Volkswagen ID.3 Review
The Volkswagen ID.3 is an electric hatchback with an impressive range and great interior space. It’s not as plush as a Golf, though, and some of the buttons and switches are annoying to use.
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The Volkswagen ID.3 is the first standalone electric car VW has produced. It has five doors, room for five inside and is capable of travelling up to 340 miles on a charge. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then your test-drive list should also feature the Nissan Leaf, Kia e-Niro and even Tesla Model 3.
Volkswagen reckons its ID.3 is a bit like the iPhone in 2007; it could be the car that convinces the masses that electric transportation is the future, just as Apple showed people that you didn’t have to play Snake on your Nokia for the rest of time.
It looks the part too, the ID.3. It has a sort of face, with LED headlights that move like eyes and LED daytime running lights and front bumper that result in a bit of a grin. There are defined creases and side skirts that leave a sporty look viewing side on, while at the back, there’s a gloss black spoiler and dark glass tailgate.
Inside, you can choose between three colour schemes, including the orange and white you see in these pictures. Hmmm. Anyway, more important is the fact that the quality on show isn’t particularly great. The latest VW Golf, for instance, is plusher, yet you’ll pay less for it. Still, the ID.3’s dash has a clean, futuristic design that doesn’t offend.
That interior is dominated by two large screens. The first is similar to the Active Info Display that’s currently available on the Volkswagen Golf. It’s able to switch between different trip info with the press of a button on the steering wheel.
The other display is a 10-inch touchscreen on the centre of the dashboard. It’s bright, high-res and responds nicely to touch, while the system’s menus are easy to follow. However, the voice control is a bit hit-and-miss, while VW’s instance on erratic touch-sensitive sliders for the volume, climate controls and multifunction wheel buttons often leave you wondering why they bothered. Early cars don’t yet have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, either.
Volkswagen's aim is to make switching your car from petrol or diesel to electric as easy as possible, and the ID.3 looks like it'll do just that.
Interior space is a different story – the ID.3 is seriously impressive. With no large engine or gearbox to accommodate, electric cars have much more interior space than a similar-sized petrol or diesel car. Hence, four tall adults will be extremely comfy, even if three along the rear bench will be a squeeze. Consider, though, that the range-topping car will be a strict four-seater thanks to its larger battery.
All ID.3s come with a generous boot, though. It’s slightly larger than a Golf’s and will take five aeroplane carry-on cases, but also has great access and the option of an adjustable boot floor to minimise the boot lip you have to lift heavy bags over.
The ID.3 will eventually be available with three battery sizes – 48kWh, a 58kWh and 77kWh. The larger the battery, the longer the range and the longer it takes to charge. Fitted with the smaller battery, the ID.3 has a range of around 200 miles – according to VW.
Electric cars fitted with mid-sized batteries have an official range of around 260 miles, although we tried it for ourselves and managed 220 – check out the video review, where we drove the ID.3 until the batteries are completely empty. The 77kWh cars go furthest, with a claimed range of 340 miles. In reality, that may be nearer to 285 miles if our test results are replicated across the ID.3 range.
50kW charging is standard, but mid-range cars get 100kW, while the range-topper gets 125kW. You can charge the 58kWh model to 80% in 31mins, if you can find a 100kW charger, that is. Charging at home is an overnight job, however you do it.
In town, the ID.3’s light steering and great forward visibility make tight turns and parking a breeze. The view out the back is a fair bit worse, although rear sensors come as standard. It feels firm over bumps, but never truly uncomfortable.
The reason for that firmness is because the ID.3 weighs the thick end of 1.8 tonnes, so it needs to be controlled through tight corners – which it is. In fact, it grips hard and feels urgent in and out of town in terms of performance, but it doesn’t quite have the darty feel of a Honda e. Our car’s faulty adaptive cruise control also let it down on the motorway, but in truth, it wasn’t one of the best systems when it was working. Otherwise, the ID.3 was comfy and quiet at 70mph.
So, the ID.3 is spacious, with a good infotainment system and an impressive range for the money. Just be aware that there are alternatives with higher-quality cabins and fewer glitches at this early stage. Check out our VW ID.3 deals for the very best prices.
There’s loads of space in the cabin and in the boot, but cars with the largest 77kWh battery will only have four seats.
