There's a bit to adapt to if this is your first experience of EV motoring. No gearstick, no handbrake, no ignition key and just the sound of silence as the fixed ratio transmission blends an almost endless wave of torque into meaningful and surprisingly rapid forward progress. The forward thrust away from rest isn't quite as abrupt as it is in Volkswagen's smaller ID.3, mostly because the ID.4 is nearly 200kgs heavier, a factor which affects most areas of this car's drive demeanour, sometimes helpfully, sometimes not. That of course is a legacy of the substantial battery packs it must carry about. Base models, which respectively feature electric motors developing either 148PS or 170PS, use a 52kWh lithium-ion unit offering a claimed driving distance of up to 213 miles. The longer-range variant, using a motor putting out 204PS, has a rather more substantial 77kWh battery that ups that to as much as 310 miles.
Like Volkswagen's original post-war Beetle, this car is rear-driven and when you drive it in town, you quickly realise the real advantages of placing the powertrain - the electric motor and its associated single-speed auto gearbox - on the back axle, thereby freeing up the front wheels for steering duties; the result is a London taxi-like 10.2-metre turning circle. Beyond the city limits, that drive format allows for a near-50:50 almost perfect weight distribution which, together with the low centre of gravity provided by the central battery pack placement, helps disguise the portly weight this SUV must carry around. Traction through the turns is excellent and body roll is checked by firm damping cleverly engineered for suppleness over poor surfaces. All of which ought to provide the recipe for a decently sporting EV - and in some ways it does, though the steering, while accurate, offers disappointingly little real feedback.
If you do prioritise performance in your choice of ID.4, Volkswagen wants you to consider the top flagship GTX variant, which sees the top 77kWh battery mated to electric motors on both axles, which delivers 4WD capability and more potent 299PS total output. That variant gets an extra 'Traction' mode to add to the other drive settings common across the model line-up; there's 'Comfort', 'Sport' and 'Individual'. Plus you get an 'Eco' setting that, to maximise range, you'll need to frequently use in combination with the available 'B' regenerative braking function, which slows the car significantly when you come off the accelerator.