Volkswagen ID.4 GTX review: the sporty electric car that might infuriate more than it delights

Then there are the sliders along the bottom of the screen, with which you can adjust the temperature and volume without using the on-screen menus. Fine, except – faintly unbelievably – they aren’t illuminated at night, which makes them next to useless in the thick of a British winter. 

The ID.4’s usability problems don’t end with the infotainment screen, though. On the steering wheel, you’ll find touch-sensitive panels instead of buttons, which at times need a good long prod to work, yet at others work too easily, so you end up setting the cruise control or adjusting the volume as your hand brushes past them while turning the wheel.

There’s no dedicated handbrake lever or button, either – as with a Tesla, the handbrake only comes on automatically, when you select Park. This makes getting the ID.4 off a downhill driveway a pain, because you can’t disengage the handbrake yourself, and the automatic hill hold function keeps kicking in, so you have to go through the menus to turn it off each time – or give the throttle a fairly big shove to override it, and hope to goodness you don’t then careen into the cars parked across the road.

Better on the road

Believe it or not, I could go on – this is not a comprehensive list of the ID.4’s usability flaws – but I don’t want to bore you. And while on paper it might sound like nitpicking, all of this stuff conspires to have you casting your eyes to the heavens in disbelief and exasperation when you’re using the car daily.

This is the sort of thing at which VW used to be beyond compare, so how has it got it so wrong? Whatever the reason, it really is quite a shame, because once you’ve managed to wade through all of these issues, the ID.4 is actually rather good to drive.

For starters, the ride on the standard suspension is well resolved for a performance car. It’s very composed over most surfaces and only starts to pick up a slight floatiness if you’re flying along over an undulating piece of road. Very occasionally, a really big pothole will flummox it, but the rest of the time it does a brilliant job of tying down the GTX’s weight while also glossing over bumps.

Driving pleasure

The ID.4’s handling is also impressive; in fact, this isn’t just a good driver’s electric car, it’s a good driver’s car full stop. While the nose isn’t all that eager to turn in, the front end has loads of grip so it goes where you point it faithfully. 

The steering doesn’t offer very much feedback, but it is direct and progressive, and it isn’t aggressively quick, so you always get the precise amount of lock you’re looking for. And when you apply power on the way out of a bend, it doesn’t corrupt the steering, so the ID.4 stays true to the line you’ve chosen. 

The nose even tucks in a little under power, the electronic aids mimicking a limited-slip differential by nipping the brakes on each wheel as and where they need to, and while there’s more than enough power to have fun, the GTX’s throttle isn’t neck-snappingly sharp, so you don’t have to treat it with finesse lest you unintentionally overwhelm the tyres.

What’s more, because there’s a little bit of softness engineered into the chassis, you get just a little bit of pitch and roll – enough to keep you informed of what’s going on beneath you without making the body feel uncontrolled. 

The Telegraph verdict

The problems with the GTX don’t, therefore, stem from its sporting bent, but more from the ID.4 on which it is based. It’s let down by that penny-pinching interior, those niggling electronic glitches and some frankly bizarre switchgear and user interface decisions, many of which feel as though they’ve been made because Volkswagen has tried to be flashy – or to chase down Tesla.

Underneath all that, though, is a good car trying to get out, and certainly one that’s worthy of its hepped-up badging. What’s more, Volkswagen hasn’t sacrificed comfort for involvement here, which means that as well as going well down a back road the GTX is an adept long-distance cruiser.

It’s also a spacious, practical family hauler, and in the sense that it manages to combine sportiness with pragmatism it holds true to Volkswagen’s past GTIs  – even if it doesn’t quite wear the same badge. 

Telegraph rating: Three stars out of five

The facts

On test: Volkswagen ID.4 GTX

Body style: Five-door SUV

On sale: now

How much? £49,025 on the road (range from £34,995)

How fast? 112mph, 0-62mph in 6.2sec

How economical? 3.4mpkWh (WLTP Combined)

Powertrain: 2x AC motors (rear axle: synchronous, permanent magnet; front axle: asynchronous) with 77kWh (usable) battery, 125kW on-board DC charger, 11kW on-board AC charger, Type 2/CCS charging socket

Maximum power/torque: 295bhp/229lb ft

Range: 298 miles

CO2 emissions: 0g/km in use

VED: £0

Warranty: 3 years / 60,000 miles (unlimited mileage first two years)

Spare wheel as standard: No (optional extra)

The rivals

Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor

402bhp, 299 miles, £45,900 on the road

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