Volkswagen ID.3 1st Edition review

There are few models launched that have as much riding on them as Volkswagen’s ID.3. The pure-electric hatchback has been billed by the Wolfsburg-firm itself as the beginning of its third main chapter. The other two? They would be the Beetle and Golf. No pressure then for the ID.3. Launching the brand’s ID. Electric sub-brand, and built on a dedicated EV platform that will underpin a large number of VW Group models, it’s safe to say that the ID.3 is a key model. We test the 1st Edition model to see how Volkswagen’s next-generation electric models kick off.

Review by Chris Lilly

PERFORMANCE

There are more versions of the ID.3 on their way, with different battery capacities and power outputs due. To start with however, VW’s ID.3 comes in the understandably names 1st Edition specification. This sees the ID.3 fitted with a 150 kW electric motor driving the rear wheels, which is capable of pushing the VW from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, as well as reaching a top speed of 99mph. It feels as fast as the sprint time suggests too - quick, but not sporty. The instant response from the electric motors is something that has now become expected for EV drivers, and it’s good that the ID.3 doesn’t disappoint. The performance is ample in just about any situation. Whether you are driving in tight urban streets, running along flowing urban roads, or sitting at a cruise o the motorway, the VW has enough to it to feel up to the job anywhere. It’s what you would demand from a hatchback the size of a Golf, and the ID.3 does a good job of meeting expectations. With the quick responses and decent turn of pace from this version, more powerful models promise plenty of fun.

HANDLING

With the ID.3 built on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, the hatchback sees all the batteries placed in the car’s floor, creating a low centre of gravity. This means the ID.3 is really quite agile, despite its practical, family-friendly focus. There will no doubt be plenty of comparisons between the ID.3 and the famous Golf, and the latter is a master of providing a premium-feeling driving experience, with refinement and the ability to tackle corners with aplomb. The ID.3 does a similar job, with better handling cars in its class, but nothing electric. The class is currently made up of just there models available as new - the ID.3, Hyundai’s Ioniq, and the Nissan Leaf - so competition in the mid-sized hatchback sector is not exactly fierce, but it will grow and the ID.3 is well placed to deal with future competitors. It’s nimble around car parks, with a fairly tight turning circle available. It’s composed on faster roads however, and the ID.3 is no one-trick pony. It doesn’t excel in any particular environment in terms of ride and handling, but performs very well across the board.

BODY STYLE

The design is typically VW for what is a new and important model - stylish but muted. There are no bold design details or busy surfaces to catch the eye, but this is good news for most buyers. The ID.3 is nicely designed, and will age well I’m sure. That’s not to say the VW is boring to look at. Features such as the light bar across the front of the car, and the gloss black boot lid mean the ID.3 isn’t a dull design at all. One of the main benefits of the new platform and shape can be found inside. Volkswagen says the ID.3 has a footprint similar to that of a Golf, but interior space close to that of the larger Passat. Without getting the measuring tape out and testing those claims, the ID.3 certainly feels large, airy, and spacious inside, The light trim helps in this regard, but there is a lot of head and leg space for a car in this class. Boot space is comparable with other hatchbacks - such as the Golf - and generally more useful than its EV rivals from Nissan and Hyundai.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

VW ID.3 review interior

Those drivers that are a fan of the minimalist school of interior design, the ID.3 will be right up your street, I’m not convinced that doing away will most of the buttons that controls a vehicle’s features is the best thing in terms of attention and safety, but I understand the aesthetic appeal. The ID.3 has a near identical infotainment system to that of the latest Golf, which sees a nicely sized screen sit on the leading edge of the dashboard. It’s relatively easy to use and with good quality graphics; there are better systems around, but not many. That said, VW has really focused on voice controls, with the aim to get around this lack of switchgear, with intuitive voice commands available. The steering wheel is very nice, a good size and design, with enough controls on it but not too many. The driver’s instruments have ‘taken their inspiration’ from BMW’s i3 - copied is such an ugly word - with a rotary drive selector mounted to the side of the instrument screen. This can display a variety of bits of information, but there could certainly have been more done with it. The drive selector mounted where it is easy the rest of the centre console looks clean, clear, and more importantly, practical. There are plenty of cubby holes around the cabin. Comfort all round is good, with support seats front and rear. These aren’t going to hold people in place when cornering like a racing driver, but are well suited to the car.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

The big question for many is ‘what’ll it do?’, and the good news here is that the VW ID.3’s driving range is good. The official figure is 260 miles on a single charge, and that held up very well to real-world testing. Driven through a variety of environments - covering inner-city, A- and B-roads, dual carriageways, and motorways - I found the ID.3 to return 249 miles on a charge, and that’s in chilly conditions. Driven more aggressively or at speed, that drops to around 215-220 miles on a charge, but I would expect little difficulty in regularly achieving or bettering the official figure, particularly if driving primarily in urban conditions.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

Volkswagen has fitted this 1st Edition model with a 58 kWh (net) battery, though a larger 77 kWh (net) pack will be available at a later date, and a smaller 45 kWh one due after that. This initial offering’s 58 kWh is still good for a long range, and VW has kept recharging times low. The ID.3 1st Edition is able to be charged at up to 11 kW on AC points and 100 kW on DC ultra-rapid units. The latter will add around 180 miles of range in half an hour, and VW uses the CCS standard, with the inlet found on the off-side rear flank. Familiar EV features such as brake energy recuperation sees a B mode for increased regeneration strength and D for greater coasting. There’s also an Eco mode, but since it seems to make little difference to outright range and restricts responsiveness, unless you are an incorrigible drag racer, I’d largely ignore it and let your right foot control the eco setting. VW offers buyers a year’s free charging on its We Charge platform, or up to 2,000 kWh or £500 - whichever comes first.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Since this is the 1st Edition model, there’s only the one trim to pick from. Again, additional options will become available, but for now, buyers get a good level of equipment as standard. Included are 19-inch alloys, 5.3-inch digital driver’s display, parking sensors front and rear, climate control, heated steering wheel, rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, IQ.Light LED headlights, heated front seats, ID.Light, natural voice control, USB-C ports front and rear, and a 10-inch infotainment system with 3D navigation, DAB, BlueTooth, USB, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.

MODEL SUMMARY

The Volkswagen ID.3 is an excellent car. I wish that it would stand out a little more, be a bit less ‘Golf’ but to be honest, being like the Golf is essentially code for the ID.3 being a class leader. It performs extremely well in every area, and it is this superb all-rounder ability that makes it such as genuine prospect for most buyers. EV features such as a good driving range and quick charging combine with a model that meets everything you would expect from a mid-sized VW hatchback.

VW ID.3 review rear

Model tested: VW ID.3 1st Edition
Body-style: Family hatchback
Engine / CO2: 150 kW electric motor / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Only one

On-road price: From £35,215.
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.5 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:4th Feb 2021

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