First Drive

Volkswagen ID 3 1st Edition 2020 UK review

“Can I be geeky?” asks a man charging his Nissan Leaf, no sooner than I’ve plugged the VW ID 3 into an Instavolt charger in Banbury. Why of course you can, sir, although one question: as an electric vehicle convert, driving the world’s most populous EV, does the arrival of the new ID 3 still feel like a significant moment? “Absolutely.”

Interesting. You can already buy an electric vehicle that does everything an ID 3 does. You’ve even been able to buy an electric Volkswagen before now. But, somehow, the ID 3, in the UK here in ‘1st Edition’ trim, still feels like a waypoint on the road.

It sits, as you’ll doubtless know, on Volkswagen’s MEB electric architecture, so although, at 4.3m, it’s about the length of a Golf, it has a longer wheelbase and, it’s claimed, much more interior space.

The battery (this one is the mid-range 58kWh unit with a WLTP range of 260 miles and a 100kW charge capacity) sits beneath the floor, with the motor (at 201bhp, the higher powered of two offerings) at the back axle. The ID 3 is rear motored and rear-wheel drive, like the original Beetle but, alas, because there’s an inverter and lord knows what else in the front, it doesn’t have a frunk.

Instead, the boot has a high load lip and the rear seats split and fold, revealing that this 1.6m-tall car is a practical hatchback, with plentiful head room front and rear. Cabin fitment is good but material choice is pretty scratchy in places, including the door tops. Not such a biggie further down the range, one suspects, but the UK price for a 1st Edition with the middling battery is £35,215 (after the government grant).

Someone will be along shortly to argue that overall ownership costs are no more than a lower-priced internally combusted car, which is true if you get your electricity cheaply enough, but if you always have to refill on the road, probably isn’t.

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