By on June 11, 2020

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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7 Comments on “The Brits Drove a Production-ready Version of Volkswagen’s EV Wonder Car...”

  • avatar

    1720kg … wow. I guess VW make heavy cars to start with. Their late 90s early 2000s golf jumped in weight and everyone followed. Felt solid AF but even with torquey engines they were merely adequately motivated. This hatch is heavier than my Forester full of stuff. I think an opportunity is being missed to use the batteries as NVH damping mass – instead of the skateboard design, more of a bath tub.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That weight seems in line with its battery capacity. A top-end Model 3 with the largest battery (78 kWh IIRC) weighs 4100 lbs but it is a bigger car with dual motors.

      Autocar’s comments sound odd, like they’ve never driven an EV before.

  • avatar

    I would never buy a British EV based on their history, Lucas et al

    the Germans seem to have had the same affliction to a lesser degree

    I remember C&D or R&T recommended the Germans hire some Japanese teenagers to design their electrical systems, to make them reliable

    having done VW and Audi I promised myself to never make that mistake again, i.e., buying. If you must, lease them and then someone else pays for the costly mistake.

  • avatar

    What is the this obsession with 20-inch wheels on tiny, high-weight cars? They don’t help the ride characteristics or cornering and owning a set guarantees higher service fees from tire outlets down the road.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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