5 months ago, we made a video in which we declared that the new VW ID.3 could well go on to become the most important car of this decade. In this video, we finally put one to the test – and find out whether or not we were totally full of s**t.
Volkswagen have lofty goals for the ID.3, so named because it’s meant to represent the third generation of VW, with the Beetle and Golf being the previous two. No pressure, then. They intend it to sell tons, meaning it needs to be totally inoffensive, but still good. So is it?
Appearance-wise, it’s a bit stubby, although that’s thanks to the new electric-dedicated MEB platform. It allows for a short overhang with no need for an engine, and wheels out to the edges, meaning more cabin space inside, as well as great visibility with a super-wide windscreen. But the ID.3 still has the obligatory fancy electric touch, in this case with eyeball-like LED headlights which rotate to greet you when you unlock.
What the MEB also allows for is a variety of models. The top-tier one clocks in at 201bhp, with a 336-mile range, and costs under £40,000 – Tesla Model 3 money, in other words. The entry-level alternative has 148bhp, a 263-mile range (very respectable), and is less than £30,000. (And the one we’re testing is the first edition, which comes somewhere in between – but that’s irrelevant since they’re already sold out.)
Inside, there’s tons of space, with a large boot, and nice airy Honda E vibes. Storage-wise, it’s excellent. You’ve got USB ports for the front and back seats, a great phone holder with wireless charging, and the driving control display moves with the wheel, which is a nice touch. Then there’s the ‘ID Light’ – an LED bar which pulses across the bottom of the windscreen, with various colours and patterns that have different indications (e.g. red when you’re about to rear end someone).
What’s most surprising about the cabin is that there are almost no physical buttons. Everything’s adjusted via touch screen or voice control (although the voice control, like almost all such aspirational tech, works better in theory than practise). This would work if the touch screen sliders were intuitive, but they’re not. The same goes for the infotainment system; once you’re used to these features, they work, but they’re not that beginner-friendly.
On to the driving – it’s both easy and fun, with the platform advantages from the MEB providing nice low weight, and suspension that’s firm but not too firm. There’s tons of steering lock, and rear-wheel drive which feels right. It’s quick, but not Tesla quick, achieving 0-60 in about 7 seconds.
Overall: although Jack wasn’t sure about the ID.3 at first, it grew on him fast. VW seem to have oddly dropped the ball on a few things they should be good at – the simple cabins that made the Golf so successful come to mind – but they’ve done really well at the difficult bits. Get past the odd controls, and it’s a really well-rounded car with everything that matters most: a competitive price, lots of space, well-built, a great range, and easy to drive.
As a plus, the MEB platform is set to underpin tons of future EVs from VW, which hopefully means the problem areas will be easy fixes. If you’re mulling over getting one, it might be worth waiting until the next release, when they’re likely to have ironed out the details – for example a few more buttons.
We think the ID.3 has the potential to do hugely well, and it’s already outselling Tesla’s Model 3 in such electric-forward countries as Norway and the Netherlands. We’re sticking by our resolution that this could well be the defining EV of the decade. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments on Youtube with your thoughts.