VOLKSWAGEN seems to have hit the jackpot with its first purpose-built electric vehicle as the ID.3 looks stunning, drives beautifully, is well priced and offers a decent range between charges.
It's a practical five-door family hatchback and the VW Group has made it very clear that it wants to be the world leader in electric mobility by investing 33 billion euro by 2024. And if the ID.3 is a hint at what's to come, there are exciting times ahead.
It is the first vehicle to be built on the company's MEB platform which allows different sized batteries to be specified with ID.3 customers able to choose between the Pro 58kWh or Pro S 77kWh batteries with a WLTP combined range of up to 263 or 336 miles respectively. There will be a Pure 45kWh battery introduced later on with a range of 205 miles.
Those are the figures that will dispel any range anxiety fears and VW has set itself a target of developing 20 million vehicles on the MEB platform by 2029.
The ID.3 is priced from Â£32,990 and rises up to Â£42,290 (before the Government's Â£3,000 plug-in grant has been deducted) and is available in a range of generously-equipped trim levels called Life, Business, Style, Family, Tech and Max. There is also a limited-run 1Edition model and it was that variant that we tried costing £35,835 with the grant deducted.
The rear-wheel drive ID.3 is definitely a head-turner with distinctive styling. Eye-catching features include smooth streamlining with a short bonnet, LED matrix headlights, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors. There are illuminated light bands between the headlights and logo, tinted rear windows, 1Edition badging, along with 19-inch alloys to complete the upmarket appearance.
Move inside and the ID.3 is thoroughly modern in its design with a wealth of technology to explore. It has a minimalist layout with very few buttons or switches. The gear selector is a rocker switch positioned behind the steering wheel, there is a neat lights panel and all the main functions are accessed via a 10-inch colour touchscreen with sharp graphics.
Creature comforts include a navigation system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a DAB digital radio, seven-speaker sound system, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, plus a really clever voice control system whereby you summon the car's virtual assistant with the magic words "Hello ID" and make your request. It can be used to increase the volume on the audio, change stations, turn on the seat heaters and a range of other functions meaning you can keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
Our 1Edition ID.3 was fitted with the lower-powered 58kWh 204PS battery and could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and onto a maximum speed of 99mph. The zero g/km carbon emissions figure also brings plenty of tax savings to the mix.
The acceleration is impressive out of the blocks and the vehicle is perfectly balanced on the open road where it cruises at national speed limits. Bends can be attacked with confidence and the car's low centre of gravity means it feels perfectly composed through corners.
The handling is responsive with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles. And special mention to the excellent suspension set-up that somehow manages to smooth out the roughest of road surfaces. On motorways, the ID.3 is nicely settled and the car is well insulated against road surface or wind noise.
But it's in busy stop/start city centres that this car really excels. The all-round visibility is superb and the ideally weighted steering makes light work of weaving through the congestion. The driver can choose between D mode for normal driving or B mode which helps to slow the car when you take your foot off the accelerator and regenerates energy in the process.
Comfort levels are good for all occupants in the bright, spacious cabin with room for two adults in the back, or three at a squeeze. The boot has a capacity that ranges from 385 to 1,267 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat, and the variable boot floor is also a practical feature.
There are plenty of storage options scattered throughout the car too, including door pockets, front and rear cup holders, a mobile phone holder, glovebox, a deep cubby box with sliding cover, seatback pockets and a handy net at the front of the centre console.
And as one would expect from VW, the ID.3 is packed with safety kit, such as electronic stability control with traction control, lane keep assist, blind spot information, dynamic road sign display, adaptive cruise control including front assist, city emergency braking, Isofix fixtures and a full suite of airbags. The car was awarded the maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
The ID.3 1Edition is capable of rapid charging with a 100kW DC charger adding about 180 miles of range in 30 minutes. It is also fine for home charging on a 7.2kWh wallbox which can be timed for when the electricity tariff is at its lowest. The battery comes with an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
All in all, the VW ID.3 is a superb new arrival on the electric vehicle scene. It is sensibly priced, packed with modern technology, great to drive and offers impressive range too. If EVs are the future, it doesn't look quite so bleak anymore.