Electric dreams. Volkswagen are latecomers to the EV party, but the ID.4 shows their research time has been well spent. This is a cleverly packaged electric crossover, with an EPA-estimated range of between 209 and 255 miles depending which configuration you choose. The smaller of its two powertrains can replenish 80 per cent of its charge capacity in 40 minutes, while the first three years of ID.4 ownership is bundled in with 30-minute fast-charge sessions across Electrify America’s network.

You can have your ID.4 in two flavors – single motor or dual. The former has a 62kWh battery pack allied to rear-wheel drive, while the latter’s 82kWh pack can be augmented with optional AWD. This costs $3,800, while the dual battery setup adds $5,000 but doesn’t bring any additional equipment. It does knock a couple of seconds off the 0-60 time, but this is no traffic light firebrand; power delivery is smooth without pressing you back in your seat, or raising the hairs on your arms.

All the toys you’ll need. If you’re disappointed that a dual-motor ID.4 isn’t better equipped than its less powerful sibling, don’t be. Both models are generously specified with heated front seats, wireless device charging, ambient lighting and keyless entry. The 12-inch touchscreen on all models is overly complex but impressively large. We wouldn’t bother spending a further $5,000 upgrading to S trim, since its features (fixed glass roof, heated steering wheel, synthetic leather seats) struggle to justify the premium. Ditto Pro S Plus trim, which can push the ID.4’s purchase price beyond $55,000. Do you really need power-folding mirrors and a black roof that much?

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 Interior

Impressive safety. America’s two crash test institutes have given the ID.4 their highest scores, though they’ve only tested the heavier 82kWh version to date. We have no reason to suppose the single-motor model would perform any worse, though. Despite the prominent C-pillar with its contrasting finish, outward visibility is good, and front and rear parking sensors improve low-speed maneuverability.

Standard safety kit runs to automatic emergency braking with cyclist detection and blind-spot monitoring, but you only get a surround-view camera system on the aforementioned Pro S Plus model. We also question the benefit of the semi-automated lane changing, which is bundled into the adaptive cruise control; you have to hold the wheel and tap the indicator stalk to prompt the car into action, which is pretty much what you’d do manually. Speaking of steering, it’s nicely weighted and feels less artificial than many EVs, while the dual-motor’s additional low-down weight improves handling and makes the ID.4 good fun on twisting roads.

Space, but not space-age. If you expected your first taste of electric motoring to be an other-worldly experience, prepare to be disappointed. The ID.4 feels every inch a conventional car. From outside, you may not notice the absence of a radiator grille, while there’s no frunk storage behind it. The cabin is entirely conventional, though where Volkswagen have tried to deviate from the norm, they’ve failed. We really don’t like the haptic temperature controls – dials work far better – and putting the parking brake at the end of a stalk is bizarre. It’s also impossible to fathom why VW have given the driver two window switches which have to alternate between front and rear operation. Are four buttons really that confusing to operate?

Otherwise, the cabin is assembled to usual Volkswagen design standards. Generous touchscreen notwithstanding, there’s nothing to surprise or delight in here. Plastics are durable but dull, the seats are firm but supportive on long journeys, and the rear bench is flat but can accommodate three adults. It’s all quite minimalist, but at least space and visibility are good. Ride comfort is perfectly decent, though the Nissan Ariya could teach the ID.4 a thing or two about being pliant.

Final thoughts. The ID.4 isn’t a revolutionary vehicle, nor does it take the burgeoning EV sector in new directions or set any standards. It lacks the regenerative one-pedal mode some existing EV drivers will expect, and it certainly won’t pin you back in your seat under heavy acceleration as other drivers may hope. To look at, sit in and drive, it feels very much like an unremarkable gas-powered car.

That, we suspect, is entirely the point. Potential electric car buyers might be intimidated by Tesla’s electronic gimmickry or the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s neck-bending acceleration, but there’s nothing about the ID.4 that’ll scare the horses. Apart from a few misguided dash components, this is a perfectly easy car to live with and drive. It’s spacious and well-assembled, quiet and comfortable, well-equipped in any configuration and attractive without being attention-grabbing. It’s affordably priced, will travel over 200 miles even in its base configuration, and offers free fast charging. For better or worse, it’s exactly the sort of family-sized EV you’d expect a company like Volkswagen to build. Mission accomplished, then.

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