Is Herbert Diess a bit like Michael Knight (of Knight Rider fame)? Perhaps not, but the Volkswagen Group boss now has his own vehicle to which miraculous abilities are attributed: the new VW ID.3. This electric car is as important to the German automaker as the Golf and the Beetle.

The ID.3 is supposed to roll out to the same markets in which its ancestors were sold, but it's unlikely to sell some 21 million units (as the Golf and Beetle have). However, up to 330,000 electric cars can be produced annually at the Zwickau plant, and the ID.3 soon will be joined by the larger ID.4.

The objective is ambitious: Volkswagen wants to become the world leader in e-mobility. The Group plans to launch up to 75 pure electric models by 2029. But first, the moment of truth has arrived for the ID.3: will it rise to the top of the EV segment?

It looks a bit bland

Let's first take a look at the VW ID.3. Formally, it skillfully mixes tradition and modernity. Critics may find the design boring, but the ID.3 is also intended to appeal to the masses – customers for whom it is their first electric car ever. Klaus Zyciora, the head of design at VW, tells us that the ID.3 "should fit as many people as possible", even though it was "designed with a sharp eye for purpose."

Visually, it is clear that the ID.3 is a completely new design based on the company's MEB platform. However, hardly anyone turned their head to see it while we were driving through town, meaning its design isn't exactly eye-catching.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

MEB stands for the "Modular E-Drive Kit," which will be used by many of the VW Group's upcoming electric cars. It enables very good use of space inside the car. In other words: The ID.3 is as long as a Golf, but offers space inside comparable to a Passat.

In every seating position, the feeling of space is impressive, but especially in the rear for your legs where there is no center tunnel in the way.

Volkswagen ID.3 1ST (2020)

In the front, large window areas dominate your field of view and the cockpit is minimalist in design. Overall, the interior design reminds us a little of a van. The material quality, though, is worthy of criticism: although the plastics are solid, higher-quality surfaces would be nice. Another surprising fact is there are switches for the rear window only on the rear doors and not on the driver's door.

In front, behind the steering wheel, there is a small 5.3-inch instrument display with three tiles that swivels up or down with the steering wheel. The optional head-up display also provides essential information. Otherwise, there is a 10-inch touchscreen for infotainment. It is very similar to the system in the Golf 8, including its weaknesses. There are almost no physical button and the operation requires some getting used to, though it's not quite as button-free as a Tesla.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

The infotainment computer is a little buggy. You may have heard about the software problems of ID.3. At the car's market launch in September, the App Connect function and the remote heads-up display will not yet be activated.

ID.3 early adopters can choose between two different options: Either the delivery of their "ID.3 1st" at the beginning of September, combined with a membership in the exclusive ID.3 1st Mover Club. This includes various customer benefits and a software update for the two outstanding digital functions at the beginning of next year.

Early bookers with a little more patience can choose a delivery date in the 4th quarter of 2020. With this later variant, the vehicle will already have all the functions operational when the keys are handed over.

How does it drive?

One is tempted to say the VW ID.3 drives like it looks: modern, but unspectacular. Balance is the trump card. And its particularly quiet while running: VW brand boss Ralf Brandstätter tells us that driving noise has been deliberately reduced. Sure, the ID.3 makes sounds at low speeds for safety reasons, but they didn't want it to make any more noise than required.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test
VW CEO Brandstätter himself is currently often spotted on the road with an ID.3 on 19-inch wheels. This is not a bad choice, because my test car with 20-inch wheels rumbled audibly and was somewhat jerky over patched country roads. That's a pity, because the ID.3 glides along quietly, but still offers enough power to overtake very quickly when needed. 
Let's have a look at the technical data in the overview:

Volkswagen ID.3 Mid-Range regular versions:

  • based on ID.3 Pro Performance
  • available from €35,574.95 (basic version in Germany)
  • 420 km (261 miles) of WLTP range
  • 58 kWh battery (net)
  • 0-60 km/h (37 mph) in 3.4 seconds
  • rear-wheel drive
  • electric motor: 150 kW and 310 Nm
  • fast charging at up to 100 kW DC
  • Comes standard with: a navigation system for range-optimized navigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and the “Comfort” telephony function with inductive charging on board

Volkswagen ID.3 Long-Range regular versions:

  • based on ID.3 ProS
  • it's a four-seat version (because weight of the bigger battery)
  • available from €40,936.31 (basic version in Germany)
  • 550 km (342 miles) of WLTP range
  • 77 kWh battery (net)
  • rear-wheel drive
  • electric motor: 150 kW and 310 Nm
  • fast charging at up to 125 kW DC
  • Comes standard with: a navigation system for range-optimized navigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and the “Comfort” telephony function with inductive charging on board

Most customers are likely to opt for the 58 kWh variant, with the basic version of ID.3 coming in 2021. That basic version is supposed to offer 107 kW (146 PS) power and a 45 kWh battery, which is sufficient for a maximum of 330 kilometers. Its price will be just under 30,000 euros without premiums.

