- Reasonably quick and a pleasant drive
- Useful 260-mile range across all Pro Performance versions
- Life edition is great value, with lots of features
- Feature packs push price up quickly
- Heat pump expensive optional extra
- Front seats have no electronic adjustment option
Range (WLTP): 258-336 miles Top Speed: 99 mph 0 to 62: 7.3-7.9 sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 3.1-3.2p
We were hugely excited when Volkswagen announced the ID.3. At last, a German carmaker was truly taking EVs seriously, and going all in with a pure electric platform for everyday vehicles rather than dabbling with the luxury end of the market, like Mercedes and Audi. The brand that gave us the Beetle and the Golf – two cars that set the benchmark for quality driving for the masses in their respective periods – was promising to do it again in the electric era. Like a phoenix rising from the smog of Dieselgate, VW appeared to be reinventing itself with new environmental credentials.
But when the 1st Edition ID.3 pricing was announced, it didn’t look so much like a car for the people. Costing around £38,000 – or £35,000 with the UK plug-in grant – the initial ID.3 release seemed to be vying with the most premium Korean, French and Japanese alternatives and only five grand cheaper than a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus. The Model 3 may have sold extremely well, but it’s hardly a mainstream car of the people. Then, Volkswagen pulled a rabbit out of the bag a few weeks ago by announcing that further ID.3 models were going on sale – including one for under £30,000. This makes the ID.3 into a much more interesting proposition.
Price and Options
The car we were sent for review was still the initial ID.3 1st Edition, but the less expensive models aren’t so different, at least in their core features. The standard range now starts with the Life at £29,990 (including £3,000 plug-in grant) and finishes with the £38,220 Max, and then there’s a £39,290 Tour. All vehicles from Life to Max offer a 204PS motor and 58kWh “Pro Performance” battery. The Tour replaces the latter with a 77kWh “Pro S” battery, providing considerably longer range.
The differences between the different trims is rather complicated and revolves around packs of features. All cars have at least the Infotainment and Comfort packs. The former includes a 10in display and sat-nav, while the latter provides heated mirrors, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rain sensing windscreen wipers, and two rear USB-C ports. There’s adaptive cruise control, too, as well as front and rear parking sensors. So even the Life has premium luxury features.
Above that, the Business, Family, Style, Tech, Max and Tour add combinations of packs. Business adds Design and Assistance packs, for example, whereas the Style just has the Design Pack Plus. The interior designs vary with the trim levels, with the Life only coming with one design, but the others having three to choose from. Where the 1st Edition we drove came with attractive 19in “Andoya” alloy wheels, all the standard cars have 18in steel wheels, with only the Tour having the same 19in rims. But these are optional on all the other models, and there are 20in “Sanya” alloy options too. These add anywhere between £50 and £1,760 to the price, depending on what you started with.
The standard exterior paint colour is “Moonstone Grey”, but there are white, another grey, blue, silver and turquoise alternatives, with a couple of bicolour options as well, costing £480 for bicolour and £620 for metallics. It’s a complicated array of choices, and you can read the full details in the ID.3 brochure online. However, one additional feature worth commenting on is that while the 1st Edition doesn’t include a heat pump, all the subsequent models can include one – but it’s a £1,250 optional extra.
Although not everyone we asked liked the way the ID.3 looks, particularly in the standard Moonstone Grey (which is reminiscent of a Navy battleship), the vast majority loved it. Particularly in the two-tone white and black livery we were sent, it’s extremely striking, and the design is like the Nissan Leaf bonded with a VW Golf – in a good way. It’s futuristic yet harks back to the Golf, feeling both new and familiar.
