VW ID.3 1st Edition Pro Power 58kWh review.
For – understated elegance, great driving experience, excellent design.
Against – expensive for a town car.
£39,500 before government grant
Competition – Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Mini E, Honda E, BMW i3, Kia-eNiro, Hyundai Kona, Mini e, Fiat 500e, Vauxhall Corsa E, Peugeot e208, Hyundai Ioniq, Citroen eC4, SEAT Mii electric, Skoda Citigo e, Smart e, Skoda Enyaq, MG ZS EV
Volkswagen’s ID.3 generated great expectations as VW’s first car built to be electric from the start and it’s terrific in the city but stumbles in the fast lane.
Given the ID.3’s build-up in the media, I’d expected some ground-braking technology as well, but perhaps that was unrealistic. There’s no doubt though that given the range limitations, the car is a very impressive all-round effort in terms of city and urban use, looks, and quality.
It’s not that big, about the size of an internal combustion engine (ICE) powered Golf, but is priced like a much bigger vehicle. That’s nothing new in the world of electric cars, but this can’t be sustained much longer as the supply of ICE cars dwindles and electric cars have to be afforded by those on average incomes.
The ID.3 has simple, appealing and non-controversial looks. Inside, quality is on the acceptable side. Plain and utilitarian is the watchword, with plenty of cubbies and storage. Space has been created by putting the gear selector mechanism on the right-hand side of the dashboard, where you click forward for Drive, once again for regenerative braking, and press on the outside of this to engage Parking; after you’ve stopped of course.
My test car had a white steering wheel with white design cues across the cockpit. Very smart. The most notable item is the huge 10” screen, a la Tesla, whence all command and control ensues. Needless to say, as someone with some miles on the clock, it took me three days to stumble on the radio and another day to find it again.
Regenerative braking effective
Handling and ride were terrific, it felt very solid and safe on the road. There was plenty of leg and head room in the back. The boot failed the golf bag test. Around town and on local urban routes, battery availability stood up well, and over a typical up and down sector which looked designed to flatter decent regenerative braking, the ID.3 came up with 102.7%. Over the same route, (Sussex’s famous “Ode to a Road” A272 since you ask), the Jaguar I-Pace gave me 114%. But measuring the battery capability on the ID.3 was made more difficult by the availability measure behaving strangely. I parked it once and shut everything off when it said 180 miles available. When I turned it on again it had lost 5 miles. Another time, I drove away with 201 miles available, and after about 250 yards this suddenly became 191 miles.
But it’s on the highway that disappointment mounts. On my fast lane cruising test route I averaged 63.5% of the range that was supposedly available at steady, legally acceptable speeds and emulating reps and company car drivers. When I recharged at home, I managed to pack in an average 198 miles after three fill-ups, compared with the claimed 260 miles.
The ID.3 is the first vehicle from the Volkswagen Group built on the new modular electric drive engineering components. By 2029 VW aims to sell 20 million vehicles built on this new “MEB” platform. MEB allows different sized batteries to be specified depending on customers’ choice. Currently ID.3 customers can choose between the 58 kWh or 77 kWh battery with a claimed range of up to 263 or 336 miles. Later, a cheaper 45 kWh battery will be available with a claimed range of 205 miles.
“The ID.3 is designed to be simple to use, with almost all functions operable by touch controls or via the “Hello ID.” intelligent voice control. With voice control it is possible to use natural language to control infotainment and climate functions,” said VW.
Voice control? Yea sure
I’ve never yet come across a voice-control system that works, but I wasn’t able to test the ID.3’s claims here.
The ID.3 is rear-wheel drive and the motor and gearbox are located on the rear axle. After the limited-run ID.3 1ST Edition, fitted with the 58-kWh battery, seven versions are planned. Six of these trims (Life, Business, Style, Family, Tech and Max) use the 58-kWh battery. Tour has a 77-kWh battery with the same power output. The ID.3 Life is priced under £30,000, including the government subsidy. Prices will fall with the introduction of the smaller battery and less powerful motors next year, VW said.
The launch of the ID.3 was delayed because of software problems, but bravely, VW decided to begin sales before all the problems were sorted, relying on customers being willing to return cars to dealers for final uploading. The ID.3 owners twitter page is full of moans about minor aggravating glitches, but VW probably guessed that the first buyers would be dedicated first adopters who would actually relish trying to get around software problems. In the event, the problems seem to have been ironed out with little fuss.
What to buy?
Choices are building up fast and this is becoming more difficult. The price range of the ID.3 will eventually encompass choices from the cheap end like the Renault Zoe to the lower reaches of the Tesla Model 3 range. If I was looking to save money, the Zoe would be hard to beat. At the top end nobody could pull me away from a Tesla Model 3. But all these choices avoid one glaring omission that the media and the industry seem loathe to admit; they are useless at high-speed cruising. If you plan a holiday in the European sun or need to visit relatives in Glasgow (I speak as a south coast resident) avoid all of these and go for a plug-in hybrid.
|VW ID.3 Ist Edition Pro Power 58kWh|
|Power:||201 hp electric motor|
|Torque:||310 Nm at 16,000 rpm|
|Gearbox:||direct drive single speed|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph 7.1 seconds|
|Top Speed:||99 mph|
|C02:||zero at tailpipe|
|Claimed range:||260 miles (WLTP)|
|Claimed average consumption:||3.96 miles/kWh|
|WintonsWorld Test:||range - capacity – 198 miles (average of 3 fill-ups)|
|Highway cruising*:||useable 101.6 miles/63.3%|
|Charging:||100 kW 30 minutes to 80%
7.2 kW 9-1/2 hours to 100%
|Warranty:||8 years/100,000 miles|
|Boot capacity:||385 litres|
|Competition:||Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Mini E, Honda E, BMW i3, Kia-eNiro, Hyundai Kona, Mini e, Fiat 500e, Vauxhall Corsa E, Peugeot e208, Hyundai Ioniq, Citroen eC4, SEAT Mii electric, Skoda Citigo e, Smart e, Skoda Enyaq, MG ZS EV|
|Price:||£39,500 before government grant|
|For:||understated elegance, great driving experience, excellent design|
|Against:||expensive for a town car|
(*highway cruising at real world indicated 80 mph)