ID.4 First Edition from Volkswagen
Now, this is the first time that I’d driven an electric car, and in the run-up to our trip to VW Action, I was quite apprehensive about being able to get to Santa Pod and back, with a little bit of range anxiety.
I’d had a look, and there are no chargers at Santa Pod. So I was a little bit worried about how I was going to manage. But as it turns out, the car arrived with just over 200 miles of range in the tank, so to speak. I plumbed in our location to the sat nav and set off on our 120-mile journey to the ‘Pod.
ID.4 Range & Charging
I think the biggest factor for anybody, looking at the viability of an electric car, is the range and the charging infrastructure. How is that all going to work?
Now overall I’m really surprised with how well I adjusted to driving an electric car as this was the first time I’d driven a pure electric car.
When I jumped in, I was like, OK, where’s the start button? How do I turn this thing on?
You simply press your foot onto the foot brake and pop it into drive or reverse and then press the go pedal. It is as simple as that. It was a bit bizarre the first time I set off, but I quite like it, it is very simple. It’s very, very simple to drive. Point and go, if you like.
Touch Button Controls
The one thing that took a little bit of getting used to, though, is that everything is touch button controls. There are no knobs or switches to flick, it’s all touch buttons.
I prefer the button functions of the current Volkswagen steering wheel that they have currently. The buttons that we have on our Polo, what we had on our Tiguan. They were nice, I could feel where they were.
The buttons on the ID.4’s steering wheel has got indents and ridges, but if you start to swipe your thumb over some of those, then it starts to control the infotainment system and yeah, I think that took a little bit of getting used to.
I don’t like the touch button controls on the infotainment system, along with the touch button controls on a ledge just underneath the infotainment system’s screen. While you’re driving along and trying to control elements of the car, you have got your finger out, a bit like “E.T.” But even with a steady hand, the movement of the road, your finger is all over the place.
I tried to select maps on the screen, using CarPlay, and instead, I selected the phone because your finger is bouncing all over the place. I found myself resting my fingers on the ledge that’s underneath the screen to just steady my hand. But then I ended up changing the volume or the fan speed or the temperature. Because all the controls are touch-sensitive. For me, I think it’s a bit of a bad choice of placement.
Is it too Early to Buy an Electric Car?
Just before we bought our last car, (we’ve recently bought ourselves a Polo, after having a Tiguan for a few years) we decided that we didn’t need all the luxury extras and driving aids that came to the Tiguan, just for tootling to work and back.
I’d said, maybe in a few years, our next car would probably be electric. But after driving the ID.4 for maybe 30 or 40 miles, I wish I’d paid more attention to the available electric cars. It is nice and effortless to drive.
Maybe we went too far in cheaping out on those basics and going for a basic Polo. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Polo is still a reasonably nice car to drive. It’s still got cruise control. But I miss adaptive cruise having a taste of it again in the ID.4.
ID.4 Performance & Range
In terms of performance, the ID.4 is pretty nippy. I mean it weighs over 2.2 tones, so it’s a bit of a monster in that respect. But in terms of its performance, it’s quite sprightly. 0-62 in 8.5 seconds.
With a full battery, the range is claimed to be, I believe it’s 322 miles. More than enough to get me to work with no problems and that’ll do me a few days without having to worry about where I’m going to top up.
If you own an electric car, then the sensible thing is to have a charging point at home. But I guess that’s not possible for everybody. I think these are just the things that we’ve got to overcome, that the industry has got to overcome.
What about people that live in terraced houses where you walk straight out onto the street, no garden, no driveway, how are they going to charge at home? Surely we can’t have extension cables running over footpaths?
I mentioned earlier about adaptive cruise control, I think adaptive cruise control is a great addition to modern cars. I followed Claire down to the ‘pod, she was driving our campervan down.
Normally when you’re… I don’t know if anybody else finds it the same as me, but when you when you’re following somebody else, it’s incredibly boring trying to match their speed and keep up with them or try to watch what they do and watch what you’re doing, watching what’s going on around all of you… Adaptive cruise control does it all for me is brilliant. I love it.
With that, it also comes with a frontal impact sensor as well, that watches out for what’s going on it and reacts quicker than you can with the brakes should anything bad happen up ahead.
