- Eye-catching design and packed with technology
- Good driving range between charges
- Practical family hatchback
- Quite a lot of hard plastic interior trim
- It feels fairly heavy on the open road
- High-end models with the most powerful battery are pricey
The Volkswagen Group has made its intentions very clear – it wants to be a world leader in electric vehicles. And it is backing that plan up by investing 33 billion euro by 2024.
The company’s first bespoke electric car is the five-door ID.3 which can offer a driving range of up to 336 miles between charges. Customers can choose what size battery is fitted to the car which has an impact on the driving range, as well as the price.
On The Road
The ID.3 hatchback is currently available with a choice of two batteries. There is the Pro 58kWh or Pro S 77kWh batteries with a WLTP combined range of up to 263 or 336 miles respectively. VW will be introducing a smaller Pure 45kWh battery later on with a range of 205 miles.
Customers need to decide which trim level they want with a choice of Life, Business, Style, Family, Tech and Max. There is also a limited-run 1st Edition model and that’s the version we tested.
It was fitted with the slightly lower-powered 58kWh 204PS battery and could sprint from 0-62mph in a rapid 7.3 seconds, maxing out at 99mph. The power and acceleration out of the blocks are instant and the ID.3 quickly hits national motorway speed limits where it cruises effortlessly.
Out on the fast country lanes, the vehicle feels quite heavy but boasts a low centre of gravity so can be pushed with confidence into corners. The road holding is ultra grippy and the vehicle feels perfectly balanced at all times. There is a constant supply of power at your disposal which makes light work of overtaking slower moving vehicles and the car has a very easy-to-use cruise control system.
VW has a great reputation for developing cars that deliver on the performance front while still offering good levels of comfort along the way, and the ID.3 is another perfect example of this. It boasts all the firepower to fizz through the country lanes, but is perfectly balanced in the process with the highly effective suspension set-up smoothing out even the worst road surfaces.
The regenerative braking system is very effective. The driver switches to B from D on the drive selector and then the car can virtually be driven with just one pedal as when you ease off the throttle the vehicle slows while recouping energy in the process.
The cabin is well insulated so occupants are protected from road surface or wind noise, although there is an engine note to warn pedestrians and cyclists that the car is approaching.
It’s a car that is happy ambling around town, but this rear-wheel drive model can certainly hold its own on faster B roads and motorways. The steering is nicely weighted and the ID.3 is beautifully agile in busier town centres where lots of stop start driving is the order of the day. The tight turning circle is another plus-factor, especially if, like me, you ignore the sat nav directions and need to do a lot of three-point turns!
The ID.3 is certainly a head turner with a distinctive design that looks both modern and dynamic. The car has quite a short bonnet, smart streamlining, matrix headlights, LED daytime running lights, tinted rear windows, 1st Edition badging, illuminated light bands between the headlights and logo, plus 19-inch alloys and smart body graphics.
The interior is bright, spacious and very premium in its appearance with a strong focus on touchscreen controls or voice commands with very few buttons or switches.
An innovative new feature is the ID Light system which is a first in the automotive sector. A narrow light stretches the length of the lower windscreen and assists the driver such as moving to the right when the navigation instructions are saying ‘turn right’, flashing green if a phone call is received or glowing red when emergency braking is necessary. When the car is being charged the light flows green building from left to right indicating the level of charge. This can be seen from outside the car. Clever stuff and not too gimmicky or irritating when on the move.
The microfleece seats offer plenty of support and are comfortable on long journeys. In fact, the interior of the ID.3 is futuristic without being too whacky. The only downside is the large amount of hard plastic within the cabin. It all seems nice enough but after a few months could be looking a tad jaded and scratched.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The interior of the ID.3 is fairly minimalist and quite futuristic in its design and layout with very few conventional buttons or switches. The gear selector, for example, is a rocker switch located behind the steering wheel and all the lights are accessed via a small panel on the dashboard rather than on a dial or steering wheel stalk.
