With so many big electric cars on the market, it’s nice to jump into a smaller one every now and again. While the Mini Electric and the Fiat 500e are very much city cars – due to their respective ranges – the VW ID. 3 feels like more of an all-purpose vehicle.
The ID. 3 was first launched back in 2020 and is closely based on the original Volkswagen electric concept first shown in 2016. It gets its name because it is considered to be the third chapter in the company’s history: the Beetle with its air-cooled engine was the first, the Golf introduced water-cooled engines and now the ID. 3 provides electric power.
But electric cars are not new to VW. Early electric concepts go back nearly 50 years, with an original Golf model actually sold in electric form (with a very small range) for on-site transportation.
The ID. 3 now sits as the entry-level battery EV of four cars. For 2023 the ID.3 has had a facelift, with changes to both the exterior and interior to make it an even more appealing proposition for new EV buyers.
Price and availability
The new VW ID. 3 comes in two versions, the Pro and the Pro S, with prices starting from £37,115 for the Pro and £42,870 for the Pro S. There is also expected to be a GTX version coming, which would sit above the Pro S. Fully specced, the Pro S will cost you just shy of £52,000.
This is certainly higher than premium city cars like the Mini Electric, which starts from £32,000 and is similar money to the Kia Niro EV, which starts from £37,295. You can also pick up a VW Golf Hybrid from £36,660.
Design and features
At first glance the exterior changes on the ID. 3 are subtle but when sat new to the old model, they are significant. The bonnet loses the large black panel that visually extended the windscreen and shortened the bonnet, giving the car a more balanced, VW look. There are also new air curtains in that front grill to help keep the motor cool, as well as new IQ headlights at the front and a two-part rear light system.
Inside the car feels more premium, with foam cushioned surfaces on the door panels and a more tactile steering wheel. In terms of tech, that 10-inch touchscreen display now comes as standard and running the latest 3.5 version of the VW OS. The previous ID. 3 ran version 2.4 which was a little buggy at times. There’s still an optional head up display and now the option of VW’s Park Assist Plus tech in addition to the Travel Assist package.
Performance and range
The standard ID. 3 Pro features 58kWh battery, giving a range of 265 miles, while the Pro S features a larger 77kWh battery that offers up to 347 miles. Both models have the same 204PS (mechanical horsepower) and single motor that powers the back wheels. On the Pro S this is a consumption of around 4.2 miles per kW, with the Pro being fractionally less.
That 204PS gives you a 0-62mph of 7.9 seconds which is a little slow in electric terms, but the car feels pokey enough around town. I got to test the Pro S model and I really enjoyed how small and nimble the car felt compared to some of the gigantic SUV offerings.
The ID. 3 is really easy to drive, and definitely feels more premium than the old model. However, even the premium model is a little bit plastic in places. It’s a slight shame that the main touchscreen hasn’t had more of an upgrade than the software, as here particularly that shiny black plastic surround feels a bit cheap.
The head-up display here is actually pretty good, and I love the arrows for direction that are augmented in your vision. Like so many head-up displays though, it doesn’t cope well with sunglasses on, leaving the display hard to read.
The ID. 3 feels like an electric car that will appeal to the masses. Especially with the larger battery in the Pro S, it has more than enough range for most people and for those looking for a city car, the Pro model is plenty too.
Though closer to a Golf in terms of space inside, the ID. 3 feels like a Polo to drive. The interior is clean and simple, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming in the way some EVs can do. There is still quite a premium for EVs over their ICE equivalents, but more people are realising that the extra investment will pay off in the long run.
At the moment the ID. 3 has little competition in its class, so it will be interesting to see when there are equivalent models from Seat, Skoda and Audi. For now though, the ID. 3 is certainly one of the best small EV options out there.