Volkswagen ID.3 long-term test review
When we group tested the Volkswagen ID.3, we were so impressed that we named it Small Electric Car of the Year. But does it continue to cut the mustard during the daily grind?...
The car Volkswagen ID.3 Pro Performance Family Run by Allan Muir, managing editor
Why we’re running it To see whether this electric hatchback has the versatility to be Volkswagen’s new people’s car
Needs to Be at least as comfortable and practical as an equivalent Golf and deliver on the promise of a better real-world range than its nearest rivals
Mileage 1545 List price £34,975 (not including £2500 gov’t grant) Target Price £34,461 Price as tested £37,270 Test range 220 miles Official range 260 miles Options fitted Heat pump (£1000), 18in ‘East Derry’ alloy wheels (£650), Stonewashed Blue metallic paint (£645)
22 November 2021 – All the luck
As electric cars glide inexorably into the mainstream, the Volkswagen ID.3 might well become the one that defines the family car category in the new era – just as the Volkswagen Golf has done for a good portion of my lifetime. The Golf itself isn’t ready to be pensioned off just yet, but it surely won’t be long before the ID.3 surpasses its stablemate in the sales charts and takes over as the people’s car for the zero-emissions age.
Given its significance, I’m fairly excited about the prospect of joining the fast-growing club of ID.3 owners. On the face of it, this is a car that ticks a lot of boxes. It's strong in a number of key areas, from range and performance to interior space and practicality. Indeed, it was our 2021 Small Electric Car of the Year.
That excitement is tempered by a certain amount of trepidation, though, because of all the criticism that's been levelled at the ID.3 over its interior. Certainly, anyone expecting to see plush materials in one of these is going to be disappointed. Plenty of rival cars are fancier inside and have more user-friendly dashboard layouts.
My ID.3 is a Pro Performance model, which means it comes with a 58kWh (usable capacity) battery and a 201bhp electric motor. Although you can get an ID.3 with a headline-grabbing official range of 340 miles, my mid-range model promises up to 260 miles between charges in the Family trim I’ve chosen. That's still a very respectable figure.
A maximum charging speed of 100kW means the ID.3 can get from 10-80% capacity in about half an hour via a suitably powerful public rapid charger, but a full charge from my rather weedy 3kW home wallbox is an overnight job. That’s fine for my needs, though.
Because its list price is less than £35,000, my ID.3 qualifies for the Government’s £2500 subsidy for EVs. The competitive post-grant price of £32,475 puts it in the same ballpark as the more upmarket BMW i3 and high-spec versions of the Citroën e-C4 and Nissan Leaf, all of which it beats for range.
Although there are quite a few trim levels available, there’s surprisingly little choice when it comes to interior colour, and most versions offer only the two-tone grey scheme that my ID.3 has. The Family also gets front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and a panoramic glass roof. There’s also a host of advanced driver and safety aids, including adaptive cruise control.
Most ID.3s come with steel ‘aero’ wheels (which I think look cheap), so I’ve splashed out £650 to add 18in, two-tone ‘East Derry’ alloys that go nicely with the Stonewashed Blue metallic paint (£645) and standard black roof and tailgate. The other option I’ve added is a heat pump (£1000) – an efficient way of heating and cooling the interior that reduces the climate control’s impact on the car’s range. It also allows me to warm up and de-mist the interior remotely before I set off on a journey.
From behind the wheel, the ID.3 has a slightly MPV like feel. The windscreen pillars are pushed a long way forwards, with sizeable quarterlight windows between them and the front doors to aid visibility at junctions, and the base of the windscreen feels like the front of the car. Looking at the dashboard layout, it’s already obvious that there have been some lapses in logic, and the infotainment system can be frustrating to use, but it remains to be seen whether these things matter all that much.
I’m far more interested in whether the ID.3 can deliver anything close to the range it promises. As long as it’s more than 200 miles in real-world use, I’ll be happy, because it’ll give me the freedom to go places without too much effort. That will play a big part in how usable the ID.3 turns out to be – and whether it deserves to be considered the people's car of the EV era.
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