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[NEWS] Volkswagen ID 7 prototype

Volkswagen ID 7 prototype

vw id7 prototype review 2023001 dynamic
Volkswagen gears up to finally go Tesla-hunting with its first all-electric saloon, the ID 7

The ID 3, ID 4, ID 5 and ID Buzz have now firmly established Volkswagen within the EV ranks. Between them, they accounted for nearly 10% of the German giant’s global sales in the final quarter of last year.Now Volkswagen is looking to build on this success with the ID 7, a new liftback-style saloon that’s planned to head into UK showrooms by the end of 2023 – with the promise of an even more practical estate sibling set for arrival in early 2024.This latest ID model is aimed squarely at the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and Tesla Model 3, with Volkswagen wanting you to think of it as an upmarket electric alternative to the traditional ICE Passat. Pricing has yet to be announced, but Volkswagen suggests it will land in the UK at about £50,000 – the same as those two rivals in their respective long-range forms.The origins of the ID 7 can be traced back to the Geneva motor show of 2018, where Volkswagen unveiled the ID Vizzion concept car. Its definitive styling was subsequently previewed under an illuminated QR-code-inspired disguise at last year’s Los Angeles motor show, where Volkswagen also confirmed the ID 7 name.The prototype we’ve been invited to drive in sunny Spain remains camouflaged, but that obviously doesn’t prevent us seeing a two- box saloon shape featuring many of the styling cues established by the ID 3, ID 4 and ID 5. This is particularly noticeable up front, where Volkswagen says it has put a lot of effort into improving the aerodynamics and aeroacoustic qualities, with tighter panel gaps and tolerances than on other ID models and flush door handles.The packaging advantages of Volkswagen’s MEB platform for EVs are evident in the ID 7’s proportions. With its A-pillars set well forwards, it has a much shorter bonnet and a longer curved roofline than the current Passat. The result is an overall drag coefficient of 0.23Cd, making the ID 7 a bit more like the aerodynamically efficient kind of car that you might expect from the maker of the XL1 (0.19Cd) than the ID models produced previously.Practicality has also clearly played an important role in the development of the ID 7. At 4961mm long, 1862mm wide and 1538mm tall, it’s 186mm longer, 30mm wider and 55mm higher than the current Passat, and its 2966mm wheelbase is a considerable 180mm longer.Just as it did with the ID 4 and ID 5, Volkswagen has developed the ID 7 to support both single-motor, rear-wheel drive and dual-motor, four-wheel drive models. The initial single-motor, rear-wheel-drive Pro and Pro S launch variants confirmed for the UK receive a newly developed electric motor (which is also planned to be fitted to other ID models later this year). Mounted within the rear axle, the AC synchronous unit delivers considerably more power and torque than the motor used in RWD versions of the ID 4 and ID 5, at 282bhp and 402lb ft. The boost in output is achieved through a revised rotor, an updated coil design and a new external water heat sink.Drive is sent through a reworked single-speed gearbox. There’s a new inverter, too, featuring an updated software package for more efficient conversion of the DC electricity stored in the battery to the AC electricity used by the motor.Lithium ion battery packs with usable capacities of 77kWh and 85kWh feature in the Pro and Pro S models respectively. They’re essentially the same nickel-cobalt-manganese (NMC) batteries offered in the ID Buzz, with 12 individual modules and pouch cell construction, all integrated within the floor structure.Range is yet to be specified, but Volkswagen says the 77kWh battery will give the ID 7 a WLTP range of approximately 382 miles, while the 85kWh unit should give it around 435. By comparison, the 53kWh and 78kWh batteries offered by the Model 3 give official ranges of 305 and 374 miles, while the 53kWh and 77kWh batteries of the Ioniq 6 provide give ranges of 267 and 382.Suspension is via MacPherson-strut (front) and multi-link (rear) set-ups, with an optional Dynamic Chassis Control Plus (DCC) system adding adaptive damping.Step inside the ID 7 and a high waistline and a relatively shallow glasshouse together provide you with an agreeably secure and well-enclosed feeling. Even in this prototype, the interior reflects a higher level of perceived quality than previous ID models, too, with less hard plastic and more appealing materials sued throughout.Embedded within the ID 7’s dashboard is a small digital instrument display as well as a head-up display with augmented-reality functions for the sat-nav. The main highlight, however, is