Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition

by  Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Volkswagen- 09/20/2021 

“It’s so quiet”! You’ll hear this so many times if you own an electric vehicle. Internal combustion engines are going the way of the manual transmission and aux ports. Times have changed and now many automakers don’t want any smelly and bad-for-the-environment gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. Speaking of diesel, remember when Volkswagen had “Dieselgate”? If you haven’t and I’m not how you wouldn’t know, Ask Jeeves to find Google. Since this happened, Volkswagen had to make electric vehicles. The vehicle that I had for this week; the Volkswagen ID.4, isn’t Volkswagen's first EV but it is one of the most important.

The ID.4 is important for a few reasons. First, it must work as a family car. That means things should be easy to use, there’s enough space for your average family of 3.15 people. Don’t ask what the .15 is. I know I am. Finally, it has to have a big enough trunk to house the Golden Retriever and/or any groceries that are necessary. Second, the ID.4 has to be good as an electric vehicle. There are two fears for EVs that I’ll go into detail later, but for now, those two are range and availability of charging. Basically, if both of those come up negative, forget an EV.

Before I talk about my trip, let’s talk about the ID.4. This is Volkswagen’s first EV in the United States and is lovingly known to some as the “new Beetle or Golf”. Volkswagen wants their ID all-electric line to negate their identity as emission cheaters. When you look at the ID.4, you see something that I love. It looks like…a crossover. That’s it. You’ll see familiar EV characteristics such as a lack of a grill at the front and a lack of tailpipes at the rear, but that’s it. This ID.4 was the 1st Edition celebrating the ID.4. Just so you know, this was a limited run but I’m sure you can still find these.

I have to be honest: at first, I thought the ID.4 was just a big blob. Now, I think it is a little blobby, but VW did get the proportions right. The entire design feels clean while adding some fun touches. Even though my car was Dusk Blue, there were various black and silver accents that worked quite well. There are a few “1st edition badges, but that’s it for that. I liked the 1st edition’s big 20” alloy wheels along with the fixed panoramic sunroof. It gives the ID.4 a little bit more class, especially with more mundane VWs such as the Tiguan.

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition

The biggest difference between all VWs and the ID.4 is the interior. When you look ahead, you’ll see the steering wheel. There is a combination of haptic buttons along with sliding buttons and the entire thing is a mess. You won’t find any reprieve with the infotainment system which also uses sliding and haptic feedback. Thankfully, you get something that more EVs are doing. The small digital cluster is adorable and shows exactly all the information you’ll need. It also is fixed to the steering wheel, so you’ll always get a great view of your speedometer. Like I said, the infotainment system is hard to use but the worst thing is modifying the fan speed. It’s on the climate screen. Dumb.

What’s not dumb about the ID.4 1st edition is you get heated seats, a heated steering wheel, that cool panoramic roof, and the best pedals I’ve ever seen! The brake pedal has a pause logo while the throttle has a play logo. You can’t say VW isn’t quirky! Besides all of that, there’s plenty of space and a large, electric tailgate. First editions are usually loaded with equipment and that’s the same here. This is supposed to be the special “look at me, I have the new VW EV!” edition, but most automakers do that now. There’s something else that makes the ID.4. special.

It has LED lights. It also has a trunk full of batteries. The 1st edition really is the 1st, since it’s the first VW in a long time to be standard as rear-wheel-drive. Mine was as well. Powering the rear wheels is a 77.0-kWh lithium-ion battery creating 201-horsepower and 229 lb-ft. The 0-speed transmission propels the ID.4 to 60 MPH in 7.6 seconds. It’s not the quickest EV, but it’s really easy to drive. Next to the little central screen is a lever for your gears. Even though it’s in a great position, I did mess up quite a lot and put the car into reverse or drive by accident.

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition

Alright, let’s go back to my adventure! The ID.4 felt like a “my first EV” type of vehicle. It isn’t a quick EV, but you don’t need much more power. There will be an all-wheel-drive version along with powerful models, but I’d only get those if you live in a state with heavy snow. What is funny is sometimes at full throttle, the traction control had to interfere. I had a slight chuckle. It was also enjoyable with the instant torque to have you sling-shot when you accelerate.

Driving in certain scenarios, I switched between two different drive modes. The first is Drive and I used it for about 30 seconds before going into B mode. B mode is VW’s version of “one-foot driving”. This took a lot to get used to since lifting off the throttle has the car slow down a lot and helps to replenish the battery. The highway was almost too easy. This has VW’s latest safety features so you can activate the Travel Assistant and remember that the buttons on the steering wheel are dumb.

This little drive was also important because I had a random destination to go to a casino. Don’t ask how I did. Instead, ask: “Anthony, what was the range?” Well…that’s a little difficult. You see, in a regular car, you can say it goes a certain MPG. EV’s are measured both for range and in kWh. I managed to do between 3.4 and 4.2 kW per mile. The math is now to multiply the battery pack of 77-kWh and the average 3.4-4.2 kW per mile. That gets to about 250-260 miles of charge which is more than adequate and I should have never needed to charge it. I did.

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition

Listen, if you are considering an EV, you need an upgraded charging wall box in your garage. If you don’t, filling up the ID.4 at my house gave me about 1 mile of range per charge. Thankfully, I have faster chargers available only a couple miles away, but you must hope others don’t park there first. I had difficulty using some of these charge-ports due to people parking in the dedicated EV parking. Don’t be that person. The charging at a 50 kWh station took the car from 50% to 80% in half an hour. There was also a massive 150 kWh charging station but that was in the bowels of the casino.

EVs are known to be expensive, but the ID.4 aligns quite well in the market. This model cost $45,000. It doesn’t exactly feel like money due to a lot of cheap plastics, but it does feel like at least a $40,000 car. My experience with an EV was, for the most part, quite fun. I love that instant-torque, one-pedal driving, and just the serenity of it being so quiet. The ideal customer for the ID.4 isn’t some Tesla-loving 1,200 HP needing driver. You can cruise in the ID.4, have enough power to go pretty much anywhere you would normally go to, and almost never need to charge it.

Finally, the ID.4 was gone, and it felt odd. I got so used to all the quirks that when I went to a conventional gasoline-powered car, I did try to do the one-foot braking. Don’t try that at home. Your mind has to shift from driving a gas-powered car to an EV to another gas-powered car. I like the ID.4 and would give it an 8.3 but the score isn’t the point. The point is this: VW has made a product that should get a lot of people converting from their Tiguans and even EVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Check out the VW ID.4 and see if an EV is right for you.