The Volkswagen ID.3 has made its world premiere just ahead of the opening of this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, kicking off the purely electric model range for the German brand. This follows the launches of pure battery-electric models from fellow Volkswagen Group stablemates, the Audi e-tron and the recently launched Porsche Taycan.

Wolfsburg’s first pure EV arrives in a launch edition dubbed the ID.3 1st, for which pre-booking reservation were being taken from May this year. Three versions of the launch edition car will be offered – the basic model, a Plus variant and the range-topping Max. In any case, drive is by a rear-axle mounted permanent magnet synchronous electric motor fed by a 58 kWh battery, generating 204 PS and 310 Nm of torque. Top speed is 160 km/h.

The battery pack in the launch edition ID.3 1st is the middle of three battery size options to be made available. Amongst the mainstream versions of the ID.3, the basic, 45 kWh variant offers range of up to 330 km on the WLTP cycle, the aforementioned 58 kWh battery pack offering 420 km of range on the WLTP cycle, and the largest being the 77 kWh battery pack option, which offers range of up to 550 km on the WLTP cycle.

Locating the ID.3’s battery pack in the underbody helps significantly lower the car’s centre of gravity, thus offering a positive effect of driving dynamics, says Volkswagen, adding that the electric car has ‘optimum weight distribution’ between its front and rear axles.

The firm’s MEB platform dedicated to electric models maximises wheelbase with short overhangs front and rear for an interior which Volkswagen says sets new standards in the compact class; the ID. 3 measures 4,261 mm long with a 2,765 mm wheelbase, 1,809 mm wide and 1,552 mm tall.

Weight is 1,719 kg with rated payload between 416 kg and 541 kg, depending on specified equipment; an optional towbar takes a vertical load of 75 kg. A frontal area of 2.36 sq m delivers a drag coefficient of 0.267 for the ID.3, while its turning circle is 10.2 m.

The Volkswagen ID.3 also marks the beginning of a EV-specific design direction to herald the automaker’s new models with zero emissions and full connectivity, which will be carried through the rest of the forthcoming ID range. “The natural style and absolutely intuitive driver experience demonstrate a new, electric way of thinking,” said Volkswagen head of design Klaus Bischoff.

The interior of the ID.3 follows the current EV design move towards employing more touch-sensitive surfaces, with all controls operated using touch functions save for the electric window controls and hazard light switch, which remain with tactile switches. The driver gets a 10-inch touch display, while ID. Light provides an LED strip for navigation and prompt the driver to brake in the event of any danger.

Driver assistance systems include Park Distance Control to prevent or mitigate parking mishaps by applying emergency braking at the last possible moment; this brakes the ID.3 to a standstill between 1.5 km/h and 10 km/h when reversing, or between 2.5 km/h and 10 km/h when travelling forwards.

The steering wheel-mounted controls also employ touch-sensitive surfaces, and all are supplemented by intelligent natural voice control, prompted by the ‘hello ID’ verbal cue. Standard equipment for the base ID.3 1st includes a navigation system, DAB+ digital radio, heated seats and steering wheel, front seat armrests and 18-inch alloy wheels; a Type 2 charging port is standard.

The ID.3 1st Plus adds a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, two USB-C ports on the centre console and ambient lighting. Here, further equipment includes tinted windows, matrix LED headlights, matrix side lights, brake lights, turn indicators and tail lamp clusters, along with 19-inch wheels.

Peak of the range at launch is the ID.3 1st Max, which includes an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, an eight-speaker Beats sound system, a panoramic sliding and tilting glass roof and 20-inch alloy wheels. The Max variant also adds a lane-keep assist system with Emergency Assist, a lane-change system, telephone connectivity with contactless high-voltage device charging and comfort seats.

In Germany, the Volkswagen ID.3 is priced from under €30,000 (RM138,308), while the launch edition ID.3 1st starts from under €40,000(RM184,411). Buyers of the ID.3 1st will also receive from Volkswagen one year of free electricity up to 2,000 kWh, available at public charging stations as well as across the IONITY Pan-European fast-charging network.