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First Drive

First Drive: Volkswagen ID.3

The story: This is a big one for Volkswagen – its first car designed from scratch as electric. The ID.3 will lead to a full range of ID-badged EVs, with 2021’s ID.4 SUV next up.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Nissan Leaf
Efficiency:Range: 260 Miles
On sale:Now

The ID.3 has been long-coming, having first been shown in concept form four years ago, and is a big step on the road to electrification for VW, because it’s the first of a whole family of ID-branded EVs.

The ID.3 is incredibly close to the Golf in dimensions, being just 23mm shorter and 3mm narrower, although it is 77mm taller, and its 385-litre boot is just four litres up on the Golf’s.

First Drive- January 2021- Volkswagen ID3- Image 2The ID.3 has launched only in this pricey top 1st Edition trim level, which costs a juicy £38,880 before the Government’s £3000 plug-in car grant is deducted, but the range will then quickly develop into seven models. The range-topper will be called Pro S and will be powered by a 77kWh battery that will offer a 336-mile range, compared with the 263-mile official figure for the 58kWh Pro Performance models.

The Pro Performance will start from £32,990 (before the plug-in car grant) for the Life trim, rising to £42,290 for the Pro S ID.3 Tour.

The ID.3 is distinctive, with its rounded front end and large glass area, leading round to a flat rear.

First Drive- January 2021- Volkswagen ID3- Image 4That glass area makes for an airy cabin that feel spacious up-front, helped by a minimalist dashboard dominated by the 10-inch colour touchscreen that, including the screen surround, houses almost all the controls. The lighting is on a little switchpad behind the steering wheel, and the gear selection is controlled via a handle on the right-hand end of the dash.

A 5.3-inch dashboard screen gives all the main driver information, although it feels like it could do with being a bit more advanced in terms of information display. The touchscreen system itself also feels like it’s not quite the complete package, trying to do a little too much, especially with the climate controls now within screens, while the touchpads on the steering wheel and to control the door mirrors are too easy to brush.

But taking buttons and controls out of the centre of the car has increased the feeling of space and allowed VW to design in more stowage areas.

Rear space is also pretty good and, as mentioned, the boot is fractionally larger than that in the Golf.

The ID.3 is set up as a relaxed and comfortable car, although the ride is a tiny bit lumpy over rougher roads, and the steering feels slightly sterile.

Responses from the 150kW/ 204hp electric motor are typically instantaneous, and you can feel the difference in performance compared with some rivals with less powerful motors. But switch to Sport mode and the throttle response is sharpened to the point of being horribly oversensitive to foot twitches.

The ID.3 looks expensive in early 1st Edition form, but doesn’t feel like a highly specced range-topper on the inside, so it will be interesting to try the more affordable versions early next year. It’s a great all-round electric vehicle, but doesn’t take any great strides to move the sector on significantly against what’s out there already or coming soon.

paul barker

The verdict

Nice package and a welcome addition to the mainstream EV offering to broaden fleet’s choices, but not a step change in the technology.