VW has clearly aiming to slot the ID.3 in where the Golf left off. In fact, the company claims it’s called “3” because it’s the third people’s car after the Beetle and Golf, although that doesn’t explain why there’s an ID.4 SUV. The ID.3 is almost the same length and width as a Golf, but the bonnet is considerably shorter. Because the ID.3 is the first example of the BEV-only MEB platform, there’s no need to have enough room up front for a fossil fuel engine in non-BEV versions, which obviously don’t exist. The electric components take up less space, and the batteries are under the floor. This allows the ID.3 to have a 15cm longer wheelbase than the Golf, which VW likens to that of a Passat. So you get more interior space, and the ID.3 is also 10cm taller than the Golf, further increasing the size inside.
If you’ve chosen a car that includes the Assistance Pack or Assistance Pack Plus, you get keyless entry, which is quite a slick implementation. The car doesn’t unlock automatically when you approach with the key – which can be a bit annoying if you walk past your car without intending to open it. Instead, there’s a sensor on the handle which you then touch to unlock as you pull the door handle. It’s very instinctive and allows you to open the car with a single hand motion.
The extra interior space is obvious as soon as you climb into the ID.3, particularly when it comes to headroom. If you’re over six foot, you should have no problems having enough room in either front or back of the ID.3. There are no leather seating options, with microfleece upholstery called Flow/Artvelours used instead. As we already mentioned, the front seats and steering wheel are heated in all versions. However, surprisingly, the front seats are mechanically adjusted, with no option for electronic adjustment at all, even with the most premium Comfort Pack Plus. In a car with so much to offer, this is one of the few black marks.
With the mechanical adjustment, it takes a bit more time to get the driving posture just right, but once you’ve found this, the ID.3 is a comfortable place to sit. You get fold-down arm rests for driver and passenger that are independent from the central console. This includes dual cupholders and a cubby with a sliding door on top. There are movable slats inside so you can vary the size of the sub-sections, and two USB-C ports for charging smartphones or other devices. There’s also an area to slide in your phone, which looked like it should be a Qi charger, but wasn’t functional on the 1st Edition. This will purportedly be enabled in the other trim levels when they ship in 2021.
Trim levels with the Design Pack Plus get a panoramic sunroof to further accentuate the sense of interior space. However, we’re surprised this wasn’t a feature of the 1st Edition we had for review. Even without this, rear passengers have a significant sense of room, just like front occupants. The two outer rear seats are comfortable with plenty of space for tall people’s heads and knees. The middle seat is much narrower and won’t be so comfortable for long journeys, although it is wider than some EVs we’ve tested, such as the Kia e-Niro. If you only have two rear passengers, the middle rear seat back can be pulled down to form an armrest with integrated cupholders. There are no rear air-conditioning vents, but back seat passengers do get two USB-C plugs for phone charging. If you’re looking to accommodate children’s car seats, there are ISOfix points on the two outer rear seats and the front passenger seat.
Storage and Load Carrying
The ID.3 has a decently sized boot, starting with 385 litres, which will be enough for hand luggage for four adults or the weekly shop. There's a small extra compartment for some emergency kit under this flap, which might just be enough for a charging cable too. The rear seats drop down in the usual 60/40 arrangement giving you 1,267 litres. So you start off with a bit less than a Nissan Leaf, but can have more than a Leaf if you need it by putting the seats down, although there’s still a bit of a step in the boot, unlike the Kia e-Niro, which provides more boot space too. You can also open a gap in the middle where the rear arm rest is located to stick some skis through or a Christmas tree or a broomstick. Perhaps the most telling comparison is that the boot space is just a little bit more than a Golf 8, and with the seats down it's more too. So for lugging cargo, the ID.3 is even more practical than the super-practical Golf.
When it came to the design of the interior user controls, VW has clearly looked at other EVs and borrowed some of the best bits. For example, if you've driven a Tesla, the way you can just push the brake pedal to start the vehicle system is super easy, and the ID.3 does the same thing. There is no need to press a start/stop button, although this is an option in some cars including the 1st Edition we had for review.
The other controls are a halfway house between the minimalism of Tesla and the button overkill of a regular car dashboard. The membrane buttons for a few functions including lights and the brake auto-hold feature might disappoint those looking for a solid, traditional German interior from VW. But we like the fact that there are dedicated buttons for some key functions, rather than expecting everything to be adjusted through a touch screen, as with the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.
