Volkswagen ID 3 review

Category: Electric car

The ID 3 electric family car is good to drive and the new facelifted version is a step up from the original

VW ID 3 front cornering
  • VW ID 3 front cornering
  • VW ID 3 rear cornering
  • VW ID 3 dashboard
  • VW ID 3 boot
  • VW ID 3 driver display
  • VW ID 3 right driving
  • VW ID 3 front left driving
  • VW ID 3 front cornering
  • VW ID 3 rear right driving
  • VW ID 3 rear cornering
  • VW ID 3 badge
  • VW ID 3 front seats
  • VW ID 3 back seats
  • VW ID 3 infotainment touchscreen
  • VW ID 3 front cornering
  • VW ID 3 rear cornering
  • VW ID 3 dashboard
  • VW ID 3 boot
  • VW ID 3 driver display
  • VW ID 3 right driving
  • VW ID 3 front left driving
  • VW ID 3 front cornering
  • VW ID 3 rear right driving
  • VW ID 3 rear cornering
  • VW ID 3 badge
  • VW ID 3 front seats
  • VW ID 3 back seats
  • VW ID 3 infotainment touchscreen
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by
Dan Jones
Published11 June 2024

Introduction

What Car? says...

The Volkswagen ID 3 might sound like a new counterpart of R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars, but it’s actually a car – and a very important one at that. You see, it was VW’s first model based on bespoke electric-car underpinnings.

It was also the brand’s third major launch of all time, after the original Beetle and the ever-popular VW Golf – hence the name, ID 3. With that in mind, we suspect Volkswagen designed the ID 3 with the hope it would set the world alight, just like those two other models

It's a big ask, because the electric family car space is becoming crowded and competitive, with rivals including the closely related Cupra Born, the cheaper MG4 EV and Nissan Leaf plus more expensive options including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV.

To keep it in the running, the ID 3 has already had a mid-life facelift, which has given it revised styling and fixed (hopefully) some weak points in earlier versions.

Does that mean it should be the next car on your driveway? Read on to find out as we rate the VW ID 3 against the best electric cars on your shortlist...

Overview

The Volkswagen ID 3 is decent to drive, comfortable and even nippy in Pro guise. It’s quite expensive though, making it hard to justify over the MG4 EV Long Range or, if you're considering the Pro S version, the Tesla Model 3. If you do buy an ID 3, we recommend going for Pro Match version to prioritise driver fun over battery range, or one of the Pro S versions if you need to go further on a charge.

  • Loads of standard kit and safety equipment
  • Sprightly performance
  • Decent to drive
  • Iffy interior quality
  • Tesla Model 3 can use better charging network
  • Infotainment system needs some upgrades
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Every VW ID 3 comes with a 150kW electric motor powering the rear wheels, but you can choose to have a Pro version with a 58kWh battery or a Pro S with a 77kWh one.

The Pro can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds – quicker than the MG4 EV SE – while the heavier Pro S takes 8.2 seconds. Both version have 201bhp and feel quick enough off the line with enough power to get up to motorway speeds easily, but the lighter Pro feels nippier around town.

So what about electric range? Well, the Pro can officially travel up to 265 miles between charges, which is further than the Nissan Leaf but not as far as the Renault Megane E-Tech. Meanwhile, the Pro S's bigger battery gives it a longer official range, 347 miles. That's further than any Kia Niro EV or the entry-level Tesla Model 3 but not as far as the MG4 Extended Range.

Suspension and ride comfort

A heavy battery requires a stiff suspension set-up to support it, so don’t expect the ID 3 to offer VW Golf levels of ride comfort. Still, the Pro version is far from harsh and manages to take most of the sting out of road imperfections at speed. It only really gets a bit fidgety around town, especially over potholes.

You can feel the Pro S model's extra weight as you drive. Again, it's not uncomfortable, but it moves you around in your seat more than the Pro and gives a more pronounced thud as you drive over potholes. On the plus side, the firmness means it never feels floaty over undulations.

Volkswagen ID.3 image
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The Pro S is available with optional adaptive suspension, which allows you to soften or stiffen the suspension by changing the driving mode setting. While it makes it feel noticeably firmer or softer, it doesn't really affect comfort. The softer Niro EV is comfier.

VW ID 3 rear cornering

Handling

With its light steering and excellent turning circle, manoeuvring the ID 3 around town is a breeze. Beyond the urban sprawl, the steering feels accurate and sensibly geared, but it doesn't give much finger-tingling communication or weight build-up when cornering in the default Comfort driving mode. Sport mode adds a bit of useful extra heft to the steering.

Grip is decent, and for an everyday electric car designed to get you from A to B with little drama, the ID 3 handles very well indeed. There's more driver engagement than you’ll find in the Hyundai Kona Electric.

