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All-wheel-drive EV launches a new performance tag. But what kind of car is a GTX?

There is some debate about whether Volkswagen gave birth to the very first hot hatchback when it launched the Mk1 Golf GTI in June 1976, but we can certainly agree that it was the point of origin of one of the world’s defining performance sub-brands.

This is a fast-car dynasty that, now 45 years young and having a history longer than that of any BMW M car, can probably be forgiven for siring a few stray offshoots. Still, perhaps the subject of this week’s road test will be the start of something even longer-lasting and more significant for Wolfsburg than the GTI badge now is. Welcome, then, VW’s very first all-electric performance model: the ID 4 GTX.

GTX gets unique bumper designs, high-gloss black intakes and some other small tweaks, but doesn’t instantly stand out from the regular ID 4 – particularly those in higher trim levels

With this car, VW is extending its world-famous GTI brand in a similar way that it did with the Mk7 Golf GTE in 2014; with the Mk5 Polo BlueGT of 2012 (remember that?); and with the Golf GTD diesel, which has a history stretching all the way back to 1982. The company is, in its own words, trying to demonstrate that “sustainability and sportiness need not be mutually exclusive” when it comes to the latest breed of zero-emissions family car.

That may be a fact in need of little demonstration to anyone who’s been paying attention to the kinds of electric car being brought to market these past few years by Tesla, Polestar, BMW and others, of course; and they would argue that VW is therefore only joining the electric performance car party here rather than starting it. Even so, when Wolfsburg commits to a concept like this, it doesn’t often do so on a whim, and it certainly hasn’t here. GTX derivatives of several of ID-branded cars are confirmed to or rumoured to be in the pipeline, from the ID 5 crossover coupé down to the ID Life city car.

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Stand by to find out exactly what kind of exciting driving experience a GTX badge emblazoned on a bootlid, seatback or steering wheel promises, then. Is this just another modern VW trim level or does it distinguish a car that feels genuinely special?

The ID 4 line-up at a glance

The ID 4 currently comes in four mechanical flavours, each with a different combination of battery size and power output. Pure and Pure Performance models use the smaller, 52kWh pack and have outputs of 146bhp and 167bhp respectively. Only at Pro Performance grade does the 77kWh battery make an appearance to extend the ID 4’s official range beyond 320 miles.

The top-line GTX essentially then takes the Pro Performance and adds an extra electric motor and gearbox for the front axle. This increases the ID 4’s power by about half again, to 295bhp, though range drops slightly.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - VW ID 4