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New Volkswagen ID.3 vs used Tesla Model 3

The Volkswagen ID.3 is a class-leading new electric car, but for just a little bit more you could have a used Tesla Model 3. Which it the better buy?...

New Volkswagen ID.3 vs used Tesla Model 3

The contenders

NEW Volkswagen ID.3 Pro Performance Life

List Price: £33,790
Target price: £32,797

The first Volkswagen to be designed as an all-electric car from the ground up won our 2021 Small Electric Car of the Year Award


USED Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

Price new: £40,840
Price today: £38,000*

Tesla's tech-savvy Model 3 costs a little more than the ID.3, even if you buy used, but is it worth the extra given its pace and practicality?

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and a full service history and is correct at the time of writing


When the Volkswagen ID.3 was launched, its maker suggested that it was the most important new Volkswagen since the original Golf – no pressure there, then. But fortunately for VW's engineers, who you suspect might have been looking for new jobs (or fed to piranhas) if they'd mucked it up, they hit a home run.

Not only did the ID.3 sail past the standards set by the Volkswagen e-Golf that it replaced, but it landed at the very top of the small electric car field, thanks to its long range, impressive practicality and enjoyable drive.

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Volkswagen ID.3 front cornering

It really has few downsides, but one is that it's not exactly cheap. In fact, for just a few thousand pounds more than a new ID.3 you could park a two-year-old Tesla Model 3 outside your house instead.

Nothing says 'I've gone electric' quite like a Tesla. Plus, the Model 3 comes jam-packed with tech and has dominated the large electric car class ever since it went on sale.

So which of these two cars – one new, one used – is the better buy? Read on to find out.

Tesla Model 3 front

Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Our test Model 3 isn't the most powerful version – that would be the 456bhp Performance – but even as a 50kWh Standard Range Plus it produces 252bhp and is good for 0-60mph in 6.1sec. 

The acceleration of the ID.3 isn't quite as electrifying (excuse the pun). However, the 58kWh Pro Performance version that we have still churns out 201bhp and hits 50mph in 6.7sec – quicker than some hot hatches.

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 rear

A big, heavy battery requires fairly stiff suspension to support it, so don’t expect the ID.3 to offer Volkswagen Golf levels of comfort. Instead, it's ride is a bit choppy around town, although it's far from harsh, and it polishes the pugnaciousness out of road surfaces at motorway speeds.

The Model 3 is similar in that it can jostle you around a bit and isn’t the best at smoothing out road imperfections. In fact, overall it's the firmer riding of the two.

The payoff for this is that the Model 3 offers sharper handling than the ID.3. It leans far less and grips with real tenacity, while the steering is quick and precise.

Tesla Model 3 rear cornering

Not that the ID.3 handles badly. In fact, for an everyday electric hatchback designed to get you from A to B it inspires plenty of confidence. What's more, as in the Model 3, you can adjust the weighting of the steering to suit your taste. As a bonus, the ID.3 has an excellent turning circle: 10.2m, which is around the same as a Volkswagen Up.

Like many electric cars, these two are whisper-quiet at town speeds. However, the Model 3 generates quite a bit of tyre noise on the motorway, where you can also hear the wind whistling around its frameless doors, despite the double-glazed side windows.

As for the ID.3, this generates a smattering of suspension and road noise at higher speeds, but the most noticeable breach of the peace comes from wind noise – much of it whistling through the climate control vents.


Next: What are they like inside? >>

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