While the competition to sell EVs in the United States has long been a race to finish second behind Tesla, the Volkswagen ID.4 has been performing increasingly well after early supply problems were ironed out. In the first half of the year, VW sold nearly 16,500 here—more than 10 percent of its total volume, putting it just ahead of the Jetta. But the company hasn’t been deaf to criticism, recently announcing a package of revisions, including a power upgrade and improvements to the user interface.
We will have to wait to test the 2024 car in the U.S., but we have had the chance to drive a European-spec car in Germany. This was actually an ID.5, the ID.4’s lower-roofed pseudo-coupe sibling, which isn’t available stateside, but all of the changes are common to both cars. Our Euro-spec GTX trim was broadly equivalent to the ID.4 S Plus.
The most significant changes lie under the surface, with the ID.4 and ID.5 getting a more potent rear motor that will be offered exclusively with the larger 77.0-kWh battery in the U.S.; the lesser 58.0-kWh pack continues with the old one for now. Volkswagen’s new AP550 motor, which will also power the upcoming ID.7 sedan, uses a revised rotor and more efficient cooling system to allow for higher outputs and, VW says, more sustained high loads. In the rear-drive 77.0-kWh ID.4, this new motor makes 282 horsepower, while the all-wheel-drive version raises output to 335 horses in Europe with similar output for U.S. cars (officially: “more than 330 horsepower”). Although we don’t have any range claims, Volkswagen predicts that the new motor will boost EPA numbers in both the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars.
There have been changes in the ID’s cabin as well, mostly aimed at improving the UI experience. The 77.0-kWh variant’s infotainment gets upgraded with a new 12.9-inch touchscreen. In addition to its greater size and higher resolution, the new screen debuts VW’s updated software, which includes shortcut icons at the top of the screen for easier passage between different functions. The new system certainly looks and works better than the old one did, but it is still awkwardly situated above the touch-sensitive control panel for temperature and audio volume, making it too easy to accidentally activate them when using the screen. On the plus side, Volkswagen has responded to criticism of the climate control’s invisibility at night by illuminating it. In addition, the forward/reverse selector has been moved from its slightly awkward position on the side of the gauge cluster to the steering column itself.
Other than that, the cabin is unchanged. There remains generous space across its two rows of seats and 30 cubic feet of cargo volume behind. The interior is still functional rather than fancy, and it still features irksome driver window controls that must be toggled between front and rear. The various plastics feel chosen for durability rather than tactile delight, but the range-topping versions on both sides of the Atlantic will now come with a potent new Harman/Kardon audio system.
The driving experience remains very similar, with the AWD version feeling effortless and short on drama, but some way removed from the performance of punchier segment rivals. Volkswagen says that the new car is quicker but hasn’t said how much. For reference, we ran a 2021 AWD ID.4 to the 60-mph benchmark in 5.4 seconds. Acceleration in the new car felt keen rather than spectacular—you’re conscious of the considerable weight the motors have to work against; there is no equivalent in the ID.4 range to EV hot rods like the Kia EV6 GT or Tesla Model Y Performance.
One performance claim we were able to corroborate—for the European model—is a raised speed limiter. It has gone from 99 to 112 mph, which we confirmed on an unrestricted stretch of the German autobahn. Such atypical use sent the dashboard’s range prediction plummeting, but blowing past slower-moving traffic was huge fun.
The autobahn also proved that the Euro-spec ID.5 felt impressively stable at high speeds, with the adaptive dampers (optional in the U.S.) giving a comfortable and well-disciplined ride. It was equally pliant over urban bumps, too, even on the largest available 21-inch wheels. Volkswagen says that the steering has been given new software to improve feel and bring more forceful self-centering, but we still struggled to detect any feedback or sense of connection to the front wheels.
The modest changes to the ID.5 have not radically transformed its appeal. This is a car that promises to be very easy to live with but also almost entirely unexciting—a mixture that has served Volkswagen well through much of its past. A senior VW executive recently told C/D that one of the big challenges for large automakers trying to boost EV sales is moving beyond early adopters and toward the mainstream consumers who make up a much bigger chunk of the market. The sensibleness of the ID.4 and ID.5 would seem to make them well suited to that task.
Senior European Correspondent
Our man on the other side of the pond, Mike Duff lives in Britain but reports from across Europe, sometimes beyond. He has previously held staff roles on UK titles including CAR, Autocar and evo, but his own automotive tastes tend towards the Germanic, owning both a troublesome 987-generation Porsche Cayman S and a Mercedes 190E 2.5-16.
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com