The ID.3 is the Volkswagen group’s first purpose-built electric vehicle developed from the ground-up for zero emission motoring. The five-door hatchback looks modern and stylish, is packed with technology and offers high mileage between charges too.
The goodStyling, performance, driving range and pricing
The badQuite a lot of hard plastic inside the cabin
VW ID.3 1st Edition – First Drive (2020)
Volkswagen appears to have hit the jackpot with its first ever purpose-built electric vehicle. It’s called the ID.3 and it looks stunning, drives beautifully, is competitively priced and offers an impressive range between charges.
The ID.3 is a very practical five-door family hatchback and the VW Group has made it clear that it wants to be the world leader in electric mobility by investing 33 billion euro by 2024. If the all-new ID.3 is a hint at what’s to come, there are exciting times ahead.
It is the first vehicle to be built on the company’s MEB platform which allows different sized batteries to be specified with ID.3 customers able to select between the Pro 58kWh or Pro S 77kWh batteries with a WLTP combined range of up to 263 or 336 miles respectively. There will also be a smaller Pure 45kWh battery introduced later on with a range of 205 miles.
The driving mileage between charges should dispel any range anxiety fears and VW has set itself a target of developing 20 million vehicles on the MEB platform by 2029.
The ID.3 costs between £32,990 and £42,290 (before the Government’s £3,000 plug-in grant has been deducted) and buyers can choose from a range of generously-equipped trim levels called Life, Business, Style, Family, Tech and Max. There is also a limited-run 1st Edition model and it was that variant that we tested priced at £35,835 with the grant factored in.
There’s no denying the fact that the rear-wheel drive ID.3 is a head-turner gaining attention wherever it goes thanks to its distinctive styling. Eye-catching features include smooth streamlining with a short bonnet, LED matrix headlights, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors. There are tinted rear windows, 1st Edition badging, illuminated light bands between the headlights and logo, plus 19-inch alloys to complete the upmarket appearance.
Move inside and the ID.3 is thoroughly modern in its design with a wealth of technology to explore. It has a minimalist layout with just a few buttons and switches. The gear selector, for example, is a rocker switch positioned behind the steering wheel, there is a neat lights panel rather than a stalk and all the main infotainment functions are accessed via a 10-inch colour touchscreen with sharp graphics.
Creature comforts include an easy-to-program navigation system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a seven-speaker sound system, heated front seats, a DAB digital radio and a heated steering wheel. There is a really clever voice control set-up whereby you summon the car’s virtual assistant with the magic words “Hello ID” and make your request. It can be used to increase the volume on the audio, change radio stations, turn on the seat heaters and a range of other functions. This means you can adjust many features without taking your hands off the steering wheel.
Our 1st Edition ID.3 was fitted with the lower-powered 58kWh 204PS battery and could reach 62mph from a standing start in 7.3 seconds and topped out at 99mph. And it’s worth remembering that the zero g/km carbon emissions figure brings plenty of tax savings to the mix.
When it comes to performance, the ID.3 certainly lives up to all the hype. The acceleration out of the blocks is impressive and the vehicle is perfectly balanced on the open road where it cruises effortlessly at national speed limits. Bends can be attacked with confidence and the car’s low centre of gravity means it feels perfectly composed through corners with nice levels of grip.
The handling is responsive with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles. And special mention to the excellent suspension set-up that somehow manages to smooth out the roughest of road surfaces. On motorways, the ID.3 is nicely settled and the car is well insulated against wind or road surface noise.
But, like most EVs, it’s in busy stop/start city centres that this car really excels. The all-round driver visibility is superb and the ideally weighted steering makes light work of weaving through the congestion. The driver can choose between a D mode for normal driving or a B mode which helps to slow the car when you take your foot off the accelerator and regenerates energy in the process.
Passenger comfort levels are good inside the bright, spacious cabin with room for two adults in the back, or three at a bit of a squeeze. The boot can swallow 385 litres of kit – a limit that increases to 1,267 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The variable boot floor is a handy, practical feature too.
There are numerous storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a deep cubby box with sliding cover, door pockets, a glovebox, front and rear cup holders, a mobile phone holder, seatback pockets and a small net at the front of the centre console.
And as one would expect from VW, the ID.3 is packed with safety kit and driver aids which helped it gain a maximum five-star rating when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
Systems include electronic stability control with traction control, blind spot information, dynamic road sign display, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control including front assist, city emergency braking, Isofix fixtures and a full suite of airbags.
The ID.3 1st Edition is capable of rapid charging with a 100kW DC charger adding about 180 miles of range in 30 minutes. It is also fine for home charging on a 7.2kWh wallbox which can be timed for when the electricity tariff is at its lowest. The battery is covered by an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
All in all, the VW ID.3 is a fabulous new arrival on the electric vehicle scene. It is sensibly priced, packed to bursting with modern technology, beautifully designed, great to drive and offers impressive range too. If EVs are the future, all of a sudden it doesn’t look quite so bleak anymore.