The Brits Drove a Production-ready Version of Volkswagen's EV Wonder Car

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the brits drove a production ready version of volkswagens ev wonder car

Those of you living in North America can kiss any chance of buying a Volkswagen ID.3 goodbye, as the automaker’s first-of-many, MEB-platform electric will not make it across the pond. Larger, more U.S.-friendly models will follow.

For Brits, however, orders open next month, with deliveries beginning in September. To say the ID.3 compact electric hatchback is an important product for VW would be an understatement. VW’s staked much of its future on an electric shift heralded by this vehicle, the first of its MEB-underpinned models. An ongoing software issue already plagues this little car.

Autocar recently got its hands on a production-ready ID.3. What did they discover?

With 201 horsepower at launch (a weaker model follows) and rear-wheel drive, the ID.3 boasts battery capacities of 48kWh, 58kWh, and 77kWh. After hitting the pavement at VW’s extensive Wolfsburg test track, the publication assembled a list of pros and cons.

Snippets from Autocar‘s first drive review:

The high floor means you’re somewhat perched and the thinly upholstered seats are more upright than those in a conventional combustion-engined hatchback. Boot capacity is also compromised by the packaging of the electric motor at the rear, which gives it a high loading lip, although its 385-litre capacity is 35 litres more than that offered by the latest Golf.

Although the build quality is up to the high standard we expect from VW, the materials are not. There are some agreeable slush-moulded plastic elements atop the dashboard but there is also a lot of hard plastic throughout the cabin. It is a clear cost-cutting move used to help offset the high costs of the battery.

It was heavily damped and possessed firm rebound qualities but it felt nicely settled, with good absorption on the roads around VW’s headquarters in Germany, although it was occasionally caught out by more severe transverse ruts and broken bitumen, which tended to penetrate its otherwise abiding sense of calmness.

Those are some of the drawbacks, with the latter gripe being the product of the 20-inch wheels and low-profile rubber bestowed on the well-equipped tester. As we’ve told you already, certain tech functions (the App Connect function needed to run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, some head-up display functions) fell victim to a software issue that’s yet to be resolved. The car’s going on sale just the same, with updates issued at a later date.

It seems there was more to like that hate with the ID.3. Autocar described its cabin as “commodious and pleasantly airy throughout,” and praised its “urgent” takeoffs.

“The sharp tip in response makes the ID 3 feel a lot lighter than its claimed 1720kg (3,792 lb) kerb weight suggests, providing it with quite vigorous off-the-line and roll-on acceleration,” the review states. Brake pedal feel is reportedly consistent and confidence-inspiring when the drive model selector is set to “Battery” (regenerative braking) mode. The car’ll coast forever in Drive mode, too, it seems.

Wind and tire noise are “well suppressed,” and a lack of engine up front affords the car an “outstanding” turning circle (33.5 ft, one foot less than a 2019 Ford Fiesta) and “wieldy character.” With maneuverability in spades, a low center of gravity, and motor mounted atop the rear axle, the ID.3 is said to handle in a composed, predictable manner, with body roll kept under control by firm dampers (adaptive, on this particular test car).

As this is just a first drive, accomplished over a few hours (at most), the car’s more minor flaws, should they exist, wouldn’t have had much of an opportunity to emerge. A longer-term test would bring any gremlins to the surface. On the surface, however, it seems the ID.3 is a tight, competent hatchback that isn’t a chore to drive.

Food for thought as VW embarks on its big electric push.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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3 of 7 comments
  • DedBull DedBull on Jun 12, 2020

    Rear engine, rear drive, 5 door body. Makes it funny they picked ID3, this almost fits as a spiritual successor to the Type 3 squareback. That being said, with the E-Golf dead, how many years until VW brings another electric to the states? Why not offer these in the meanwhile? Other than this being a 5 door vs a sedan, it looks like it would compete with the model 3 size customers.

    • Tagbert Tagbert on Jun 14, 2020

      "how many years until VW brings another electric to the states? " They are bringing the larger, CUV-style ID.4 to North America next year

  • Ect Ect on Jun 12, 2020

    Thornmark, I had 2 A4s in succession, over a period of 17 years (95-03, 03-12). I certainly didn't have any significant electrical issues.

  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
  • Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.