a new 15.0in infotainment touchscreen. Mated with the latest version of Volkswagen’s MIB infotainment software, it presents a new home-page layout, resulting in greater ease of use and more intuitive operation than with the existing system, as well as a host of new menus and improved speech recognition.Despite widespread criticism, Volkswagen has stuck with the fiddly slider volume control seen on other ID models, although it now features illumination in a bid to make it more effective. It’s still recalcitrant, though, often refusing to react to a simple tap command. A 700W, 16-channel, 14-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system is an option, as are Ergoactive 14-way electrically adjustable front seats with heating, ventilation and massaging functions.Owing to the forward-set A-pillars, you sit well back from the cowl behind a deep dashboard. In line with its larger dimensions, the ID 7 is noticably roomier than the the Passat, particularly in the rear, where passengers are treated to limousine-like levels of leg room.A twist of the gear selector – a column-mounted stalk instead of the rotary dial at the end of the instrument display seen on other ID models – and we’re ready to get a taste of Volkswagen’s latest EV. One notch gets you the Drive mode and two notches the Battery mode, the latter triggering stronger regenerative braking for so-called one-pedal driving. Further driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual), accessed through the touchscreen, serve to alter steering, throttle, drivetrain and, in DCC-equipped models, the dampers.This is a big and heavy car, but it hides its size and weight well, and has a general ease of operation and straightforward dynamic character that should appeal to EVbuyers. They’re attributes that have helped to make the Passat popular for half a century now, and they’re right at the forefront of the ID 7 experience.With 402lb ft on tap the moment you nudge the throttle pedal, the ID 7 is obligingly smooth and very responsive in Sport mode. Despite a kerb weight of more than 2000kg, it gathers speed quickly. There’s real urgency to the acceleration even as speeds rise and, with grip-dependent torque-vectoring across the rear axle, excellent traction.Volkswagen has yet to share any performance figures, but I can tell that the ID 7 comfortably matches the acceleration of the Ioniq 6. Once up to speed, it delivers luxury-car-like rolling refinement. Any prevailing wind buffeting and tyre roar is well isolated from the cabin, giving the ID 7 appealingly quiet and relaxed properties. Excellent longitudinal stability and the promise of an extended range under gentle driving mark it down as a long-distance proposition of promising potential, too.A lack of intuitive progression and an ill-defined feel to the brake pedal do leave something to the desired on drivability, though. It lacks a proper biting point, making it difficult to judge the exact pressure required, whether you’re wiping off speed on the open road or pulling to a halt at traffic lights. In stop-start urban driving, it’s better to switch to ‘B’ mode and allow the regen to do the work for you.My time in the ID 7 was limited but still sufficient to reveal that there’s an appealing rear-driven fluency to the handling and the steering is well-weighted, delivering directness on turn-in, if ultimately little in the way of proper feedback.Despite the long wheelbase, Volkswagen has decided against adopting four-wheel steering to sharpen agility. Nonetheless, the chassis reacts well to quick changes of direction. With strong front-end grip and quick-acting adaptive damping helping to quickly rein in body movements, you can string together corners with confidence.Long-travel springs give the ID 7 a soft and cosseting ride in Comfort mode, although it can be caught out on undulating roads, sometimes taking time to settle, owing to its considerable weight. The secondary ride, though, is very good, with outstanding shock absorption and road-noise isolation.The ID 7 is already shaping up as Volkswagen’s most impressive electric car yet, then: a roomy and practical executive saloon with urgent and highly refined performance, well-judged dynamic properties, a generally smooth ride, contemporary digital functionality and a suitably long range.There are some minor criticisms to be made, yes, but they’re mostly outweighed by the driving appeal. It won’t be bargain-priced, no, but then neither are its key rivals.  As with the Passat, I suspect it will be the estate version of the ID 7 that will make the biggest impact on the UK sales charts. But for now, we can keenly look forward to the production-ready saloon.Read more: The EVs with the longest range

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