As more electric vehicles hit the mainstream, there’s more opportunity to do some comparisons. I was recently given a chance to drive the Mustang Mach-E (with my official review of it here), but also just spent a week with the Volkswagen ID.4.
Although these two compact electric SUVs are starkly different from each other, and it’s not an apples to apples comparison, I still felt compelled to compare one to the other, as the only frame of reference I’ve had in the EV world.
Note: Tesla does not do media loans, so any comparison to a Tesla would not be considered since I’ve not driven one except for a quick jaunt.
Related story: Range anxiety not an issue for Mustang Mach-E.
Volkswagen ID.4 vs. Mustang Mach-E: Appearance
When it comes to looks, both compact SUVs check a lot of the boxes. The ID.4 is about five inches shorter than the Mach-E. Additionally the ID.4 has a boxier appearance overall than the Mach-E.
The grille of the Mach-E is sportier (it is a Mustang after all), with the ID.4’s grille being more conservative. The entire product line from Volkswagen has gone rather conservative and less aggressive and the ID.4 follows a similar path.
There is a spoiler on both vehicles, but the Mach-E’s sloping roofline and angular cut from the C-Pillar gives the back end a much more pronounced rear and certainly indicates a sleeker, faster vehicle.
The boxier shape of the ID.4, especially on the back end helps when it comes to rear cargo space as the slope of the Mach-E can cut down on the vertical cargo space.
Volkswagen ID.4 vs. Mustang Mach-E: Performance
Important note, the Mustang Mach-E I drove had the extended range battery and thus automatically had more range than the Volkswagen ID.4.
But performance for me is where the Mach-E wins this head-to-head battle. The Mach-E is quicker in all regards than the ID.4, by a lot. The Mach-E I drove was rated at 346 horsepower to the ID.4’s 201 rated horsepower.
However, this is not an apples to apples comparison as the ID.4 currently only has a rear-wheel drive, single motor powertrain while the Mach-E already has a dual-motor with all-wheel drive. Regardless for comparison sakes, the ID.4 lacks that initial torquey launch that the Mach-E has.
The ID.4 drives a lot more like a hybrid than an EV in that regard. And the Mach-E (cover your eyes Mustang enthusiasts) really does drive more like a Mustang with power and torque.
Driving modes and one-pedal driving
The biggest disappointment and the true significant difference between the Mach-E and the ID.4 is that the ID.4 lacks one-pedal driving. This was a feature I loved in the Mach-E.
Additionally, there are available driving modes in the ID.4, but these feel awfully close to what happens in ICE vehicles or a hybrid, while the driving modes in the Mach-E really changed the driving dynamics. Unbridled mode in the Mach-E was unrivaled by any mode in the ID.4.
There’s not even auto-brake hold for the ID.4 which seems bizarre for an EV.
In this head-to-head comparison, the Mach-E wins this win and it’s not even close.
Handling and steering
The ID.4 has the best turning radius of any vehicle of its size I’ve driven, including the Mach-E. The handling of the ID.4 was crisp and confident. This is where it really thrived. The Mach-E wasn’t disappointing, but the tire size differences on the ID.4 from rear to back helped really change the overall handling for the ID.4 in a positive way.
Since the ID.4 is rear-wheel drive only (for now) that stands to reason. The steering was also quite confident. It was neither too stiff nor too soft for the ID.4 while the Mach-E was more performance-oriented. I prefer my steering that way, but the ID.4 surprised me with how much I liked it from this aspect.
Which has the better interior: Mustang Mach-E or VW ID.4?
This is a subjective area for sure. I test drove the VW ID.4 First Edition which had a white steering wheel and white accents. I actually liked it, but several others noted it would show dirt really quick.
The ID.4’s interior felt more minimalistic but with a modern vibe. I actually appreciated it and found it to be quite aesthetically interesting. Meanwhile the Mustang Mach-E’s interior was also modern, but felt like it offered more, including leather seats. The ID.4 only has cloth seats, but some find that more appealing.
Rear legroom was slightly better in the Mach-E than the ID.4. Both were a little skimpy on the overall rear passenger space. Headroom is slightly better in the ID.4 with its boxier styling.
Range and charging
The base comparison between the ID.4 and Mach-E show that the range is slightly better on the ID.4 than the Mach-E. However, my tester was the extended range which meant it was good for up to 300 miles, while the ID.4 has an estimated driving range of 250 miles. I never once achieved underperforming range numbers or range anxiety with either vehicle.
The ID.4 has a 77 kWh battery pack while the Mach-E has an 88 kWh one giving the slight edge to the Mach-E. This means the Mach-E can charge slightly faster than the ID.4. Several YouTubers noted that the ID.4 seems to charge much faster from 80%-90% than the Mach-E, which seems to throttle down the charging time frustratingly so.
I experienced that when I charged up the Mach-E and ended up stopping my charging session at 81%. Both have level 3 charging ability throughout many offerings in North America, although the network needs to grow.
Is bigger better? If so, then the Mach-E wins the battle of technology with its massive 15-inch vertical infotainment screen. This compares to the 12-inch maximum size in the ID.4.
Size aside, the Sync 4 system in the Mach-E is superior to the infotainment system found in the ID.4 which was a little clunky and lacked intuition. There was also some slow response times on some commands with the ID.4, while the Mach-E and Sync 4 were flawless and outstanding.
In the technology realm there’s a clear-cut winner and it’s the Mustang Mach-E.
Get the frunk out
Frunks, or front trunks, are huge for EV consumers. The new frunk in the F-150 Lightning has been highly praised. And the Mach-E has a nice frunk, if you take out the silly and pointless divider that comes with it from the factory.
The Volkswagen ID.4 has no frunk and this, above all else is one of the biggest knocks against it. It seems like a major engineering mistake by Volkswagen to disregard the important of a frunk to the EV shopper. As such, the Mach-E wins this head-to-head comparison without question.
Miscellaneous quirks of both vehicles
The transmission knob on the VW ID.4 is like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s located on the steering column and requires an intuitive twist forward for D and a twist back for reverse. The Mustang Mach-E’s transmission was simpler and easier to figure out, all in all.
The glass roof of the Mach-E is not retractable and does not have a cover (imitating Tesla). Meanwhile the ID.4’s sun shield on the roof is retractable and has a cover as well, which helps keep the sun from heating up the cabin.
The ID.4 has a hitch and a tow rating. The ID.4 can tow up to 2,700 lbs (rated) while the Mach-E has no rated towing capability nor a hitch.
I’m not going to say which is better as it’s subjective and honestly the VW ID.4 likely has a different type of buyer than the Mustang Mach-E. The Mach-E is certainly drawing customers from Tesla who want fast, torquey fun from an EV.
Meanwhile the ID.4 would be more suited to someone who might’ve owned comparably sized compact SUV and is ready to make the plunge to EVs. For those people, they won’t be disappointed and will be quite impressed with what the VW ID.4 is. But if they drive it along with the Mach-E, they may opt toward the electrified pony.
Leave me your comments about either vehicle. Which would you prefer and why?
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.