Volkswagen ID.4 GTX review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Would you really want a zero emissions hot hatch? Jonathan Crouch drives the Volkswagen ID.4 GTX.

Ten Second Review

Volkswagen wants to show us that family hatchback driving enjoyment needn't be incompatible with full EV motoring. And for proof, has established its GTX performance EV sub-brand with this car, the ID.4 GTX. It's an interesting confection. Whether it really works is another question.

Background

It's nearly fifty years since Volkswagen started its near iconic GTI sub-brand with the Golf GTI in 1976. Along the way, there have been some offshoots from this winning hot hatch formula - like the diesel Golf GTD line that started in 1982; and more recently, the Plug-in Hybrid Golf GTE line that began in 2014. What we have here though, is by far the most significant of these; the birth of 'GTX', Volkswagen's all-electric performance brand.

Here, we have that badge attached to the first model introduced in that line, the ID.4 GTX, launched in 2021. You can have all the same battery mechanicals matched with slightly swoopier looks (and an even higher price tag) with the ID.5 GTX if you want. Either way, we're told that this is 'performance electric mobility combining sustainability and sportiness'. Doesn't sound as exciting as we'd hoped. We can't help thinking that a dinkier, lighter ID.3 GTX would be a better platform for this approach (as the CUPRA Born has proved), but Volkswagen has yet to productionise a really fast ID.3, so let's look at what we have here: Golf GTI-like acceleration; the kerb weight of a Land Rover Defender; a £50,000 price tag; and a futuristic mindset. Tempted? If you are, you'll need this review.

Driving Experience

This GTX model's powertrain formula isn't new to the market. Basically, the usual VW Group compact EV rear-driven formula is embellished with an extra motor on the front axle, which brings the twin benefits of extra power (a combined 299PS output) and, with torque at both axles, all-wheel drive. Disadvantages lie with extra weight and a subsequent reduced driving range from the 77kWh usable-capacity battery, the largest available for VW Group EV models of this size; that's rated at 309 miles, 19 miles less than the most efficient single motor ID.4 variant. You'll find the same Dual Motor mechanical formula in top versions of the Skoda Enyaq iV and the Audi Q4 e-tron and their coupe spin-offs. What's different here though, is that Volkswagen has lowered the suspension for hot hatch duties, dropping it by 15mm over the standard models.

Combine that with features you can have on a standard ID.4 - an XDS differential for extra cornering traction and (on the top ID.4 GTX 'Max' variant) 'DCC' adaptive damping - and the result is a surprisingly keen confection, aided by near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Which is just as well given the fact that this car has to overcome the drawbacks of its enormous 2.2-tonne kerb weight. That doesn't stop it being decently quick mind you, 62mph dispatched in just 6.2s. And cornering is helped by 20-inch wheels with wide 235-section front and 255-section rear tyres.

Design and Build

You might be a touch disappointed to find that very little has been done visually to set this GTX model apart from its humbler ID.4 range stablemates. But then if that bothered you, your dealer would probably point you towards the more eye-catching coupe-like ID.5 GTX model instead. Anyway, to a lesser or greater extent, aesthetic subtlety has always been one of the attractions of this sub-brand's GTI parent bloodline. It's cloaked here with a unique 20-inch wheel design (21-inch rims are optional), plus six little point light LEDs in the lower front bumper and the special 'Kings Red' paint option from the Golf GTI.

It's even harder to tell this GTX model apart from other ID.4s inside, though there's GTX branding on the seats and if you're determined to set this version apart, you can specify a blue dashboard insert with red stitching. Otherwise, it's the usual ID.4 cabin set-up, with a 12-inch 'Discover Max' central screen and a digital instrument cluster. At the back, there's comfortable space for a couple of adults (it'd be a squash for three). And there's a very decently-sized 543-litre boot, extendable to 1,575-litres with the rear seat folded. A tonne of weight can be towed too.

