The most important car VW has launched since the Golf in 1974? It would be tempting to make the claim for the ID.3 – but wrong.
Today, VW produces dozens of different models and has multiple brands under its umbrella – so it no longer relies on the success of just a few as it did back in the 1970s.
Nevertheless, the all-electric ID.3 is certainly a nice, quiet game changer for the company in what is becoming an increasingly well populated arena.
In the last couple of weeks I have had two electric cars outside the house, an electric van and even an electric motorcycle. One of the cars was this ID.3 1st Edition which costs £35,215 including the PICG.
VW has just announced prices for the other ID.3 models. These start at £29,990 for the Life, then £33,720 for the Business, then through small price increments to Family, Style, Tech and Max (at £38,220) trim levels.
All these, including our test ID.3 1st Edition, have a 58kWh battery driving a 204PS motor. Volkswagen refers to this powertrain as Pro Performance.
Range for these cars runs from 258-263 miles on the WLTP test.
If you want to go further you have the option of moving up to the Pro S powertrain with a 77kWh battery and a WLTP range of 336 miles. There’s only one trim level and that’s the £39,290 Tour.
The best news of all is that next year models with smaller batteries and less powerful motors will be introduced at even lower prices.
Regarding the ID.3 itself, the car is Golf-size but looks longer, probably due to the wheelbase needed to fit all those batteries between the axles. The motor drives the rear axle (harking back to the original Beetle) but there’s too much hardware under the bonnet for it to be an extra luggage space. The design is clean but not groundbreaking.
More of a treat awaits inside.
Our test car interior features a white steering wheel and dashboard. Looks nice but after a few months of grubby hands it might be a different story.
One thing that struck me was the poor quality plastics for the door cappings. Hard plastic is fine for parts that can’t easily be seen or are never touched, but in such an obvious and regularly palmed place as on top of the doors, it jars. No doubt cost saving.
But that’s the only criticism of the interior. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and as you push and pull it back and forth the instrument pod comes with it.
To the right of the pod is the gear lever. You twist clockwise for ‘D’ (drive) and a further twist to ‘B’ for regenerative braking, and anti-clockwise for reverse.
The rest of the dash is simple with the same infotainment screen and system used on the Golf which means most of the functions require going into the screen.
The ID.3 is a very pleasant drive and very quiet too. The motor is almost silent of course but there’s also a lovely lack of wind noise and tyre roar. The car is spacious, with a terrific view out.
The rear-wheel drive configuration means the turning circle is a tight 9.9 metres, and if you use the ID.3’s ability to sprint to 62mph in 7.3sec you won’t feel any torque-steer wriggle through the steering wheel.
Select ‘B’ on the gear lever and you can feel, as you lift off the accelerator, the regenerative braking effect. It’s gentle, unlike EVs such as the Nissan Leaf which has such a potent regen you can drive in town hardly needing to touch the brakes.
The ID.3 comes with a Type 2 charger for slow charging and a CCS charger for fast, at up to 100kW. The socket is on the rear flank of the car, so most cables on a fast charger will reach when you’ve reversed into a bay.
The ID.3 isn’t quite the game changer the Beetle was, or even the Golf, but it’s a very appealing newcomer to the EV world. We’ll see plenty on the road, especially when the cheaper models arrive.
Volkswagen ID.3 1st Edition four-door hatchback
Engine: Single electric motor, 204bhp
Range: 258-263 miles
Nissan Leaf e+ N-TEC
Similar range but can’t be charged as quickly due to air-cooled batteries.
Well equipped, less stylish than the ID.3, but good range.
One of the groundbreakers. Cool inside and out but range is sub-200 miles.