New Volkswagen ID 7 vs Tesla Model 3

As Volkswagen's new electric flagship, the ID 7 has a lot to prove. Let's see whether its talents run deep enough to beat the class-leading and recently refreshed Tesla Model 3...

New Volkswagen ID 7 vs Tesla Model 3 fronts

The contenders

NEW Volkswagen ID 7 77kWh Pro Match

List price £51,550
Target Price £51,550

Larger than its Tesla rival, Volkswagen’s all-new electric flagship offers limo-like interior space and an impressive 383-mile official range

Tesla Model 3 Long Range

List price £49,990
Target Price £49,990

In entry-level RWD guise, the recently revamped Model 3 is our reigning Executive Car of the Year, but this time we’re testing the range-topping Long Range version

What you’re looking at might just be Volkswagen's most important car of the past decade. It’s called the Volkswagen ID 7 and it represents the sum total of everything the brand has learnt about building electric cars (EVs) up to this point – a learning curve that has proved steeper than anticipated.

Volkswagen ID 7 rear action

You see, while its first ID product, the Volkswagen ID 3 hatchback, impressed us with its spacious, practical interior and decent range, it was far from perfect, suffering from a bug-riddled infotainment system and a level of material quality that didn’t live up to its elevated price. And while several ID models have been launched since, including the ID 4 and ID 5 SUVs and the Volkswagen ID Buzz MPV, these haven’t fully addressed our criticisms.

Hence the importance of the ID 7 – a ‘benchmark’ car for Volkswagen and one that, on paper at least, has some promising specifications. We’re talking about a next-generation infotainment system, fancy ergonomic seats, an impressive array of standard features and a heightened standard of interior quality that will soon be implemented throughout the ID range; hard plastics are out, soft-touch materials are in. Additionally, an all-new motor and related electrical gubbins promise efficiency gains, resulting in an impressive official range of 383 miles.

But what to put it up against? It was a question that we wrestled with, because one aspect that doesn’t come across until you see it in the metal is the sheer size of the ID 7. With a length of 4961mm, it’s longer than a BMW i5 or Mercedes EQE, so you could argue that it is a rival for luxurious premium models like those.

However, its price (which is well below what you’ll pay for an i5 or EQE), electric range and standard equipment suggest the ID 7 has been positioned to steal sales from the EV of the moment: the recently facelifted Tesla Model 3. In entry-level RWD form, the Model 3 is our reigning Executive Car of the Year, but this time we’re testing it in range-topping Long Range specification, with two motors and four-wheel drive.

Tesla Model 3 rear action


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

For a car that places efficiency and range ahead of outright performance, the Model 3 has no right to be as quick as it is away from the line. Stamp on the accelerator and just 4.6sec later you’ll be passing 60mph, with no drama and no gimmicky driving modes. It’s a disarmingly easy car in which to go quickly.

The ID 7, with a single motor driving the rear wheels, feels noticeably less punchy. It has strong traction off the line and surges up to motorway speeds effortlessly enough, but its 0-60mph time of 6.2sec is respectable rather than scintillating. If you want a faster ID 7, you’ll just have to hope the striking 550bhp ID X Performance concept is put into production.

The Model 3’s power advantage is one thing, but it also happens to be more than 250kg lighter than the ID 7. And it’s this relative lack of weight that helped it to stop  from 70mph in just 57.9 metres – nearly two metres before the ID 7 – in the sodden, cold conditions that dominated our day of testing.

What’s more, the Model 3 has predictable, confidence-inspiring brakes, whereas the ID 7’s are less consistent and don’t start to bite until you’ve pressed the pedal down a fair way.

Volkswagen ID 7 front action

More impressive, though, is the ID 7’s adaptive regenerative braking mode (which helps the car to shed speed when you lift off the accelerator while feeding energy back into the battery). It may not offer a ‘one-pedal’ driving function like the Model 3 (in which you rarely need to touch the brake pedal around town), but on the motorway the system is brilliant. Using radar, it increases the level of regen if the car in front slows down, and does so in a gentle and progressive manner.

The ID 7 feels at its best when cruising along on the motorway, where it generates a touch less wind and road noise than the Model 3 (the pillarless windows of which produce a bit of buffeting beyond 60mph). The ID 7 also has a softer, more pillowy ride than the Model 3, as long as you tick the box for Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive suspension (£1000 as part of the Exterior Pack Plus). This allows you to firm up or soften off the suspension to suit the road conditions and delivers a much more settled ride than the lumpier standard set-up.

That’s not to say the Model 3 is uncomfortable, though. Unlike the pre-facelift version, this latest model never causes thumps or thwacks to intrude, even along broken urban roads. And it stays calm and settled on twisting, uneven roads, whereas the ID 7 tends to heave and bounce a bit more in the same circumstances.

Likewise, the Model 3 stays flatter through quick changes of direction, and its sharper steering gives a greater sense of connection to the front wheels. If you were brought up believing American cars can’t navigate a bend, think again, because the Model 3 could show most petrol-powered executive cars a clean pair of heels down a country road.

Tesla Model 3 front action

Many buyers, though, will be more interested in range, and generally the bigger the battery an EV has, the farther it can travel between charges. We say ‘generally’ because Teslas often prove to be an exception to that rule, thanks to their class-leading efficiency.

It’s the same story here. As part of our winter Real Range test, we drove both cars around our simulated road route until they ran out of juice. With a sizeable, 77kWh (usable) battery, the ID 7 averaged a respectable but hardly stellar 3.3 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh), allowing it to cover 254 miles before it conked out. The Model 3 may have a slightly smaller battery (75kWh), but its greater average efficiency of 3.9 miles/kWh gave it a real-world range of 293 miles.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the Model 3 comes with a heat pump (which is used to warm up the interior more efficiently in cold conditions), whereas this is a £1050 option on the ID 7. To see what difference this would make, we also brought along an ID 7 equipped with a heat pump. While it was more efficient than the standard car, an average of 3.6 miles/kWh and a 268-mile range represent improvements of only 5.2% in temperatures of 10-11deg C, so think carefully before ticking that option box.

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