Volkswagen ID.3 review - solid EV, but infotainment lets it down
"The Volkswagen ID.3 is a strong EV contender that’s good to drive, practical and has a decent range, it’s just a shame about its laggy infotainment"
- Range and fast-charging
- Interior space
- Infotainment tech not up to scratch
- No one-pedal driving
- Top-spec cars four-seat only
Verdict - Is the Volkswagen ID.3 a good car?
The Volkswagen ID.3 is a great car for families wanting to make the switch to electric motoring, and doubly so now the maker has implemented some critical mid-life updates to improve interior quality. This, added to a simplified (and cheaper) model lineup makes the ID.3 easier to recommend than ever before; impressive performance, good electric range and fast charging, plus a generous kit list and a roomy interior make the electric VW a viable alternative to petrol hatchbacks and SUVs. Our reservations about the laggy infotainment system remain, however – we hope further updates in 2024 should rectify these concerns.
Volkswagen ID.3 models, specs and alternatives
The Volkswagen ID.3 was the first fully electric car from the German brand not to be based on an existing model, so it marked an important milestone. There are a lot of benefits to designing an electric car as such from the outset, such as the ability to offer more space and practicality without a bulky engine. It also helps to accommodate a larger battery and thus provides a longer range. Coming before the ID.3, the brand’s e-Golf was heavily based on the standard petrol and diesel-powered Golf, offering a limited driving range as a result.
Volkswagen’s production of the ID.3 is also carbon-neutral, thanks to steps it has taken to reduce the footprint of its manufacturing, which should give you peace of mind knowing that it’s eco-friendly when it hits the road. As it’s such an important car for the brand, Volkswagen is keen for the ID.3 to prove a success. Its striking, futuristic design is intended to tout its status as a car leading the brand in a new direction but could be considered quite a polarising look for fans of more traditional styling.
This was tweaked slightly for 2023, with black elements of the bonnet now body-coloured, and a new bumper design that’s also more aerodynamic, along with updated exterior lighting. It was inside, however, where the biggest updates can be found; Volkswagen has fitted much more premium-feeling materials, finally befitting of the car’s near-£40k starting price.
It’s not all good news, however. The minimalist cabin looks clean on the surface, but the infotainment technology is glitchy and slow to respond. One of our biggest frustrations, though, is the touch-sensitive climate control sliders beneath the main screen – they’re fiddly and not backlit, which makes them a nightmare to operate at night.
Originally, three battery options were offered, but the smallest 45kWh pack is no longer available. VW’s 58kWh and 77kWh options are the sole batteries offered at the time of writing, and the 58kWh capacity offered in the Pro can manage up to 265 miles on a single charge, while the 77kWh battery in the Pro S manages up to 347 miles. Both can charge to 80% in around half an hour.
The Pro and Pro S names not only define which battery you get, but what other kit your car comes fitted with. Base versions get 18-inch wheels, LED lights and two-tone paint with a contrasting black roof, while inside there’s a 10-inch screen and a digital instrument cluster. Pro S costs just under £6,000 more and brings bigger 19-inch wheels and better seats – plus that bigger battery and longer range.
Every version now comes with a 201bhp rear-mounted, rear-wheel-drive electric motor. Previously, a wider range of trim levels and power options were available, though it’s not likely we’ll see these return any time soon. What is on the horizon, however, is a hot ID.3 GTX – possibly with more than 300bhp. You can consider this an electric alternative to the legendary Golf GTI with the performance to shame some dedicated sports cars.
Regardless, we found acceleration was impressively brisk even in our Pro-spec test car. For most buyers, this level of performance (0-62mph takes 7.4 seconds) will be more than sufficient – putting the Nissan Leaf and Kia Niro EV in the shade. In fact, on performance alone, rivals like the MG4, Cupra Born and Renault Megane E-Tech are probably more worthy of mention.
Around town and away from traffic lights, the ID.3 feels quicker off the mark than most other traffic. 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 20-inch alloy wheels in high-spec cars, on the vast majority of roads ride comfort is commendable. The 18-inch wheels fitted to most cars should improve comfort further. It’s generally quiet on the move too, which is handy as the lack of an engine increases your awareness of other sounds.