After a long march toward electrification, Volkswagen finally revealed the 2021 ID.4 crossover, the first long-range EV from the brand. Taking a page from the ID.3 hatchback, the VW ID.4 rides atop the company’s MEB platform and arrives to do battle with the Hyundai Kona EV, Nissan Leaf e+ and Kia Niro EV in the electric crossover segment. Launching in the first quarter of 2021, it can’t get here soon enough.

This isn’t the first EV x VW effort as the e-Golf gave the world a glimpse at Volkswagen’s all-electric aspirations, but it only offered a 125-mile range. The ID.4, on the other hand, promises up to 250 miles per charge, as well as available all-wheel drive (each of the aforementioned EV rivals are front-drive only).

Gallery: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Debut

EV Range: Big Battery, Middling Distance

The 2021 ID.4 will come standard with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery, outstripping the Niro EV and Kona EV (64 kWh), Mustang Mach-E (75.7 kWh), and not-a-crossover Nissan Leaf e+ (62 kWh). However, the much larger battery pack doesn’t come with a longer estimated range. According to Volkswagen, the ID.4 will travel 250 miles before needing a charge, behind the Kona’s 258 miles – though still ahead of the Niro’s 239 miles, the base Mach-E’s 230 miles, and the Leaf’s 239 miles.

A rear-mounted electric motor producing 201 bhp (150 kilowatts) and 228 pound-feet (309 newton-metres) is competitive in this class of crossover EV, producing identical power to the Kona and Niro, but much less torque (the Korean cousins offer 291 lb-ft or 395 Nm). 

The overtly sporty Mustang outdoes the Niro as well, boasting 255 bhp (190 kW) and 306 lb-ft (415 Nm). Even the Nissan Leaf outdoes the ID.4, at 214 bhp (160 kW) and 250 lb-ft (339 Nm). It asks the question: Where does the ID.4’s larger battery capacity end up, if not overall EV range or outright power?

  Volkswagen ID.4 Ford Mustang Mach-E Hyundai Kona EV Kia Niro EV Nissan Leaf e+
Battery Capacity 82 kWh 75.7 kWh 64 kWh 64 kWh 62 kWh
Range 250 miles 230 miles 258 miles 239 miles 239 miles
Base Power 201 bhp (150 kW) 255 bhp (190 kW) 201 bhp (150 kW) 201 bhp (150 kW) 214 bhp (160 kW)
Base Torque 228 lb-ft (309 Nm) 306 lb-ft (415 Nm) 291 lb-ft (395 Nm) 291 lb-ft (395 Nm)  250 lb-ft (339 Nm)

All that said, the ID.4 should leave those front-drive competitors gasping once the its available two-motor setup arrives on the market a few months after the single-motor model. Adding a front-mounted electric motor enables EV all-wheel drive and boosts power to a stout 302 bhp (225 kW) – torque is still unconfirmed, but we’d bet on at least 325 lb-ft (441 Nm). It’s not clear if all-wheel drive will reduce overall range, but if Volkswagen can counteract the added weight of the additional motor with more efficient power delivery, it might be an even deal.

No European charging programme has been announced yet. However, in the US ID.4 shoppers will be offered three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America stations nationwide. Volkswagen announced the program just a few days before debuting the ID.4, giving original owners or lessees of the car a nearly zero-cost way to juice up. Electrify America will still charge idle fees if the VW isn’t disconnected within 10 minutes of finishing charging, and the benefit doesn’t extend to commercial customers, including rideshare operators. Still, for the average consumer, three years of free charging are a compelling perk.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior Front Quarter Studio
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior Rear Quarter Studio
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior Headlight

Exterior: Smiles And Style

Winning further points for the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is its smart, attractive styling. With friendly and approachable curves that bely the rest of VW’s somewhat aggressive lineup, the ID.4 looks more in line with the company’s historic Beetle, Bus, and Karmann Ghia models. Of course, squinting head- and taillights look appropriately modern, particularly with their attractive LED-ringed accents and full-width front and rear light bars.

With no front grille to speak of save a bumper-mounted cooling intake, the front end is sleek and crisp, avoiding either the pitfalls of a faux radiator opening or a massive, blank-faced stare. The headlight internals are intricately designed, with a glowering projector covered in geometric LED textures. Adding a bit more visual pop to the front end is an illuminated VW logo on models equipped with upgraded trim packages.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior Badging

The side profile’s softly curved shoulder line adds a bit more retro flavour to the VW ID.4, although crossover-chic black plastic rocker panels and wheel arches ruin the clean design somewhat with faux-ruggedness. Adding some charm back are white contrasting roof accents (paired with a blackout-painted roof) that makes the upright SUV look lower and sleeker – and a bit more like a Beetle, if you squint.

