The VW ID 3 clearly succeeds in making its mechanical make-up work for it in terms of the way it accelerates. On handling, you might expect to unearth a bit more evidence of the car’s rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout, but the funny thing is you won’t.

That’s partly a deliberate dynamic tuning decision on VW’s part, which we’ll expand on shortly. But it’s also because, in any EV, the location of the electric motor is much less significant as a ‘major mass’ than that of the battery; and, being carried evenly between the axles, the ID 3’s drive battery actually gave the car a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution on the Millbrook scales.

The electronic management of the ID 3’s handling is really sophisticated, but it’s also permanent: there’s no dialling back or switching off the ESC. Would it be more fun if you could? I doubt it.

This car handles very much like a normal hatchback, then. It may be rear-wheel drive, but it doesn’t really use that to its dynamic advantage, and nor does it seek to. A rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout would, in fact, be more likely than anything to introduce handling compromise to a slightly short, high-sided hatchback like the ID 3, but it doesn’t in this case.

The ID 3 has well-rounded and predictable, although slightly anodyne, handling. Despite running on ‘Eco’-labelled tyres, it hangs on gamely enough when you rush it through a series of bends, resisting steady-state understeer quite well and controlling its body neatly on smoother surfaces. There’s a slightly busy feel to the car’s back-road ride that you wouldn’t call severe or bothersome, but it’s just noticeable enough to betray the car’s weight, and the lateral stiffness that its suspension needs to keep tabs on it.

Back to top

The ID 3 steers lightly but with decent precision, starting low on pace but quickening off-centre for easy urban manoeuvring. It’s a fairly intuitive car to place and retains decent high-speed stability when you need it, but it isn’t particularly engaging for the driver.

VW ID 3 comfort and isolation

Those seeking reassurance from an electric car will be pleased to find plenty of the maturity and refinement that you might expect from VW about the ID 3’s driving experience. The ride is quiet and there’s a dampening sense of isolation to it. Aside from the ever-so-slightly firm edge to out-of-town cross-country progress, which we’ve already described, both wind and road noise are kept low at motorway speeds. Given that some EVs have the economy tyres needed to eke out electric range, and suffer with a noisier ride as a result, that’s good news.

The front seats of our test car were quite small and simple, rather than large or enveloping, but comfortable enough. There is little need, at any rate, for better lateral support in this car than they already afford; their cushion angle supports longer legs well; and although other options for adjustment are missing, the car’s driving position is sound.

VW ID 3 assisted driving notes

The ID 3 offers quite a lot of the latest driver assistance and ‘semi- autonomous’ technology in its richer trim levels. Opt for Tech trim or above and you’ll get VW’s advanced lane-keeping and traffic-jam easing ‘travel assist’ and ‘side assist’ systems as standard, as well as an ‘augmented reality’ head-up display that actually projects navigation tulips and assisted driving information onto the inside surface of the windscreen.

Being a lower trim level, our ID 3 went without, but it did have ‘Car- to-X’ networked safety systems. Like most modern VWs, it also had a lane- keeping system that defaulted to on each time the car was started. VW doesn’t give you a physical button to deactivate it, so this can be trying for those who don’t like such systems.

Back to top

It’s not the most intrusive system, however. The car’s standard-fit crash avoidance and mitigation systems, meanwhile, weren’t triggered unnecessarily during our testing and can also be deactivated.