The ID 3 will twitch at the rear if you back off the accelerator abruptly mid corner or apply a bit too much power on the way out of a tight bend on a damp road, but a lighter non-electric hatchback – the Seat Leon for example – is far more entertaining to drive.

Noise and vibration

Even by electric car standards, the ID 3's motor is ultra-quiet, which is amazing around town but does mean you can hear everything else that's going on at speed. The suspension and tyres generate a smattering of sound but loud wind noise – much of it whistling through the climate control vents – is the most noticeable breach of the peace.

The car stops smoothly enough when you’re driving carefully, which isn’t something every electric car can do: some regenerative braking systems are better than others. You can turn up the regen effect enough that the car slows down to a near stop when you lift off the accelerator, but there's no one-pedal driving setting, as there is on the Leaf and Model 3.

The ID 3's brake pedal does have a very long travel, making emergency stops a bit unnerving. The Kona Electric is much better in that respect.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The interior of the Volkswagen ID 3 has a futuristic feel without being so revolutionary that it’ll scare anyone with an acute fear of change. It's a spartan affair, with little more than a small but clear 5.3in display behind the steering wheel, which shows the speed, range and sat-nav instructions, and a rotary-style gear selector on the side. 

In terms of layout, the position of the driver’s seat in relation to the steering wheel and pedals is very good, leaving you sitting relaxed at the wheel. Height and reach adjustment for the wheel is standard. If you want front seats with adjustable lumbar support, you’ll need to splash out on the optional Interior Comfort Pack though.

We will grumble at the lack of "real" buttons (a problem in the closely related Cupra Born too) – all the controls are touch-sensitive. Worst of all, the temperature controls below the infotainment screen are not backlit, making them impossible to see at night (Volkswagen says lit ones will be introduced later in 2024). Everything else is operated from the infotainment touchscreen, but we’d prefer proper physical buttons and knobs, like in the Kia Niro EV and Nissan Leaf.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Seeing out of the front of the ID 3 is pretty easy overall, and its deep windscreen and slim front pillars afford you a largely unobstructed view of the road ahead. They're heavily angled though, so despite the large glass cut-out to reduce the size of your front blind-spot, taller individuals might find that they get in the way a little at T-junctions.

The rear pillars are wider and the rear screen a little shallow, making it a bit harder to see what’s over your shoulder or out of the back. To make parking easier, front and rear parking sensors are fitted as standard and you get a rear-view camera with the two Match trims. 

Likewise, the two Match trims increase visibility at night by upgrading the standard-fit LED headlights with matrix LED headlights. They allow you to leave full beam on at all times without dazzling other drivers.

VW ID 3 dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All ID 3s come with a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat-nav. That's a similar size to many of its rivals but quite a bit smaller than the 15.0in display in the Tesla Model 3. What’s more, the infotainment software is nothing like as slick as the Tesla set-up. 

It looks good but it’s all style over substance, proving laggy with a confusing lay-out. The system in the Kia Niro EV is far more straightforward. VW is planning to introduce a new infotainment system later in 2024, which includes a larger 12.9in touchscreen and new software, hopefully fixing all the issues we have. 

Until then, all models get a natural-speech voice control to call out commands to but it's hit and miss whether it’ll do what you ask especially if you have noisy children in the car. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is standard across the range so you can bypass many of the infotainment system’s confusing menus.

Quality

Quality was once a VW byword, but in the past the ID 3 made it seem that it had taken a back seat in the company’s priorities. Fortunately, its 2023 mid-life facelift improved on the original car, adding soft materials to pretty much every surface you’ll touch often.

Still, it doesn’t take much prodding around to find lots of materials that feel a bit cheap. The biggest culprit is the centre console, which is obviously made from cheap scratchy plastics. 

That’s disappointing when you consider that even the entry-level ID 3 costs almost as much as the entry-level BMW 3 Series. Now, don’t get us wrong, the Tesla Model 3 isn’t exactly great when it comes to material and build quality, but it is better than the ID 3.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

There’s more than enough space in the front of the VW ID 3. If you’re six feet tall – or even a bit taller – you should have enough head and leg room.

There’s pretty good storage space available. A large chunk of that is in the centre console, which has various cubbies and cup-holders. The glovebox is a decent size, as are the door bins.

Rear space

The ID 3 is roughly the same length as the VW Golf and about as roomy in the back. There’s space for taller passengers to sit behind anyone equally tall without feeling squished, but there's not a lot of head or leg room going spare. The Kia Soul EV and Tesla Model 3 are both roomier.

Those in the middle rear seat get the rawest deal of the lot. Even those measuring just under six feet tall will find that the raised seat cushion robs them of head room. With three adults in the back, there won’t be much shoulder room to spare but at least there’s a flat floor with no central tunnel to get in the way of the middle passenger's feet.

