As one of the car manufacturers involved in ‘diesel gate,’ it’s no surprise that Volkswagen have come out fighting with the launch of their first full-electric car the ID.3. The ID was preceded by Volkswagen’s e-Golf, which was to all intents & purposes an ordinary Golf featuring an electric powertrain fitted to the same chassis as a petrol or diesel Golf. The ID.3 is a Golf sized car, with an interior the size of a Passat & is the first Volkswagen built from the ground up as an electric car. You can trace the ID’s origins back to 1972 when Volkswagen built an electric van, with the first Elektro Golf manufactured in 1976, so Volkswagen have had plenty of time to consider their electric car approach.
Volkswagen had planned pre-pandemic, to sell all of the UK’s 2021 ID.3 allocation into the retail market, but Covid 19 has meant that they have stock available & are targeting the corporate sector with some attractive contract hire offers. This means that the ID.3 will be targeting not only existing petrol, diesel & hybrid competition, including VW’s own Golf, Ford’s Focus & Vauxhall’s Astra, but electric competition in the form of the Nissan Leaf, KIA e-Niro & Hyundai Kona Electric are also fair game.
Battery & trim
Three battery sizes will be offered on the ID.3. An entry level 45kWh battery, a mid-range 58kWh battery, fitted to our test car the First Edition & the larger 77kWh version which is offered on the top-of-the-range Tour models. Volkswagen claims a range of 260 miles for the 58kWh battery.
Volkswagen has named the 58kWh battery & 201bhp motor set-up, Pro Performance & offers it with a choice of seven individual trim levels; Life, Style, Business, Family, 1st Edition, Tech & Max. The 77kWh version is called Pro S & is only available with yet another trim, the top-of-the-range Tour specification. Each trim level comes pre-fitted with a range of equipment packs with the option of choosing an additional ‘Plus’ pack which adds various upgrades to your ID.3.
If you look at the ID3 from side on, it’s most definitely a Volkswagen from the centre back, with very similar lines & shaping to the Golf 8. However, from the centre forward, the ID.3 morphs into a less conventional Volkswagen taking it’s cue from the Nissan Leaf in being more space-age than traditional in its looks. In effect, it’s more in keeping with an MPV than a family hatch, as you get an elongated windscreen, with more glass & a higher bonnet.
At the back, it’s also higher than a Golf, with the rear light clusters resembling a pointing finger. The bumper is much larger than on the latest Golf & colour wise, all cars feature a contrasting black roof & boot lid.
Whilst some of the outside of the ID.3 looks like other Volkswagens, the interior is all-new. Factor in a centrally mounted 10″ infotainment touchscreen, a 5.3″ dash panel display, flat bottomed steering wheel & a gear lever on the right end of the centre console that you twist to select from Drive, Reverse or Neutral. The colour-way on our First Edition model was a little bland, grey on grey & the finish & hard plastics & especially the seat fabric, does not feel as good as those you’d find on the Golf 8. What is a success though, is the spacious interior, which offers more room inside than our own Volkswagen T-Roc.
All cars come with keyless start, LED headlights, front & rear parking sensors, climate control & heated front seats. Standard safety kit includes automatic emergency braking with cyclist & pedestrian monitoring, a driver fatigue alert system, a dynamic traffic sign display, Lane Assist & adaptive cruise control.
First Edition cars add a heated, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel with rake adjustment, 2-Zone ‘Air Care Climatronic’ climate control, keyless entry & starting system – Keyless Advanced with SAFELOCK; remote tailgate unlocking, & a proactive passenger protection system which detects an emergency manoeuvre being made & prepares the occupant seat belts in advance of any collision. A combination of equipment packs adds kit, such as a panoramic sunroof, a rear-view camera & an upgraded audio system.
Considering the the ID.3 is only marginally larger than the Golf, the interior space is excellent. There’s loads of room up front, a flat rear floor & space on the rear seat, large enough or three adults. ID.3 comes with a 385-litre boot capacity, just 4 litres up on the Mk8 Golf. If you fold the rear seats down, the useful space increases to 1,267-litres. However, there are two charging cables supplied with a bag for each, which do take up some of the boot space.
Cabin storage is above average, with four deep door pockets, lots of useful space between the front seats under a sliding cover, 2x front & 2x rear USB-C connectors, a convenient mobile phone holder & a rear fold down armrest with two cup holders inside.
Charging & range
Using a standard 7.2kW home wall box, the ID.3 can be charged from 0-100% in 9 hours 30 minutes. A 50kW public charger will take about an hour from 10-80%, whilst the 1st Edition cars are able to cut this time to just 30 minutes as they come equipped with 100kW charging capability as standard.
Models fitted with the mid-spec 58kWh version can cover up to 260 miles on a single charge, whilst Volkswagen claims the top-of-the-rangeTour fitted with the 77kWh variant, will go 336 miles before needing to plug-in.
