What is it?
It’s a mark of how far EVs have come and how usable their ranges have got that manufacturers are now starting to launch short-range versions of existing models. It’s to be expected that cars are updated with larger packs as battery technology matures, but Volkswagen seems confident enough in its ID 4 to now introduce a cheaper version with a 52kWh battery pack, called ‘Pure’.
The headline figures are a starting price of £34,995 and officially 213 miles of range – £6435 and 100 miles less than an ID 4 with the 77kWh battery. By the standards of conventional cars, that might not sound like great value, but it’s actually cheaper than the entry-level versions of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and Skoda Enyaq. It’s also reasonably well equipped, with dual-zone climate control, heated seats, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and navigation all fitted as standard.
That’s where the Volkswagen’s advantages end, though. Both the Hyundai and Skoda have bigger batteries and get closer to 250 miles on a charge. In addition to the reduced range, the Pure gets hit with another compromise. It makes do with just 145bhp, which, in this near two-tonne car, results in a rather sluggish 0-62 time of 10.9sec.
An upgrade to a 175bhp motor is available for an extra £1880, but that premium might taste a little bitter because the Enyaq has it as standard. The basic Ioniq 5 benefits from more go, too.
What’s it like?
We’ve driven the ID 4 in different forms in the past and mostly liked it. It’s inoffensive yet not inert to drive and the fundamental ergonomics are sound, but there is plenty of modern-day Volkswagen annoyingness to contend with, due to the lack of physical buttons. It must be noted that on this test car, the screen was pretty responsive and never malfunctioned, but it’s still not a particularly intuitive system.
The real question here is whether or not the small battery and motor are a compromise too far. There are no two ways about it: 10.9sec to 62mph is pretty slow for anything that isn’t a bargain-basement city car. Having said that, being electric does soften the blow somewhat.
Because there is no engine screaming out for mercy as you thrash it to make some progress, you can comfortably use all of the modest performance on offer. In an EV, going full throttle in a less powerful car returns broadly the same experience as going half throttle in a more powerful car. And because the power is available from rest, the 0-30mph acceleration is perfectly acceptable.