Time for our third go-round in a Volkswagen ID.4 in just under two years. I reviewed the 1st Edition model when the car hit showrooms as a 2021 model, and followed it up later that year with the AWD Pro S model.
This year, its the ID.4 Pro S again, and I'm finding what I suspected with the second ID.4 to be true---this is a vehicle that you really need to get to know to enjoy.
There are no changes under the hood. When you specify the AWD Pro S as opposed to a standard ID.4, you get two electric motors instead of one, 295 horsepower, 335 lb-ft of torque and 0-60 runs in the mid-fives. VW has improved range per charge. The '21 Pro S managed 240 miles, this year's is 255. It's DC fast charging capable (170kw) and I've always been pleasantly surprised by slightly shorter recharges to 80% than I'd expected (if you're down around 10 percent, figure on 40-ish minutes).
The ID.4 is not a small vehicle. The AWD and the extra power, compared to the base model, make it more fun to drive.
The ID.4 beats its closest competitor, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, in cargo space and loses to it by half an inch in terms of rear seat legroom. But it's the stuff that can't be measured with numbers that are the biggest issues with the ID.4. There's no start/stop button. The ID.4 wakes up, if you have the key fob with you, when you put your foot on the brake. Put it in park, take your foot off the brake and it goes to sleep. No, it's not the only EV that does this (Volvo's Recharge series does it, too), but it takes some getting used to---more than the Volvo, in fact. That's because, even as your brain says "just put your foot on the brake and put the car in gear", you look around and don't see a gear selector. Just cupholders and a cubby in the console. No visible pushbuttons or rotary knob on the dash.
For all the goofball approaches to gear selectors of late (a whole story in itself), VW has arguably invented the goofiest.
Hidden behind the upper right quadrant of the steering wheel, attached to the side of the screen that houses the speedometer and other driving information, is a trapezoidal knob. You turn it away from you to put the ID.4 in drive. You turn it toward yourself to put the vehicle in reverse. On the outside edge of that knob is a pushbutton. You press that to put the car in park (the sun glare is obscuring the marking in the photo above). On the right edge of the screen, there's a gear indicator that lights up to show what you've done. Yeah, you'll get used to it if you drive the car every day. But I wouldn't want to have to make a fast gear change (someone about to back into me, some other hazard) in the first couple of weeks of ownership.
The other "Was zum Teufel hast du dir dabei gedacht?" feature is the window switch on the driver's door. See the word "REAR" there? That's a touch-sensitive switch. It takes the window controls and transfers them to the windows in the back doors. It's incredibly easy to activate by accident when reaching over to adjust the mirrors.
How do I know this? Because I've done it in all three of the ID.4s I've driven. The least fun was when I was pulling into a San Francisco parking garage for a concert, a line of cars behind me and I'm trying to roll down the window to give the attendant the money and get the ticket and my window won't roll down. It was only when I realized that the car horn behind me was REALLY loud that I figured out it was because the wrong window was open. The door is standard-sized. There's no reason four switches (one for each window) can't be there.
Beyond that, the tech frustrations aren't unique to the ID.4. It has the same flat touch switches for HVAC and audio volume that plague the new GTI and Golf R. If you're up for a specific rant on that, follow the links. For the TL:DR crowd, they're imprecise and require more time focused away from the road, which is not good in any car and inexcusable in driver's cars like the GTI and Golf R.
The base price of the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S is $52,590 (including destination). It's a largely all-inclusive deal, with 20-inch alloy wheels, a comprehensive active safety suite, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield, heated steering wheel, panoramic fixed-glass roof, dual-zone climate control, 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats with massage, and a seven-speaker audio system with navigation. The only extra-cost option on our test car was the Aurora Red Metallic paint ($395). So the as-tested price comes to $52,985.
When you're not focused on the needlessly complex solutions to stuff you need several times per drive (gear selection, window control, HVAC and audio), the Volkswagen ID.4 is a pleasant electric SUV. But those aggravations are a big ask when it comes to what you're willing to live with, and if people are walking away from GTIs over this stuff, I can't imagine it's doing ID.4 sales any favors, either.