The car works well if you just let it make all of the decisions for you
There are so many niggling irritations, which is unlike Volkswagen
What is it?
It’s the future, sort of. Cars like the Volkswagen ID.5 are interesting for the shift that they herald in the whole process of building cars and owning them. What was once merely well engineered hardware has morphed into a high-tech software base. And because of the ability to update these software systems remotely, cars like this will arrive on the market ready, but not finished.
Indeed, VW has just rolled out a heavily updated version of its system (3.1 in case you were keeping track) that has unlocked faster charging up to 135kW, new features and answers to customer problems.
Of course, over the air software updates can’t improve fundamental design flaws like the firm’s insistence on vanquishing its interiors of buttons, leaving the driver flailing around in endless sub-menus that take their attention off the road.
It looks very similar to the ID.4, how’s it different?
From the B-pillar forward it’s essentially the same car, while the ID.4’s sensible back end has been sleekened up to a coupe-like finish on the ID.5. This is the stylish option, you see, and it comes with a new GTX model that’s intended to channel the spirit of GTIs of the past and convince naysayers that EVs can be speedy and cool.
Does it work?
No, not really. The GTX is certainly quick, but it doesn’t quite warrant any association with the fabled GTIs that’s implied. It’ll get you across a country road briskly, but with no sense of satisfaction or real driver engagement. Likewise it’s punchy on the motorway (all the way up to its 112mph top speed no doubt), but you’ll soon start worrying about range.
The disappointment with the car is that we’re still afflicted by the lazy trope that sportiness means a stiff ride and overly weighted steering. Volkswagen is being quiet on the ID.5 GTX’s weight, but the Skoda Enyaq Coupe vRS weighs around 2,200kg and the VW definitely feels like it’s in that ballpark.
So what’s the point of the ID.5?
Does the ID.5 look better than the ID.4 with its coupe roofline? It’s different, which is as much enthusiasm as we can muster for it. No one needs a two-tonne electric Volkswagen SUV that does 0–62mph in 6.3secs, but go for a Pro or Pro Performance model and the ID.5 will be a benignly useful presence in the background of your life.
It’s capable of impressively economical driving when you consider its size and weight, although the GTX Max will even tow 1,400kg of braked trailer so there’s that to throw in. The lesser specs also manage an extra 15 miles of range out of the 77kWh battery to achieve 323 miles of official WLTP distance on a charge.
What's the verdict?
The ID.4's electric powertrain remains a compelling package that VW has put together, but it suffers by association with an infotainment system that still has enough inherent flaws to make it bothersome. Indeed, this is a car that’s characterised by its smart touches and weak spots, and it ultimately feels like a machine that’s imposing itself on you rather than offering itself as a tool you can mould around your daily life.
It all depends what you want out of it – the styling could be seen as divisive, but it offers a bit more choice in VW Group’s electric line-up. You might love the way the tech works, or it could drive you crazy. So many of these things are subjective, and the bland ubiquity of electric powertrains has robbed some of the distinctiveness from cars. Like getting a new phone, it’s about the practicality of how it’ll fit into your life. Test drive the ID.5, try out a few of its rivals and see which one tickles your fancy the most.