4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

VW’s first purpose-built electric car is a brilliant all-rounder

Volkswagen ID.3 Hatchback Review Video
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At a glance

New price £38,880 - £38,880
Fuel Economy 4.2 miles/kWh
Insurance group 28 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Up to 340 miles of driving range
  • Impressive performance
  • Very spacious inside
  • Modern but friendly
  • Fast charging capability

CONS

  • Some quality concerns
  • Interior won’t be for everyone
  • Basic controls poorly thought-out
  • Expensive at launch
  • EV compromises still required

Volkswagen ID.3 Hatchback rivals

Written by CJ Hubbard on

The Volkswagen ID.3 is Volkswagen’s first purpose-built electric car, and the first in a whole new family of ID vehicles. It represents a significant step-change in the way VW thinks about – and builds – cars, to the extent that the company is producing it in a carbon-neutral factory and comparing its importance to the Beetle and the Golf.

Reinforcing this significance, it arrives alongside a change to the VW logo, and the ID.3’s design details, while not outlandish, also set an unmissably distinct tone compared with what we might now describe as ‘conventional’ Volkswagens.

None of that may seem vital to you. But whether you are a person who just wants to buy an electric car and fancies the idea of one with a VW badge, or a long-time Volkswagen customer who now thinks the time is right to switch to electric power, these things do make a difference to the driving and ownership experience, as we’ll explain in this full Parkers Volkswagen ID.3 review.

Why is this different to previous VW electric cars?

The ID.3 is not the first electric VW to go on sale. But the previous e-Golf and current e-Up are both electric conversions of cars that were built to be powered by petrol and diesel engines. The ID.3 is different because it has been designed as an electric vehicle from the ground up – and will consequently never be available with petrol or diesel power.

For this reason, it is also the first vehicle to use Volkswagen’s new Modular Electric Drive Matrix platform – thankfully shortened to MEB – which will form the basic bones of all of VW’s forthcoming ID electric car range. An ID.4 electric SUV has already been revealed as the second model in the line-up, with many more to come, and the platform will also be used by Ford for its electric cars as well.

Volkswagen is hardly the first carmaker to create a bespoke battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform, but it’s important because it means the ID.3 has – at least in theory – been created without any of the compromises that would be necessary if VW also had to shoehorn an internal combustion engine (ICE) into the same space.

This is great news for efficiency and packaging, which is also good for comfort.

How does the ID.3 compare with a Golf?

The ID.3 takes up about as much space as a Volkswagen Golf, and does basically the same job – in that it’s a family-sized five-door hatchback with space for five inside. It is slightly wider and slightly taller but not quite as long.

However, take a look at the ID.3’s wheels. See how far out into the corners of the body they’ve been pushed? This benefits everything from the driving experience to the amount of passenger space, particularly in the back, where there is a generous amount of leg room as well as plenty of head room.

See also the shortness of the ‘bonnet’ – the windscreen is much further forward than in most conventional cars, giving the front of the ID.3 a very airy and spacious feel, as well as improved visibility.

There is no engine at the front at all. Instead, the ID.3’s electric motor is mounted at the back of the car, just ahead of the rear axle, driving the rear wheels. This is a big departure compared with the front-engined, front-wheel drive Golf, helping the ID.3 achieve an even weight balance across both axles and promising a tantalising extra dimension to the driving experience.

The exterior design is quite subtle in the way it differentiates the two cars – it’s got a familiar VW aura about it, but the detailing is sleeker and calmly futuristic. For instance, unlock the car at night, and you’ll be treated to an intricate welcoming sequence from the rear lights that makes it worth pressing the button on the key from a distance, rather than letting the car automatically recognise your presence as you get closer, which it is also able to do.

The interior design, on the other hand, is starkly new and modern – though in a friendly more than an intimidating way. This is where the ID.3 most clearly marks the departure from the previous Volkswagen way of doing things. While some of the controls are familiar from the latest models, from the way you no longer have to actively start the car (just select Drive and go) to the ID Light beneath the windscreen that serves as a form of visual communication from the car to the passengers, the ID.3 makes it obvious that it is trying to be something new.

Should I be worried about the driving range?

Driving range and the associated range anxiety is probably the first thing anyone thinks about when considering an electric car. Volkswagen has come out fighting with the ID.3, which combines a 204hp electric motor with a choice of two battery pack sizes: 58kWh and 77kWh.

The 77kWh model promises 340 miles of driving from every full charge, only slightly shy of the best a Tesla Model 3 can manage. The 58kWh version is rated to 260 miles per charge, which is more than that claimed by the Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf, two of the ID.3’s most obvious rivals (we’ll come to some of the other below).

Both driving range figures are according to the latest WLTP standards, which are supposed to be better representative of real-world driving.

What are the rivals?

The number of electric cars on the market has swelled considerably in recent years, so VW isn’t about to have everything its own way just by turning up to the party.

That said, few competitors deliver such a knock-out combination of image and driving range with a design that feels innovative enough without becoming off-putting. It’s not cheap, though, and the cost of initial 1st Edition models might leave some customers a little flummoxed by the interior quality, which in places doesn’t quite stand up to the price tag.

Cars you should therefore carefully consider before buying an ID.3 include the well-established Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe (both already on their second generation), the BMW i3 (aging, but even more premium) and the Kia e-Niro (the best of a great selection from Hyundai and Kia).

The Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e also demand attention, even if they’re a bit smaller. Then there’s the Honda e – which is also smaller, also pricey and bereft of a genuinely decent driving range, but counterpunches with attractive design and cool tech.

And don’t dismiss the Tesla Model 3, either – though more expensive than the ID.3, it’s also larger, faster and often available at much more attractive monthly finance and leasing prices than you might think.

But enough of the rivals – let’s get familiar with the ID.3.

Click here to read more about how the Volkswagen ID.3 drives, or here for more on its running costspracticality, and interior. Click here to skip straight to our final verdict

Volkswagen ID.3 Hatchback rivals