Friday, April 16, 2021

My Introduction To The ID4

 Yesterday April 15th, I was able to do a test drive of the new Volkswagen ID 4 EV.  Since its 100% electric, VW was awarded 85 out of a possible 100 points on my rating scale so now its all about how they do on the remaining 15 points. 

The Walk Around

My appointment was for 12 noon but it was 75 miles thru Seattle traffic past the 4 bottlenecks in the South Sound on I-5 so what should take less than 75 minutes, I allotted 2½ hours because that is what we have to do to ensure we get anywhere on time.  Besides being early gave me a chance to get a few extra pictures while waiting and when I arrived there were 4 cars sitting there making me think "why are they all here?" 

Well, as it stands, the "middle of the week" appointments were a bit light so I was told I could drive immediately despite being an hour early. 

My first thought when I saw the cars is they would win some customers on color alone but an up close look quickly revealed they were wrapped. The colors actually available are "most" of the standard car least here in the US. But the wraps most definitely deserved a pix! 

Its interesting how many cars seem to be "close" in size but the ID 4 is very deceptive. I came here thinking it would be slightly larger than the LEAF and was surprised to see how big it really was. 

The rear hatch which "auto" opens if you get that option but more importantly has lifters strong enough to open the hatch w/o your assistance. There is also an inside release as well.  With the HUGE increase in grocery/food pickups, this is a very nice feature.  

With the security cover, height is slightly under 24 inches but its more than deep enough to lie the largest suitcase on its side.  30 cu feet is the claim and it has all of that. Personally, the first thing I would likely do is remove the cover anyway for the extra space but who knows? Might not need that extra space! 

Some car people will have to chime in here because the ID 4 has this cover you can see that is about an inch thick and I see no purpose for it other than an easy way to remove and clean the hatch maybe?  It would be another thing I would store in the garage probably. 

As expected, we have a hidden cubby for the basics.  Only a 120 volt EVSE supplied which is a bit of a bummer but then again with many converted and repeat EVers, we already have that stuff! 
What the pix doesn't reveal (I need a laptop on these ventures to view pix to see that they catch  everything!) is that there is a flap that covers this making the other cover unnecessary.   As with most EVs these days, no spare tire but the cubby has plenty of room to add tools and other emergency supplies. 

Ok, should have two pictures here. This is the rears 255/45 20's.  The fronts are 235/50 20's.  I checked two other sites and despite not agreeing to tire sizes, they all agree that the front and rears are not the same size so tire rotation is out.  Definitely a minus for me. 

Why you shouldn't believe everything you read; Car And Driver classified the ID 4 as a "Small SUV 2WD" Since we have to think there is also medium and large, do we have to be over 10,000 lbs to be "large?" 

To be fair, the Car and Driver spec sheet listed "NA" on most of the specs so it was simply a click bait article without a whole lot of data.  The car I drove came in at just under 4700 lbs but it would appear you can get a trimmed down version around 4559 lbs. Of course, AWD will be heavier. 

Rear placement of the charge port means backing into nearly every EA station due to super short cord lengths.  Shouldn't be too tough though with the excellent backup camera. More on that later.  I had thought charging speed would be higher but according to the ambassadors at the drive event, it will pull 120 KW which as we know means 110 to maybe 115 depending on SOC.  That is plenty fast enough. 

With my lowly 80 KW LEAF, I barely have time to pee before its time to go! 

The ID 4 has a small hood and short nose which means a very tight layout. The easy; The fluids we need to maintain are in plain sight and easy to access.  The "less easier"...

As we know, nearly all EVs have 12 volt battery issues. Its seems that no model is immune. 12 volt batteries are supposed to fail so that is expected but within a year? That is not.  Now any DIY'er would be checking voltages occasionally to see how the battery is doing and maybe a boost here and there but it replacing the battery appears to be "slightly" more challenging than just a 10 mm wrench in hand to do the LEAF battery.  But VW has had time to sit back and watch other manufacturers fail on the 12 volt front so they have learned something? like Ford did with the Mach E?  I guess we shall see in a year or so

Breaking Eggs! 

Ok, maybe that was just weird so we will just open the doors. 

