First drive: 2021 Volkswagen ID 4 prototype

What’s it like?

Enough figures. Time to drive. The driver’s door opens wide and you step up into the ID 4 over a high body-coloured sill. The front seats are elevated but not excessively so and the floor is completely flat up front, without any defined footwells, because the battery is within the floorpan.

The multi-layer dashboard houses two displays: a 5.3in digital instrument panel and a 10.0in central infotainment screen as standard, although our prototype has an optional 12.0in unit and augmented reality head-up display.

The cabin is roomy, with the greater rear leg room than in a standard-wheelbase Tiguan and excellent versatility, thanks to typical features such as a 40:20:40-split folding rear seat. The boot, despite a high-ish loading lip, is also quite commodious.

Hit the starter button and twist the gear selector. One notch forward gets you the standard drive mode and two notches Battery mode, which triggers the brake energy regeneration. It’s the same controller used by the ID 3, proving straightforward from the outset. Further drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual – alter steering, throttle, powertrain and adaptive damping responses.

We’re driving the most powerful rear-wheel-drive ID 4. With 229lb ft on tap from the moment you nudge the throttle, it is brilliantly responsive. It has instant performance and excellent traction.

Once rolling along, it gathers speed in quite a determined fashion on an open throttle. To be honest, it’s probably more spirited than it needs to be up to. At a cruise, it’s quiet and relaxed, although performance begins to fade at motorway cruising speeds. VW is yet to reveal performance figures, although initial rear-wheel-drive models will be limited to 100mph.

In standard drive mode, it coasts with a very faint hint of brake regeneration when you lift off the throttle. Battery mode’s regen means you rarely need to touch the brake pedal.

Beyond the acoustic pedestrian warning, which switches off above 12mph, the powertrain is virtually silent. More noticeable is some tyre roar from the optional 235/45 R21 and 255/40 R21 Bridgestone Turanzas and wind buffeting around the door mirrors at speed.

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