The Volkswagen ID.3 is a seminal car – not just for Volkswagen, but for electric vehicles in general. As bold a statement as that is, we can't really downplay its importance as it is a high stakes vehicle which one of the world's largest manufacturers has gambled a chunk of its future on.
Essentially, the ID.3 is paving the way for VW's next generation of passenger EVs. It is the first car to go on sale using the MEB platform which will form the literal backbone of a coming range of electric vehicles, and it's the first purpose-built electric VW that isn't based on an existing model. So important is the ID.3 that it is the first car to wear Volkswagen's updated logo.
So, the people's car has gone electric, but how does it stack up on paper?
Volkswagen has designed the ID.3 from the ground up as a brand new model. Of course, it is recognisably a VW, just a more futuristic version – and the VW designers have been very deliberate in this way by creating a new DNA which aims to make the ID.3 immediately identifiable as a zero emissions vehicle.
“With the ID.3, Volkswagen is heading towards the future,” explains Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand, going on to emphasise: “The natural style and absolutely intuitive driver experience demonstrate a new, electric way of thinking.”
Size wise, the ID.3 is smaller than a Golf, but one of the benefits of the MEB platform is the flexibility it offers for packaging. With the battery cells located in the floor, and with no need for a bulky ICE and associated plumbing, fuel tank etc. there is more usable space for people and their stuff. We will get our mitts on the interior dimensions in due course, but VW states that ID.3 sets new standards for interior space in the compact segment.
Silke Bagschik, Head of Sales and Marketing for the ID. family, noted: “The ID.3 is an all-rounder that is suitable for everyday use. It is compact, as such offering the manoeuvrability of a small car with the interior space of a mid-range vehicle.”
Volkswagen is promising high levels of connectivity as you'd expect from a next-generation EV and straight off the bat owners will be able to quickly connect the car with their smartphone through App Connect. Much of the information pertaining to connectivity and infotainment will be displayed via a newly developed, centrally positioned ten-inch touchscreen. For the driver, there is a new digital cockpit, however VW has promised that all controls will fall intuitively to hand.
Other new interior elements include the ID. light, which supports drivers with an LED strip during navigation and can prompt them to brake in the event of any dangers. All controls – including those on the multifunction steering wheel – are operated using touch-sensitive buttons. Only the electric windows and hazard warning lights are still operated using tactile switches. Voice control is also present in the ID.3.
We get a good idea of the range of tech that will be available on the series produced ID.3 models thanks to the specs released for the limited edition ID.3 1st which will be the car some 30,000 of those who have pre-booked will get their hands on.
The basic car gets a navigation system, a DAB+ digital radio, seat heating and steering wheel heating, armrests at the front as well as 18 inch alloys. The 'Plus' version gets a rear view camera system, Adaptive Cruise Control and the Kessy Advanced keyless access locking and starting system, a centre console with two USB-C connections and ambient lighting, plus 19 inch alloys. Finally, the 'Max' version gets an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, Beats sound system, a large panorama sliding/tilting glass roof as well as 20 inch light-alloy wheels. Additionally, it comes with a lane keeping system with Emergency Assist, a lane change system, telephony featuring contactless high-voltage battery charging and comfort seats.
Real-world, everyday use without compromise has been Volkswagen's goal with the ID.3's powertrain. The brand has also been mindful that consumers want options at prices they can afford, and as such VW is launching the ID.3 with three different battery sizes, the smallest of which will cost less than €30,000 (around £27,000 at the time of writing). All versions of the car get a 201bhp motor driving the rear wheels.
For that sub €30,000 price tag, buyers will get a 45kWh battery pack which is good for a WLTP range of 205 miles. The next step up is 58kWh which offers up to 260 miles and at the top end is a 77kWh battery which offers up to 342 miles. All batteries are guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles – as seems to be the industry standard these days.
Charging the Volkswagen ID.3 can be undertaken at inputs of up to 100kW which can add 180 miles of range across any of the variants in less than 30 minutes. The brand is also acutely aware that it needs to have in place provision for furnishing new owners with the infrastructure at home to charge their cars and as such, has launched a range of cost-effective wall boxes for ID. customers.
Starting at €399 (around £270) for the wall box itself, Volkswagen will sell you an ID. Charger which has a fixed Type 2 cable and charges at 11kW – good for a six hour charge for a 58kWh ID.3. One up from this is the ID. Charger Connect (€599/£536) which will link with a home WiFi/LAN network and smartphone for smarter charging. At the top end of the range is the ID. Charger Pro (€849/£760) which, thanks to LTE connectivity, provides more precise monitoring of your power requirements.
Installation isn't free, but VW will connect you with professional installers if required.
The Volkswagen ID.3 will go on general sale 'soon' – and obviously we will let you know when it does. Deliveries of the launch edition cars will start in spring next year, and general sales will follow afterwards.
Given what VW has told us about the ID.3, there is a lot to be excited about. The brand set itself a big task with the car and has even bigger ambitions for it, but on paper at least, the ID.3 stacks up. And you can safely assume that, given VW's reputation, the car will translate to the real world very well indeed.