Really, I ought right here to unleash a torrent of grumpy cynicism and general abhorrence of how the world of motoring has evolved, rather in the manner of knocking the top off a fire hydrant. Why? Because I’m driving yet another “coupe-SUV”, a breed of vehicle that proves beyond all doubt that car buyers have lost the run of themselves. Where our sensible grandparents and parents bought equally sensible saloons or estates, we seem to be determined to buy the silliest, most insensible cars upon which we can lay our hands.
However, I’m not going to. Because for some reason, I rather like the Volkswagen ID.5.
The ID.5 is to the regular ID.4 (at the time of writing, if only by a tiny handful of units, Ireland’s best-selling electric car) as the X4 is to BMW’s X3. In other words, it’s a chunky SUV that’s had a tapered fade applied to the back of its head, with a lower, more sweeping roofline that ends in a pert, coupe-esque tail. Well, in theory.
First, let’s get one thing entirely straight – coupes have two doors. Never mind what the marketing department might try to tell you. Coupes have two doors. End of. Secondly, while the rear end of the ID.5 might look actually surprisingly attractive from some angles (most, actually), when you walk around, you suddenly realise just how tall and bulky it all is, and what strenuous efforts the VW design team has gone to, to try to make it appear less so. It’s rather like trying to make the Empire State Building look like a bungalow. Or like squeezing me into Lycra-heavy sportswear.
I wouldn’t call the ID.5 especially pretty, but then neither is it ugly. The bluff, smooth face is the same as that of the ID.4, and while there’s no getting away from the bulk, it is still quite a handsome thing.
It’s much, much better inside. The ID.4 has, since it was launched, held quite the cabin quality and fixtures advantage over its smaller brother, the hatchback ID.3 and that continues into the ID.5. It’s not quite premium level in here, but with our “Tech” specification test car came suede seats with saddle-brown leather bolsters and a matching sweep of contrast-stitched leather on the top of the dash. More than one observer decided it was quite vulgar, but I was happy enough with it.
Sadly, the ID.5 carries over the big touchscreen from the ID.4, and that’s not good news because the menu layout remains fiddly and irritating, and the touch-sensitive “slider” controls for stereo volume and cabin temperature should have been destined for the bin long before they wormed their way out of the development laboratory. Dear all car designers – buttons and switches have evolved for a reason, which is that they’re easy and intuitive to use, especially when you’re driving.
On the upside, I like the gear selector, which is a neat rocker-switch located a finger-stretch away behind the steering wheel, and the heads-up display, projecting speed and other information on to the windscreen, is very good. Space and comfort are high on the agenda, too. While that plunging roofline does impinge a little on rear headroom, the ID.5 is spacious enough to remain practical, and the boot – all 549 litres of it – is massive.
Mind you, you pay through the nose for it. A basic ID.4 Life model will cost you a pretty stiff €48,606. The cheapest ID.5 Business is €54,995 and our Tech test car clocked in at a wince-inducing €69,920, and included 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, the leather trim, the 12-inch touchscreen, a panoramic sunroof and heated seats.
All ID.5s come with the largest 77kWh battery option and thanks to the lower roofline (and therefore better aerodynamics), they all have slightly better range than the equivalent ID.4. An ID.4 Tech boasts a claimed one-charge range of 500km. The ID.5 Tech, by comparison, has a claimed range of… 503km. Whoop-de-do.
Actually, range really is one of the ID.5′s strongest suits. To put it in perspective, having collected the test car in Dublin, I drove back home to Belfast. I then drove around Belfast for three days – school runs, shopping, bringing the dog out to the beach – and then returned to Dublin, pausing at the IONITY rapid charger at CityNorth, adjacent to Balbriggan, to top up the battery.
That equalled more than 400km of driving, and at not one point prior to the IONITY stop did I charge the ID.5. At all. I know it’s dangerous to draw too much evidence from anecdote, but it’s not so long ago that I was struggling to make it from Dublin to Belfast in any electric car without stopping to charge en route. Now I can do the round trip, plus extra. I arrived on the charger with 40km left in the battery, and after 10 minutes on a 350kW charger (costing me €10 for the privilege) I was on my way again with more than 200km range showing. Which just goes to prove that when done right, electric cars are just brilliant.
Really, not much else about the ID.5 matters, does it? It’s fine to drive – smooth riding and refined, but too heavy and ponderous to be any fun on a twisty road – and it’s most definitely a nicer slope-roofed SUV than the too-flaky Tesla Model Y. Expensive? Oh yes, painfully so even by EV standards, and it faces stiff competition from the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 (although I maintain that these are big hatchbacks, rather than strictly-speaking SUVs – come fight me about it on Twitter…).
Nonetheless, for all its irrationality and expense, the ID.5 is a charming thing, and proof that even a silly car can be sensible, when viewed through the right prism.
Volkswagen ID.5 Tech 204hp: the lowdown
Power: 77kWh battery driving a 150kW electric motor developing 204hp and 310Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual motor tax) 0g/km (€120).
Electric consumption: 17.1kWh/100km.
Claimed range: 503km.
0-100km/h: 8.4 sec.
Price: €69,920 as tested, ID.5 starts from €54,995.
Verdict: Silly and pointless. Until you drive it.