In-depth reviews

Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback review

"The Volkswagen ID.3 is essentially a futuristic, electric version of the the Golf, and VW hopes it will prove just as popular"

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£28,930 - £38,810

Pros

  • Performance
  • Range and fast-charging
  • Interior space and tech

Cons

  • Plastic interior trim
  • No one-pedal driving
  • Complicated model range

The Volkswagen ID.3 marks the start of a new era for the German brand. It's the first fully electric car from the firm that’s not based on an existing model, and is the Nissan Leaf's biggest rival for domination of the mass electric car market.

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

It’s about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf but ushers in a new design language specifically for the ID sub-brand. Smooth styling with a contrasting roof and LED lights means it looks modern but familiar, rather than radically different. 

Designers have taken full advantage of the low position of the battery and compact rear-mounted electric motor: it has a short bonnet and the wheels are pushed out to each corner, giving the ID.3 interior space on par with the bigger Volkswagen Passat. Thanks to revised pricing for mid-2021, seven versions of the ID.3 qualify for the Government's Plug-in Car Grant (PiGC), reducing the price buyers pay by £2,500.

Inside, the use of digital technology makes even the Mk8 Golf look conservative, with buttons eradicated almost entirely. Instead there's a floating centre screen and a tablet-style instrument pod, so it's almost as minimal as the Tesla Model 3. Glowing ambient lighting responds to voice commands and flashes to offer directions and alerts for incoming calls or hazards. 

A gear selector for drive and reverse takes the form of a rocker switch behind the steering wheel, freeing up storage space between the front passengers. It's Volkswagen's most radical change to the cabin in a generation, but if you ignore the bells and whistles, you’ll notice quality seems to have suffered; there are less soft-touch materials, replaced in most instances by hard grey plastic.

Three battery options are offered for the ID.3, allowing drivers to pick one that suits their daily routine and budget. With a 45, 58 or 77kWh capacity, they span a  range from 205 miles to 341 miles, so even the entry-level model can go further than a Hyundai Ioniq Electric. The two cheapest versions get the smallest, while only the most expensive Tour spec gets the largest battery; all others get the 58kWh battery that promises around 260 miles of range.

Pro Performance (the quickest) and Pro S versions get 201bhp using a single rear motor, powering the back wheels, but dual-motor, four-wheel-drive versions are expected later. Volkswagen added a 148bhp rear-mounted motor on Pure Performance (entry-level) models, and a 143bhp one on Pro models. The ID.3 is meant to be the car to increase take-up of electric Volkswagen models but the range structure doesn’t make buying one very straightforward.

Acceleration was impressively brisk in our Pro Performance test car, thanks to an instant response and 310Nm of torque, putting the Nissan Leaf and Renault ZOE in the shade. Around town and away from traffic lights, not much will keep up. Charging is similarly speedy, with 100kW fast-charging filling the battery pack to 80% in around half an hour. 

Despite weighing more than a Golf, the ID.3's low centre of gravity also makes it remarkably agile, beating the petrol or diesel Golf in this regard. A tight turning circle is also an unexpected bonus of the extra space under the bonnet, giving the ID.3 an advantage in city streets and car parks.

Even on big 19-inch alloy wheels in high-spec cars, on the vast majority of roads ride comfort is commendable. It’s generally quiet on the move too, which is handy as the lack of an engine increases your awareness of other sounds.

The long-awaited ID.3 appears very impressive on first acquaintance, with strong performance, a decent electric range and sharp styling. It will cater to a slightly different market than the Tesla Model 3, instead feeling rather like the Golf of the future. It's a shame the interior quality is slightly underwhelming but the ID.3 should appeal to a broad range of buyers.

Recommended

Ford Focus hatchback review
Ford Focus hatchback
Ford Focus
27 Sep 2021

Ford Focus hatchback review

BMW Z4 roadster review
BMW Z4 Roadster
BMW Z4
27 Sep 2021

BMW Z4 roadster review

Vauxhall Grandland X SUV review
Vauxhall Grandland X SUV
Vauxhall Grandland X
24 Sep 2021

Vauxhall Grandland X SUV review

Audi Q3 SUV review
Audi Q3 SUV
Audi Q3
24 Sep 2021

Audi Q3 SUV review

Most Popular

Electric Citroen Ami to launch in the UK next year
2022 Citroen Ami
Citroen Ami
21 Sep 2021

Electric Citroen Ami to launch in the UK next year

Top 10 best small estates 2021
Skoda Octavia Estate
Skoda Octavia Estate
22 Sep 2021

Top 10 best small estates 2021

Genesis G70 saloon review
 Genesis G70 saloon
Genesis G70 saloon
24 Sep 2021

Genesis G70 saloon review

More on ID.3

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Electric cars just keep improving, with longer ranges and shorter charging times. Here are the best electric cars on sale now
New long-range MG 5 EV does 250 miles on a charge
MG 5 EV long-range
MG
20 Jul 2021

New long-range MG 5 EV does 250 miles on a charge

Electric MG 5 EV estate with increased range costs £2,000 more than base model
Top 10 best company cars 2021
Tesla Model 3 saloon
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best company cars 2021

There are so many attractive choices these days that picking the best company car can be quite a challenge. We look at the best of today's most popula…
2021 Volkswagen ID.3: new Pure Performance model joins range
2021 Volkswagen ID.3 Tour pro
Volkswagen ID.3
15 Apr 2021

2021 Volkswagen ID.3: new Pure Performance model joins range

The ID.3 Pure Performance has a price of £28,370 and a range of up to 217 miles
Volkswagen ID.3 convertible under consideration
Volkswagen ID.3 convertible
Volkswagen ID.3
1 Mar 2021

Volkswagen ID.3 convertible under consideration

Electric VW ID.3 hatchback could spawn a cabriolet version if there’s sufficient demand
New Volkswagen ID.3 vs Tesla Model 3: rivals comparison
Electric cars
2 Jan 2021

New Volkswagen ID.3 vs Tesla Model 3: rivals comparison

How does Volkswagen’s electric ID.3 hatchback compare to the Tesla Model 3?
2021 Volkswagen ID.6 based on ID. Roomzz concept
Volkswagen
9 Sep 2020

2021 Volkswagen ID.6 based on ID. Roomzz concept

Volkswagen’s upcoming large electric SUV spotted testing for the first time

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks