New Ford Mustang Mach-E vs new Volkswagen ID 4: interiors

One’s a large electric SUV with a £40k price tag and a long range... and so’s the other one. But which is the first among equals?...

Ford Mustang Mach-E 2021 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Which has the better driving position? Well, if we’re talking seat comfort and the positioning of the pedals and steering wheel, it’s the ID 4. Its driver’s seat is more supportive, especially through corners, and there’s a wheel to adjust the backrest angle; the lever arrangement in the Mach-E is more of a faff. Neither car comes with adjustable lumbar support, but we didn’t find any problems with lower back pain.

The ID 4’s steering wheel also extends out farther from its dashboard than the Mach-E’s, and the pod housing the digital instruments moves with it. That means the display is never obscured, which, depending on your driving position, it can be in the Mach-E. That’s not a major gripe, though, and the Mach-E’s wide centre armrest is definitely a more comfortable solution than the pair of thinner individual ones you get in the ID 4.

When it comes to usability, the Mach-E is better. It has physical buttons on the steering wheel that are much easier to operate than the daft touch-sensitive ones on the ID 4’s wheel. Why on earth did Volkswagen choose to use them when they are harder to operate and easy to trigger accidentally?

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 dashboard

And how is it progress to do away with normal knobs for the air conditioning? You know, proper controls that you can find by feel without taking your eyes off the road. You get touch-sensitive sliders instead and, to make matters worse, they’re not backlit, so they’re fiddly to use during the day and an act of faith at night.

The Mach-E’s temperature controls are embedded in its central touchscreen. You still have to take your eyes off the road to find them, but at least they’re bigger and you can actually see them in the dark.

It’s a bit easier to see out of the front of the Mach-E, because the ID 4’s high-set dashboard and front pillars obscure more of your view. Its rear pillars are also quite substantial, but the Mach-E’s are even bigger. Both cars come with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, though, as well as very effective LED headlights.

Quality is another area in which these electric SUVs trade blows. We’ve previously moaned about the materials used in the ID 3 hatchback, but the ID 4 is better in that respect, with more gloss black, shiny silver and soft-touch surfaces. It still has more hard plastics throughout than you’ll find in the Mach-E, but the latter isn’t as well screwed together in places – its door trims flex with a mild prod – and its shiny, faux leather seats feel less plush than the ID 4’s part-suede trim.

Infotainment systems

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E 2021 touchscreen

The huge touchscreen is in a position where you can reach it easily and, while we’d prefer a physical interface to operate it while driving, the icons are generally big enough to find without difficulty. The menus are simple and the software is responsive, although the Apple CarPlay did drop out on one journey. The standard stereo sounds clear but light on bass, as does the ID 4’s. Neither car (in these trims) is available with a premium upgrade.

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 touchscreen

The ID 4’s screen is in a good position, but it’s much smaller than the Mach-E’s. By far the biggest problem is its software, though. For a start, the menus are obscure, so it’s not always easy to find what you want. It’s also prone to crashing and, even if it is working, can be quite slow to boot up when you get in or to respond when you make selections. The icons are smaller than the Mach-E’s and there are no physical buttons, even to adjust the volume.

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