Real world driving
We like to drive all electric vehicles on the motorway, on faster A & B roads up to 60mph & of course in town. A 70 mile motorway journey at 70mph saw us use up 90 miles of range, which is impressive. Slow down to under 60mph & you get a 1:1 ratio of miles travelled to range used & on urban roads, travelling between 20 & 40 mph, where you can get the most out of the brake regeneration, you’ll actually get better than this.
Whilst range anxiety accompanies any electric vehicle purchase, we feel confident that the ID.3 fitted with the 58kWh battery will, if you do use the motorway regularly, offer you a comfortable 200 mile range. Driving locally this is more likely to be 230 miles.
The ID.3 may be heavy, weighing in at at 1,794kg, but the 201bhp electric motor which offers 150kW or 204PS & 310Nm of torque, means that swift progress is not an issue. It will hit 62mph from standstill in 7.3 seconds, before moving onto a limited top speed of 99mph.
The single-speed automatic transmission & rear wheel drive set-up make for serene progress. A real bonus is that compared to some electric cars, it rides really well & also quietly over poorly maintained roads. The battery weight does mean that it’s built more for driving in town & on the motorway, rather then navigating winding, undulating roads. All in all, it offers a very composed ride.
To enhance battery range, you can select from two regenerative brake modes. In Drive mode you simply twist & push the gear lever to select the B function, which gives you access to this. Unlike some EV’s, the strength of the regen on ID.3 is not that high, so you’ll do need to use the footbrake more. This caveat though, also makes the ID.3 surprisingly enjoyable to drive.
Day to day
As manufactures de-clutter their cars dashboards, customers are faced with more complicated infotainment systems & in the ID.3, this is touch-sensitive & controlled by a 10″ touchscreen. Afar as things go, it’s actually quite intuitive & doesn’t take to long it get used to.The screen is easy to reach with your left hand, the menus are straightforward, the graphics super-sharp & the set-up is responsive. Having to go into the touchscreen to access the heating controls, like on so many new cars, is our only bug-bear.
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, SatNav & wireless smartphone charging are all standard so you get a lot for your money.
Something that’s easy to get used to is the keyless-entry-and-go system. As long as you have the key, the ID.3 will unlock itself & when you push the brake pedal the engine will start. Select Drive from the twisty gear lever & away you go. When you come to stop, you just press Park, get out & the car will switch itself off & lock behind you.
We estimate, that only charging from your home wall box, we use a Rolec home charger, would cost customers £500 to travel 12,000 miles. This can be achieved by utilising a combination of home electricity tariffs of around 13p per kWh & plugging in at night, when there are cheaper 5p a kWh tariffs offered by the likes of Octopus Energy’s Go.
Does £500 seem expensive ? It isn’t. Covering 12,000 miles in a petrol hatch back will cost you between £1500 & £2000. Lease an ID.3 for 3 years rather than a Golf & that’s £3500 in fuel costs saved. And of course there’s zero emissions so you’ll pay 0% BIK, whereas a petrol Golf 1.5 TSI Life 130PS, will cost you 28%, or £1326 as a 20% tax payer, or £2651 as a 40% tax payer. Over 3 years that’s another £4000 in your pocket.
Volkswagen offers a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with separate cover for the ID.3’s battery, which is for up to eight years or 100,000 miles. The ID.3 benefits from three years roadside assistance, whereas other Volkswagen cars are limited to 12 months, so another tick here.
For company car drivers, the pros of running an ID.3 far outweigh the cons. Charging regularly at home & at night on a cheaper tariff will save on your fuel bill & the tax savings are massive. Compared to other electric cars, a 200 mile driving range is infinitely doable, which is not the case in the Nissan Leaf or Peugeot e-2008. It’s closest competitors both in size & in actual electric range, are the KIA e Niro & Hyundai Kona electric, but both are older & not as modern as the Volkswagen, with replacements on their way. It’s also very roomy inside, offers a comfortable ride & the on board tech & safety is spot on.
The ID.3’s ‘Gerry Anderson’ looks may put some off & the fiddly infotainment system takes a little getting used to. The main let down for us though was the quality of the cabin. The plastic used on the fixtures & fittings, were disappointing & not up to the level you’ll find inside a Golf 8. And we really didn’t like the seat fabric on our First Edition. It’s also an expensive car, with a First Edition costing from £39,190 including vat. Leasing one monthly makes the most sense.
For a first effort, Volkswagen have got just about everything right on the ID.3. A driving range of 200 miles plus, a spacious well designed cabin with room for five, on trend tech & safety & for an electric car, decent handling & ride, put it at the the top end of family EV’s currently on the market.
The Life spec is the cheapest way in to the range at £32,300, although the smaller battery variants will undercut this price when they arrive next year. And, whilst the government has reduced the OLEV Grant, with it now only offered on cars that cost under £35,000, the BIK benefits are for now anyway, immense & in our opinion, won’t last forever, so now may be the time to commit to an ID.
A Space 1999 4.25/5