There is a particular driving assistant that I really do like, and that’s the lane assist. We had this on our Tiguan, it’s fantastic. Once you’re going over a certain speed, the car recognises where the white lines are. If you’re not paying attention, if you’re starting to get a bit fatigued or anything like that, then the car looks after you and it keeps you safe. It keeps you in your lane.
As long as the car is recognising the white lines and as long as you’re going over a certain speed, there’s a little green light that appears on the dashboard. That tells you that it knows where you are. Ultimately, the car could drive itself.
With adaptive cruise control and lane assist, the car is almost autonomous. It will drive, it will turn and it will follow the road. Obviously, it’s not an autonomous car. We shouldn’t rely on it, but if the car needs to keep you safe, then it will do it.
I think that’s brilliant. Technology is amazing.
OK, so let’s talk a little bit about comfort. The seats are lovely. I can’t remember the names of the colours that they are, and no, their not particular colours I would choose. But you know what? The seat is incredibly comfy to sit in. There’s just the right amount of hug on my back, and I’m not a slim fella. Some more huggy racing seats can squash me a little bit, but these are lovely. Hugging me just nicely.
Having just pulled off the motorway, with 16 miles left to go, and still 138 miles of anticipated range left, I started to worry less about having to top-up with charge. I had got 22 miles of range left more than what I expected. At this point, I was thinking I might even make it home on the same charge.
We had just spent the best part of two hours on the motorway and I was still comfy, the seats were still giving me a nice little cuddle, and I was happy. I was not fatigued. It had just been a really easy drive. Despite there being a bit of traffic, the car just makes it effortless
Turn of Speed
I do love the turn of speed. When there’s a little bit of a gap that you just need to get into, it’s there. The power delivery is just instant.
There’s no turbo lag, there’s no lugging, there’s no over-revving, there’s no red line. It’s just instant power whenever you need it.
We had a great weekend at Santa Pod, and this ID.4 had so much interest. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody as much about a particular car that’s been on our club stand in all the times I’ve been coming along. And I know for definite, that we could have sold at least two of them, while we were here.
It was an absolutely fantastic weekend. The sun was shining, lots of folk around, and some great partying. It was awesome. Now, time for the drive home.
Public Opinion of the ID.4
So let’s have a bit of a talk about some of the things that we noticed or things that we talked about with people over the VW Action weekend.
First off, quite a lot of people commented on the pedals. The brake and the accelerator, they’ve got a little pause sign and a play sign-on. This went down very well with everyone.
We had a lot of questions about whether the ID.4 has a frunk, whether or not there is storage space under the bonnet, but no, there isn’t. There’s still gadgets and gizmos that you’d find in an engine bay under there. Brake fluid, washer fluid, there’s even a coolant tank. I can only presume that there is some sort of cooling that keeps the motor cool, while the car is being driven.
There is what looks to be a large fan there. So I’m guessing that there is some sort of radiator of sorts too. But no, no storage space.
The boot, however, had a lot of comments about how spacious that is. I think a lot of people expect that there will be batteries stored in the boot or under the bonnet. But from what I understand, the batteries are built-in at floor level to give the car that low centre of gravity. And I did notice that with the handling.
For something that weighs 2.2 tons, it’s still quite nimble. I’m quite surprised by that. I expected it to be a bit wallowy.
So, what else did we talk about over the weekend? The door handles. The door handles don’t essentially pull as a traditional door handle would. More like a modern boot handle where there’s a little pressure switch under the back. You pull that and that pops the door. They’re quite funky. When people have been having a look, they’ve noticed that they’re not traditional door handles as such.
Other people have pointed out the controls, all the touch buttons. While still being in familiar layouts to the traditional rotational, sliders and actual push buttons, they are touch-sensitive. I think that’s just going to take a little bit of getting used to.
I talked to a lot of people over the weekend about the price point of this car. This car, the ID.4 First Edition, on the road retail price, is £40,800. But people have looked at the car, and they’ve been surprised by that. They expected the car to be a lot more money. 45, 50, £55,000. One person even said to me that they expected it to be £100,000, but don’t get any ideas VW. Yeah, I like the price point.
Another thing that was been pointed out by people over the weekend, is how well they think the car looks and sits. They’re aware of the car. They’ve seen the publications, the press releases, the adverts. They’ve seen all that and when they’ve seen it in person, they’ve commented that they think the car looks much, much better in the metal.
Now is that to do with the colour of the car that has been pictured? The press releases have used a dark blue ID.4, or a gold/yellow colour. This one with its Pearl White gleamed in the sun.
I think that was drawing a lot of people in. Like I say, I’ve never spoken to so many people about a car at a show.
My First Experience of Charging an Electric Car
About 30 miles into our journey home, I hit some traffic on the M1. Not major traffic, but enough to mean that I was accelerating and braking quite a bit. This had an impact on the expected range remaining. I decided that I should pull off at Leicester Forest Services Northbound and plug in to get some charge.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. All four, Ecotricity charging points were out of order. This worried me. If the chargers in the services were out of order, how reliable is the public charging network?
I downloaded an app called Zap-Map. This app enables users to locate chargers and update their status. The problems with those Ecotricity chargers had been reported three weeks ago. Now, how can the infrastructure for electric cars grow, if we can’t even rely on the charging stations, in the services? They’re the last-ditch attempt.
Too Close for Comfort
I tapped into Zap-Map where I was going and how much range I had left. It told me that there was a charging station in 40 miles, and it’s the only one on my route that’s working and available.
Now, this was quite scary because I only had 42 miles range left.
As I got a bit further into my journey to the next charging point. I started to get a little less anxious. The range went up. I think that was because I was on free-flowing roads again and the car has just adapted because I wasn’t sitting in any crawling traffic anymore.
Back to the ID.4’s Touch Sensitive Buttons
OK, so this is one of the things that I’m talking about with the touch controls. I wanted to adjust the air vent to the right of the steering wheel, just to direct the airflow a little bit more towards my face. It was getting a bit warm in the car and I’d turned the air con off just to try and conserve a little bit of charge.
While I was turning the vents up a little bit, I managed to catch the fog light switch with my little finger. I don’t need foglights. I don’t need touch buttons. Give me a dial. Let me turn the fog lights on with a proper switch.
Alert: Low Charge
Twenty-one miles to go to the next charger, and the ID.4 started to try and scare me with the charging level and range. It flashed up on all the screens that I needed to recharge. The battery was now down to 9%. It’s started showing the details in red.
It still said that I had 30 miles range and 21 miles to go to the charger. I just really hoped that these chargers are working when I got there.
I got to the charger with just 9 miles of range left. But both charging points were in use and looking at the details on the screen, it looked like they’d only just connected. Luckily, not too far away, just in another car park about 50m away, there are some other chargers. Not quite as powerful. They only apparently give a 50-kilowatt charge, not the 125 kilowatts of the other ones, but, something’s better than nothing.
I sat with the car for a while whilst it charged up. On the charger, next door was a chap and his ID.3. We had a chat about our cars, and I told him about my charging experience. He assured me that this wasn’t normal! I was glad to hear that.
After about 20 minutes, the faster, 125kw chargers across the car park became available again, so I switched chargers. I plugged into the faster charger, but for some reason, the charger was only delivering around 70kw.
It didn’t matter too much, I was in the car park for KFC, so I took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat.
After spending a bit of time eating my chicken, I’d recharged sufficiently to get me home and leave the chaps that were to collect the car plenty of change to get to wherever they were going next.
In total, it cost me around £27 to charge the ID.4 from 3% to 80%. Public charging on fast chargers does cost significantly more than charging at home though.
Final Thoughts About the ID.4
I think he’s unfair to give the ID.4 any sort of bad review because of the charging infrastructure. If I had access to a charger at home, I wouldn’t have had any of these issues. I would have got to VW Action and back home without any issues. The car would have been fully charged the night before and again when I got home after the weekend so I could get to work the next day.
Now I know about Zap-Map, I’d be aware of which chargers were available and which are out of order.
The ID.4 is absolutely amazing. I really have fallen in love with it, despite the touch controls! An electric car will be the next VW to grace my driveway. I look forward to seeing where the market takes us.