2021 Volkswagen ID.4 GTX Max | PH Review
The GTX wants to be a quicker, cooler ID.4 – can 299hp and all-wheel drive do the job?
By John Howell / Friday, November 26, 2021 / Loading comments
Reading the press gubbins, the ID.4 GTX Max is said to follow ‘the familiar GTI and GTE lines but represents performance electric mobility combining sustainability and sportiness.’ It’s the quick one, then, and the most focused. The MEB platform provides 50:50 weight distribution, a 77kWh battery (sitting low in the wheelbase to help the centre of gravity), MacPherson struts at the front and a five-link arrangement at the rear, although there are upgrades on top befitting its GTX status.
The suspension is dropped 15mm over the standard car’s, and because this is the Max trim, it comes with DCC adaptive suspension as part of the package. You also get 20-inch wheels with 235-section front and 255-section rear tyres. And it’s the most power of all the ID.4s, with 299hp metered out by two motors – one on each axle – with an XDS differential helping to boost its all-wheel-drive performance potential.
Boy, is it a heavy car, though. At 2,224kg, it weighs basically the same as a Land Rover Defender, but the combined power and 339lb ft of torque that’s available – and far more readily than any internal combustion could hope to manage – means it achieves Golf GTI-like acceleration. 0-62mph is quoted as 6.2 seconds and, in practice, it feels quick, if not shockingly so, like the much lighter Tesla Model 3 Long Range. The latter is pretty much two-seconds quicker over the same sprint, and at £5,000 cheaper with a longer, 360-mile WLTP range (the GTX is 291 miles) it ticks a lot more boxes. Even the VW\s charging rate of 125kWh looks comparatively poor and is going to leave you exacerbated that you cannot take advantage of the much faster chargers that are, slowly, being rolled out.
The Model 3 is also a better-handling car, even if it’s no 3 Series. The GTX is capable but doesn’t feel in the least bit sporty. It leans more than the Model 3, even with the adaptive suspension firmed up to the max, and my sense is the ID.4 has a bit less front end grip as well (although, in fairness, this wasn’t a back-to-back test). On the plus side, the steering is much calmer and more intuitive than its closest rival and comes with a nice amount of resistance as you make your turns – albeit without much feel through the rim.
If only the brakes were as progressive as the steering. I just couldn’t get on with them and not because they’re binary, like the Mustang Mach-E’s. You can meter them effectively without banging your passengers’ heads constantly against the headrests, but they’re just not consistent. Not like the Model 3’s, anyway, which keeps the pedal solely for hydraulic braking, whereas the GTX’s pedal is operating the regen as well. You know that intuitively because the rate of deceleration isn’t always what you anticipated, and even when you’re steady on the pedal, you can feel the electronics changing how it feels under foot as the two systems jockey for control. It’s disconcerting rather than frightening, not least because when you stamp on the pedal the GTX pulls up sharply.
What it does do rather well – and better than the Tesla – is comfort and refinement. The suspension is fine at levelling out pretty much any road surface, be it urban street, country road or motorway. After any notable imperfection you can still sense the chassis dealing with all that mass – the dampers need a moment longer to regain composure than a lighter car would – but the effect is some jostle rather than a genuine lack of compliance. Add in the relatively hushed wind noise and near-absence of road roar, and it’s a great car to cover miles in.
It’s got the potential to be a family favourite, too, offering ample space for five adults, so children in the back will absolutely fine. And the seats are comfortable, elevating you to a natural seating position that’s more agreeable than many other family EVs that sit you too close to the floor (I’m thinking of the Model 3 and Kia EV6 to name but two). Even the 543-litre boot shouldn’t be a bar to ownership for the average household – that’s enough for your golf clubs or your child’s buggy, and almost everything else in between.
Consequently, none of its weaknesses are deal-breakers. Until we get to the useability that is, which, like most new Volkswagens, is worthy of some serious castigation. Why does the ID.4 have two window switches on the driver’s door, with a stupid touch-sensitive control to change whether they operate the front of rear windows? It is easy to knock that, which makes just opening a window is unnecessarily complicated. The touch-sensitive steering wheel controls are no better because they’re easy to catch by mistake, and the row of touch buttons on the central panel just stopped working on one occasion – I had to stopped the car and switch it back on again. The infotainment system is no better with its needlessly complicated menus, although, dare I say it, this is the first ID product that at least responds well and hasn’t crashed on me – yet.
It is this kind of infuriating shortfall in functionality that would make the GTX hard to live with, and therefore unworthy of recommendation despite its various likeable qualities. Especially when you could buy the better thought out and better looking Kia EV6 – or indeed the Model 3, which is cheaper, faster and endowed not only with a bigger range but also a much better charging network. Moreover, its software won’t drive you to distraction. Game, set, Max.
SPECIFICATION | VOLKSWAGEN ID.4 GTX MAX
Engine: Dual electric motor
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 299
Torque (lb ft): 339
0-62mph: 6.2 secs
Top speed: 112mph
Weight: 2,224kg (unladen)
Battery size (kW): 77
Energy usage (miles/kWh): 3.5
WLTP range (combined): 291 miles
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