In-depth reviews

Volkswagen ID. Life concept review

The forthcoming entry-level model in the ID. electric-car family won't arrive until 2025, but our short test drive of the funky concept version gave us a chance to test its wilder features

Volkswagen ID.Life

Volkswagen’s boxy, retro-inspired ID. Life electric crossover concept not only wowed us and the internet when it was unveiled at September's Munich motor show, it also gave us our first hint at what the German brand’s upcoming entry-level EV will be like. So naturally, we had to get our hands on it.

The ID. Life is still a concept car, but it'll eventually give rise to the ID.2 crossover that’s expected to cost around €20,000 (£17,000) when it arrives in 2025, along with the Polo-sized Volkswagen ID.1, rivalling the likes of the electric Renault 5 and the city-car-sized electric SUV we know Hyundai is working on.

The ID. Life uses a smaller version of the 'MEB' platform that sits underneath the ID.3 hatchback, ID.4 SUV and ID.5 coupe-SUV. Power comes from a 231bhp electric motor driving the front wheels only, with 0-62mph taking 6.9 seconds according to VW. However, when we drove it, the concept was limited to just 18mph (30kph).

It retained all its concept-car features, though, including the 'yoke' steering wheel that has seemingly become popularised by the latest Tesla Model S and Model X. You hardly notice it while driving, though; it doesn’t interfere with controlling the car as some may fear when faced with the less-than-conventional design.

What’s far less conventional is the lack of an instrument cluster, central infotainment screen or door mirrors. Instead, the ID. Life features a head-up display and cameras for mirrors, much like the similarly styled Honda e city car and the Audi e-tron SUV. The few controls the cabin does feature are located on the steering wheel, while your smartphone magnetically attaches to the centre console to serve as your infotainment system.

However, in true concept-car fashion, the ID. Life packs some unique features that are highly unlikely to make production. The main one is the projector screen that extends in front of the windscreen at the push of a button. The front seats can then be laid flat and the rear bench leaned back for a more comfortable viewing experience, presumably to pass the time when you’re topping up the battery at a charging point.

Similarly, both the hood and roof of the ID. Life are made of an air-filled fabric (from PET bottles) with zippers so they can be removed when you want to. However, while that sounds simple, it was quite a fiddly task to complete on the prototype, but we won’t hold that against it just yet.

Given the severely limited top speed of the ID. Life when we drove it, and the fact it’s a prototype of a car that’s four years away from going into production, we’re not about to pass definitive judgement on the funky creation. However, it gives us some hope that the roadgoing versions of the ID.2 and ID.1 hatchback won’t completely conform to convention.

Aside from standing out with the '80s hatchback-esque styling, they'd do well to incorporate some of the ID. Life’s more off-the-wall features, too. But we’ll have to wait and see whether that turns out to be the case.

Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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