BY BRIAN BYRNE
This was always going to be an interesting drive. Volkswagen’s ID.3 has been much awaited, and as the brand’s first dedicated electric car, a seriously important one for them.
The ID.3’s production and launch were carefully choreographed. A constant stream of information in advance of its reveal made it clear the company was intent on the car becoming a game-changer and a bench-marker.
When it came to actually opening the door to potential customers, they streamed out a social media-based programme. Would-be buyers could register interest and were then invited to lodge a €1,000 refundable deposit which would keep them in the loop for early order and delivery.
In Ireland, more than 400 keen punters put up the money. A year ago they saw the car in the metal at a static presentation and got a two-month window to confirm their order.
The first deliveries here were in September. In that month, the ID.3 was the best -elling car in the country, a feat repeated in October.
For an electric car, that is game-changing. It shows that the very solid appreciation for Volkswagen products generally can pull in buyers for electric cars in numbers.
As a benchmark, the ID.3 is targeted at becoming the Golf of the electric car world. It’s a stylish car, recognisable quickly, though to my eyes it is better in brighter rather than dark colours. The designers know this, and different sets of graphics are used to highlight style cues in the various shades. But they also have established a shape that won’t date for a long time.
Actually shorter than the Golf, it is wider and taller, which makes it look bigger. Feels bigger too, probably because the extra height brings it closer to compact crossovers than hatchback.
From inside, a very cab-forward windscreen adds to a sense of great space. The front cabin is dominated by now VW-familiar large centre screen.
There’s a core instruments binnacle attached to the steering column that moves up and down with adjustment, maintaining visibility to all heights of drivers. Attached to the side of this is the drive selector, paradoxically not visible behind the wheel rim. The main information in big graphics is a nicely simple format for speed, drive, and traffic assistance.
The interior finish is good, the trim detail sharp but simple, and you get everything you’d get in any other car from a VW brand. The ID.3 feels, and is, very roomy, excellent head and shoulder space front and back, and a boot that’s probably a tad more than a Golf’s.
Getting it onto the road brings one immediate impression … relative silence. The ID.3 has an almost eerie quiet about it right up to highway speeds. Good things have been done to keep both road and wind noise at bay.
The driving experience is excellent, and may well become that benchmark in the electric genre which VW clearly wants. It’s not going to be a sporty drive, but for most owners will be a satisfying one.
The fast charging ability at a public facility proved excellent, with 60km pumped back into the range in a 20-minute coffee stop. Driving on normal country and urban roads rather than motorway indicated that regenerative capability could bring the range substantially beyond the 350kms or so the review car was rated for.
The ID.3 impressed, but that didn’t surprise. There are lots of reasons Volkswagen is one of the powerhouses in the global automotive world. This car and its subsidiary brand derivatives will become more of them.
What I like: What I liked: It’s electric mainstream.
Price: From €32,650 after grants.