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Four years ago, Volkswagen faced its darkest days as its diesel-emissions crisis unfolded around the world. As the German automaker wraps up investigations and penance for its deceit, it's rethought the company strategy with a blank canvas. Brush stroke one? The MEB electric-car platform. Brush stroke two? That's what you see here.
The Volkswagen ID 3 bowed on Monday ahead of its formal debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Consider this the Beetle or Golf for the 21st century as it marks the automaker's turning point toward an all-electric future portfolio. Don't consider it for your next car if you live in the US -- we'll get our first ID model soon, though it'll be a crossover SUV to suit the US market's tastes.
VW said in its announcement that it will bring the ID 3 into the world with the ID 3 First Edition in three flavors: the basic ID 3 1st, 1st Plus and 1st Max. Naturally, the price and equipment level increases with each tier. While all three 1st Edition cars boast a 58 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery good for 261 miles of range (420 kilometers based on European WLTP estimates), premium amenities multiply in the Plus and Max trims. The former gains adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and 19-inch wheels. The latter sports a head-up display, Beats audio system, panoramic sunroof and a suite of active safety equipment.
Once VW ushers the ID 3 1st Edition into the world, the regular production model will offer a 45-kWh battery that provides an estimated 205 miles of range and an even larger 77-kWh battery with an estimated 342 miles of range on tap -- again, by WLTP estimates. It's the 45-kWh model that will boast a price under $34,000 (at current exchange rates) before any tax credits or incentives, as VW promised.
Under the simple metal is the aforementioned MEB platform -- the key to VW's electric-car portfolio in the years to come. At the rear axle sits the electric motor making 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, a one-speed transmission and the power electronics. Up front, the air conditioner, steering rack and other auxiliary units reside behind the bodywork. Sandwiched between both axles is the flat lithium-ion battery tucked low into the vehicle for center-of-gravity benefits. It also opens up the ID 3's cockpit with a flat floor and generous cargo room; behind the second row, there's 13.6 cubic feet of cargo room.
Despite the futuristic and technology-forward approach, VW said designers worked hard to create an "organic" cockpit. Thus, we're treated to softer curves in the cabin that are supposed to help emphasize the amount of space available. In the middle of the center stack sits a 10-inch touchscreen for infotainment purposes and it works with what VW calls "ID Light." For example, the strip of LED lights can turn red and tell the driver to brake to avoid a crash or other dangers while navigating to a destination.
Volkswagen ID 3