The back seats are firm and comfortable and unlike other EVs I have been in (except  the S) the ID 4 has the extended seat cushion to provide greater leg support. Super nice!  But also deserves a mention that the legroom of 78.7 inches (front and rear combined. If you don't know me I only look at this number since seats move! Makes no sense to look at anything else) is actually effectively more than other EVs because the longer "bench" means less legroom is needed in the back.  I had over 6" of clearance!

Access to the hatch; very convenient! 

Front seats. Again, long seat and this pix "highlights" the uhh arm rests! (you can see it in the extreme lower right hand corner of the pix) Did I mention the day was gorgeous and sunny? I mean like VERY bright sunny? 

The Toys

Ever notice how a lot of cars are designed for one? My Prius was this way. The SL version of the LEAF as well plus a bunch of others.  The driver gets everything, the passenger...not so much. 

Well, VW acknowledges that friends and spouses need benefits too.  Both front seats comes with power 12 way seats, two memory settings AND a vibrator! BOTH SIDES!!  Now, I didn't try the vibrator (kinda not sure I want to be more relaxed while driving??) but I do see it being a benefit to the more high strung, road rage, stuck in an one hour traffic jam, South Sound driver. 

Wireless charging pad. For some reason there was an i phone in my car. My guess is its used in case I steal the car or maybe get lost? They would use the phone to retrieve me or at least give me directions back to the mall.  I did try my phone and it connected just fine.   Funny thing; during the drive, I set my phone in the cup holder then started getting messages "Charging device" then "unable to charge device" then "charging device"  Apparently someone mentioned there is a charging pad on top as well. Nice. 

Inside hatch release. NICE and unlike the hands free auto release, this comes on every model. With a restaurant and grocery pickup being much more of thing because of COVID, this is a good thing! 

Because of COVID, social distancing and all that stuff, I had a 3 minute orientation on loading my route into the NAV and that was about it. I did the test drive alone and in hindsight, I should have pulled over somewhere and spent more time trying to figure out how stuff worked but one the strangest things I came across was the window controls.  

Notice only two buttons? Well, there are 4 windows. Apparently to control the rears you have to touch "rear" to switch modes. Cost cutting? Are buttons really that expensive? 

The center screen is 12" and bright, easy to see even in bright sunlight. Now the car I drove has a moon roof which was thankfully closed when I got there. As the driver, the moon roof provides zero benefit to me. I don't need encouragement to have my "head in the clouds" while driving and in Western WA, its nearly always clouds which sucks without the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with sunshine in the process of attaining skin cancer. So its anyone's guess as to how viewable this screen would be when the shade is open (yes, its just a shade, not a cover) 

4G is the standard powered by the "integrated" antenna and don't ask me what that entails but sounds like another cost cutting move by VW.  There are tactile buttons for the very basic climate controls but changing screens requires you to hit the blue  "X" on the left and either go back to the  prior screen  or select a new screen from the  options that are just below this pix. There are 4...not many.  

Now a lot of people love "auto" this and auto that so this is definitely aiming at mainstream but I am not one of them. I am constantly playing with my climate controls so physical buttons are highly desired for me.  But again, the very limited time I had with the car did not allow me to see if I could learn to live with this? 

The driver's display look decent here but its actually pretty small. Much smaller than I would have liked. Glancing at it thru the steering wheel was hardly impossible but felt more tedious than it should be.  It wasn't until I saw a blown up shot of the pix that I noticed things I didn't notice on the drive. That tells me this needs to be bigger. 

The Drive

Well, it was SHORT and didn't reveal a whole lot. Being unfamiliar with the car, I should have brought along a friend or two so I could observe the car while they drove.  COVID restrictions prevented the ambassador from accompanying me. It would have been nice to have him pointing out things I hadn't noticed. 

What's missing? In case you don't know; you can  click on the pix to get the full 4K version.  With the FOB in the center console (next to the i phone that was spying on me) I only needed to step on the brake pedal to start the car. Start up was silent so other than the screens lighting up, there was no indication  I noticed that told me the car was ready to drive.  

As you can see here, the driver's display is about a third the size of my LEAF. 

The shifter is mounted to the side of the driver's display and its the typical shift once rotating away from you to D, shift again to B. Rotate towards you once for R, twice for N.  As expected, you can shift on the move. I did not test to see if N could be quickly shifted by trying to shift to R but guessing it can. 

