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: there's a digital pod behind the steering wheel with a small but clear 5.3in display that shows the speed, range and sat-nav instructions, and a rotary-style gear selector on the side, just like in the BMW i3.
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 range-topping Max or Tour trim. We didn’t have any back problems after a couple of hours in the saddle, though – in fact, our only complaint with the seats is that they don’t have a great deal of side support during brisk cornering.
We will grumble at the lack of 'real' buttons, though. All the controls are touch-sensitive, including the temperature controls, which are touch-sensitive sliders that don’t even illuminate at night. Everything else is operated from the central infotainment touchscreen. We can't wondering why it has to be so distracting to change anything on the move. Proper physical buttons and knobs – as found in many rival cars, including the Kia e-Niro, Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe – are so much easier to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Seeing out the front of the ID.3 is pretty easy. Its deep windscreen and slim front pillars afford you a largely unobstructed view of the road ahead. They are heavily angled, though, so taller individuals might find they get in the way a little at T-junctions.
The rear pillars are thicker and the rear screen a little shallow, but parking sensors (front and rear) come as standard on all models, while only City and Life miss out on a rear-view camera.
At night, bright LED headlights are standard on entry-level Life models. Business trim models and above feature clever adaptive LED units that can stay on main beam to maximise forward illumination, shaping their light field to avoid dazzling other road users.
Sat nav and infotainment
All ID.3s come with a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen, which is a similar size to many of its rivals, but quite a bit smaller than the 15.0in display in the Tesla Model 3.
Sadly, VW's latest infotainment software is nothing like as slick as the Model 3’s. It's trying to be, with fancy pictures of the car that twirl seductively as you change screens, but it's all style over substance, proving laggy and confusingly laid out. The system in the Kia e-Niro is far more straightforward to operate too, while the BMW i3’s physical iDrive controller shows you can make a complex system dead easy to operate on the go.
All models get a natural-speech voice control to call out commands to. It’s hit and miss whether it’ll do what you ask, though, especially if you have noisy children in the car. Sat-nav is standard across the range, along with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Handily, that means you can bypass many of the infotainment system’s confusing menus. From Tech trim and above, buyers will also benefit from a head-up display and a more powerful sound system with seven speakers.
Quality was once a VW byword, but right now it seems to have taken a backseat in the company’s priorities. The ID.3 feels well screwed together, but the plush-feeling plastic strip across its dashboard is the only nod to hedonism – presumably, the hope is that you won’t notice the cheaper, harder plastics used everywhere else.
At the less expensive end of the range, you might not feel that cheated (the ID.3 is still a light-year ahead of the Nissan Leaf on quality), but with top-end models costing the same as a premium-brand executive car, that leaves it below par. The Tesla Model 3 isn't exactly great in terms of material or build quality, but it is better. If you own a BMW i3, the ID.3 will feel like a noticeable step down.
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