In the race for affordable electric wagons, VW struck first. Expected for many months, the Tesla Model Y will not arrive before this summer in Europe. The German manufacturer has apparently decided to take advantage of the boulevard left by its American competitor to settle in a segment which announces a real trench warfare for the months to come.
Another strong argument, Volkswagen will have the price advantage. Indeed, the entry-level version of the ID.4 starts at 39,370 euros (from which it is possible to subtract 7,000 euros of ecological bonus).
Equipped with complete equipment and positioned 30,000 euros less expensive than the Model Y, the ID.4 could well be the benchmark family electric SUV. As part of this test, we opted for the more high-end version of the ID.4, the one that should sit directly in front of Tesla. Equipped with a 204 hp engine and a 77 kWh battery, it will be marketed at 59,680 euros (excluding the ecological bonus of 3,000 euros).
On board: the electric VW button
For its wagon, Volkswagen wanted an experience quite similar to its compact. As with the ID.3, all you have to do is approach the car, keys in your pocket, for it to recognize its owner. From then on, the doors unlock, the screen lights up and all you have to do is put your foot on the brake and activate the starter switch located on the right side of the cockpit.
On the other hand, in terms of design, the interior of the ID.4 is much more classic than that of the compact. It obviously revolves around a fairly sober central 10-inch screen. It displays the in-house system, inaugurated with the 8th generation Golf, which does not shine with its responsiveness.
Finally, as we regularly remind you during our tests of Seat or VW cars, the in-house navigation suffers from a translation problem, confuses “turn” and “U-turn” and has difficulty pronouncing certain words. As you will have understood, we strongly advise you to take advantage of the CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility of the ID.4, Volkswagen still having great progress to make on this point.
Finally, under the screen VW has opted for touch controls with haptic feedback for volume and air conditioning settings. Innovative certainly, but not really practical to use, especially in the evening, the keys are not backlit.
Excellent driving aids
The difficulties of the VW group to offer an OS worthy of the name contrast with the quality of its driving aids. Concretely, the ID.4 has a level two autonomy thanks to adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance. In addition, the car is able to read traffic signs and adapt its speed accordingly.
During our test, the SUV was rarely found faulty. It even surprised us with the flexibility and naturalness with which it adapted its speed when changing driving conditions. No sudden braking when a car folds in front of us, no too strong transition when changing the speed limit, on the contrary, the ID.4 does everything to ensure that it is regularly left behind the wheel.
We also really appreciated the head-up display in augmented reality which compensates for an instrumentation screen, certainly readable, but of reduced size.
Of course, the content of this display can be personalized and it is not mandatory to activate augmented reality. But that would be without a help on the one hand useful, but above all well executed. In fact, when approaching an intersection, when navigation is activated, an arrow appears above the speedometer. This one grows as one approaches the road to be taken before disappearing.
Unfortunately, the augmented reality navigation option requires you to unplug your phone, store your Waze or Google Maps in the closet and rely on the in-house software whose limits we have already mentioned. .
Finally, in terms of energy recovery, the ID.4 has a B mode (to be activated via the starter switch). It reinforces the intensity of the engine braking, but is less aggressive and less effective than at Nissan or Volvo, for example. In fact, we will rely more on regenerative braking but again, it is not a model of its kind. Indeed, excessively soft, the brake pedal takes a certain time to be tamed and regularly generates frustration without being ineffective.
On the road, what does the ID.4 give?
Heavy and imposing, the ID.4 does not really have what one might qualify as sporting behavior. This also applies when opting for “sport” mode, via the main menu. Admittedly, the suspension is firming up, the steering becomes a little more rigid, but we are still quite far from the sensations provided by an e-tron S.
On the other hand, the ID.4 is a model of comfort. Due to the silence on board (thanks to the electric motor and the excellent insulation), but also to its damping behavior, the electric SUV can be driven with complete peace of mind.
Autonomy: she suffers on the highway
Equipped with the same battery / motor unit as the ID.3, but weighing much heavier than the compact (2.2 tons anyway), VW’s electric SUV cannot claim the same performance in terms of range. .
Indeed, on our journey combining motorway, urban route, but above all secondary network, we achieved a consumption of 18.1 kWh by adopting a very smooth driving style.
On the other hand, on a regulator motorway blocked at 130 km / h, consumption is close to 25 kWh / 100 km. On this point, the ID.4 shows the same weaknesses as the competition. Long journeys are possible, but on condition that you stop to recharge approximately every 300 km.
On the issue of recharging, VW’s electric SUV is doing well with two possibilities. On the one hand, the classic 11 kW charger but above all, a DC Combo socket which allows recharging to 125 kW. Concretely, on an Ionity terminal, this amounts to recovering 80% of the capacity of its battery in just over 30 minutes.
Of course, our range data is only valid for our trial version of the ID.4, i.e. the 204 hp model with the large 77 kWh battery. The entry-level version (148 hp and 52 kWh of battery), will offer significantly different performance.
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Although the ID.4 lacks a bit of character when driving, it does deliver what you would expect from a family electric SUV in terms of feel – that is, permanent serenity and comfort. The contract is therefore fulfilled on the part of Volkswagen, which will therefore offer a credible alternative to the Tesla Model Y.
But where the German is very strong is by doubling this performance version with a more affordable finish. The user certainly loses power and autonomy, but, at 30,000 euros less, he benefits from everything else, namely an ID.4 well endowed and very pleasant to drive.