VW ID.3 review

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Volkswagen hopes its ID.3 electric car will be as significant as the Beetle! So no pressure then on the car we’re testing this week. We’ve been close to the ID story at Motorhub and are glad to see the promises outlined to us in Berlin at a pre launch VW event have been delivered on.

The ID. 3 is the first of a host of VW Group vehicles built on the German giant’s new all electric platform. VW has mocked up all shapes and sized of ID based machines and we’ve see many in the flesh at motor shows and events prior to 2020. The beauty of an EV platform is that you can design around it more freely than a monocoque, almost as if it had a classic ladder chassis with the body work bolted to it. Designers can place a variety of body types on the electric skate (EV ‘rolling chassis’ shorthand). Interestingly VW pondered for a while whether to launch a classic hatchback or SUV styled ID first. Eventually it opted for the hatch as it was more in keeping with its ‘people’s car’ heritage and would be cheaper to buy. The ID.4 SUV is the next model to go on sale and arrive in 2021 – you can read about it here http://motorhub.ie/vw-i-d-4-launches-to-the-world/

The ID.3 delivers a Golf sized car to the market with a very large interior that could be from the class size above. The ID platform is similar in engineering to many other EVs with a large rechargeable battery pack under the floor and between the front and rear axles. The ID can accommodate two electric motors (to allow AWD aka 4X4 versions) but with ID.3 we have a rear wheel drive car for now with a single motor turning the back wheels. Outside the ID.3 has a degree of street presence but is not a polarising car that shouts ‘I’m an EV!’. The ID.3 is a relatively conservative looking car that will attract a broad range of buyers and not necessarily those who want to be identified as early adopters or EV nuts – in the nicest possible sense. The larger ID.4 cuts more of a dash but the ID. 3 is quite identifiable with Golf inspired looks and a prominent pushed-forward windscreen and large wheels. The first cars to be offered are the well equipped ‘1st Edition’ models (three grades). As with any car launch manufacturers can always sell the expensive versions first as there is pent up demand. Cheaper versions will arrive to the market next year.

We have a limited edition ‘1st Edition’ model on test. Inside the vast cabin you’ll find a bit of a tech fest. As you get in you’ll spot the clever ‘play’ and ‘pause’ symbols on the accelerator and brake pedals. The dash is broad with elegant surfacing. A couple of touch screens, that smart phone users can easily navigate, make the dash a bit busier than a relatively spartan Tesla Model 3 EV. A large rotary driver’s binnacle mounted gear selector will be alien to VW drivers as will many of the haptic (touch) sensitive buttons and switch gear e.g. there are just two window switches on the driver’s door that operate front and rear windows (you have touch a button to select ‘rear’). When setting our test car up I spent a bit of time adjusting the ‘bings’ and ‘feedback’ settings.

Driving the ID.3 1st Edition is fun and effortless. The cabin is hushed and the ambiance is very pleasant. The rear wheel drive set up has suitably tuned traction control and electronic stability settings that keep the rear from stepping out – when a regular rear wheel drive car might. The ID.3 is brisk and acceleration is particularly enjoyable because of the RWD dynamic. Wet and greasy road conditions are handled well. If you press on with too much gusto in a bend or roundabout the front end of the car will start to wash out/run wide followed by the rear losing traction in what feels like a four wheel drive drift. A further provoking poke on the accelerator when exiting will only provoke the slightest step out at the rear. The car’s systems will quickly put the car back on its intended line. A host of driver convenience and safety features ADAS will help keep you safe behind in the 1st Edition e.g. ‘Oncoming vehicle braking when turning and swerve support’.

The ID.3 1st Edition pushes out 204hp from its electric motor and has a battery capacity of 58kWh (other battery sizes will be available next year). There is an 11kW maximum on board AC charging capacity and a 100kW DC maximum capacity. Driving range from a full charge is up to 424km (WLTP figure). The EV equivalent of fuel consumption is circa 16kWh/100km. An 8 year/160,00km warranty exists on the battery pack.

A CCS combo charge socket is standard so ID.3 users can access the public network of so called slow and fast chargers. Setting up an account to access public chargers is straight forward bu they can also be used ad hoc. An overnight charge at a home charger will fill the tanks and the electric driving range offered by ID.3 is relatively excellent. VW is a founding partner in the Ionity high power charger network that is being rolled out across Europe and at present has 6 locations in Ireland. An Ionity charger (uses renewable energy) can get an ID.3 from 5% to 80% in just 35 minutes. VW has also launched its own charging system called We Charge (RFID charge card) that gives discounts to ID.3 owners. Buyers of the ID.3 1st Edition receive free access at public charging points for one year or a maximum of 2,000 kWh, whichever comes first. There is an App too (a work in progress) that promises advanced functionality. VW also offers a branded home charger supply and installation from €555 net of charger grant. ID.3 pricing starts from €33,715 (net of grants/incentives & inc. delivery).

Tesla Model 3 is similar in size to ID.3 but positioned in the premium EV sector and the likes of Hyundai Kona Electric or KIA e-Niro are that bit smaller so the ID.3 has the middle ‘EV’ ground to itself for now. The Volkswagen ID.3 1st Edition is fun to drive and more importantly signals the arrival of serious competition in the family size electric vehicle class.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for 20 years, more recently a judge for Van of the Year. Michael is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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