Dramatic VW ID.3 Experience: Trading back to Subaru Outback

I was checking latest comments from a Finnish Subaru related Facebook group and noticed one extremely interesting comment there. Someone has bought a Volkswagen ID.3, owned it three months and then decided to trade it to Subaru Outback. Why on earth would anyone do that I was thinking. I have done quick moves too with my car history. So I am not here to judge anyone’s decisions. But that was such an interesting move that I needed to contact this person directly and ask is it really true. True it was and he provided me a text of his experiences with this new Volkswagen ID.3.

Person I contacted is Heikki Tala (link to Finnish wiki page), I quickly noticed that he has talent and experience in many ways. Not only with cars but he has written a book and has done his career in global oral health care. But as said, he has a lot of experience with cars too as he has owned 25 different cars!

WHEN A JUMP TO THE FUTURE WAS A DISASTER


My driving history started in 1957 with Dad’s Renault Prairie. Then he bought VW 1200 De Luxe RWD, and I drove to the school with 4 younger siblings 1957–58 some 10.000 km. My first own car was Austin 850 Mini and the many other cars until 2008 I bought my first Subaru Legacy Sedan and changed after one year to Outbacks until October 2020. At the age of 81 y, I decided to change to fully e-cars just to see what are they like. My son is a Subaru fan as well, and he suggested waiting for ID.4 AWD. Anyway, I bought ID.3 Max with all the bells and whistles and was overly happy. Form car magazines I realized that the ID was not ready. Especially the user interface was heavily criticized – how true.

By the end of January 2021, I have driven 4000 km with a lot of problems. Not a single trip without warnings, tilts, etc. The worst happened on a snowy day when my wife and I started to travel to our free time cottage. On the highway, I set ACC on 90 km/h and everything was nice and fine. After some time the ACC suddenly decided to increase the speed up at 120 km/h and the next three seconds were horrible sliding left-right-left 100 meters until I tapped the brake and the ACC was released. My wife refuses to enter the car any more.

So now I am waiting for my 7th Subaru which is scheduled to arrive in February. Why Outback out of dozens of great AWD cars in the market? I know SUBARU and agree with several test drivers of car magazines “The Safest SUV” with continuous symmetric AWD and Eyesight.
Subaru’s user interface so far is within sensible limits. I am not willing to play with the screen- I do want to drive an automobile!

Heikki Tala 21 01 2021

What a story! Personally I have never driven an electric car. Not ID.3, Tesla or any other. However I have understood that some characteristics are bit different compared to a traditional car. E.g. power and torque can be much higher. If the car decides to accelerate for some reason from the set speed suddenly to something else. That is dangerous! From my experience I can tell that sometimes Subaru’s Eyesight is not able to detect lanes properly during winter. E.g. on narrow roads during winter when lanes are sometimes visible and sometimes not. Subaru might try to nudge the car in another direction because of misreading where the road actually is. But that is a very minor issue compared to something where the car suddenly accelerates rapidly. Especially when electric cars tend to have lots of torque. This combined to high speed, ice and winter conditions can have lethal consequences. Hopefully folks at Volkswagen takes seriously this type of user experiences and feedback and improves their cars. I am happy on behalf of Tala’s family that they are both safe after this experience. I wish them safe miles, no matter which car or brand they might next time have.

Thank you Heikki Tala for your contribution on this blog!

8 comments

  1. Heikki’s story as unfortunate as it is, is a bit misleading. He has been telling it in various forums, and it has been proved to be misunderstanding. The car disengages the ACC as soon as there’s any involvement by traction control. In this case it was a panic reaction from the driver to car jolting due to bad road conditions, acceleration and lane assistant (none of which should have been used in that weather). Driver accidentally made things worse AFTER assistant systems already had been switched off. I can understand how scary that must have felt, but it was not due to car. The same goes with reports for Tesla, it’s user error behind them eventually.

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    1. Maybe this is a speculation where I should not participate as I wasn’t there nor I do not have any experience of the ID.3. But what made me wonder is that why car accelerated in the first place? In my opinion, it should be driver’s decision if the speed should be changed from what was set to the cruise control.

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      1. Newer Volkswagen group cars have two modes for Cruise Control. The traditional mode where you set the speed, and car keeps it (unless there’s slower traffic ahead). The other mode tries to automatically adapt to speed limits, curves on roads, intersections, roundabouts etc. The adaptive mode was turned on when it shouldn’t (bad weather), thus car accelerated as a surprise to the driver. This is however the choice the driver has to make each time he/she activates the cruise control. The car doesn’t activate cruise controle (not even adaptive) automatically. To me the story sounds like a misjudgement by the driver by activating cruise control when it definitely should not have been done. Behavior since acceleration sounds like panic reaction by the driver. There are multiple similar reports from Teslas, some even leading to accidents. Often drivers blamed the car but looking at the logs it always turned out to be driver error.

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      2. The default mode is selectable by the user. Basically by turning “adjust to speed limits” on or off for the cruise control. The selected choice comes as default next time you engage the cruise control. When the setting is on the car uses traffic-sign recognition (camera) and map to adjust cruise control speed to max speed limits. The speed detected by the car is also easy to override. You just press “SET” or “RESUME” before the detected speed is applied. There are cases when the detected speed is applied instantly and car starts to accelerate. In that case any action by the user cancels the acceleration and disengages the cruise control (e.g. RESUME will immediately return to previous speed setting). Sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty intuitive to use.

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  2. Whatever had been behind the story, had the car owner decided to swap vehicles after just three months, that draws my attention. Apart from the electronics-vs-human factor, If I sell a car before one-year-ownership-term exceeds, I am obliged to pay additional tax in my country. So, the decision must be well grounded indeed.
    E.g., regarding the same Outback Eye-Sight/ Adaptive Cruise Control/ X-Mode/etc., I must always be aware that the vehicle (provided by its manufacturer) is under my human control in the end. One cannot totally rely on smart technologies. The steering wheel, gas and brake pedal must be under my ultimate command. Obviously, our ordinary roads/ paths are not subject to Formula 1 or rocket speeds and technologies.
    And if there’s misunderstanding… if we go the rocket speed way on our roads… manufacturers should implement a sort of objective track control device. So to prove who was right/ wrong after all. As it is in air industry.

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