2022 Volkswagen Id 3 Vw Press 14

Volkswagen ID.3

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2022 Volkswagen Id 3 Australian Drive 1

2022 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro review: Australian first drive

The car VW hopes will become as iconic as the Beetle and Golf isn’t due to go on sale here until 2023 at the earliest, but Jez has the keys to a grey import…

9 Dec 2021

Volkswagen’s ID.3 electric hatchback is a small car that’s a big deal.

It’s the first car to sit on the German carmaker's MEB (modular electric drive matrix) battery platform, which is set to underpin 70-odd VW Group models by 2028 and forecast to account for about 19 million VW Group sales by the end of the decade.

Australia, however, is being made to wait until at least 2023 for the car VW is labelling its most important model since the 1974 Golf. While the ID.3 has been sold in the UK and Europe since 2020, Volkswagen has blamed its delayed introduction here on the Australian government’s apparent antipathy towards EVs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As we had only a short time with this car and needed to prioritise filming, the images in the body of this story are a combination of video shots (which you can watch above) and European press photos. The car we drove in Canberra was an overseas right-hand-drive specification.

It’s led to a boutique electric mobility store in Canberra taking the initiative, importing an example via the Special & Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS).

And Ion DNA kindly allowed us a drive of the VW that has racked up nearly 150,000 sales overseas already, with about half of ID.3 owners said to be new to the VW brand.

VW’s flexible MEB platform not only caters to different vehicle sizes but comes with a fully scalable battery system.

The ID.3 range kicks off with a 45kWh battery and tops out with a 77kWh battery. Our test car is a lower-middle ‘Pro’ spec, combining a 58kWh battery with a 107kW/275Nm rear electric motor. A ‘Pro Performance’ version of the 58kWh ID.3 produces 150kW and 310Nm.

If the ID.3’s exterior design has little more than a thick C-pillar in common with a Golf visually, the cabin is also markedly different.

While a steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons is familiar from higher-end Golfs, the dash eschews tidy integration for protruding infotainment and driver displays.

In many ways, it also resembles BMW’s first dedicated electric car, the i3, though neither the ID.3’s presentation nor the quality of its materials match the classiness of the baby Bavarian or, for that matter, its more renowned, internally combusting VW stablemate.

Still, there’s merit to an interior that shuns conservatism for a more futuristic approach that doesn’t overreach into outlandishness.

There are playful elements such as the ‘Play’ and ‘Pause’ symbols on, respectively, the accelerator and brake pedals (similar to the ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’ symbols featured in Hyundai’s Ioniq 5), and the chunky transmission twist selector attached to the driver info pod.

Our tester came with a heavily black cabin but alternatives include an orange-white-grey trim combination that’s very much an outlier in the Volkswagen interior catalogue.

As with the Golf, most functions – including climate operation – are controlled via the central infotainment screen. The only buttons in the cabin that move are the window and mirror switches on the doors.

Taking advantage of the battery platform’s space efficiencies, the ID.3’s interior designers have provided extra-useful front-cabin storage with a centre console that caters purely for oddments.

It combines longitudinally arranged cupholders, a long stowage section with sliding lid and USB-C ports, plus angled slots for two smartphones – the lower of which features inductive charging.

A fold-down armrest for each front seat compensates for the absence of a more traditional console-box armrest.

There’s extra legroom in the rear cabin over a Golf courtesy of the ID.3’s longer wheelbase, while plentiful headroom is delivered by a higher roofline. A steeply angled bench also ensures excellent under-thigh support.

It’s otherwise sparse in the back of this particular trim grade; no centre armrest, no pouches, no vents. But there are a couple of USB-C ports.

As a vehicle that’s much shorter than the likes of a Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Tesla Model 3, boot space is a relatively modest 385 litres in comparison – or about 10L more than the Golf’s luggage capacity.

Volkswagen quotes 9.6 seconds for the 107kW, 58kWh ID.3 in the 0-100km/h run. That’s slow in the context of most EVs and doesn’t bode well when even a regular turbo-petrol Golf completes that sprint more than a second faster.

Yet on the road, pressing this ID.3’s ‘Play’ pedal brings a satisfyingly perky response – and a torque-laden squirt of acceleration that ensures the electric VW is quick off the mark and more than capable of keeping up with traffic.

With the gear selector in Drive, there’s only a minor regenerative braking effect. Twisting to B increases the level of retardation when lifting off the throttle, though one-pedal driving around town is trickier than in most EVs we’ve driven so far. We regularly found ourselves needing the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.

The ID.3’s steering has VW’s trademark lightness and predictability, and because it’s rear-wheel drive – just like the original Beetle – there’s no torque steer under heavy acceleration.

Its turning circle is also tighter than a Golf’s.

Sticking with the obvious internal comparison, ride quality – on first impressions at least – feels like it’s in the ballpark of the super-plush Golf. It’s not always the case with skateboard-chassis EVs, which challenge suspension engineers with their heavy integrated battery packs.

WLTP driving ranges are as short as 352km with the 45kWh battery or as long as 549km with the 77kWh battery, and the 58kWh ‘medium’ battery is rated at up to 426km.

The ID.3 can be charged at home, either using a regular power socket or a wallbox system such as VW’s ID Charger (coming in 2022). For faster charging, capabilities vary between 50kW (smaller battery), 100kW (midsize battery), and 125kW (larger battery).

VW says 290km of range can be added within half an hour using a 100kW DC charging station.

A minimum battery capacity of 70 per cent is guaranteed for eight years or 160,000km. Of course, this factory backing isn’t available for the new owner of this imported ID.3.

Neither will they have access to VW’s We Connect Start that pairs car and smartphone, or the over-the-air software and function upgrades enabled by the ID.3’s new electronics platform.

They will all be part of the ID.3 package when it eventually reaches Australia in an official capacity.

One of ID.3’s VW Group twins will beat it to the punch. The Cupra Born EV is slated to arrive in the latter part of 2022, with a price tag expected to be similar to that of a $55,000 Golf GTI.

The question, then, will be whether at least one version of the ID.3 can be priced like a regular Golf. That would certainly make this highly promising electric VW worth the long wait.


Things we like

  • Perky electric drivetrain
  • Spacious and comfortable rear seat
  • Clever centre console storage
  • Potential for a sub-$50K ID.3

Not so much

  • Not available in Australia until at least 2023
  • Interior doesn’t feel quite as premium as Golf’s
  • Doesn’t offer full one-pedal driving


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