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Don’t judge an ID. by its cover. Volkswagen's best electric car yet, but something key is holding it back

Zeekr ship units Europe


 

NEW PRODUCT: Volkswagen’s best electric car yet, but is the ID.7 too high-tech for current customers and too conservative for new ones? Sliding in between the current Passat and the cult classic Pheaton of yesteryear the model has big boots to fill with a North German workforce hoping it can keep production lines turning

One of the underlying fundamental supporting foundations in the Volkswagen brand armoury over the past two decades, the Passat, has just made way for the polarising ID.7 at their north German production facility in Emden. 


However, don't expect the model that sold a whisker under 0.5 million units worldwide last year – including the Chinese Magotan version – to step aside.


It's vacating its coastal home for the city.


Slovakia's Bratislava, to be precise.


Now it's up to the ID.7 – alongside the ID.4, and run-out Arteon – to fill those oversized shoes in Emden.


While the model that straddles the D/E segments may not be a direct successor to the Passat, just like the ID.3 wasn't for the Golf or the ID.4 for the Tiguan, both models will be offered in tandem. 


The five-car all-electric Volkswagen ID. sub-brand line-up that saw its 500,000th model roll onto West European roads last year, since the first ID.3 entered the region's roads three years ago, will see a sixth model, the Spanish-made ID.2, added in 2026.


Clear Volkswagen ID.7 interior
Best ID. interior yet. A huge improvement over the first-generation ID. family models.

While some will consider the ID.7 as a future Passat BEV, the eyewatering €14,000 premium will quickly dispel those considerations. 


It measures almost half a metre longer than the Passat to accommodate a forthcoming 86kWh battery between both axles, making it even 12mm longer than a Mercedes E-Class. 

At 4,961mm, it appears more Phaeton than Passat, making it the largest (length) VW in the current line-up. 


However, despite its oversized dimensions, it feels more nimble when driven, while tricky parking situations aren't as problematic as one might suggest, thanks to the contortionist-like turning angle of the front-wheels. 


If one does have an issue with parking, the optional park-assist can do it for you.


VW ID. sales data history infographic
A quick look at Volkswagen Group's and Volkswagen's MEB/ID. BEV progress. Source: Schmidt Automotive Research

The new EV speed metric: Espresso-speed!


With charging speeds of 200kW soon to be offered with the 86kWh ID.7 version, where an espresso rather than an americano may be the order of the day during motorway stops, the tested 77kWh battery version returned a 12kW faster peak speed (187kW) than advertised (175kW) during our test, making luxury charging station hubs featuring lounges from premium manufacturers, resembling private members clubs, likely to become redundant even before the ink on the press release drys.


Speedy charging, even faster pricing


During the two-week test, a charge time from 19 – 72% took just 19 minutes, returning an impressive average 141.7kW charge speed, thanks partially to the battery pre-heating feature, getting the 77kWh battery nice and toasty before plugging in. 


On a refined 800km return motorway journey between Berlin and Bremen, travelling at an average speed of between 120 - 130km/h, accompanied by the reassuring travel-assist feature, 19kW/h per 100km was achieved, meaning a splash and dash top-up for each leg of the journey was required giving a good opportunity to test both EnBW and IONITY charging providers offering both a fast and stable operation. 


A monthly subscription is highly advisable, though, to avoid what appears to be only semi-unregulated wild west-type pricing that can reach up to 89 cents per kW/h if not a member of the network, effectively translating a 400km motorway journey to costs reaching upwards of €60. 


According to the latest German government data up to November 2023 there are now 115,308 public charging points available across Germany with 22,047 being fast-charging DC chargers, of which 7,936 offer a power level of between 149kW and 299kW which was a more than doubling (+113%) over the same period last year.


Meanwhile a further 5,743 offered speeds in excess of 299kW (+76%y/y).


For private/retail consumers, one look at the ID.7's German price list, starting at €53,995 before Volkswagen discounting, will likely lead to them walking on by. 


However, with nine in ten of Germany's new Passats being driven by corporate drivers, things begin to look different given a company tax advantage stemming from a monthly benefit-in-kind tax rate of just €113 per month at a rate of 0.25% compared to €336 for the entry-level ICE Passat at a rate of 1% per month. 


Over a three-year lease-cycle that would be €8,000 in fiscal savings in favour of the ID.7. Add to that the standard equipment on offer, largely aimed at corporate drivers, such as the industry-leading augment reality head-up-display (HUD) coming at no extra cost and things look even better. 


VW's digital development arm, CARIAD , may have gotten a lot of things wrong, but this piece of kit, which sees 3D navigation prompts appearing as if they are floating in front of the vehicle and enlarge as the vehicle approaches an exit on a motorway, never fails to impress, despite it appearing in the ID.3 from launch three years ago. 


VW ID.7 interior
The augmented-reality head-up-display (HUD) never fails to impress

Perhaps it is no surprise then that this will also be carried over to the upcoming PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture models such as the Porsche Macan electric and Audi Q6, with the MEB platform on which all ID. models are based almost operating as a tech incubator for more luxury and profitable models from across the Group.

Let down by exterior design, but help is on the way

Unfortunately for Volkswagen, one of the only negative attributes of the model we found during our two-week test, and is fundamental to the success of any car, the design. 


Carrying the exterior legacy hallmarks of ex-CEO Herbert Diess's era, whose unenviable mission was to steady the ship following the dieselgate scandal and put VW on a new course offering clean energy models and a new digital architecture, the ID. (Intelligent Design) brand was born. 

VW ID. GTI Concept Mindt design
The more retrospective future of VW's electric car design under Andreas Mindt? ID.GTI Concept

The other key protagonist in the design, Klaus Zyciora, departed Wolfsburg for China's Changan last year. 


Essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place back in 2015 when given the brief to take the world's attention away from the erupting dieselgate scandal and trying to divert the gaze to a greener, cleaner and brighter future, ID was born.


However, the ID.7, despite its ugly duckling appearance, is a quantum leap in terms of interior improvements. 


The feel of premium luxury on the inside, accompanied by a raft of soft touch and high-quality materials, becomes all the more evident when jumping back behind the wheel of a first-generation ID.3 model that made new Chinese entrants appear premium. 


The trick of the sales team stationed at VW showrooms worldwide is to get potential customers to sit behind the wheel before they are put off by the exterior design first.


Zyciora's successor, Andreas Mindt, is now in charge of bringing the entire ID. project back to a more lovable and approachable Volkswagen design position, embracing heritage that Zyciroa was likely asked to avoid, with the exception of the ID. Buzz.  Playing on its rich brand retrospective history whilst embracing and balancing high-tech digitalisation, Mindt's first creation show car, shown at the Munich Auto Show last year, the ID. GTI Concept showed a more confident stance celebrating the brand's history rather than a more apologetic language of the first generation of EVs. 

Volkswagen certainly appear to be on the right track


Volkswagen certainly appear to be on the right track from the interior, and now it's down to Mindt to complete the job that Zyciora failed to finish, an intelligent design inside and out.◼︎︎

The European Electric Car Study published by Schmidt Automotive Research each month and is available to purchase as a single edition or an annual subscription.


The study now also features a double page in-depth look at the Chinese OEMs as their European expansion slowly begins.



 
 

*Western Europe 18 Markets: EU Member States prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA markets Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, plus UK

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