The rotating drive selector on the right of the driver’s display is reminiscent of the BMW i3, but more solidly implemented. You rotate down for reverse, up for drive, and up again for extra regen braking. You push the P button on the end for park but there's no separate electronic parking brake. Again, this is like a Tesla, and VW obviously didn’t see the point of the feature. We tend to agree, although there are some arguments that having a separate electronic parking brake is safer.
There's a button on the dashboard for choosing between Eco, Normal and Sport modes, and unlike some EVs the ID.3 stays in the mode you've chosen next time you start the car. The 5.3in panel behind the steering wheel makes no pretence towards mimicking traditional dashboard instrumentation, and keeps things simple, with a clear indication of the drive mode on the right, which is joined by next turn information when navigating, then a digital speedometer in the middle, and finally the left side shows remaining range and an indicator illustrating whether the car is using up power or regaining it through regenerative braking. The Tech, Max and Tour trims augment this with a head up display, but the 1st Edition doesn't appear to have this, which is a surprise for this premium package for early adopters.
Another welcome decision from VW is that all versions of the ID.3 get the 10in media and sat-nav display. It's a touchscreen and we like the way it senses the closeness of your fingers and provides more detailed menu information. Although there are separate buttons for calling up the air conditioning and changing temperature, further controls and operating the heated seats requires the use of the 10in touchscreen. For the 1st Edition, the climate control has dual zones, but only trims with the Comfort Plus pack have this feature, including the Family, Max and Tour.
All cars get DAB+ radio alongside wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the Infotainment Plus pack in the Tech, Max and Tour adds seven speakers and the aforementioned HUD. There’s an extensive menu available via the 10in screen, but it’s not immediately obvious how you get to it. In fact, there’s a subtle square on the left-hand side you press to enable this, and once you realise this it’s a very simple system to use, with large clear icons getting you to the various functions. The satnav map is clear and entering an address through the touchscreen is intuitive. You also get three years’ access to the VW WeConnect Start mobile app connectivity service on all versions of the ID.3.
Performance and Driving
If the physical design of the ID.3 is like an electric Golf, so is the performance and driving experience. The motor has 204PS, which is certainly close to some previous GTI levels. But of course, this car, like most EVs, is heavy, weighing 1.8 tons. Nevertheless, all versions of the ID.3 with the Pro Performance battery can hit 62mph in a decent 7.3 seconds and reach 99mph. The larger, heavier Pro S battery means the Tour takes 7.9 seconds to reach 62mph.
Nevertheless, the Pro Performance cars, including the 1st Edition we had for review, are a little faster than most EVs in this price range, with the notable exception of the BMW i3 S. There is no torque steer when accelerating hard because the ID.3 is rear wheel drive, like the Honda e. Obviously even the Standard Range Plus version of the Tesla Model 3 is in a different league but considering that the ID.3 Life is now £10,000 cheaper, where the 1st Edition was only £5,000 cheaper, the performance is fast enough. Of course, being an electric car, the ID.3 rockets off the lights compared to a fossil fuel vehicle.
Handling is commendable too. As with most EVs, you do feel the weight around corners but with the heavy batteries evenly spaced beneath the floor, the balance is great, and the ID.3 is very stable on twisty roads. There's neither under nor oversteer, and the car sits flat around corners. It also sits extremely comfortably at motorway speeds, and we suspect the heavier Tour will be even more planted on a highway. Overall, the ID.3 fulfils its Golf heritage by offering a pleasant drive whether in city traffic, weaving along A-roads or sitting at 70mph on a motorway. It’s a very flexible and comfortable drive.
Range and Charging
One of the biggest disappointments with the luxury German SUV models that have so far joined the EV market (Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC) is their sub-200-mile range. Volkswagen hasn’t made this mistake with the ID.3, which arrives with a solid 258-263 miles of WLTP range depending on the package – despite the slightly small 58KWh battery. The Tour, with its 77kWh battery, has a 336-mile range. So even if the ID.3 isn’t competing with Tesla on performance, it is giving you a very competitive battery endurance. Whichever car you choose, you will be able to use the ID.3 for longer journeys, and this is backed up by a solid charging specification.
