Look, I’m well aware I’ve gone over this before. I know that. I showed something similar to this at the Old Site I used to write for. I get it. But, that doesn’t change the fact that it still doesn’t have a frunk, there’s still a sizable and usable volume of space up front, and Volkswagen still doesn’t seem to care. I think I get so hung up on the ID.4’s frunklessness and other minor but annoying issues like the window controls I wrote about yesterday because these things embody the paradox of the ID.4: a great car, hamstrung by small, fixable things. And, in this era where there are now a lot of great new EVs to pick from, nearly all of which are quick and comfortable and good-looking and all essentially full of the same basic set of driver’s aids and features, small things mean a lot. A lot.
First, let’s start with what’s under the hood, or, rather what’s not under the hood and why the owners of an ID.4 can’t use the empty space left by all the things, like an engine, that are not under there. What drives me mad about the ID.4’s underhood area is that it’s actually quite large; it’s not a small hood on this thing. And, if you look under that hood, what’s inside there enjoys a good bit of roominess. Things aren’t all crammed together, which is great for servicing reasons, and a lot of space is just kind of filled with a big plastic armature:
There’s nothing technically wrong about what they’ve done here, but when you consider how many competitors in the EV space VW has that take the time to try and carve out useful storage volumes of space under the hood, VW’s cavalier indifference just feels, I don’t know, uncaring. Arrogant? Maybe. They’re not alone here; for whatever reason, most German EV makers treat frunks with contempt (I just called out BMW on this same issue not long ago) and usually explain it away by saying that hey, there’s plenty of room in the back of the car? So why are you kvetching?
I mean, that’s not wrong, as such: the ID.4 does have a good sized rear cargo area, complete with two sub-basement levels:
Of course, that’s not the point. At all. First, if you have charging cables or other stuff, you don’t want to have to unpack everything you may have in your hatch to get to them, under the floor levels. It’s nice to have an extra place to store all the crap that bangs around in people’s trunks. And, perhaps more importantly, most of the other cars potential buyers will be looking at do take the effort to provide under-hood storage. Even if it’s meager, the attempt is made, and I feel like that’s appreciated. Look at the Hyundai Ioniq 6, and the Tesla Model 3, for example:
Tesla has a good-sized frunk, Ioniq 6 has a pretty meager one, but the point is the underhood areas on both these cars look finished and refined and usable for hauling whatever the owner wants. If you’re shopping for a new car, and most other stuff is a toss-up, this is the kind of shit that can tip the scales.
Of course, in the case of the ID.4 this is especially maddening because it would take so little to make this work as a frunk. I laid down a tarp right in there, and look at all the crap I was able to shove in there:
I stuck in three partially-filled backpacks, a new clutch hydraulic cylinder for my F-150, in a box, the VW tire inflation kit that came with the car, and a Commodore Vic-20, complete with 5K of RAM. And it all fit, and the hood closed fine, and I was able to drive off with no issues. Look, here’s it happening, in moving pictures:
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What would it take for VW to make a molded-plastic tray that fits in there? It’s already weatherstripped with a nice fat rubber grommet around the opening. I think the volume available for stuff would be bigger than many of the frunks out there, even! Maybe not deeper, but definitely wider, and in overall volume, it’s pretty damn good.
The EV market is so competitive now, and I don’t understand how VW can build something that’s so good in so many ways and yet has just enough annoying or missing features that have to dissuade at least some people from buying these.
They’re handsome enough, too; a bit understated, maybe, but there’s very little anyone would object to, visually.
The interior is actually great on the ID.4, too. The Pro trim level I had some great material choices, like the brown leather and linen-like-fabric combo here:
It’s comfortable and looks good, and drives pretty well, too, with good acceleration and predictable handling, and it doesn’t feel like the 6,000+ pound porker it actually is, which is saying a lot. It’s a really easy car to live with, for the most part, and at about $43,000, it should be competitive with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or 6 or Kia EV6 or Tesla Model 3 or Mustang Mach E or any other modern SUV-ish EVs.
But then you get to those details, like no frunk or those window controls or VW’s instance on these touch-sensitive buttons for just about everything, and how that upper row with the volume control and temperature adjustments – arguably the set of most-used center stack controls – doesn’t illuminate at night, and good luck finding them by touch, because there’s hardly anything to touch there:
It’s little shit like this! Just details, but, holy crap, now more than ever details are important. Especially little details that you would deal with every single time you drove the car, like basic dash controls. The same stuff everyone complained about when the ID.4 came out, and absolutely none of these issues have been addressed, at all.
It all drives me clamshit because I think the MEB platform is quite good, and there’s so many positive things about the car, too. It’s frustrating. The whole thing is frustrating. A mid-cycle refresh that took care of, what, three annoying interior user interface issues and added a frunk tray of some kind and maybe some fun color choices I think could make the ID.4 a standout in this increasingly crowded field. But do I think VW will do that? No. I don’t.
I may as well end on a positive detail, why not: the wireless phone charging setup is great, it holds the phone in place and is really easy to slide the phone in and out of. So, there’s that.
Good job, I guess.