Volkswagen ID.3 review
The Volkswagen ID3 is an electric car 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 a fully electric hatchback that can be thought of as a Golf for the new era. Its design and underpinnings are completely different to the Golf’s, though, and VW claims its arrival here in the UK is about as significant as a certain Mr Armstrong’s arrival on the moon.
Okay, that’s probably overselling it a bit; but this battery-powered five-door family hatchback – which has a Tesla-busting range of nearly 340 miles – has already scooped our Best Family Electric Car gong at the 2021 carwow Car of the Year awards. The ID.3 is already off to a flying start.
It’s up against some stiff competition, going into battle against the likes of the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric and the fantastic Kia e-Niro. But as competent as those cars undoubtedly are, none look quite as funky and personable as this electric Volkswagen.
That said, the colour choices – mostly greys and silvers – aren’t quite as bold as its exterior styling, but they all contrast smartly against the black roof and tailgate. You get 18in steel wheels with plastic covers as standard on all models apart from the Style and range-topping Tour versions (18in and 19in alloys are order of the day here, respectively), but 20in wheels are available optionally.
We think the 58kWh ID3 is the pick of the bunch. Make sure to check our deals page for the best prices!
In the cabin Volkswagen has gone for a minimalist look, so there’s very little in the way of physical switchgear. A large 10in touchscreen infotainment unit dominates the dash top, along with a smaller digital instrument display that can be controlled with the buttons on the steering wheel.
Passenger space is really pretty excellent, and the boot is a good size too. There are also a fair few storage cubbies dotted around the place, which always come in handy. Our only real gripe with the interior is the basic quality of the materials. We’re used to Volkswagens with plenty of soft-touch surfaces and smart-looking glossy trim finishers, but the ID.3 goes a bit too heavy on hard, dull-looking scratchy plastics in places.
The ID.3 is now available with three different battery packs. With the smallest pack, the ID.3 has a claimed range of 217 miles, while the largest pack ups that to 336 miles. Those battery sizes are tied to different power outputs for the electric motor, too. Depending on which one you choose, the ID.3 will kick out 145hp, 150hp or 204hp. So far, we’ve only driven the faster 204hp models – and they’re really easy to get along with. Acceleration is instantaneous, so you can zip in and out of gaps in the traffic with ease
The ID.3 can feel a bit firm and uptight over the odd lump or bump, but with a bit of pace on it settles down to become a comfortable motorway cruiser. It handles pretty tidily too, with good grip levels and accurate steering. Forward visibility is great, but a small rear window restricts the view out the back slightly. You get plenty of clever safety kit as standard too, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
All up, the Volkswagen ID.3 is a really likeable and easily recommendable family EV. If it sounds like it’s right up your street, head on over to our deals page to see how much you could save on a new ID.3.
There’s loads of space in the cabin and in the boot, but cars with the largest 77kWh battery only have four seats.
The clever layout of the ID.3 has allowed the designers to stick each wheel as far into the corners 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 bigger Passat than it is for other small hatchbacks with similar exterior dimensions.
There’s space for five adults (although the three in the rear may feel a touch squished in), with plenty of headroom and legroom. The flat floor means the centre rear passenger has the same space as those on either side, too. Bear in mind, however, that the range-topping ID.3 Tour has a larger battery for increased range, and can only seat four as a result.
It’s dead easy to find a good driving position because there’s so much adjustment in the seat base and steering column. And because the digital driver information display is actually attached to the steering column itself, it remains in your eyeline at all times.
Got kids? The ID.3 should be a good family car, 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 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 larger than the 375 litres of the latest Ford Focus, too.
The boot is a good, regular shape and can 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 of the back isn’t great though, so you’ll be thankful for the parking sensors.
Equipped with the smallest ‘Pure Performance’ battery the ID.3’s electric motor kicks out 150hp, and promises a claimed range of just under 220 miles. The bigger 58kWh unit is available in ‘Pro’ and ‘Pro Performance’ guises, which make 145hp or 204hp respectively, but deliver the same maximum claimed range of 263 miles. The 77kWh ‘Pro S’ cars, meanwhile, also make 204hp, but that range figure jumps to 366 miles.
As with all electric cars, however, there’s a bit of a difference between claimed and real-world range. So far we’ve only driven the 204hp versions of the 58kWh and 77kWh models. In the former, we were able to cover 220 miles before the battery died; while the 77kWh Tour model returned a theoretical range of 231 miles based on an energy consumption rate of 3.0mi/kWh.
However, that figure was produced on a route that was mostly motorway, where EVs are at their least efficient. On a more conventional city route, that number should jump significantly.
The downside of going for a larger battery is that it will take longer to charge. A 7kW home wallbox will top the 58kWh model up to 100% in 9.5 hours, while the 77kWh model will need 13 hours. On a DC rapid charger, the 58kWh model can be topped up to 80% in just 31 minutes, while the 77kWh model needs just under 40 minutes.
We’ve not yet driven the 145hp or 150hp models (which promise respective 0-60mph times of 9.6sec and 8.9sec), but the 204hp cars are more than swift enough. With the 58kWh battery, the 204hp ID.3 will hit 60mph in 7.3sec; with the larger unit, it needs 7.9sec.
Electric vehicles tend to be at their best in the city, and it’s certainly here where the ID.3 is at home. In 204hp guise, acceleration from a standstill is instant and surprisingly punchy, so you can nip in and out of gaps in the traffic with ease. This acceleration remains strong as you reach the national speed limit too, which is very helpful for performing safe overtakes on the open road.
Stuck in stop-start traffic? Switch the ID.3 into B mode and the rate at which it regenerates energy as you ease off the accelerator will increase and boost efficiency even further. It doesn’t quite make for a genuine one-pedal driving experience, but the rate at which it slows the car is still very comfortable – this is an incredibly easy car to get along with.
The steering is reasonably light and pleasingly accurate, but this is by no means a sporty-driving family hatchback. Along with excellent forward visibility, this makes the ID.3 an easy car to drive around town and thread down narrow city streets. Less helpful is the small rear window, which restricts the view out the back. Usually this might make the ID.3 a tricky car to park, but thankfully VW has fitted rear parking sensors as standard.
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’s ride, but that’s the downside of a car that weighs 1.8 tonnes. At lower town speeds it can feel a wee bit shuddery over lumps and bumps, but it’s far from uncomfortable.
That firm set-up helps the car to grip tenaciously and change direction well on faster country roads, too, and at motorway speeds it settles down nicely to become a comfortable long-distance car. You will notice a fair bit of road noise, but thanks to the ID.3’s slippery shape wind-noise is kept at a low level.
The VW ID3 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.
Volkswagen ID.3 colours
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