“It’s really fun, and I love it!”

A guide to the all-electric Volkswagen ID.4, as told by FNZ Publisher Murray Bevan and his 5-year-old son

Disclaimer: I love cars. I’ve owned three Volkswagens, three Audis, a Peugeot and a Mercedes.  I love driving, I love speed, and I love the sound of a well-tuned petrol engine as it goes through the gears.

But like many of us, the thrill of the growl that I get from a naturally aspirated Audi RS5 is going to have to give way pretty soon to my conscience, which is nagging me to buy an electric car.

In a totally selfish way, I want to make the leap into an EV in the most Me way possible, and being the owner of a fashion marketing firm and an online fashion magazine, I’m looking for a way to connect the two worlds.

Car design and fashion design sit nicely together, and one often influences the other.  Fashions change, with new colours, shapes, textures and designs that then permeate other industries, not least of all car design.  We use cars as status symbols, just like we do fashion, and cars are littered through pop culture iconography and advertising, just in the same way we are swayed by what our favourite actors and influencers wear on the red carpet.

For me, the look of a car is the first thing I go for.  I want it to sit low to the ground, and have a stance that implies power, control and speed.  My car has to have an amazing sound system, as I love driving at any speed with music blaring, no matter the time of day or my mood.  And last but not least, the car has to appeal to my 5 year old boy, who seems to be developing the same love of cars that I have (plus we need room for his car seat and a boot full of soccer balls).

Being the publisher of an online magazine, I am lucky to be offered perks from time to time, one of which was recently to test drive the new Volkswagen ID.4.  Knowing what I do about cars, and having owned VWs and Audis previously, I leapt at this chance.  Volkswagen knows a lot about cars, so for them to be producing all-electric vehicles says to me that we’re past the tipping point of having the EV news cycle be dominated by the likes of Tesla and Polestar.  Volkswagen owns an array of brands from Audi to SEAT, Lamborghini, Cupra, Porsche, Ducati and Bentley, so having a whirl in a new VW is the equivalent to trying on a new suit that’s been made by Bernard Arnault.

My two-day test drive started off well, and having collected the car from Giltrap VW on Great North Road with my boy, we headed off into a rainy Auckland night.  The handover hadn’t been the most inspiring interaction (I was given the keys and told “If you have any problems, just let me know”) but given my love of cars and a genuine curiosity for EVs, I set about figuring things out inside the car for myself.

The questions that filled my head instantly, based on my years of driving ‘typical’ petrol cars were:

  • How and where do I charge it?
  • How far will it go off a full charge?
  • Does it have a hand brake?
  • How do I change gears?

The rest I figured I’d work out as we drove.  Maybe not the safest approach, but I was in a rush, so off we went.

Immediately I noticed the high ride height of the ID.4, and even though it’s a skinny car, it feels wide and commanding from the driver’s POV.  The gear shift mechanism is cute, with a simple toggle lever in front of the steering wheel where you pivot the lever forward (clockwise) for drive and backwards (anti-clockwise) for reverse.  VW refer to this whole system as the ‘Twist & Go’ ignition function.  There is no hand brake, and to stop or exit the car you simply hit the ‘Park’ button at the end of the gear lever and walk away.

I have never driven a car that has simplified the art of driving to this extent.  Years of driving typical cars has taught me that we must do this and do that.  EVs are re-writing all of those rules.

My little boy was the first to herald a successful trip, stepping out of the car and saying “It’s really fun, and I love it!”  Job done from his point of view.  But what about his old man’s mindset?  Here’s my overview, in bullet points:

Sound system: 9/10.  As soon as I stepped inside the car we set up my Bluetooth and started blasting ‘Earshots’ by 4am Kru and Sir Hiss.  Lady Shaka was playing it in her set on George FM so I took that as a good omen, plus a great way to test the sound.

Speed off the mark: 8/10.  For a car that isn’t marketed in any way as a sports option, this thing is quick.  And quiet.  Zooming around the hills and slopes of central Auckland we definitely didn’t lack pace.

Stance:  5/10. This is no Lamborghini, but then again it’s not meant to be.  It’s a safe car designed for families, and it would be a sound addition to any driveway.

Aesthetics:  Again, not my ideal look and shape, but as VW says on their website, ‘The all-electric ID.4 really was designed to welcome just about anyone into the world of electric.’  If I bought one, I’d definitely go for the S Plus trim package and maybe the glass roof, plus 20” rims.  6/10.

Boot room:  10/10.  No worries here about cramming in a small bike, swimming gear, power tools, football gear bag and a few shoe boxes.  I did all of this and there was still plenty of room to swing a cat.

Price:  The ID.4 starts at NZD$59,990 drive away, and is available in two trim lines: The ID.4 Pro and the ID.4 Pro+.  The standard cars come with 19” rims and 10” colour touch screens inside.

Passion-o-meter:  7/10.  When I was alone in the car and had the music turned up, I felt more and more at home with the idea that I could own this car.  EVs are a whole new world for me, and honestly my first drive in an EV by way of the ID.4 was very good.  If this is just the start, then I’m convinced I’ll be an EV driver in no time.