Volkswagen I.D. hatchback 2019: specs and prototype review

The family of Volkswagen I.D. electric cars will start to appear in 2019; this is our first taste of what’s to come

A zero-emissions car about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf, but with as much space inside as the Passat – that’s what you'll get in the Volkswagen I.D., the company claims. 

The I.D. is the first of Volkswagen’s new family of electric cars. It’ll be followed by the I.D. Crozz (a sporty SUV) and, in due course, the I.D. Buzz minibus and possibly an I.D. Scirocco coupe.

All will be built on the company’s MEB platform, which has been developed specifically to underpin a wide variety of electric cars.

Of these, the I.D. is by far the most mainstream – it's a five-door hatchback, whereas the others include a coupe-style SUV, a retro-styled minibus and a two-door coupe.

The regular I.D. also looks set to be the least complex: it'll be rear-wheel drive at first, although four-wheel drive and sporty versions will follow in due course.

Volkswagen I.D. powertrain

Not all details are confirmed yet, but Volkswagen has said that the I.D. will come with a choice of three powertrains. At the bottom of the range will be an I.D. with a 48kWh battery and a range of just over 200 miles. It'll also have the weakest performance, but with 120bhp should compare well to a mid-range Golf.

Volkswagen originally targeted a range of 250 miles for the mid-range 55kWh model, but apparently the finished article actually gets closer to 280. The company is still working on the specifications of the range-topping 62kWh version, but says it could be capable of up to 341 miles.

Meanwhile, the car will support two forms of AC charging – 7.2kW and 11kW – as well as being compatible with fast DC charging at up to 125kW via a CCS connector. Depending on battery size, charging from flat to 80% will take between 30 and 45 minutes.

Styling

So far, we’ve only seen concept versions of the I.D. and we expect some of their more outlandish features won’t make it into production. The sliding rear doors will probably be replaced by more conventional hinged units and the steering wheel won’t retract into the dashboard when it’s not needed.

However, Volkswagen has confirmed that all I.D. models will have a black roof and tailgate to help set them apart from other cars in the brand's range.

Inside, the I.D. should be just as distinctive, with a minimal dashboard design boasting no buttons. Plus, thanks to the way electric cars are built, the interior will be very spacious. There should be enough room for four in complete comfort and the floor will be nice and flat, however there'll be no storage at the front thanks to the positioning of the air conditioning system.

There's no glovebox either, with the only interior storage space located in the centre console.

Price and release date

There’s no confirmed date for when the I.D. will go on sale yet, but our understanding is that the car will be open for pre-orders from the end of 2019, after the car's launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with first deliveries the following year. 

The starting price of the range should be about £22,500, and that's before the Government's plug-in car grant has been taken into account. With the £3,500 discount applied, UK buyers would pay from just £19,000.

However, while there'll be a range of models on offer, we’ve been told there will be far fewer permutations of trim, colour and options than in, for example, the Golf range in order to make the I.D. line-up less complex and more affordable.

Volkswagen I.D. prototype review

With a year to go until the Volkswagen I.D. is officially launched, our sister title Auto Express has been for an early drive in a prototype model of the forthcoming electric hatchback.

On the road, it’s evident that the I.D. isn’t going to be the quickest electric car ever: the production version will weigh in the region of two tonnes, 500kg of which is the battery. Volkswagen says lightweight materials like aluminium would make the I.D. too expensive, so the company is settling for leisurely performance in order to keep costs down.

The I.D. is quiet inside, and Volkswagen has worked hard to keep the humming noise synonymous with electric cars down to an absolute minimum. As such, it should be quieter on the move than the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Volkswagen has taken a different approach with regenerative braking as well: many electric cars have paddles either side of the wheel to give drivers precise control over energy recovery, however the I.D. won’t have these, as Volkswagen believes people won’t want them. They would only add to the price tag, too.

There'll be a regenerative braking mode, which will enable drivers to slow to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal, in much the same way that the Nissan Leaf does with its ‘e-Pedal’. However, on the prototype I.D. at least, changes in speed felt very abrupt; Volkswagen says a more developed system will be in place by the time the car reaches showrooms.

All in all, the I.D. looks set to be a very capable, no-frills electric hatchback, and while the performance won’t be groundbreaking, the price just might be: a post-grant figure of £19,000 will make it seriously affordable, especially when the fuel savings are taken into account.