Sampling a multi-million-dollar concept car is rarely anything but a fleeting experience at the best of times. So a handful of laps around Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg test track was much more than we ever expected when we were invited to drive the ID Life shortly after its world debut at the recent 2021 Munich motor show.
The new electric crossover concept points towards a future of modestly priced, zero-emission personal mobility, in much the same way that the original Beetle promised the world access to affordable combustion-engine motoring more than eight decades ago.
The new five-seater will go on sale in 2025 priced from not much more than €20,000 (£17,250). There will be Cupra, Seat and Skoda sibling models, of course. In fact, moves are already under way to produce the new Volkswagen model at Seat’s Martorell factory in Spain, which is being geared up for annual volumes of up to 500,000 electric cars on the back of a generous European Union subsidy.
It is not the only affordable mass-market electric car that Volkswagen is working on right now, though. Word is the production version of the ID Life will wear the name ID 2, positioning it below the ID 3 as an alternative to the combustion-engined T-Cross. An even smaller and lower-riding hatchback model with the ID 1 name is expected to follow it into showrooms as a successor to the e-Up.
The original plan called for the introduction of the new Volkswagen crossover in 2027. But after a faster-than-expected acceptance to electric cars among private buyers, Volkswagen moved the launch forward by a full two years. It is so upbeat about the chances of success that it is happy to let us get behind the wheel of the sole existing example of the ID Life, despite the fact that it will be another four years at least before you and I can go out and buy one.
The aim with the styling was not simply to create a smaller ID 3 with some SUV-like flourishes. Rather, Volkswagen says it wanted to establish a more timeless lineage that could be progressed through to the future production version without radical changes. As such, its design shares little with its other electric-powered models, taking on a more boxy profile meant to provide it with maximum versatility within relatively compact dimensions.