Volkswagen’s electric ID.4 was good – is AWD changing that?
CHATTANOOGA, TENN.-Volkswagen in 2021 appears to be a slightly different company than Volkswagen around 2015. The company has transformed in the wake of Dieselgate and has found forgiveness in the arms of American consumers, as the skyrocketing SUV sales show. VW has also been wholeheartedly devoted to electrification, adopting a highly modular platform approach that can be used to build a range of battery electric vehicles, including hatchbacks that are considered too small for the US and the Electric bus that everyone loves so much.
In North America, the ID.4 is the tip of the electric spear, an electric crossover that fits our automobile perfectly Modus du jour. We have already driven the ID.4 a few times: briefly as a pre-series prototype, then for a few days on home soil. It wasn’t particularly noticeable, and there were a few things that needed tweaking. Overall, however, we were impressed. (And we weren’t alone.)
4 was only available in one configuration at the time of its market launch: an 82 kWh (gross, 77 kWh usable) lithium-ion battery that generates a 201 PS (150 kW), 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) permanent magnet Synchronous electric drive drives the motor on the rear axle. But American car buyers like power and they love all-wheel drive (for possibly misguided reasons about traction and grip, but that’s neither here nor there).
All-wheel drive means two electric motors
And so, as promised, VW has prepared its twin-engine version of the ID.4, which we recently tested on some mountain and country roads near the company’s huge factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This adds a 107 hp (80 kW), 119 lb-ft (161 Nm) engine to the front axle. For twin-engine BEVs, the combined peak power and torque depends on the battery’s ability to drive both engines (and possibly a transmission) at the same time, rather than simply adding up both outputs. For the ID.4, this corresponds to 295 PS (220 kW) and 339 lb-ft (460 Nm).
In contrast to an all-wheel drive car or SUV with a combustion engine, there is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles. Instead, the computers, which are responsible for managing the drive train and driving dynamics of the ID.4, decide when the individual motors are supplied with power.
In everyday use, especially in Eco or Comfort mode, this is almost always the rear engine. That means the ID.4 AWD for $ 43,675 drives a lot on a daily basis like the ID.4 for $ 39,995 (both prices are before the federal tax credit of $ 7,500).
The front engine is asynchronous, and if no magnetic field is induced you won’t really notice it in terms of steering feel. And there is not much more mass. The curb weight has increased from 4,665 lbs (2,116 kg) to 4,782 lbs (2,169 kg), which again is not really noticeable.
The turning circle has also increased slightly. The rear-wheel drive ID.4’s ability to turn in the blink of an eye – or 10.2m to be precise – was a charming surprise the first time I drove one, and it’s been a very handy feature every time since. The ID.4 AWD needs 11.1 m for this, which is still better than most cars on the road.
Does more power automatically mean better?
Driving an ID.4 every day is a pleasurable experience, whether it’s 25 mph in the city or on some of Hamilton County’s finer mountain roads. The cabin is quiet, without too much wind or tire noise at speed, which you always notice in a BEV. There’s not much steering feel so I prefer the lighter weight of the Eco and Comfort modes over the Sport, which increases the amount of effort you need to turn the steering wheel without adding much more engagement.
On the open road in Eco or Comfort, the ID.4 is even really fun as a swing car, saves speed in curves and rolls if possible. (With the drive selector switch in D and the ID.4 in Eco or Comfort mode, it coasts down when you take your foot off the accelerator; in B it brakes somewhat regeneratively when you lift it.) Although you are in a BEV when you take the left You have to use the pedal to recover some of this energy through regenerative braking (at least up to 0.25 G, from this point on the friction brakes take over).
Comfort is likely the sweet spot for freeway as the speed limiter in Eco starts to seriously dull acceleration above 75 mph (120 km / h), which often can only be traffic speed on US highways.
Sport mode makes more use of the front engine, especially if you’re rash about the right pedal. It doesn’t exactly make the ID.4 a GTI – it conveniently leaves room for a hotter version in time – but it does drop a few seconds from the 0-60 mph on a hot hatch rivaling 5.4 seconds can.
Still, this is not, and shouldn’t be, a hotly contested driving experience. Go into a corner too fast and you will face understeer which will require you to slow down if you are to succeed. When you need to cover the floor quickly, Slow In, Fast Out works best. Sport mode also increases the standard amount of take-off regeneration in D, and in B it’s almost a true single-pedal drive mode, although the car doesn’t come to a complete stop with true single-pedal driving like some other BEVs.
As in my previous review of the ID.4 First Edition, I noticed at least once that the traction control icon was lit, and not during a low traction event. In fact, I wouldn’t have known about it, except for the brief time the glyph was showing itself. For really low-traction driving, the ID.4 AWD has a traction mode that connects both motors at speeds of up to 19 km / h. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any suitable strips of sand or mud to test this out. I didn’t even get a chance to try the ID.4 AWD in the rain, which lasted until the afternoon (at which point it got tough and violent).