You’ve decided it’s time to transition to an EV but, and whisper this, deep down you’re a bit of a luddite. All you’ll want to know is how to plug it in, as for the rest, can it please just be a regular car like, you know, a Volkswagen Golf.
You’re in luck. The VW ID.3 which, despite looking ultra-modern, has actually been out for three years now, and is about the same footprint as a Golf (albeit a little taller), with essentially represents the same sort of positioning within the line-up.
The rounded-bubble styling is both very 21st Century and appealingly friendly with some neat little touches, such as the sloping front, sharp roof spoiler, and the geometric motif that appears not just on the C-Pillar decals, but also the front bumper and even within the headlights. The white-on-black VW logo roundel is also a neat touch on the ID.3 Max Pro Performance tested.
How much are we talking for one of these? Well, this car is £39,500, and with options that price shoots up further to around £43k. To be fair the starting price for an ID.3 is less jaw-dropping at £36,990. Having said that a Golf starts at under £26,000.
It comes with a 58kWh battery giving you a range of 258 miles as claimed. There’s 204bhp on tap along with 310Nm of torque and while performance isn’t typically electrifying as with most EVs, an acceleration time from rest to 62mph in 7.3 seconds isn’t too tardy along with a top speed of 99mph. This in a machine that weighs 1812kg.
Open the rear hatchback (not powered) and you get 385 litres of luggage capacity, with an adjustable floor, which you’ll normally leave flushed with the rear load lip and keep the charging cables underneath. There’s split folding seats and a ski-slot.
Get into the rear and as six-foot two-inches with the driver’s seat set for myself, I found excess knee room and the tall body afforded decent headroom too. The higher floor (platform contains batteries) may rob your feet of a little space, but the light-airy cabin thanks to a large glass area (including the extended glass roof) and bright multi-toned trim that employs canvas and leather-style materials to give the cabin a stylish as well as spacious feel.
There’s USB-C plugs in the back and front, as well as ISOFIX child seat anchor points. Slide into the driver’s seat, and detecting your buttocks instantly wakes up the ID.3 and it puts itself on standby. There’s no starter button, it’s ready to go as soon as you are.
At first acquaintance the expansive space, comfy seats and good space will be appreciated. Once you get past the lack of any way to start it, you might find yourself fearful of centre console that does have cup-holders, a cubby box and a wireless charger, but no gear selector. There are no light switches on the right of the steering wheel, as is usually the case with a VW Group product. Still at least you get to click the seatbelt in as usual.
But stick with it, it’s just a slight readjustment, talking of which, pull or lever the steering to your preference and you will find that the instrument display moves with it. It’s mounted on the steering column. And the minimalist screen isn’t on its own, the pod-like structure features a protrusion on the side that actually proffers the twist selector for the transmission.
Crank it into D and let’s go, trust me, you’ll be fine. Just adjust the side mirrors before you set off, as I found them confusing and inadvertently ended up folding them in on the move. You might also want to figure out how to operate the rear windows, even though they don’t have separate buttons.
The EV-typical instant throttle response is there, but the acceleration and performance aren’t overwhelming or shocking. The steering is well-weighted but responsive. You sit high, and it feels a little like driving an SUV, except that you can feel the centre of gravity is much lower down, hence there is less disconcerting lean during cornering.
It rides astonishingly well, keeping the passenger cell well damped and retaining high levels of comfort. There is some road noise, but if you flip on the stereo, you’ll be greeted by great sound and base. Though to get back to the sat nav, you need to hit the home button – which is just a blue outlined switch. It took me a while to realise that. But there are regular buttons under the screen to operate the climate control and main features.
If some of the above is starting to put you off again, because it still sounds a little alien compared to your Golf TDi, it’s all about a User Interface that you’ll get used to within minutes.
What some new EV drivers find more difficult to adjust to is the drive, but the ID.3 just drives like a quiet and quick regular Golf. Select B on the transmission and you get extra regen – well worth it around town to make use of the braking to keep your range as high as possible. Lifting off the throttle will slow the car a little more, but it’s not entirely one-pedal mode, you must still employ the brake pedal to slow and stop.
It’s easy to drive then, but can it be fun. Being a rear-wheel drive car (the drive motor is in the rear) gives it a little more sporting personality on a twisty road than you might have expected. Its attitude is a little more darty, and it can hunker down and get on with business if you pick up the pace as there’s good grip and road-holding.
The VW ID.3 is your everyday, straight-forward, get in and get all the driving-chores done, sort of handy little family car. The range will work well around town, it’ll be reasonable rapid and enjoyable enough out of the city, you’ll be comfortable and feel well catered-too and safe in a solid car with the iconic VW roundel. Plus, there’s little learning involved to transition to this EV.