Volkswagen does not hide it. Its ID.3 is the direct response to “dieselgate”, and to a lesser extent, to COP21. While the speech may sound tinged with greenwashing, the fact remains that it gave birth to a very intriguing car. And for good reason, where everyone was waiting for a new electric Golf to succeed the e-Golf, the Wolfsburg firm has opted for a change of gear … and for a new model based on a no less new platform. form. This is how the ID.3 was born. Unlike most manufacturers, VW has not chosen to have a thermal and an electric version of the same model coexist. The iD.3 and ID.4, which will join it in a few months, are launching a new zero-emission range which, despite its delay, wants to establish itself as a benchmark for electric vehicles.

An exterior that clashes

The first shock with ID.3 is visual. The VW compact opts for a design that contrasts with the current trend. Without the constraint of having to work from a thermal vehicle, the manufacturer was able to start from a blank sheet of paper to develop the design most characteristic of his vision of the electric. The result: more roundness, more smoothness and an overall impression of a vehicle a little apart, like the Nissan Leaf or the Renault Zoe in their time.

Everything changes inside

The original, but divisive, aesthetic of the ID.3 continues once inside. The rather futuristic dashboard made almost all the buttons disappear. Only three of them are hiding in the cockpit, two to control the windows and the one for the e-call in an emergency. For the rest, the controls are tactile and also have a rather useful haptic feedback so as not to take your eyes off the road.

The start-up procedure has also been completely redesigned. The car recognizes its owner when it approaches and receives a light signal. As soon as he takes a seat in the seat, the screen turns on. All you have to do is put your foot on the brake pedal and turn the control switch to “drive” mode to get on the road. But that’s not all. Inside, along the windshield, a light signal is displayed to indicate the direction to take or to signal the activity of the voice assistant. In this regard, this famous “hello ID” is not quite at the desired level and should have been deployed at the same time as some of the missing functionalities, via an update in early 2021. We will come back to this …

As for the interface, this is the system that was launched at the end of 2019 with the 8th generation golf, that is to say a fairly clear OS in the menus but somewhat lacking in reactivity. For the rest, we are rather comfortable inside an ID.3 and for good reason, there are a few pounds of plastic less in comparison with a classic car. Much of the central console as well as the traditional service tunnel have disappeared due to the electric motor. Instead, the user gains space and storage.

Pleasant and dynamic driving

What better way for a pseudo “Electric Golf” than to behave like a real Golf? The ID.3 is indeed a very pleasant car to drive. Obviously the silence on board, a primary characteristic of electric vehicles, is an undeniable plus in terms of comfort … But the behavior of the compact on the road is no stranger to the pleasure it provides. Indeed, despite a significant weight (around 1.8 tonnes), the ID.3 does not lack bite. Quite the contrary. We know electric cars capable of dazzling acceleration (0 to 100 km / h is done in 7.3 seconds in our case), but the electric VW, probably thanks to its 204 hp, is also allowed to have a fairly astonishing recovery. In fact, passages from 80 to 110 km / h are done in no time, and are exhilarating at will.

Autonomy: promise kept

It’s the surprise of this ID.3 essay. Its consumption is among the best on the market. Indeed, the 420 km of autonomy promised by the 58 kWh battery does not seem unattainable. In our mixed-road test, we reached an average of 17 kW with around 25% of the trip on the motorway. Concretely, in town and on conventional roads it is possible to approach 15 kW of consumption, a figure worthy of Tesla. On the highway, however, the ID.3 runs around 20 kW. It is therefore quite possible to hope to achieve the announced autonomy. By extension, the “long-range” version, scheduled for next year and equipped with a 77 kWh battery, could be announced as one of the only electric vehicles capable of undertaking long journeys without spending half of its day. to contemplate a charging station.

Bugs that disrupt the launch

The development of the ID.3 has not been easy for Volkswagen engineers. Several bugs would have tainted the software of the car, which would have required a complete review of certain features. The result: the first cars delivered to customers do not benefit from all the options. The augmented reality head-up display or the “Connect App”, ie CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, will be absent from the first models. A software update, promised for the beginning of 2021, should allow ID.3 to recover their due. In return, disappointed buyers were reimbursed for the first three months of rent or received in exchange a wallbox to install at their home.

Obviously, VW Group specifies that from January, all ID.3 will be delivered with all the functions announced. In our case, while the absence of CarPlay was not detrimental, it is quite different with the augmented reality head-up display. Indeed, during our test, we were limited to the small 5.3-inch screen. While it is sufficient in most cases, it is obvious that the projection of the steering on the windshield will bring an undeniable advantage to users who choose this option. In any case, we missed this feature.

Prices ranging from Zoe … to Tesla

Volkswagen has communicated a lot about a version of ID.3 at 25,000 euros. Unfortunately, this is not the one that will be deployed immediately. Indeed, for its entry into the 100% electric market, VW has chosen to attack with the mid-size version and its 58 kWh battery. This will be offered in three levels of finishes for prices ranging from 39,990 euros to 49,990 euros, excluding ecological bonus, or prices close to the Tesla Model 3.

The advantage of ID.3? It can be negotiated at a much more affordable price. For a price close to that of the Zoe, you will have to be patient. The 45 kWh version will arrive at best during 2021, as will the large autonomy version at 77 kWh.

Test verdict:

Volkswagen may not succeed in erasing the “dieselgate” from memories, but its attempt deserves to be saluted. The ID.3 is a success in terms of driving and range, and most of the manufacturer’s risks are successful. Of course, its divisive design (inside and out) will have to be accepted, but the rewards are worth the effort. On the other hand, there are two points on which VW’s choices leave us perplexed. The first, and arguably the least damaging, is to have launched his electric car without some major features. In fact, the augmented reality head-up display greatly contributes to the driving experience and its deployment is pending an upcoming update. Finally, we can only regret that VW keeps in its boxes the most affordable version of its ID.3 favoring the core range, certainly more profitable, but much less accessible.

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