Market and Model

ID.4 GTX pricing starts from around £53,000; that's for the standard model. You'll need around £58,500 if you want the top 'GTX Max' version, which has standard 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping. To give you some range perspective, ID.4 pricing starts from just under £39,000 and if you really wanted the Dual Motor AWD powertrain, you could have it more affordably in an only slightly slower 265PS 'Life Edition' 77kWh variant costing from just under £48,000. If you want the more coupe-like ID.5 GTX model, you'll need around £4,000 more than is required for this ID.4 GTX.

Equipment features in the entry-level GTX run to 20-inch 'Ystad' alloy wheels, black roof rails, matrix LED headlights, LED rear tail lamps with dynamic turn signals, a panoramic glass roof, auto headlamps and wipers, front and rear parking sensors and keyless entry. Drive stuff includes sports suspension, an augmented reality head-up display, adaptive cruise control, selectable driving modes, an exterior sound actuator and more direct 'Progressive' steering.

Inside, the seats have GTX branding and there's a leather-wrapped heated multi-function steering wheel with touch control. You also get an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a heated climate windscreen, heated front seats, 3-zone 'Air Care Climatronic' air-conditioning with controls for rear occupants, a rear view camera and interior ambient lighting with 30 colour options. Infotainment's taken care of by a 12-inch 'Discover Max' navigation infotainment display with an upgraded 'dynaudio' stereo system. Plus there's a wireless smartphone charger, 'Car-2-X' intelligent vehicle networking and, for semi-autonomous highway driving, Volkswagen's 'Travel Assist' traffic jam assist and emergency assist system. Safety features include the usual autonomous braking 'Front Assist' set-up, plus 'Lane Assist', 'Dynamic Road Sign Display' and a 'Driver Alert' fatigue detection system.

Cost of Ownership

We gave you the driving range figure earlier - 309 miles. For this car's 77kWh battery, Volkswagen has engineered in 11kW 3-phase AC and 125kW DC charging capability, equipping owners for the new generation of public rapid chargers that can't come soon enough for our market, updating a UK charging network that one Mercedes executive recently dismissed as 'a cowboy outfit', something you'll identify with if you live outside this country's major population centres.

Volkswagen has done its best to help by providing its EV owners with a 'We Charge' app that helps you find and use over 150,000 public charge points. At a DC3 100kW charge point, it'll take no more than around 30 minutes to recharge your ID.4 with enough direct current to cover the next 137 miles. Using a 50kW DC charger, it'll take about an hour and a half to get an 80% fill. Back at home, an AC1-phase 7.2kW garage wallbox would replenish this 77kWh model from zero in about twelve hours, though you can almost halve that time if your property - or business - can support an gutsier AC3 11kW charger. At the other extreme, think in terms of needing to double the 7.2kW garage wallbox charging times we've just quoted if you merely connect to a conventional 3-pin domestic plug. Insurance is group 34E for the standard ID.4 GTX - or 36E for the ID.4 GTX 'Max'.

Summary

If anyone was going to make an all-electric 'GTI'-style EV work, you'd put money on Volkswagen to do it. Maybe it still will. For now though, this doesn't feel like a car with any sort of GTI bloodline. That doesn't mean you might not still want one of course. If the current zeitgeist (or more likely your company fleet policy) has dictated to you that you have to have an EV, it has to be a hatch this size and it needs to be properly sporty, there's quite a bit to like about the ID.4 GTX. Though we'd find it difficult to ignore the fact that much the same money would get you similar sportiness in a more premium-feeling dual motor Polestar 2 - or longer range in an equivalent Tesla Model 3 Performance.

Neither of these cars though, nail the visual hot hatch vibe quite as well as the ID.4 GTX. In its dynamic aspirations, it's hobbled by the massive kerb weight that is currently common amongst EVs, but it does feel usefully more engaging to drive than the standard model. Which means that folk planning to spend big on an ordinary ID.4 (or ID.5) should consider a GTX. Otherwise though, we'd counsel you to think carefully. As Volkswagen should be doing in deciding how to develop the GTX brand from here. It'll be interesting to see how they do it.

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