Green Car Guide ran a competition at Fully Charged Outside for a visitor to win an EV of their choice to review for a week. The lucky winner, Emma Cooper, chose a Volkswagen ID.4. This is what Emma thought of the car, and of her experience of living with an EV for the first time.
My name is Emma and I recently won Green Car Guide’s competition to test drive an electric car of my choice – in my case a Volkswagen ID.4 – for a week in return for a review. So, here’s just a little background information before I get into my review. I am a 31 year-old female who currently owns a 62-plate MINI One D, a much smaller car than the ID.4. I also have a 110-mile round trip commute to work, largely involving dual carriageway and motorway driving, which I thought would be an interesting test for an EV.
I was given the Volkswagen ID.4 Family Pro Performance model. This model has the 77kWh battery and is rear-wheel drive. The car is an SUV and is obviously considerably larger than the car I’m used to driving, however, it does not feel unnervingly massive to drive and neither does it measure up as large, on the outside, compared to many of its competitors. Being a shorter person, I also really appreciate that the bonnet is relatively short.
Internally, the car offers plenty of space and is very comfortable in both the front seats and the back; the size of the boot is also quite impressive. With the size of the boot and the space in the back area of the car being so accommodating, this would make a great car for a family, there are also three Isofix points (two in the back and one in the front). The car looks stylish and unique on the outside without looking too unfamiliar. On the inside the car is relatively sleek and sophisticated and I really loved the pairing of the black, grey / silver and brown. The grey and brown microfibre seats look unique and are very comfortable and I did enjoy the mood lighting and its vast colour options.
The car was exceptionally easy to drive. The steering is easy and relatively light; but this can be stiffened by selecting Sport mode. I mainly drove the car in its regenerative braking mode. This mode slows the car down when you ease off the accelerator and this gave me the feeling of having more control over the vehicle. Whilst this mode in the Volkswagen ID.4 will not bring the car to a complete stop, it does take it down to a very slow crawl, perfect for creeping up to the traffic light line. Whilst this mode is therefore not truly one-pedal driving, given the adaptive cruise control, I would not consider this to be an issue at all.
I found the adaptive cruise control on this car to be truly impressive. The adaptive cruise control easily keeps you at a steady speed, whether that is a speed you have selected or a road speed sign the car has recognised. The car will slow behind vehicles in front of you and will keep you from undertaking cars in the outside lane. This mode is not only very useful on motorways etc, it can also be used on regular 30mph roads. The car will come to a full stop behind cars braking to a halt in front and then pull away again when the car in front moves off – absolute heaven when it comes to the dreaded stop and start traffic. This mode recognises normal speed signs well, but is a little slow on recognising temporary speed signs. It also warns you of tight corners and will show you the speed it intends to slow down, however, I did find this happened on relatively shallow bends and was a bit unnecessary. With any unwanted slowing down though it is very easy to apply pressure on the accelerator to temporary override the adaptive cruise control and drive as desired. I did find a few times where the car was also keen to speed up due to an opening of road in front of it, where the added speed was perhaps not the best idea. This included speeding up into roundabouts and effectively stopping people from joining on from slip roads. Again, with a touch of the brake pedal the adaptive cruise control is quickly overridden. Overall, the adaptive cruise control was one of my favourite things about this car and I will definitely miss the feature.
This car is certainly a bit longer than I am used to which made parking a little trickier. However, the parking sensors and the notably tight turning circle certainly helped. Although I did find that the car was harder to control in reverse as there was no longer the regenerative braking I had got used to when driving and this made moving backwards minute distances quite difficult to do.
The car has two screens, one in the centre of the dashboard and one connected to the steering wheel column. The display behind the steering wheel showed the necessary information clearly and could be adapted slightly to allow certain information (such as road directions) to be shown larger. The centre infotainment touchscreen has an easy-to-use interface, most options can be found easily and quickly and overall, and I found the screen to be relatively responsive. You can also use voice control which seemed to work well for me and also hand gestures, however this feature wasn’t very consistent and I therefore didn’t use it very much.
The centre display is touch-sensitive and so are the volume, temperature and on /off buttons below. While this provided a very sleek and minimalist look, this did cause a few issues when trying to find the correct place to touch whilst driving or accidently hitting the “buttons” below the screen with your thumb when trying to select something on the screen. This caused quite a bit of confusion when I accidentally turned the screen off on one occasion when parked. The car works well with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. I did notice however, when using Google Maps through Apple Car Play that the directions did not appear on the display behind the steering wheel, which means you also miss out on directions zipping across the light bar that runs across the top of the dashboard.
Now I know to get the most out of your range in electric cars it’s best to have the heating off, but I test drove this car in early December – it was cold, 3-6.5oC throughout most of the day. I’m a girl that likes to be warm, so the heating was definitely on, as were the heated seats (I love the heated seats). I also found that you can set times for the car to pre-heat for when you expect to use the car and what a luxury that was!