Volkswagen ID.3 1ST (2020)

What else is there to report from the driving experience?

You quickly get used to the gear knob on the right of the driver's screen. Regenerative braking is balanced in both D and B speed levels, but the degree of regeneration is not adjustable. The steering feel is typical of an electric car, meaning rather synthetic and uncoupled. But VW has tried to create a well-balanced set-up for average drivers.

The VW ID.3 even visually resembles K.I.T.T., the car in "Knight Rider": as soon as the system suspects you're driving into the rear of the car in front of you, a bright red LED light bar (the "ID.Light") below the windshield lights up. It looks a lot like K.I.T.T.'s red light bar. By the way, you can also talk to your ID.3.

There is no shortage of assistance systems: in the fully loaded version, a front radar, front camera, two rear radars, and eight ultrasonic sensors monitor the environment of the car.

How big is the battery? And how long do I have to charge it?

Volkswagen promises a warranty on the battery of eight years or 160,000 kilometers. The smaller battery integrates nine modules in a housing with ten compartments; the large battery consists of twelve modules that fill a framework with twelve compartments. It weighs 495 kilograms.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

And the charging time? If you can find a 100-kW charging station, you can pump 290 kilometers of range into the 58-kWh battery in 30 minutes. Otherwise, a bit of patience is required, as the other values show:

  • Charging time AC - 7.2 kW, 100% SoC 09:30 h
  • Charging time AC - 11 kW, 100 % SoC 06:15 h
  • Charging time DC - 100 kW, 80 % SoC 00:35 h
  • Charging time DC - 100 kW for 100 km range 00:08 h

Volkswagen is launching its own charging service to coincide with the market launch of the ID. family. With We Charge, customers will be able to charge their e-cars at more than 150,000 public charging points throughout Europe. Access to these charging points is very simple via the We Charge charging card.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

Customers can choose from three individual charging rates, which include exclusive conditions for the IONITY fast-charge network. We Charge can be booked and used from mid-August on, and the charging rates are tailored to different user groups. 

"We Charge Go" offers lower prices for the individual charging processes and is the right choice for those who regularly charge at public charging points. "We Charge Plus" is the level for all frequent drivers: For example, at IONITY in Germany they pay only 30 cents per kilowatt-hour and can thus use the Europe-wide fast-charging network at a very reasonable price.

How much does it consume in practice? And what does it cost?

First of all, let's talk about consumption: VW officially states consumption of 14.5-kilowatt hours for the ID.3 with a 58-kWh battery with 204 hp. I achieved an average of 15.8 kWh on my test lap with mostly country roads and some motorway.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

The ID.3 is entering the markets with two model variants that differ in terms of battery. The ID.3 Pro Performance offers 58 kWh net energy content and up to 426 km range (WLTP). The ID.3 Pro S has 77 kWh net energy content in the battery and a range of up to 549 km (WLTP). 

When the ID.3 goes on sale, the Pro Performance and Pro S models will be available in seven fixed configurations with the most sought-after features. This solution makes the offer for customers even clearer, and the plant in Zwickau can build the cars particularly quickly and deliver them early.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

Finally, a quick look at the possible competition

Purely in terms of format, the Nissan Leaf is the only direct rival of the ID.3. With a 62-kWh battery, it costs at least 37,236.97 Euros. The somewhat smaller Hyundai Kona Electric starts at 40,794.96 Euros with 204 HP and a 64-kWh battery. Significantly stronger are the Tesla Model 3 (starting at around 43,000 Euros) and the new Polestar 2, whose basic model will start at a good 40,000 Euros. All prices mentioned are of course before options and apply only in Germany.

Volkswagen ID.3 (2020) im Test

Conclusion: 9/10

One bet: The VW ID.3 will be a hit on the market. Not because it is the best electric car in the world. It's because it's a VW. The brand consistently focuses on new designs with their own platform and an ecosystem that tries to cover all customer wishes.

It earns ID.3 extra points for its spaciousness and balanced driving experience. The material appearance inside, parts of the suspension, which is taut depending on the wheels, are worthy of criticism. Nevertheless, VW seems to have hit the mark with the ID.3. But why did it take so long?

VW ID.3 1st Pro Performance 58 kWh (2020)

Motor Permanenterregte Synchronmaschine (PSM)
Battery Lithium-Ionen-Akku mit 58 kWh Kapazität
Drive Type Hinterradantrieb
Transmission 1-Gang-Automatik
Output 150 kW (204 PS)
Maximum torque 310 Nm
Speed 0-100 KPH 7,3 Sek.
Maximum speed 160 km/h
Length 4.261 mm
Width 1.809 mm
Height 1.552 mm
Cargo Volume 385 Liter
Weight 1.794 kg
EV Range bis zu 426 km (WLTP)
Charge Type AC 7,2 kW / AC 11 kW / DC 100 kW
Charge Time 09:30 h (100 %) / 06:15 h (100 %) / 00:35 h (80 %)
Base Price 35.574,95 Euro (16 % MwSt.)
On Sale September 2020 (erste Auslieferungen)
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