Another personal preference here. Maybe its my subconscious  pining for the old days of manual transmissions controlling my tendencies but when I drive, I am constantly shifting from D to B to E Pedal with an occasional N; only the Eco left on all the time.  During the drive, I found this shifting location to be very inconvenient.  If you are a set it and forget it driver, this will work for you. 

Yeah, the shifter location takes the fun out of driving. 

After start up, the natural thing was mode selection. Sport mode was the default although I suspect it will maintain whatever mode you select. Unlike many, I like the "EV" feeling. The regen, etc. So I selected Eco and during the drive, I switched around to see if Sport affected acceleration (it didn't but was supposed to stiffen suspension and that sort of thing. I didn't really have that kind of route so...?) 

Honorable Mention; The button at the left bottom the "P" menu is VERY cool. When you select it, it engages the camera based on the direction you are moving. Ever been in a tight parking space and not sure you can clear the car in front of you?  The overhead 4 camera view is nice but sometimes small, right?  Well, hit that button and the camera looking the direction you are traveling will take up the whole screen. This means being able to clear the car in front of you with inches to spare in confidence.  VERY VERY NICE! 

To start the drive, a pre selected route was programmed in and the NAV worked ok but a bit sluggishly.  While still in the parking lot of the mall, I purposely turned one block early and the NAV immediately told me to make a u turn. I had navigated back to the route before it was able to recalculate and direct me again. VERY slow. My phone takes about 2 seconds to do this.  

Now, driving by NAV shouldn't require looking at the screen at all and this one did a good job of that (if you didn't stray...) with good voice directions  although a bit earlier than I would have liked and even had dash lights that flashed green in the direction you are supposed to turn (red if you didn't...) 

The car drove with no discernible regen in Eco D which would be good for coasting but felt like it would be harder to control w/o braking. Eco B did work well with a much smoother transition from power to regen slowing the vehicle down to 2 mph. There was no one pedal driving mode that I could find.  Now the car has adaptive cruise control which could provide the one pedal driving in stop and go but the test drive simply didn't allow for testing that. 

The car did drive like a full size SUV but lacked body sway and roll. This could be partially due to the low speeds of the course but it had a very solid road feel and transmitted very little of the street imperfections to the cabin; a luxury type drive for sure. Acceleration was modest...very modest. TBH; I am a bit scared of my Plus's acceleration and although probably a bit slow for a lot of people, it has enough for me. If I had to compare, it would be close to the original 2011 and 2012 LEAFs. 

After barely a few miles, I was directed to make a u turn so not even a loop course. Quite disappointing really. With 200 miles of range, I should have taken it a few exits down I 5. With luck, I might have made it back to the event before the cops caught up to me...

The Score

I have to say, I didn't even scratch the surface of all the things the ID 4 has to offer. Dual zone climate controls, cross traffic alerts, lane guidance, adaptive cruise, etc but that is to be expected. It took a few days to get familiar when I took my Gen 2 LEAF home and that is after already being familiar with half the car! So there is no doubt I missed things that should be here so hoping you got enough here to decide if its worth a look to you. 

If you are into mid sized SUVs like maybe the Chevy Equinox, then this is worth a look for sure. If you are more into the personal transportation for yourself or your partner, this might be more car than you need. 

The base starts at $40,000 and not sure what the options will be. I am not a fan of RWD so that's a point off.  AWD will be about $3600 more I think and might be here by 2021. The date keeps getting pushed back so we shall see.  It also comes with THREE years of free access to Electrify America (what a shocker, right) which will help with those low efficiency numbers. 

As far as range, its 82 kwh or 20 kwh more than my LEAF but unlike my LEAF which easily exceeds the EPA rating, I am not as confident the ID 4's 250 miles will be as easy in as many different scenarios. In my very limited low speed test drive (not counting the 2 launches I did) it would appear I got 3.3 miles/kwh. If 77 kwh is available, that is only 254 miles so getting that on the freeway?  Either way, it should still be well over 200 miles which is really all we need between personal breaks anyway. With EA popping up like COVID cases, having one in a convenient place is becoming easier every day. 

The different tire sizes is a miss for me as I am a rotation fan.  On a per tire basis; 4 tires cost less than 2. VW, why??  The first thing I would do if I bought the car is match the tires as soon as they wear out.

Oh, the score? Cmon man!! Its an EV!  100% ALL THE WAY!... for someone 😉

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