The Volkswagen ID.3, is the first standalone electric car VW has produced. It has five doors, room for five inside and is capable of travelling up to 340 miles on a charge. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then your test-drive list should also feature the Nissan Leaf, Kia e-Niro and even Tesla Model 3.
Volkswagen reckons its ID.3 is a bit like the iPhone in 2007; it could be the car that convinces the masses that electric transportation is the future, just as Apple showed people that you didn’t have to play Snake on your Nokia for the rest of time.
It looks the part too, the ID.3. It has a sort of face, with LED headlights that move like eyes and LED daytime running lights and front bumper that result in a bit of a grin. There are defined creases and side skirts that leave a sporty look viewing side on, while at the back, there’s a gloss black spoiler and dark glass tailgate.
Inside, you can choose between three colour schemes, including the orange and white you see in these pictures. Hmmm. Anyway, more important is the fact that the quality on show isn’t particularly great. The latest VW Golf, for instance, is plusher, yet you’ll pay less for it. Still, the ID.3’s dash has a clean, futuristic design that doesn’t offend.
That interior is dominated by two large screens. The first is similar to the Active Info Display that’s currently available on the Volkswagen Golf. It’s able to switch between different trip info with the press of a button on the steering wheel.
The other display is a 10-inch touchscreen on the centre of the dashboard. It’s bright, high-res and responds nicely to touch, while the system’s menus are easy to follow. However, the voice control is a bit hit-and-miss, while VW’s instance on erratic touch-sensitive sliders for the volume, climate controls and multifunction wheel buttons often leave you wondering why they bothered. Early cars don’t yet have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, either.
Interior space is a different story – the ID.3 is seriously impressive. With no large engine or gearbox to accommodate, electric cars have much more interior space than a similar-sized petrol or diesel car. Hence, four tall adults will be extremely comfy, even if three along the rear bench will be a squeeze. Consider, though, that the range-topping car will be a strict four-seater thanks to its larger battery.
All ID.3s come with a generous boot, though. It’s slightly larger than a Golf’s and will take five aeroplane carry-on cases, but also has great access and the option of an adjustable boot floor to minimise the boot lip you have to lift heavy bags over.
The ID.3 will eventually be available with three battery sizes – 48kWh, a 58kWh and 77kWh. The larger the battery, the longer the range and the longer it takes to charge. Fitted with the smaller battery, the ID.3 has a range of around 200 miles – according to VW.
Electric cars fitted with mid-sized batteries have an official range of around 260 miles, although we tried it for ourselves and managed 220 – check out the video review, where we drove the ID.3 until the batteries are completely empty. The 77kWh cars go furthest, with a claimed range of 340 miles. In reality, that may be nearer to 285 miles if our test results are replicated across the ID.3 range.
50kW charging is standard, but mid-range cars get 100kW, while the range-topper gets 125kW. You can charge the 58kWh model to 80% in 31mins, if you can find a 100kW charger, that is. Charging at home is an overnight job, however you do it.
In town, the ID.3’s light steering and great forward visibility make tight turns and parking a breeze. The view out the back is a fair bit worse, although rear sensors come as standard. It feels firm over bumps, but never truly uncomfortable.
The reason for that firmness is because the ID.3 weighs the thick end of 1.8 tonnes, so it needs to be controlled through tight corners – which it is. In fact, it grips hard and feels urgent in and out of town in terms of performance, but it doesn’t quite have the darty feel of a Honda e. Our car’s faulty adaptive cruise control also let it down on the motorway, but in truth, it wasn’t one of the best systems when it was working. Otherwise, the ID.3 was comfy and quiet at 70mph.