What is it?
The Volkswagen ID 3 might be the most important new car, built by the world's biggest car-maker, in decades. It certainly has had an epoch-making billing.
VW’s first age, its management claims, was defined by the car that the company was named after. Its second has been symbolised by the car that had been, until last year, the firm’s biggest-selling model since the 1970s: the Golf. Now, they say, it’s time for chapter three. Step forward, then, the Freudian wonderkind.
They’ve said such things before, of course. Ferdinand Piech famously wanted to move the brand upmarket throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but his engineering passion somehow ended up benefitting the VW Group’s sister brands more. Remember the fuss made about the family of Up concept cars that appeared in the late noughties? And, more recently, the move back towards upmarket territory again with the Atlas, Phideon, Arteon and current Touareg? All were supposed to be the beginning of a new VW. Somehow, none were.
This time, though, the new dawn might just rise, particularly if necessity proves to be the mother of re-invention. The all-electric VW ID sub-brand is now close enough to touch. Having set out an electric-car investment plan unparalleled in the global automotive industry, VW will unveil the first of ten all-new, ground-up EV passenger cars due by 2025 at the Frankfurt motor show this September. It’ll be a roughly Golf-sized five-door hatchback called ID3.
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Volkswagen ID 3 2020 prototype review - hero front
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Volkswagen ID 3 2020 review
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And, having now driven one, I can tell you that it’ll be interesting for all sorts of reasons: for its all-round compactness, its rear-engined-ness, its clever packaging, its urban maneuverability, its zappy yet quiet performance, its cutting-edge instrumentation technology, and for its uncharacteristically (slightly) bold styling. There is, of course, also the small matter of being able to charge it up at home, run it entirely emissions-free, and do your bit for the ‘road-to-zero’ carbon-cutting agenda.
What's it like?
It was with a tangible sense of momentousness, then, that we seized an invitation to go to Wolfsburg itself to drive a “camouflaged” (well, not very) prototype of the car that represents VW’s own vision of its future.
Our ID3 had an interior disguised so attentively that we needed an auxiliary speedometer to avoid a speeding fine. Its driving experience only represented a standard of production readiness “of between 70- and 80-per-cent,” according to our engineer-cum-chapperone. But it did have the middle-sized, 58kWh version of three available battery packs, and the more powerful of two available electric drive motors, making it, in principal, a decent guide of what to expect from the driving experience of perhaps the most important production car that VW has built in decades.
As is now applicable almost universally to new EVs, the ID3’s heavy lithium-ion drive batteries sit under the cabin floor. That’s the principal reason why VW can claim a perfect 50/50 weight distribution for a rear-engined car – although bigger ‘MEB’-based ID models will be able to offer four-wheel drive by simply adding another smaller drive motor and gearbox onto the front axle.
But while that battery layout is widely championed as the way to resist compromise to both interior packaging and handling dynamics in an EV, that’s not absolutely true in the ID3’s case. Even though this is a fairly tall hatchback, it’s one with a pretty average amount of headroom. For a 4.2-metre car, however, it has remarkable legroom, thanks to a wheelbase that’s nearly 2.8-metres long: 130mm longer than that of a mkVII Golf.
The two-tone, grey-on-crème cloth front seats were one of the few uncovered parts of the ID3’s interior that we could look at. They seat you in an entirely conventional driving position, at a steering wheel of a good size; but you look out through a steeply raked windscreen, and over a particularly short bonnet that drops away quickly out of sight, and so makes it slightly hard to judge the forward extremity of the car.
Answering why VW went for such a ‘fast’ windscreen on such a compact car, our chaperone told me they simply needed a lot of space on the top of the dashboard to accommodate the car’s giant-sized head-up display, which will be used to project augmented reality navigation arrows, hazard alerts and pedestrian detection right onto the underside of the windscreen in top-of-the-range versions. At the time, I couldn’t think of another example of in-car display technology influencing the exterior design of a production car in quite the same way; and I still can’t. At that cost, I’d want it to be the very best augmented reality head-up display in the world. Since it’ll be the only one such system, we can at least take that for granted.
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The ID3 is quiet, brisk, responsive and particularly easy to drive around town, which is exactly how the vast majority of EVs that we report on are. The 201bhp and 229lb ft outputs produced by the electric drive motor feel like plenty to get the car up and away from low speeds quickly. But, because that torque is so accessible and motor response is so good, you seldom use more than half-throttle in the car. Oddly, the ID3’s urban performance superiority actually ends up just allowing you to relax and take it easy the vast majority of the time – and that suits the general vibe of the car very well.
The car has medium-paced, fairly light steering, although because it has such a lot of steering angle there’s approaching three-and-a-half turns between locks. It’s an agile car and town speed, with strongish grip levels and good lateral body control, and is well capable of a keen change of direction when you need one. It doesn’t quite match the darting, gap-grabbing fleet-footedness of a BMW i3, but is still well at home in city traffic. Moreover, it also has that sense of measured, natural responsiveness in everything it does that so often marks out a VW, and that makes for such easy, top-level drivability.
Fluent but effective vertical body control and a supple ride are also dynamic qualities you also expect from a VW, but they’re not always to be found in smaller electric cars with lots of mass to keep in check. They were hard to assess on our short, low-speed, trunk-road test route, but there was enough evidence to suggest that there’s still work to be done to make the ID3 – which comes on wheels up to 20in in diameter – hit the company’s familiar high standards on ride sophistication. Our test car had a slightly busy, though not overly noisy, secondary ride, though the fine-tuning of its dampers could well have been an outstanding item on the engineer’s to-do list.
Should I buy one?
Well, fine ride tuning aside, there can be little development left to do to make the ID3 ready to impress both EV converts and nervous internal combustion exiles alike; and, perhaps unlike a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf, that’s precisely what a Volkswagen EV will need to be able to do.
The most encouraging sign we gleaned? That this isn’t just a credible new EV, but an interesting small car with plenty else besides zero emission to recommend it, and feels like an authentic VW to boot.
Perhaps the ID3 might just be everything the management are building it up to be. On very early inspection, it certainly seems good enough – assuming the world is ready.https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/vo ... 020-review
Autocar ha provato in anteprima la Id3 e i giudizi sono molto lusinghieri.
And, having now driven one, I can tell you that it’ll be interesting for all sorts of reasons: for its all-round compactness, its rear-engined-ness, its clever packaging, its urban maneuverability, its zappy yet quiet performance, its cutting-edge instrumentation technology, and for its uncharacteristically (slightly) bold styling.
The 201bhp and 229lb ft outputs produced by the electric drive motor feel like plenty to get the car up and away from low speeds quickly. But, because that torque is so accessible and motor response is so good, you seldom use more than half-throttle in the car. Oddly, the ID3’s urban performance superiority actually ends up just allowing you to relax and take it easy the vast majority of the time – and that suits the general vibe of the car very well.
Sembrerebbe un inizio promettente.