Sensible, yes – but lacks sparkle

Doctor on the Road: VW iD4

VW’s new offering ticks all the boxes needed to satisfy the medic family in need of all-electric transport. But is that enough? Independent Practitioner Today’s motoring correspondent Dr Tony Rimmer finds out.

Most of us tend to be cautious when it comes to investing in new technology. We usually trust brands that have served us well over the years. 

And this applies to the cars we choose as much as it does the medical equipment we buy to benefit our patients. So when Volkswagen launched its new all-electric iD range, it was logical that it launched the Golf-sized iD3 first. 

The Golf has been its most successful model after the Beetle and it was a way to introduce its future all-electric models without alienating a loyal customer base. 

However, although the Golf was a default choice for families over many years, the current trend is for buyers to go for a larger SUV sized vehicle.

Roomier SUV 

This is probably driven by the increased size of all the necessary child-carrying paraphernalia that comes with modern parenting. So, meet the iD4, a bigger and roomier SUV based on the same VW MEB platform as the iD3.

The range starts with the £34,995 148bhp Life Pure with a 52kWh battery and tops out with the Tesla-priced £49,025 299bhp four-wheel drive GTX with a 77kWh battery.

 I have been driving the version that will have most appeal to most medics with growing families – the £43,500 204bhp Life Pro Perform­ance with the 77kWh battery.

You could not call the iD4 a good-looking car. It is not overtly ugly, but the large body has a certain bloated appearance. 

Direct competitors such as Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Mustang Mach-E look smarter and more characterful. The iD3 is a better-looking Volkswagen. The bonnet area is particularly bulbous, which seems unnecessary, as there is no engine and it does not even offer any extra luggage space.

Step inside, though, and you can forgive the bland external styling. The interior is light and roomy. The driving position is excellent and the driver’s controls are basically the same as the iD3. 

That means that the central touch screen controls most features and there are useful steering wheel buttons too. But, unfortunately, the confusing temperature sliding control bar as used on the iD3 and Golf 8 is retained.

Impressive room 

Rear passenger room is particularly impressive. Families will have no problem fitting large rear-facing baby seats and there is excellent head- and leg-room for adult occupants.

Large door-bins and seat-back pockets will be appreciated by owners too. The rear hatchback door may not be electrically operated, but it opens up an impressive 543 litres of space in the boot; enough for most needs. There is a useful under-floor compartment to house the charging cables too.

Driving the iD4 is really easy and relaxing. The acceleration is not as dramatic as in other electric cars, but it is still quick enough. 

The tall SUV driving position and smooth brakes are complemented by light steering and a really impressive tight turning circle. 

Refined progress

It is a doddle to drive in urban traffic and just what a busy medic parent needs to keep young occupants comfortable and quiet. On faster roads and motorways, progress is also refined due to minimal wind and road noise.

Handling on the twisty bits is as you would expect from any two-tonne electric car;  the chassis is tuned for smoothness and ease of use rather than any sportiness. 

Having said that, the ride is a great compromise between firmness and comfort – Volkswagen has done well here. 

As my test car had the larger 77kWh battery, the real-world range was a useful 250 miles or so. This means that long journeys are perfectly possible in this iD4 and you will be able to complete many urban trips without frequent top-ups.

So, the iD4 ticks all the boxes needed to satisfy the medic family in need of all-electric transport. It is a very good and reasonably priced electric SUV and would be a sensible purchase. 

However, it somehow lacks sparkle and character in the way it looks and the way it goes about its business. Competitors from Ford, Hyundai and Kia have offerings that feel a bit more, well, special. In such an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, Volkswagen probably need to up its game for future iD models.

Dr Tony Rimmer (right) is a former NHS GP practising in Guildford, Surrey