The clever layout of the ID.3’s platform has allowed the designers to stick each wheel as far into each corner of the car as possible, which has huge benefits for interior space. To that end, the ID.3 is more of a match for the company’s Passat than it is for rivals with similar exterior dimensions.
There’s space for five adults (although the three in the rear will still need to be on speaking terms), with plenty of headroom and legroom, and the flat floor means the centre rear passenger has the same space as those on either side. Bear in mind, however, that the range-topping ID.3 has a larger battery for increased range, and this means it’s a four-seater because it takes up the space where the middle rear occupant would usually put their backside.
It’s dead easy to find a good driving position because there’s so much adjustment, and better still is the fact that the driver information display moves when you adjust the steering column, so it’s always in your eyeline. Better still, the driver’s seat has a fold-down armrest.
Children are well catered for, because there are Isofix latching points for three child seats, and the covers for the latches are hinged so you won’t lose them.
The Volkswagen ID.3 has a seriously practical interior. There’s space for a 1.5-litre bottle of water in each of the door pockets, while the centre console has space for two or three more bottles. Behind the bottle-holders is a small storage area into which you can stash your phone, and it offers wireless charging.
The central storage bin between the front seats is huge, and features a movable divider, as well as two USB-C sockets. If your phone uses a traditional USB connection, you’ll need to invest in an adapter.
Rear passengers are reasonably well catered for, too, with large rear door pockets, pockets on the back of the front seats, and a fold-down central armrest that contains a trio of cupholders.
The glovebox could do with being a bit bigger, however, because it’s hampered by the presence of the fusebox.
The new Volkswagen ID.3 has 385 litres of boot space with the rear seats raised, which is more than a match for the latest Golf’s 381 litres. It’s significantly larger than the 375 litres of the latest Ford Focus.
The boot is a good, regular shape and will be able to accommodate five carry-on flight cases with ease. Better still it has an adjustable floor, which allows you to either maximise carrying space or have the floor level with the boot lip to make sliding luggage into and out of it easy. When the floor is in its higher position, it leaves a decent-sized area beneath for you to hide items out of sight.
Good to drive around town and doesn’t feel out of its depth on the motorway. The view out the back isn’t great though, so you’ll be thankful for the parking sensors.
There are three sizes of battery – 48kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh. The car should have a range of around 200 miles with the smallest of the three batteries fitted. It will cover around 260 miles with the middle of the three batteries, and a comparatively whopping 340 miles with the largest of the three.
However, we tried the 58kWh battery’s range claim out for ourselves and got 220 miles, so you can expect the real-world mileages to be slightly lower than these claimed figures from VW.
The downside of going for an ever-larger battery is that it will take longer to charge, although VW says all can be charged overnight, which it believes most people will do. The 58kWh model can be charged to 80% in just 31 minutes.
There are also three sizes of electric motor. The entry-level model generates 126hp, while the mid-point motor produces 150hp. Finally, the most powerful of the three generates 204hp, and can accelerate the ID.3 from rest to 62mph in just over seven seconds.
Electric vehicles tend to be at their best in the city, and it’s certainly here where the ID.3 is at home. As with most EVs, the initial burst of acceleration from standstill is eye-opening, and the ID.3 continues to accelerate at a brisk rate thereafter.
In addition, you can put the car in B mode, which increases the energy regeneration when you ease off the accelerator, and means you rarely need to touch the brake pedal.
The steering is light but offers little idea of what the front wheels are doing, although the good news is that it means there’s little effort involved when parking. However, it’s just as well that the steering is light, because you might have to make more than one attempt at parking manoeuvres, so poor is the rear visibility. Just as well VW has fitted rear parking sensors as standard.
Electric cars can sometimes feel like they’re running out of steam on faster roads, but not so the ID.3, which feels entirely at home. The adaptive cruise control feels a step behind the latest systems on the market, unfortunately.
If you’re used to the suppleness of a Volkswagen Golf you’ll likely be a bit surprised by the firmness of the ID.3, but that’s the downside of a car that weighs 1.8 tonnes. Still, the firm set-up helps the car to grip tenaciously and change direction well.
The VW ID.3 interior looks suitably stylish and futuristic, but some of the interior quality isn’t what you’d expect from a Volkswagen and its air-con controls are tricky to use while driving.