VW has gone with the crowd, unlike Lexus with its UX300e, by providing a CCS charging port. We also see here another way in which the basic Life model is not short-changed, because all cars have 11kW AC charging, and all can charge up to 100kW on DC too. With the 58kWh Pro Performance battery, it takes 9 hours 30 minutes to charge from empty on a 7kW wall box, 6 hours 15 minutes on 11kW three-phase, and a mere 35 minutes to replenish to 80% from 5% on a 100kW DC supply, equating to 180 miles of range. For the 77kW Pro S battery, the times are 13 hours on 7kW, 7 hours 30 minutes on 11kW, and 38 minutes for 80% on 100kW DC.
The 1st Edition we drove even comes with a subscription to VW's We Charge network, including one year, 2,000kWh or £500 of free charging, whichever comes first. This appears to be an exclusive deal with the 1st Edition, however, and the rest of the cars merely offer “special conditions” to use WeCharge partners (which includes Ionity), whatever that means. Nevertheless, VW has clearly thought this area through and created a full range of cars that will be fine for home charging and city use, commuting to a facility with 3-phase power, and long journeys where fast DC makes like much more bearable.
The ID.3 is cheap to run, too. With a 14p home power supply, the ID.3 with Pro Performance battery costs a mere 3.1p a mile, and this only rises to 3.2p a mile for the Pro S. This is quite a bit less than the Audi e-tron, for example. The basic warranty is three years or 60,000 miles, including two years with unlimited miles, which isn’t as good as a Kia, but you also get a 12-year bodywork warranty, three years on paint, and eight years or 100,000 miles for the battery, for the usual 70% capacity.
The insurance group for the 1st Edition is 29E, but ranges from 27E for the Life to 30E for the Tech, Max and Tour. These are relatively high compared to some EVs, but not horrendous. You also won’t be paying any VED and zero benefit-in-kind (BiK) as a company car for the first year if purchased through a company, at least until April 2021, after which it rises to 1%.
The ID.3 isn’t quite as obviously packed with safety tech as many of the EVs we’ve reviewed, but it is still there – just more subtly expressed. As we recently reported, the ID.3 just received 5 stars in the Euro NCAP test, and even has an airbag between front passengers to prevent head collisions. Yet another thing we’re impressed with from Volkswagen is that Adaptive Cruise Control is standard across all models, including the sub-£30 Life, with City emergency braking assistance. So is lane assistance alongside a driver alert system with fatigue detection.
Front and rear parking sensors are included on all cars, too, but you need the Assistance pack or Assistance pack plus for the rear reversing camera, which only the Life and Style don’t have. The Assistance pack also includes the slick keyless entry system with illuminated door handles. The plus version also adds Emergency, Side and Travel Assist, which provides forward collision warning and blind spot detection.
|Price:||Life – £29,990; Business – £33,720; Family – £34,650; Style – £34,180; Tech – £36,190; Max – £38,220; Tour – £39,290|
|Range (WLTP):||258-263 miles (Pro Performance); 336 miles (Pro S)|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||9.5 hours (Pro Performance); 13 hours (Pro S)|
|Charge time (11kW):||6 hours 15 minutes (Pro Performance); 7 hours 30 minutes (Pro S)|
|Charge time (100kW, 80%):||35 minutes (Pro Performance); 38 minutes (Pro S)|
|Battery:||58kWh (Pro Performance); 77kWh (Pro S)|
|On Board Charger:||11kW|
|Cost per mile*:||3.1p (Pro Performance); 3.2p (Pro S)|
|0-62mph:||7.3 seconds (Pro Performance); 7.9 seconds (Pro S)|
|Cargo:||385 litres / 1,267 litres with rear seats down|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh