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Charge ahead in the new VW ID.4

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Ian Lamming becomes increasingly exasperated with the UK infrastructure as he drives the new VW ID.4

THIS country is ruining a good thing, namely electric cars.

Picture the scene and it’s an increasingly common one. Trundle up to the rapid charger – yay, it’s free.

Plug in, simple, wave the old credit card at the contactless pad, easy, and the digital readout kicks into play. Right, it’s off and I’m off to the nearest café for a mocha and to work on my laptop while it charges.

Two hours later I’m back – and absolutely horrified as the digital readout on the rapid charger tells me there’s been a fault and no power has gone in.

Fortunately, the VW ID.4 has a reasonable range so I can get to the next charger, which I find through Google, only to discover that the oblique angled bays are aligned for front facing chargers. The man next door is sitting pretty as his Taycan’s charger point is in the front wing.

Mine’s at the back so I have to do an odd manoeuvre in tight confines that involves driving against the one-way flow to reverse back to the charger. That’s done and for safety’s sake I remain in the car this time to ensure that the charge is error free, which it is.

The other good thing about the ID.4 is that the distance to empty readout is really accurate, only strong winds over the hills pushing it down quicker than is normal, but that’s to be expected. That means range anxiety is kept to a minimum, especially as it is happy to take a charge from the three pin socket at home offering good range the next morning.

ID.4 is Volkswagen’s fully electric SUV. It looks great, really modern, and the interior must be the best I’ve ever seen in a VW; it’s just plain lovely in terms of design and materials. The dashboard is a pod, like on a motorcycle. Then there’s a touchscreen that does pretty much everything, though I’d like a co-pilot to operate it so I can concentrate on the actual driving.

Like most BEVs, the ID.4 is incredibly quiet, smooth, and rapid. The instant torque is astounding and compelling. In terms of driving dynamics EVs really do knock combustion engines into a cocked hat and never having to visit a petrol station is noticeable and welcome. The power is so controllable, particularly if you run it in ‘B’ rather than ‘D’ which gives you what could be described as engine braking and puts charge back in the battery. I love the one pedal operation this results in.

It’s also more controllable on the open road. It romps up hills and past slow moving traffic in a way that reminds me again of motorcycling as there is no waiting for the power to erupt.

Inside is futuristic and very comfortable, spacious and beautifully made. The electric windows are weird. There are only two switches for four windows. You have to press a button marked ‘rear’ to operate the back set.

There’s a lot of poking and swiping to get what you are looking for but there are also controls on the steering wheel that boast haptics for extra feel. The hi-fi is a beauty and your favourite sounds boom out from multiple speakers to fill the interior.

The ‘Life’ specification feels upmarket yet the central locking doesn’t have a proximity sensor and you have to use the plip/key to open it, unless I’m doing something wrong. There’s no rear camera either when reversing which feels like an omission as this is a feature I’ve come to appreciate.

It’s a joy to drive at night when you are tired at the end of the day. The ambient lighting soothes, the sound system entertains, the brilliant LED lights illuminate making it a breeze to drive home, where you actually arrive less tired and more relaxed than when you set off.

So the ID.4 is an excellent car, particularly if you like your vehicles to pack a lot of tech. What needs to keep up now is the country’s woeful infrastructure. The chargers not only need to proliferate but they need to be more reliable. A bit more thought given to the alignment of bays wouldn’t go amiss either.

Fact File

  • VW ID.4 Life
  • Engine: electric 77 kWh
  • Power: 204PS
  • 0-62mph: 8.5 secs
  • Top speed: 99mph
  • Range: 322 miles
  • Transmission: one speed, RWD
  • CO2 g/km: 0
  • Price: £42,520.00

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