Really, it should unleash right here a torrent of grumpy cynicism and general abhorrence of how the world of motorsports has evolved, rather like pulling a fire hydrant lid. Why? Because I drive another “coupe SUV,” a type of vehicle that proves beyond a doubt that car buyers have lost control of themselves. Where our sensible grandparents and fathers bought equally sensible sedans or estates, we seem determined to buy the dumbest, most insane cars we can get our hands on.
However, I’m not going to do it. Because for some reason, I like the Volkswagen ID.5 better.
The ID.5 is to the regular ID.4 (at the time of writing, if only by a small handful of units, Ireland’s best-selling electric car) as the X4 is to BMW’s X3. In other words, it’s a beefy SUV that’s had a tapered fade applied to the back of the head, with a lower, sweeping roofline that ends in a bold, coupe-style rear end. Well, in theory.
First, let’s get one thing straight: Coupes have two doors. It doesn’t matter what the marketing department tries to tell you. Coupes have two doors. End of. Second, while the rear of the ID.5 can look surprisingly attractive from some (actually most) angles, when you’re walking around, you suddenly realize how tall and bulky everything is, and how strenuous from the VW design team. gone, to try to make it seem less so. It’s like trying to make the Empire State Building look like a bungalow. Or like squeezing in heavy Lycra sportswear.
I wouldn’t call the ID.5 particularly pretty, but it’s not ugly either. The smooth, tapered face is the same as the ID.4, and while there’s no escaping the volume, it’s still pretty cool stuff.
It’s much, much better inside. The ID.4, since it was launched, has held a huge advantage in cabin quality and accessories over its smaller brother, the ID.3 hatchback and that continues in the ID.5. It’s not quite a premium level here, but our “Tech”-spec test car came with suede seats with brown leather bolsters and a touch of contrasting stitched leather on the top of the dash. More than one observer decided that it was rather vulgar, but I was happy enough with it.
Unfortunately, the ID.5 carries the ID.4’s large touch screen, and that’s not good news because the menu layout is still clunky and irritating, and the touch-sensitive “slider” controls for stereo volume and temperature of the cabin should have been earmarked for the container long before they left the development lab. Dear automotive designers, buttons and switches have evolved for a reason: they are easy and intuitive to use, especially when driving.
On the plus side, I like the gear selector, which is a fancy rocker switch located a finger’s length behind the steering wheel, and the head-up display, which projects speed and other information onto the windshield, is very good. Space and comfort are also high on the agenda. While that sloping roofline does take a toll on rear headroom, the ID.5 is roomy enough to remain practical, and the boot, all 549 litres, is huge.
Of course, you pay an eye of the face for it. A basic ID.4 Life model will set you back a rather expensive €48,606. The cheapest ID.5 Business is €54,995 and our Tech test car posted a wince-inducing price of €69,920, and included 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, screen 12-inch touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, and heated seats.
All ID.5s come with the larger 77kWh battery option, and thanks to the lower roofline (and thus better aerodynamics), they all have slightly better range than the equivalent ID.4. . An ID.4 Tech boasts a range of 500 km on a single charge. The ID.5 Tech, by comparison, has a claimed range of… 503 km. Whoop-de-do.
In reality, the range is really one of the ID.5’s strongest suits. To put that in perspective, after picking up the test car in Dublin, I drove back home to Belfast. I then drove around Belfast for three days (school runs, shopping, taking the dog to the beach) and then headed back to Dublin, stopping at the IONITY fast charger in CityNorth, adjacent to Balbriggan, to top up the battery.
That was equivalent to over 400 km of driving, and at no point before the IONITY stop did I charge the ID.5. Absolutely. I know it’s dangerous to extract too much evidence from anecdote, but it wasn’t long ago that I struggled to get from Dublin to Belfast in any electric car without stopping to charge along the way. Now I can do the round trip, plus extra. I arrived on the charger with 40km left on the battery, and after 10 minutes on a 350kW charger (which cost me €10 for the privilege) I was back on track with over 200km of range. Which just goes to show that when done right, electric cars are just great.
Not much else matters about the ID.5 really, does it? It’s fine to drive: a smooth, refined ride, but too heavy and bulky to be fun on a twisty road, and it’s definitely a nicer sloping-roof SUV than the too-flaky Tesla Model Y. Expensive? Oh yes, painfully so, even by EV standards, and it faces stiff competition from the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 (although I maintain these are great hatchbacks, rather than strictly speaking SUVs; fight me on Twitter). …).
Nonetheless, for all its irrationality and cost, the ID.5 is a lovely thing and proof that even a dumb car can be sensible, when seen through the right prism.
Volkswagen ID.5 Tech 204hp: the truth
Energy: 77kWh battery powering a 150kW electric motor developing 204hp and 310Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual engine tax) 0g/km (€120).
Electrical consumption: 17.1kWh/100km.
Claimed rank: 503 km.
0-100km/h: 8.4 sec
Price: €69,920 depending on test, ID.5 starting at €54,995.
Verdict: Silly and pointless. Until you drive it.