Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Single choice of powerful 204hp motor output at launch
  • Very rapid for a non-performance car
  • Handles well, rides comfortably – we’re impressed

Only one engine option is available in the initial UK supply of ID.3s – a 150kw electric motor, fitted at the back, driving the rear wheels.

That’s equivalent to 204hp, which puts the ID.3 at a level of performance we’d have reserved for the Golf GTI hot hatch not so long ago. The benchmark 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds for the model with the smaller 58kWh battery pack, or 7.9 seconds if you go for the larger 77kWh battery pack. Both are electronically limited to a 99mph top speed.

Performance

Out in the real world, you’re unlikely to notice much difference between the two versions of the ID.3. They use the same motor, which means they both benefit from 310Nm of maximum torque that, in the manner of all electric motors, is delivered instantly.

This makes the ID.3 startlingly quick off the mark and when accelerating from low speeds, such as exiting a roundabout – much more so than those official 0-62mph times would suggest, and to the extent that very few non-electric cars will keep up with it. Traction is excellent (so no need to worry about wayward rear-wheel drive handling behaviour), and the ID.3 delivers rapid response well into motorway speeds.

You won’t get caught out on slip roads in one of these, and your ability to safely overtake slower traffic is never in doubt. There is occasionally the slightest of pauses between applying the accelerator and the vehicle’s reaction, but we suspect that has been deliberately tuned in to stop you eviscerating tyres (which the motor is clearly capable of) – in a similar fashion, the performance never really thumps you in the back.

Instead, you get a polite but insistent shove that, because the ID.3 only has a single-speed transmission, never pauses for breath in the same way that a diesel or petrol car would. It’s not as quick as a Tesla, but compared with a conventional car it can be an eye-opening experience – and one that may soon convince you there’s something to this electric car malarkey after all.

Simple is best?

Interestingly (honest), VW has chosen not to equip the ID.3 with a selection of energy recuperation modes or other complicating settings. You simply choose from standard D (for Drive) or B (for Brake) – both controlled by the rocker switch gear selector on the side of the instrument panel – the former having no recuperation function at all, the latter limited to a single recuperation level chosen by Volkswagen’s engineers (0.3g, if you must know).

As with all electric cars, recuperation – also known as regeneration or regen – uses drag from the electric motor to slow the car down, handily turning the motor into a generator at the same time, a process which helps to recharge the batteries.

While straightforward, only having a single setting for this in the ID.3 does feel like a bit of a backwards step compared with the old e-Golf, which has several levels, accessed via paddles on the steering wheel. At the highest regen level you could often drive for long periods without touching the conventional brakes at all. This is rarely the case in the ID.3 unless you’re on a particularly clear motorway run.

Comfort and cornering

Volkswagen’s pulled off something clever when it comes to the ID.3’s ride and handling. It weighs a chunky 1,719kg with even the smaller 58kWh battery pack (a regular VW Golf can be almost 500kg lighter – that’s half a tonne), yet you rarely feel this heft in everyday driving.

Well-judged power-steering combined with rear-wheel drive (which in leaving the front wheels to do the steering alone typically improves the feel of a car) means you can fling the ID.3 about with some abandon, while the ride comfort is really very impressive, even on enormous 19-inch alloy wheels.

It helps that most of the mass is located low down, thanks to the battery pack being fitted below the cabin floor. This pins the centre of gravity to the ground and together with some deft suspension tuning stops the ID.3 rolling around too much in the turns.

It can’t escape its bulk entirely – if you go looking for it you’ll detect a slight sideways rocking motion when cornering hard. And though the ID.3 does flow pliantly over most surfaces, those big wheels will thump into sharp ridges and drop heavily into sudden dips.

Overall, though, it’s a very satisfying car to drive. Easy going when you want it to be, but with more than enough performance to be fun should the mood take you.

Is it quiet?

As with most electric cars, the ID.3’s motor makes almost no noise at all. It remains impressively hushed inside at all speeds, with much better isolation from wind noise and tyre road that some rivals – though this does depend on the surface.

As such, our biggest refinement issue is with the windscreen wipers, which are decidedly clattery at times.