Storage amenities in the rear are pretty sparse, with rear-seat occupants given smallish door bins to put things in and nothing else.

VW ID 3 boot

Seat folding and flexibility

There’s not a huge amount to report here. You get 60/40 split rear seats as standard, which are not as useful as 40/20/40 seats, but the addition of a ski hatch does give you more options for carrying longer loads with passengers.

There's no option of sliding or reclining rear seats, which you can get in a (non-electric) family SUV of an equivalent price.

Boot space

The ID 3 has a 385-litre boot, which is four litres more than you get in a VW Golf and is fine for fitting in a buggy, the weekly shopping or a couple of suitcases. The Nissan Leaf boot is bigger and the Tesla Model 3 is in a different league for cargo capacity.

The ID 3's boot is a usefully square shape, making packing easier.

We’d suggest adding the optional height-adjustable boot floor, because it doesn’t cost very much but reduces the load lip and gives you a flat floor if the rear seats are folded. Better still, it provides somewhere to stow the charging cables without encroaching on boot space.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash purchase, the cheapest Volkswagen ID 3 Pro Essential will set you back a little more than the entry-level Kia Niro EV, about the same as the top-spec MG4 EV Trophy Extended Range and a bit more than the Nissan Leaf. Meanwhile, the more expensive ID 3 Pro S Essential costs around the same as the Tesla Model 3.

You can make sure you're getting the best price by checking our New Car Deals pages.

As a company car the ID 3 will save you a heap of cash over a petrol or diesel model because electric car benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax is very low. The ID 3 should look after private buyers too, thanks to reasonably slow predicted depreciation (strong resale values mean competitive PCP finance rates).

The ID 3 Pro has a maximum charging rate of up to 120kW and the Pro S 175kW. As a result, the Pro should charge from 10-80% in around 35 mins, while the faster charging Pro S should do the same charge in around 30 mins.

On an 11kW public charger the Pro can go from 0-100% in six hours and 15 minutes, while the Pro S takes eight hours. The Model 3 can charge faster, and the Tesla Supercharger network is the best at the moment in terms of reliability and proliferation.

Equipment, options and extras

If you want to keep costs down, you can get all the basics by going for the entry-level ID 3 Pro Essential. It comes with 18in steel wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, heated windscreen washer jets, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing front wipers. 

We'd be tempted to opt for the mid-spec Pro Match instead. That version doesn’t cost much more but adds plenty of niceties, including 18in alloy wheels, wireless phone-charging, keyless entry and start, dual-zone air conditioning and heated front seats. It also gets built-in sat-nav, a reversing camera and matrix LED headlights. 

The Pro S – which gets a bigger battery – follows the same structure but its Essential trim gets similar equipment to the Pro Match, with added 20in wheels and the removal of wireless phone-charging, rear-view camera and dual-zone air-conditioning.

The top-spec Pro S Match gets all the bells and whistles, adding a system that’ll park the car for you, a heated steering wheel and everything you get with Pro Match.

VW ID 3 driver display

Reliability

In the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey the ID 3 had a middling performance, finishing below the Kia Niro EV but above the MG 4 EV and Tesla Model 3

 Volkswagen as a brand didn’t fare as well, claiming 22nd place out of 32 car makers. That’s above MG but below Kia, Nissan and Tesla. 

VW gives you a three years/60,000 miles warranty. That’s fairly average in the class, but doesn’t come close to Kia's seven-year cover. The ID 3's battery is guaranteed to maintain at least 70% of its energy capacity for eight years and 100,000 miles.

Safety and security

There's an extensive suite of safety kit fitted to the ID 3 as standard, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and a driver fatigue monitor.

The ID 3 scored the full five stars when it was tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP in 2020. The Niro EV with a safety pack scored five stars, but that was in 2022 when the tests were tougher, so it’s impossible to directly compare. Likewise, the Model 3 holds five stars, but they date back to 2019. 


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FAQs

  • The official range of the entry-level ID 3 Pro, which has a 58kWh battery, is 270 miles. For the Pro S, with its larger 77kWh battery, it's 347 miles.

  • No. While the ID 3 is similar to the VW Golf in many ways, including size, it doesn’t replace it, and they are sold side by side. The Golf received an update in 2024 and doesn’t show any signs of disappearing from the VW car range.

  • The pair are a similar size, giving you equivalent space in the rear but slightly more head room in the front. The VW Golf boot is four litres smaller than the ID 3’s.

  • No – the ID 3 is still very much on sale. In fact, a face-lifted version is due on sale in 2024, with one of the major updates being a new infotainment system.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £35,700
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RRP price range £35,700 - £49,205
Number of trims (see all)6
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £71 / £98
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £143 / £197
Available colours