The ID 3 is an electric car in search of mainstream acceptance. The first model from Volkswagen’s new ID electric car sub-brand sets out to emulate the feats of the original Beetle and the Golf with a goal incoming Volkswagen brand CEO Ralf Brandstätter says is centred around global sales counted in the “millions per year”.
To do this, it’ll need to convince buyers to look beyond many accomplished combustion-engined rivals, including the excellent new Golf. However, VW is confident electric cars are set to hit the big time and is in the midst of spending up to £8 billion on an extended range of ID models to ensure it is in the thick of the action if and when they begin to take off. The target? Three million electric cars by 2025.
This is the second time we’ve driven the car that aims to knock the Nissan Leaf from the top of the global electric car sales charts and take electric motoring to the masses. The first was an early camouflaged prototype that gave us a hint of the potential of the ID 3 but it lacked the polish of this production-ready example.
As well as experiencing the ID 3 on public roads, we’ve put it through its paces at VW’s development centre in Wolfsburg – one of the toughest tests any car can undertake, with a combination of banked high-speed test tracks, challenging handling courses, rough road simulations and a large skid pan among other disciplines.
While the ID 3’s launch has been delayed by persistent software problems, VW has decided to release the car without various features, including the App Connect function used to run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Early adopters will also temporarily go without some functions of the augmented reality head-up display. Both will be restored with a software update as soon as engineers are confident the new car’s E3 electrical system is able to reliably support them.
Set for UK delivery in late September, the ID 3 indirectly replaces the earlier e-Golf. It’s 23mm shorter, 20mm wider and 96mm taller than the newly introduced Mk8 Golf but its wheelbase is 129mm longer, indicating its greater interior space. It also rolls on much larger wheels, starting at 18in in base trim and increasing to 20in.
Despite its relative tallness, the aerodynamic properties are quite impressive. Among the wind-cheating measures are aero-optimised wheels, an almost completely enclosed front end, a panel at the end of the bonnet to channel wind more efficiently over the windscreen, substantial cladding along the entire underbody and a large cowl with an integrated spoiler set within the rear window. It all adds up to a Golf-beating Cd of 0.267.