The rear view is as neatly styled as the front, the only exception being the fussy black reflector surrounds on the bumper corners – those nacelles would be much prettier in body-colour. The full-width LED taillight panel includes some of the same geometric inlays as the headlights, interrupted in the middle by another illuminated VW logo. From stem to stern, the generally clean design of the ID.4 is attractive, distinctive, and futuristic.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Interior Steering Wheel

Interior: Modern Furnishings, Maxi Space

The story is much the same inside. A 5.3-inch digital instrument display emerges from the steering column (not unlike a trip computer for a bicycle), and it’s much smaller than expected of the same brand that brought us Volkswagen Digital Cockpit – that's a good thing in this minimalist cabin. The simple display features three reconfigurable tiles that show the most important information, with the battery’s state of charge and range shown underneath. Touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel provide inputs for the instrument cluster.

The simple gauges allow the massive infotainment display to take centre stage, literally and figuratively. Measuring 10.0 inches for the base model and 12.0 inches for the upgraded ID.4, the centre stack is angled toward the driver slightly, with sliders for the climate control temperature and audio system volume mounted just underneath the screen. Standard navigation and no-touch gesture control bring some upmarket features to the Volkswagen.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Interior Seats
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Interior Seats

Befitting its minimalist styling, the ID.4 gets an unusual rocker switch in place of a traditional transmission selector. Mounted to the right side of the gauge cluster, the switch opens up plenty of room in the centre console for a wireless-charging smartphone compartment, two USB-C outlets, two cupholders, and a big cubby, with more storage found under the console near the footwell.

The E-VW boasts 543 litres of cargo space behind the second row, expanding to 1,575 litres with the rear seats folded – weirdly, there's no frunk. Still, luggage volume compares favourably to each of the ID.4’s electric competition. In fact, the VW has more room with the rear seat in place than the Nissan Leaf does with it folded. The Volkswagen’s passenger room is likewise class-leading, something zero-emissions families should keep in mind when shopping for their next vehicle.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior In Motion
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior In Motion

Safety: Modern Tech, Standard

No one should be surprised to learn that the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 boasts a long list of standard active safety features. The company’s new IQ.Drive suite of driver-assist technology includes forward collision warning with pedestrian monitoring and automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. In addition, the ID.4 features road sign monitoring, parking sensors, and automatic high beams.

In the event of a collision, six airbags – frontal and side-impact torso airbags for the first row and a pair of curtain airbags for both rows – help protect passengers, although we're surprised at the lack of knee airbags for this day and age. Meanwhile, an extruded aluminium frame protects the battery from crash damage, and the ID.4 automatically disconnects the electrical array after a serious accident. A replaceable undertray protects the battery from incidental road debris.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Technical Cutaway

Pricing And Availability

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 arrives in the first quarter of next year. Although pricing has not yet been announced for Europe, in the US its starting price of $39,995 (approx. £31,500) represents the base rear-drive model, boasting piano black interior accents, black cloth seats, 19-inch wheels, a body-colour roof, and roof rails.

The $4,500 Statement package in the US adds a few niceties (fixed-glass roof, grey or black leatherette, adaptive front lighting, power-folding side mirrors, and the aforementioned 12.0-inch infotainment screen and illuminated rear badges). At the top of the heap is the $1,500 Gradient package, offered only in conjunction with Statement and adding 20-inch wheels, a black roof, and silver exterior accents.

Early adopters keen to show off their forward thinking would likely be most interested in the Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition, boasting the Statement and Gradient packages at a cost of $43,995. Unique to the 1st will be snappy Electric White interior accents, brake and accelerator pedals with “pause” and “play” symbols, black mirror caps, and attractive exterior badging. At a savings of $2,000 compared to the loaded Statement/Gradient, the 1st Edition is probably the one to get.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Exterior Mirror

Pricing for the all-wheel-drive, 302-bhp ID.4 starts at $43,695 (£34,300), and that model will go on sale before mid-2021. It, like all other ID.4 variants, will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, bringing the model line’s base price down to $32,495 for rear-drive or $36,195 with all-wheel drive.

Stay tuned as we expect UK market info to be announced closer to market launch.