Volkswagen’s electric ID.4 was already good, does all-wheel drive change that?

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CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — Volkswagen in 2021 appears to be quite a different company from Volkswagen around 2015. The company has transformed in the wake of dieselgate, and it has found forgiveness in the arms of American consumers, as evidenced by sales. soaring SUV. VW has also gone wholeheartedly into electrification, applying the approach of a highly modular platform that can be used to build a range of battery-electric vehicles, including hatchbacks considered too small. for the United States and this electric bus everyone loves it so much.

In North America, the ID.4 is the cutting edge of the electric lance, an electric crossover perfectly suited to our automobile fashion of the day. We’ve driven the ID.4 a few times already: briefly as a pre-production prototype, then for a few days at home. It wasn’t particularly flashy, and there were a few things that needed some tweaking. Yet overall we were impressed. (And we weren’t alone.)

At launch, the ID.4 was only available in one configuration: an 82 kWh (gross, 77 kWh usable) lithium-ion battery powering a 201 hp (150 kW) permanent magnet synchronous electric battery, 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) engine on the rear axle. But American car buyers love power, and they love all-wheel drive (for potentially mistaken reasons regarding traction and grip, but it’s neither here nor there).

All-wheel drive means two electric motors

And so, as promised, VW prepared its twin-engine version of the ID.4, which we recently tested on mountain and country roads near the company’s huge plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This adds a 107 hp (80 kW), 119 lb-ft (161 Nm) engine to the front axle. With dual-motor BEVs, peak combined horsepower and torque is more dependent on the battery’s ability to power both motors simultaneously (and maybe some gears) than just adding the two outputs together. For the ID.4, this equates to 295 hp (220 kW) and 339 lb-ft (460 Nm).

Unlike an all-wheel drive car or an SUV with an internal combustion engine, there is no mechanical connection between the front axle and the rear axle. Instead, the computer (s) responsible for managing the ID.4s powertrain and vehicle dynamics decide when to send power to each engine.

In everyday driving, especially in Eco or Comfort modes, it is almost always the rear engine. Which means in everyday driving the $ 43,675 ID.4 AWD drives a lot like the $ 39,995 ID.4 (both prices are before the $ 7,500 federal tax credit is taken. into account).

The front motor is the asynchronous type, and so when there’s no induced magnetic field, you don’t really notice it’s there in terms of steering feel. And there isn’t much more mass either. The curb weight fell from 4,665 lbs (2,116 kg) to 4,782 lbs (2,169 kg), which again is hardly noticeable.

The turning radius has also increased slightly. The rear-wheel-drive ID.4’s ability to spin on a dime – or 33.5ft / 10.2m, to be precise – was a charming surprise the first time I drove one, and it has been a very handy feature every time since. The ID.4 AWD needs 36.4 feet (11.1 m) to do the same, which is even better than most cars on the road.

Is more power automatically better?

Day-to-day driving in an ID.4 is a pleasurable experience, whether it’s around town at 25 mph (40 km / h) or on some of Hamilton County’s finest mountain roads. The cab is quiet, without too much wind or tire noise at high speed, which is always noticeable in a BEV. There isn’t a lot of steering feel, so I tend to prefer the lighter weight of the Eco and Comfort modes over Sport, which increases the amount of effort you need to turn the wheel without adding much. more involvement.

On an open road in Eco or Comfort, the ID.4 is even quite fun to drive like a dynamic car, maintaining speed through corners and coasting where possible. (With the drive selector in D and ID.4 in Eco or Comfort modes, it slows down when you take your foot off the accelerator; in B, it engages some regenerative braking when you lift.) an efficient way to drive, although in a BEV if you have to use the left pedal you get some of that energy back through regenerative braking (at least up to 0.25G, at which point the friction brakes take over. relay).

Comfort is probably the sweet spot for highways, as Eco’s speed limiter begins to seriously blunt acceleration above 75 mph (120 km / h), which can often just be traffic speed. on American highways.

Sport mode makes more use of the front engine, especially if you’re misguided with the right pedal. It doesn’t exactly turn the ID.4 into a GTI – leaving room for a warmer version over time – but it drops a few seconds from 0-60 mph time to a rivaling hot hatch of 5.4 seconds.

Still, it’s not a driving experience that rivals hatches, and it isn’t meant to be. Head too fast in a turn and you’ll encounter understeer that will force you to reduce speed if you want to negotiate it successfully. If you need to cover the ground quickly, slowing down, getting out quickly works best. Sport mode also increases the default amount of regeneration on takeoff in D, and in B is almost true one-pedal driving mode, although the car doesn’t come to a full stop like some other BEVs with true one-pedal driving. pedal.

Like in my previous ID.4 First Edition review, at least once I noticed that the traction control icon lights up, and not during what I would consider a low traction event. In fact, I wouldn’t have known anything about it except for the brief moment the glyph appeared. For low-traction driving, the ID.4 AWD has a Traction mode, which engages the two motors together at speeds of up to 12 mph (19 km / h). Unfortunately, I didn’t come across any suitable expanses of sand or mud to test it out. I didn’t even get a chance to try out the ID.4 AWD in the rain, which held on until the afternoon (by then it got hard and heavy).


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