The main focal point is a newly developed 10-inch touch display screen that provides access to a vast array of functions with sharp graphics. On board technology includes full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, DAB digital radio, a seven-speaker sound system, heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
There is a clever virtual assistant that can be summoned with the magic words “Hello ID” and then you simply make your request. It can be used to turn on the seat heaters, change the radio station, alter the audio volume and a number of other functions. While this is good as it means you keep your hands on the steering wheel, the feature was a bit hit and miss at times.
The seats look really upmarket and offer excellent levels of support, and getting a comfortable driving position is a simple process with lots of seat and steering wheel adjustment.
All the instrumentation is well positioned and the 5.3-inch dash panel offers the vital data in a nicely simplistic format. There is ambient lighting and other quite flashy light features, but all in all, the interior is a very pleasant environment for all occupants.
Space & Practicality
Despite looking fairly compact on the outside, mainly due to the short bonnet, the ID.3 is like the TARDIS inside with room to accommodate four adults comfortably or five at a bit of a squeeze. Headroom in the back is good as is the all-round driver visibility thanks to the large windows.
Storage options are impressive too with a boot that can swallow 385 litres of kit – this limit increases to 1,267 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped down. There is a variable boot floor which is another handy feature.
The ID.3 measures 4,261mm in length (Golf 4,284mm), 1,809mm in width (Golf 1,789mm) and is 1,552mm high (Golf 1,456mm) which makes the vehicle a very practical proposition for active families.
Throughout the car, there are a number of storage options, including a deep central cubby box with sliding cover, door pockets, a mobile phone holder, a glovebox, front cup holders and a small net at the front of the centre console. Back seat passengers have two additional cup holders in the fold-down armrest, along with seat back pockets and door bins. There are also two extra USB-C charge ports so they can plug in their media devices on longer journeys. There are two more charge ports in the front.
Wide-opening rear door make it easy to get in and out of the car. This would also be a practical advantage for anyone regularly needing access to a child seat.
The VW ID.3 line-up starts from £32,990 and rises to £42,290 (before the Government’s £3,000 plug-in vehicle grant has been deducted). Our test car in 1st Edition specification was priced at £38,880 increasing to £39,500 with a £620 charge for special paintwork. Being an EV, buyers can claim back £3,000 thanks to the Government’s plug-in vehicle grant, so the price of our model was £35,835.
It is the first car to be built on the VW Group’s MEB platform which is flexible and allows customers to select which battery size they want. For example, they can choose between the Pro 58kWh or Pro S 77kWh batteries with a smaller Pure 45kWh battery on the horizon. These has an impact on cost and driving range.
It takes about 30 minutes to add 180 miles to the ID.3 1st Edition model via a 100kW DC rapid charger. It is also fine for home charging on a 7.2kWh wallbox which can be programmed for when the electricity tariff is at its lowest to keep costs down.
With its zero carbon emissions figures, the financial savings are impressive. The Benefit-in-Kind rate of zero per cent means the ID.3 is very attractive to company buyers and the car is exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (or road tax) costs too. The car is also free from Congestion Charges.
The VW ID.3 sits in insurance group 29.
Quality & Reliability
It is a little too early to predict how reliable the ID.3 will prove to be as it is all new. But the German car maker has a good reputation for developing durable, robust cars that survive the test of time.
All the controls and switchgear look and feel sturdy and the high quality upholstery should still be looking good after the car has notched up several thousand miles.
There is quite a lot of hard plastic within the cabin and this may be a little prone to scratching over time, but again it is too early to say for certain.
The touchscreen does get covered in fingerprints but is easily wiped clean.
The VW ID.3 comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but the battery is covered by an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
The VW ID.3 was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
The car boasts a wealth of safety kit and driver aids to help protect all occupants and other road users alike. It features a driver alert system with fatigue detection, electronic stability control with traction control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, Isofix child seat anchor points and a full suite of airbags.
Driver assist aids include front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view mirror, adaptive cruise control, including a front assist radar sensor-controlled distance monitoring system, city emergency braking, lane assist, speed-sensitive power assisted steering, dynamic road sign display, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, oncoming vehicle braking when turning and swerve support, plus a number of other features.
Additional packs can be added to the mix that introduce even more safety features at a cost.
On the security front, the ID.3 comes with remote central locking, an alarm with interior protection and an immobiliser.