The next morning we twiddle out of Barnstaple early, a handy reminder of the VW’s impressive turning circle and the Volvo and Ford’s smooth and effective one-pedal driving modes. Even with the pinched-from-a-BMW-i3 rotary gearlever twisted to Brake mode, the more conservative VW never quite gives you enough slowing force when you lift off. So you have to use the brakes. And the ID.4’s brakes are spongy and inconsistent underfoot. A closer inspection reveals drum brakes on the back. This is a premium car in 2021. What is VW playing at?
The rest of the driving experience is similarly underwhelming. It did the long haul drive down very well yesterday, but beyond that the experience is bland and insipid, it just does a job. And doesn’t do it particularly well. I’m not expecting much satisfaction, but I am expecting a smooth, consistent and accurate response to inputs. But the ID.4 doesn’t feel alert enough, so it’s hard to predict what inputs you need on the steering, brakes and throttle. It lacks a bit of co-ordination. And this is just the business of ordinary driving, entirely separate to the fact the VW is a pudding on good Exmoor roads with limited body control and zero steering feel.
You wouldn’t want a slower ID.4, though. With 204bhp pulling 2,124kg it’s capable of doing what’s needed. Entry level versions due later with a smaller 52kWh battery dip down to 146bhp. Flipping that around, you wouldn’t want a faster XC40, either. The sister car to the twin-motor Polestar 2, this has 402bhp for a sub-5.0secs 0–62mph. I’d been driving it around as you do a Volvo, and been encouraged by how capable it seemed. Still, the first time I nailed it was startling. It’s way quicker than either rival. Handily, it can cope with the power. It’s controllable and predictable with well-judged damping, feels secure on the road thanks to accurate steering. No real drawbacks, does the job, handles progressively, should probably have 150bhp less.