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The GTI for the electric age uses two motors to deliver four-wheel drive and 295bhp
20 June 2021

What is it?

Just as deliveries of the standard ID 4 electric SUV get under way, Volkswagen has crowned the line-up with a hot GTX variant.

As with the original Golf GTI back in 1976, VW is attempting to provide its new car with an added dash of driver engagement. The thinking is that a select group of EV buyers, just like those of conventional cars, want to stand out from the crowd. So in the same way that the GTI badge boosts the appeal of the Golf, the GTX badge is meant to make the ID 4 more attractive to driving enthusiasts.

It’s far from a simple reworking of VW’s second dedicated EV. In fact, the changes go quite deep – most notably to the drivetrain. Unlike the standard ID 4, which has a single electric motor to power the rear wheels, the GTX uses a motor on each axle, giving it four-wheel drive. This layout has already been seen on its sibling models, the Audi Q4 E-tron and the Skoda Enyaq iV.

The GTX’s asynchronous front motor delivers 107bhp and 120lb ft, while its synchronous rear motor develops the same 201bhp and 228lb ft as it does in the exclusively rear-driven ID 4 Pro Performance. All up, there’s a combined 295bhp and 348lb ft of torque.

The headlining output can be accessed for a period of 30 seconds before the power electronics ease it back to preserve the charge and avoid overheating. Drive is sent to the wheels via a single-speed gearbox on each axle.

What's it like?

The generous torque endows the GTX with brisk step-off. It leaves the line smartly, with excellent traction and an engagingly determined feel. It certainly feels quicker than the standard ID 4 on a loaded throttle – as backed up by its 0-62mph time of 6.2sec, which is 2.3sec quicker than that of the ID 4 Pro Performance.

An inherent quietness and smoothness of operation add to the perception of added performance. There’s a subtle whine to the twin-motor drivetrain when you call up the combined reserves, but they are always silken in their deployment.

Still, that initial urgency can’t overcome the 2149kg kerb weight and increasing aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. Once you’re at typical motorway speeds, the acceleration tails off decidedly. Top speed is restricted to 112mph – 12mph higher than on the standard ID 4.

Also shared with that car are two primary driving modes: D and B. D favours coasting, allowing the GTX to roll for impressively long distances with only minimal energy recuperation on a trailing throttle. B triggers greater regen, with the brakes programmed to pull it up with maximum harvesting of electricity. In addition, there are five driving modes on top of these two settings.

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Claimed energy consumption of 3.8kWh per mile provides the GTX with a competitive range of 298 miles from its 77kWh battery.

In keeping with the sporting brief, VW has retuned the ID 4’s suspension for the GTX. Among the changes are unique spring and damper rates and a 15mm reduction in ride height. The standard wheels are 20in, but the early-production example we’re driving runs on an optional 21in set, in combination with 235/45-profile front and 255/40-profile rear tyres.

With its nippy acceleration and a tight turning circle, the GTX is brilliantly effective around town. There’s also greater vigour to its open-road character than standard rear-drive ID 4s. What I like is the keenness to its handling.

With a very low centre of gravity – an upshot of its 486kg battery being mounted wholly within the floorpan – it corners with great authority. The ability of its electric motors to provide drive individually to each wheel thanks to the torque-vectoring qualities of its two axles gives the ID 4 GTX great balance and purchase.

It’s just a pity the other areas of the new ID 4 aren’t quite up to the task. Although quite precise, there is little true feedback through the variable-rate steering. The brakes also have a highly servoed feel, with an odd multi-stage action that can be traced to the efforts of the energy recuperation system.

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Despite the low-profile tyres and reduced ride height, it does ride exceptionally well, though. Taking a leaf out of the Golf GTI book, the ID 4 GTX receives a number of subtle styling tweaks.

Apart from the GTX badges, there are high-gloss black air intakes elements, a black roof, anthracite roof bars and a small rear spoiler. The rear bumper has been redesigned with a unique diffuser. Additionally, the LED headlights feature exclusive graphics, while the lenses of the LED tail-lights are styled to create an X-shaped graphic when the brakes are applied.

As we’ve said of standard ID 4 models, the GTX is quite versatile. Its flat floor creates lots of cabin space for a car that’s 4582mm long, and there are 543 litres of nominal luggage space behind the split fold rear seats. There’s even an electrically folding towbar for a braked trailer of up to 1400kg in weight.

Inside, there are model-specific colours for the dashboard and other trims, although the tartan upholstery that has been a key identifier of GTI models down through the years is conspicuous by its absence.

Should I buy one?

A performance-oriented, electric-powered crossover might not be everyone’s idea of fun. But the ID 4 GTX is a justified addition to the Volkswagen line-up. There is a sufficient increase in overall verve to distant it from other ID 4 models, while the subtle changes to its suspension give the GTX's handling a more dynamic touch, if no more in terms of ultimate feel. It also promises quite a reasonable range, too.

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If you’re thinking of going electric, this car is well worth a look.

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Comments
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HiPo 289 13 July 2021

The best bit of advice about EVs I've seen came from a commercial Fleet Manager. I forget his name, but his point was simply:  "If you can afford a new or fairly new car and you're in the market, stop overthinking it and just buy an EV."   This is great advice, because internal combustion cars are obsolete.  They have a past, but not a future.  This is fine if you want to run a classic car for Sunday mornings, but like steam engines, internal combustion is now an outdated form of transport.  

SAS32 22 June 2021
Today's EV's are generally first generation or in rare cases, like the Leaf, 2nd generation, so the compromises, namely weight and range, are many.

The prices are also ridiculously high due to the adaptation of new technologies and expensive battery packs plus they don't yet benefit from the economy of scale enjoyed by the ICE equivalent but that will change.

The current crop of EV's are most definitely niche for the time being and something for the early adopters. I personally will wait for the next generation before I even consider actually looking at one or at least until EV betters ICE on all levels.

Citytiger 21 June 2021

For £45k you can get a Long Range Dual Motor Polestar 2, a significantly better all round vehicle with a similar range but greater performance.