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First drive: 2023 Volkswagen ID.3. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: 2023 Volkswagen ID.3
The ID.3 has enjoyed a mid-life refresh, but will that be enough to overtake the first-rate electric hatchbacks with which it competes?


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Volkswagen ID.3

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Despite being a part of the VW line-up for a mere three years, the ID.3 has become one of the brand's most important cars. Essentially an electric alternative to the Golf, it's billed as the family hatchback of the present and future. But with continuously improving rivals, the ID.3 has had to evolve to keep up. But will a handful of visual and interior upgrades be enough?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh
Price: £50,245 (as tested)
Engine: 150kW electric motor
Transmission: single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Battery: 58kWh lithium-ion
Power: 204hp
Torque: 310Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 266 miles
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Top speed: 99mph
Boot space: 385 litres


VW hasn't changed the ID.3's design dramatically, but there are some noticeable changes. For starters, the bonnet has a cleaner, sportier design, while all the badging on the sides has gone. VW has also fitted a new front bumper with aggressive gills at the sides for improved cooling, and the lights have changed at the front and rear. But otherwise it's the same rounded, clean and modern design as before, and instantly recognisable as an ID.3.


The old ID.3 copped a bit of flak for its interior, which suffered from tech issues and was lined with materials that weren't quite up to the standard we expect from VW. Now, though, Volkswagen claims to have addressed that with some more premium cabin plastics and an updated touchscreen. At the same time, it has completely removed animal products from the cabin.

In truth, though, the latest-generation car's tech is little better to use than that of its predecessor, with some of the same fiddly menus and illogical displays. It does seem a bit faster and less prone to glitching, though, which makes things much better, and further over-the-air updates will doubtless improve things further still.

However, we'll have to wait for the new, larger infotainment system that's on its way before we get some of the ID.3's biggest tech issues fixed. Yes, we're talking about the buttons, or lack thereof. Instead, the ID.3 has touch-sensitive sliders for temperature and volume, none of which are backlit, so you can't see them, much less operate them, in the hours of darkness. It's a poor oversight from Volkswagen, and it needs fixing sooner, rather than later.

The changes to the cabin plastics, on the other hand, are more positive. The foam-padded plastics on the dashboard are now much more tactile, and they give the ID.3 a little more of a premium feel. However, the improvement in some places has only served to highlight the shortcomings in others. The centre console and glovebox, for example, still feel pretty cheap and scratchy, and those materials just look more disappointing alongside the new, more upmarket parts.


Because the ID.3's basic cabin structure is unchanged, there's no difference to the space available in the cabin or the boot. For those in the front, there's more than enough space to get comfortable, although some taller drivers and passengers might find their heads a little close to the roof. Further back, there's sufficient legroom and enough headroom for most, while the boot is competitively sized. At 385 litres, it's about the same size as that of a VW Golf, and it's identical to its nearest (and most closely related) rival, the Cupra Born.


Initially, Volkswagen is offering the ID.3 with a choice of two different versions, both of which get the same 204hp electric motor. Naturally, having the same motor, both cars manage similar performance figures, with a top speed of 99mph and a fairly punchy 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. Performance won’t be an issue with either car.

The difference is in the battery, with the Pro getting a 58kWh pack under the floor, while the Pro S swaps that for a 77kWh pack. Naturally, the Pro S offers greater range, covering up to 347 miles on a charge according to the official efficiency test, while the Pro manages a ‘mere’ 266 miles. Our tests showed that sort of range was probably a bit ambitious for most – particularly on a motorway cruise – but over a mixture of roads, four miles to the kilowatt-hour is achievable. Unless you’re travelling long distances, you should manage about 200 miles from the 58kWh battery.

Ride & Handling

Interestingly, while the battery may not impact performance, it does make a difference to the way the ID.3 rides. The Pro model, with the smaller and therefore lighter battery, is more than 100kg lighter than the Pro S, and that has a marked impact on the ride comfort. Where the Pro is generally pretty smooth, only struggling with the classic electric car Achilles heel of sharp bumps at low speeds, the Pro S feels much more brittle across a greater band of speeds. It isn't tooth-rattling, but it's noticeably less comfortable than the Pro.

On the handling front, the ID.3 is never going to set anyone's world alight. Body control is pretty good, despite the height of the car, but light steering lets the side down, as does the sense of weight. If you want something to throw into corners, look elsewhere. But if you're happy cruising down a flowing countryside A-road in comfort and security, the ID.3 has you covered. Just watch out for some of the blind spots. VW may have fitted little quarterlight-style glazing in the A-pillars, but the pillars are still quite thick, and they're awkwardly positioned.


The new ID.3 starts at £37,115, which makes it more than £10,000 more expensive than the MG4 EV and the cheapest VW Golf. That said, it's only a few hundred quid more than the closely related Cupra Born, and you get plenty of standard equipment. The touchscreen, wireless phone charging and 18-inch alloy wheels are all thrown in, along with two-zone climate control and heated front seats. Front and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation and keyless entry are all standard, too.


The ID.3 hasn't really changed all that much, but the upgrades that have been fitted are well judged and appealing. While the changes are unlikely to draw in new customers, existing ones will be happy to see the improvement, which makes the ID.3 feel marginally more upmarket without spoiling the practicality and comfort that gave it appeal in the first place.

James Fossdyke - 3 Aug 2023    - Volkswagen road tests
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- ID.3 images

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.

2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.2023 Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh. Image by Volkswagen.


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