagen calls the new system it’s rolling out IQ.DRIVE. In the ID.4, it’s a hands-on setup consists of lane centering paired with a capacitive steering wheel.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 battery and range
The core of the initial single-motor, RWD Volkswagen ID.4 is an AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor, which generates 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. The drivetrain is powered by a 77-kWh (net) lithium-ion battery pack. Oddly, Volkswagen didn’t provide the MPGe figures for the ID.4 Pro, but it did crunch the numbers for the First Edition and Pro S models. Those are capable of getting 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway and 97 MPGe combined. Fully charged, they can return up to 250 miles of driving range.
You can top off the ID.4 using either AC or DC fast charging with its Combined Charging System socket. With the ID.4’s 11-kW onboard charger and a Level 2 connection, hitting peak charge takes 7.5 hours. Going from five to 80 percent battery only requires leaving the ID.4 plugged into a DC fast charging station with 125-kW capability for roughly 38 minutes. There’s a good chance ID.4 owners will connect to an Electrify America DC fast charger because 2021 models will come with three years of free unlimited charging on its network of more than 555 charging stations and more than 2,400 DC fast chargers.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 performance
Like many modern cars, the ID.4 has multiple drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom. Given that it’s an EV, it effectively has two braking modes for its front disc/rear drum setup. When the shifter is in the D (Drive) position, the electric motor kicks in and starts feeding power to the battery when the driver applies the friction brakes. When it’s in the B (Brake) position, the ID.4 maximizes its regenerative braking. According to Volkswagen, “In this mode, the ID.4’s drive almost always recovers energy during lifting off, but not all the way to a standstill. The limit has been set at 0.13 g—enough for clearly noticeable deceleration that won’t confuse drivers of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.”
2021 Volkswagen ID.4: GTX model
In addition to a dual-motor ID.4, the German automaker is working on a high-performance variant known as the Volkswagen ID.4 GTX. Its pair of motors will have 295 electric ponies and let them run through all four wheels. At this point, the GTX will only be offered outside of the U.S. market, but don’t be surprised if it makes its way over here — with the GTX or some other badge on it — in the near future.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 outlook
The Volkswagen ID.4 is a major step toward electrification for Wolfsburg-based automaker. But it’s one of the many necessary needed to reach its goal of 70% electrification by 2030. It’s based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, which the automaker plans to use as the foundation for approximately 20 million EVs by 2029.
Volkswagen, or Voltswagen, as the company attempted to rename itself in a supposedly botched publicity stunt, is betting a lot on the ID.4. It's success will define the rest of the brand through the upcoming decade and beyond.