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Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

Manufacturers have, by and large, been transitioning into the electric realm cautiously, with modified versions of existing ICE platforms. However, the scale of VW’s ambition led it to invest heavily in bespoke hardware from the outset.

The VW ID 3 sits on the new MEB architecture. Being adjustable for wheelbase and track width, it can be shared widely across the VW Group and will from 2023 begin to underpin Ford’s new generation of electric cars. It’s the second ground-up EV platform in the VW Group, after the J1 introduced for the Porsche Taycan, also now serving the Audi E-tron GT.

Largely sealed, ‘faired-in’ look of front end is different from that of the Tesla Model 3, but is little less awkward. The dimpled, cartoonish grin of the lower intake didn’t endear the car to our test jury as VW might have hoped.

The claim is that with the packaging elegance an electric powertrain allows, the MEB can offer the interior space you’d expect to find in the class above the ID 3’s official C-segment. Elsewhere, the ability to receive Tesla-style over-the-air software updates is baked in, and the MEB’s aluminium truss-design battery tray can also house three sizes of water-cooled lithium ion packs for the ID 3 – 77kWh for 336 miles of claimed range, 58kWh for 263 miles and, in due course, an entry-level 48kWh for about 200 miles. However, it’s worth noting that even the medium-sized pack weighs 495kg.

The ID 3’s powertrain layout reverses decades of the hatchback status quo and reverts to the rear-engined, rear-driven format favoured by the original Beetle. The drive unit nestled just above and slightly forward of the rear axle is a 16,000rpm permanently excited AC synchronous motor and drives through a single-speed transmission and an open differential, albeit one aided by VW’s brake-based XDS torque vectoring system. Power output depends on the car’s spec: the ID 3 Pro makes 143bhp, while the Pro Performance and 77kWh Pro S have 201bhp.

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Whatever the state of tune, the motor can also generate 0.3g in deceleration while feeding recuperated electrical energy back into the battery.

In broader chassis terms, VW claims almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution for the car, and while the standard ID 3 is equipped with passive dampers for suspension (MacPherson struts up front, multi- link at rear, as with the Volkswagen Golf), a Sport Plus package adds fully adaptive dampers and ‘progressive’ steering.