Despite the cold, wet and dark weather conditions and having heating, heated seats and music etc. on, the ID.4 still effortlessly got me to work and back (110 miles) on a full charge, in fact, with 50% battery and an estimated 116 miles left to go! As I don’t currently own an EV, my only option for home charging was using a standard 3-pin plug, but over the 14 hours I had the car charging overnight it managed to charge back up to 85% with an estimated range of 187 miles. So, any question I had over whether this car could cope with my commute was immediately squashed, especially as I probably would get a 7kW home charger installed if/when I purchase an electric car.
I found that the cost of charging the ID.4 overnight was around £6 for 72 miles, however this was not on an energy tariff aimed at EV owners and a certain amount of my charging would have been during the more expensive daytime tariff charge due to the slow 3-pin socket charge time. Over the week I had to test drive the ID.4 I averaged 2.7 mi/kWh, which isn’t amazing, but it was winter (heaters, wipers and lights were all on), I wasn’t driving in Eco mode and I was mainly driving on dual carriageways and motorways. But, given the range of this car (estimated at around 220 miles by the car from my average driving in these conditions) any worries over whether it can achieve your commute to work or normal daily driving shouldn’t be an issue.
I had the opportunity to drive the ID.4 on a long distance journey (350-mile round trip) to see what it would be like in an EV and to test out the public charging system. At no point did I drain the battery very low as I didn’t want to end up in a sticky situation where chargers weren’t working or weren’t available and so I charged the car fairly regularly. The first stop was at an Instavolt charger. This wasn’t a great start as the chargers where at a McDonalds and it was lunch time so things were busy. Even so, one out of the four rapid charge bays was available. I drove in, set it all up and went to plug the car in… but the cable wouldn’t reach the socket on the car. I had driven in forwards and the charging point on the ID.4 is on the driver’s side of the rear (like a conventional filler-flap on a typical ICE car). Given the layout of these bays, you couldn’t reverse into the spaces, so I had to give that fast charger a miss and head to the nearby shopping centre and charge on a slower charger and stop for a longer break. Here there were eight bays and again only one was available. I had to download an app and register an account but I was then finally able to plug in and was ready to charge.
The ID.4 signals that you are charging via a green bar across the front of the dash and will tell you the estimated charge time via the centre infotainment display. I charged again using other slow chargers (7kW) available around the different destinations of my trip and topped the car up when eating at a restaurant or whilst on a walk for example. Driving home I stopped off at a GRIDSERVE charger. There were four bays and two chargers, I managed to park in a bay but could not use the charger as it was being used by the car beside me, it did appear that you could plug more than one vehicle into the charger, but the charger appeared not to be functioning correctly. So, I headed to an alternative fast charger nearby.
Later in the week I made use of a charger near to where I work and on a 50kW charger (faster chargers are available and the ID.4 can make use of up to 120 kW), I was able to charge the ID.4 from 39% to 100% in 72 minutes, costing me £18.26. It would have been considerably faster to charge to just 80% as the last bit always takes a lot more time, but I wasn’t going to be able to get back to the car within the hour anyway. I will add that whilst charging at home on a driveway or in a garage is super easy, using public chargers certainly seems to be a bit more challenging. Charging points are often busy and can sometimes be broken and so I would definitely recommend using a EV route planning app like Zap-Map (other similar apps also exist) as they give you up to date information on what chargers are where, whether they are available and whether anyone has experienced any faults with them.
You quickly learnt that you have to take into consideration when you will need to charge and try to pick an area that has multiple chargers nearby just in case there are issues. The tethered cables on the chargers are often very short so you end up needing to park in exactly the right spot to plug your car in. You’re likely to need several different apps, accounts and / or cards to use different brands of chargers which can be a bit of a faff, especially when you have poor 4G coverage and need to then download and register a new app and account.
And what I found perhaps the most concerning is that at a few particular types of chargers, it looked like you could stop any car from charging by simply pressing the stop button on the touchscreen of the charger it’s plugged into, even if it’s not yours! Whilst this doesn’t mean that the cable can be unplugged from your car, it does mean that you could be away from the charger, grabbing some food or stretching your legs etc and be unaware that your car is no longer charging (though, I’d like to think no one would actually do this). I will add that most of the apps do show if your car is charging and sometimes even the speed at which they’re charging but that requires you to check the app to do so which isn’t ideal.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the car and after having test driven the car for a week, I certainly was sad to hand the car back. I think having an electric vehicle for your daily commute is certainly a very viable option, especially if you are a two-car household where you have an alternative car for long trips where you don’t have the time / patience to stop and charge. The end verdict to my test drive? I would not hesitate to buy a Volkswagen ID.4.