It’s nice to take a break from the norm sometimes. Car journalists get too used to testing the same sorts of cars in the same sorts of ways that they can end up struggling to see the wood for the trees. Especially in an electric car era that’s already starting to feel spookily homogenous.
Handily, then, the first significant drive of the new 299hp ID.5 GTX - VW’s Enyaq Coupe vRS, really - is five up, with friends, to a pub lunch. Bear with. Take non-car people out in something brand new, electric, quite fast and pretty expensive (we’ll return to the latter point) and it’s nice to be reminded just how impressive EVs already are in isolation. As a journalist the concern was whether the ID.5 would be prone to the same issues as other MEB cars; as someone just out on a Saturday with mates the GTX was immediately appealing.
The baby seat latched onto the Isofix quickly; the rear seat passengers loved not just the space afforded by no transmission tunnel, but also the light of the panoramic roof, and the dark blue leather; my friend in the passenger seat enjoyed all the storage and the charging for their new phone. For once, VW's screens couldn’t really be faulted, because they did what was requested when requested. And it’s easy to forget that real people don’t really care about regen braking levels or a frankly daft EU kerbweight (so one person in, not five) of 2,242kg.
Quite understandably, what they care about is a badge they know and trust, combined with the snazzy concept of coupe SUV (especially one with this much room). Not to mention the 3D LED rear lights look cool, and the charge port is exactly where a filler cap would be. An ID.5 GTX sat in the VW showroom on 20-inch wheels (21s are optional) will be very glad there’s no second chance at a first impression, because it probably won’t get any better than this. As a demonstration of how seamless and easy the EV transition can be, the ID.5 GTX does better than most on initial encounter. It’s just a big and nice VW that happens to be battery-powered.
However, PH doesn’t represent the average car buyer. And while VW has deliberately not given any of its faster EVs the GTI badge, there’s no escaping the fact the GTX has the most sporting intent of the ID cars yet. At least until that rumoured ID.X hot hatch comes along. It’s the only model in the ID.5 range with dual motors and four-wheel drive, the suspension is 15mm lower than standard and there was a mention of ‘sporty handling’ in the first press release, so VW can hardly blame anyone for joining the dots.
Having only recently extolled the virtues of lesser-powered EVs, this might sound hypocritical, but the GTX could do with being a bit pokier. Or slower. It exists in that strange no-man's land between neck-snapping EVs and the ones you accept will never actually be that quick. But are cheaper. Which is fine, if a tad disappointing for something with a vaguely sporty pretence. Officially it’ll do 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds, but the GTX never quite offers that zap of acceleration we’ve already become accustomed to. Even without passengers and baby junk. More frustrating is the absence of any kind of sound; surely it’s in this ID.5 that some kind of synthesised backing track could be offered - or justified. As is already becoming clear (and was discussed in the EV6 vs. Polestar test), these range-topping EVs need more than just slightly brisker acceleration to justify the premium billing. It’s like those instant hot water taps - do you really need to spend extra just to save the inconvenience of waiting a few seconds more?
Anyway, we’re talking cars, not kettles. All of the MEB cars, from Born to Buzz, handle smartly, and the same is true for GTX. It drives a lot like an ID.3 in fact, spookily well controlled if perhaps understeering a little sooner than might be expected once the weight takes hold. But that’s also perhaps the ID.5’s problem, because this car is £20k more than an ID.3 and the experience is unerringly familiar. The corners just arrive a bit faster. Once more it seems churlish to criticise a car for being perfectly adequate, but there’s nothing about the GTX drive that elevates it above the lower-powered models in the range (or on this platform) in the way you'd expect of a traditional flagship. There’s no more bite to the steering, no more tension to the ride (even with the DCC dampers cranked to their most aggressive setting), no flighty agility enabled by clever torque vectoring. Even the brake regen is tame. And the ESC remains humourless.
Maybe we’re being unreasonable Luddites. Maybe there’ll be a GTX-R to follow that will duly exploit the potential of the platform while retaining the ease of use. For the moment, however, the ID.5 GTX proves exactly the point we covered off in the Polestar and Kia twin test - simply cranking up the power does not make for an authentic EV flagship. Then again, VW might argue that it doesn't charge flagship money for a top-of-the-range model; the ID.5 GTX Style starts at £56,460, with models like the 174hp Max (£57,635) and 204hp Tech (£55,495) at similar money for less power and more (it must be said, annoying) equipment. Which was unexpected. The GTX may not be a great revelation for electric driver’s cars, then, but we’re always going to prioritise performance over fripperies. If the ID.5 is the car for you, the GTX might actually be a goer - it’s just a shame that for the moment, £55k VWs feel very ordinary.
SPECIFICATION | 2022 VOLKSWAGEN ID.5 GTX
Engine: Dual electric motors, 77kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: Single-speed reduction gearing, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 299
Torque (lb ft): 348
Top speed: 112mph
Weight: 2,242kg (EU, with drive)
Efficiency: 314 miles range, 3.36 miles per kWh
Price: from £56,460
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