Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback - Interior & comfort
The Volkswagen ID.3 is futuristic, but only facelift cars get the soft-touch materials commensurate with this car’s near-£40k price
The Volkswagen ID.3 features a futuristic-looking interior design based heavily around touchscreens and touch-sensitive buttons. All the familiar elements of a car interior are here but not quite as you might expect them.
VW ID.3 dashboard
There are few physical controls, which could be off-putting for fans of a more traditional interface, and the ID.3’s digital screens are especially prominent compared with VW interiors of the past. The touchscreen infotainment takes centre stage, like it does in the Tesla Model 3, and appears to float in front of the dashboard.
Meanwhile, the instrument display sits like a tablet behind the steering wheel. Like in the BMW i3, the gear selector sprouts from the instrument pod, which may take a bit of getting used to but is only needed to select drive, reverse and park.
A light bar beneath the windscreen changes colours to interact with the driver, glowing white when 'listening' to voice commands, giving directions in blue, warnings in red and showing an incoming call by turning green.
The futuristic approach is not surprising – this is the car that represents a new era for Volkswagen after all – but the drop in quality was more of a shock for loyal Volkswagen owners. Soft-touch materials were sparse, replaced with lots of grey and scratchy plastic that were a big backwards step for a brand that built its name on quality. Electric cars are expensive to produce and we can only imagine this has made margins tight – especially as the ID.3 isn’t much more expensive than a mid-spec Golf.
For the 2023 mid-life facelift, Volkswagen added more soft finishes, with foam-backed touch points in response to customer feedback. The animal-free interior also uses an ‘Artvelours Eco’ microfibre material for the door trims and seats that uses more than 70% recycled material. This has made a huge difference to perceived quality – the ID.3 finally feels worthy of its rather lofty list price, meaning it can comfortably compete with rivals like the Renault Megane E-Tech and Kia Niro EV.
However, UK buyers will need to wait until 2024 for the 10-inch infotainment screen to be replaced with an allegedly more responsive 12.9-inch touchscreen, and for the fiddly touch slider climate controls to be replaced with backlit items that are easier to see in all conditions.
This remains a point of contention – the screen single-handedly lets the ID.3 down, with glitchy software that’s slow to respond and not all that easy to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, but even these are plagued by that laggy display. We can only hope that the updated system rectifies these failings.
Since its launch, the ID.3 range has included a whole host of models, each with various equipment packs. For the pre-facelift car, trim levels included Business, Style and Tour, but as of spring 2023 just Pro and Pro S versions are offered.
Standard equipment on every ID.3 includes LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, sat nav and keyless start. There’s also a digital dash, lane keep assist and heated front seats on every car.
All models get alloy wheels (the cheap-looking hubcaps from early cars have been ditched entirely) measuring 18 inches for Pro, but are upgraded to 19-inch wheels on the Pro S. The latter also gets electric front seats, but the main reason to choose the Pro S is its larger battery pack, giving it a much longer range.
While there aren’t many individual extras for the ID.3, the facelifted version saw the introduction of option packs, which group together popular features. For instance, the Exterior Pack includes new two-part LED rear light clusters, which replace the more basic reflectors fitted as standard.
Buyers who want to preserve as much range as possible can add an energy-efficient heat pump for £910 to either the Pro or Pro S, which should save precious miles in particularly extreme conditions – hot or cold. All owners can pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin from the car’s smartphone app, however.
While the 10-inch infotainment system looks futuristic and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, the move away from physical buttons has made it a little fiddly to use. There is currently no option to upgrade this setup, though VW says a larger display will be added from mid-2024.