Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Has VW gone too far with the interior design?
  • Futuristic but not unfriendly inside
  • Lots of standard kit, but some quality concerns

How is the quality and layout?

While you may find that the exterior design of the ID.3 is subtle enough to pass without much comment from other people, the interior design is bound to make a big impression. Volkswagen has made some interesting decisions inside, not all of which will go down well.

The interior of the ID.3 is pared back, almost to extremes. There are very few physical controls beyond the obvious essentials such as the steering wheel, with no ordinary dials, gauges, switches or knobs – VW instead chose to deploy a pair of digital screens to perform most functions.

For instance, the ID.3 comes to life when the car is ready to drive, since it only requires that you have the key on you and be sitting in the driver’s seat, without any need to press a starter button. This is another way the ID.3 feels different to an ordinary Volkswagen, and something that only really makes sense with an electric drive system.

Quality is hit-and-miss, though. For example, while the door panel armrests are lovely and soft on the elbow, the upper panel and much of the rest of the door is an unsympathetically hard, scratchy plastic. Steering wheel-mounted buttons tend to work easily in most recent VWs, but these gloss-finished touch-sensitive ones are fiddly and require several corrective thumb-presses for them to do what you intended.

It’s almost as if VW has decided it’s okay to cut a few corners because this is an electric car – the electric drive components are undoubtedly expensive, so perhaps cost savings did have to be made elsewhere in order to keep the ID.3 relatively affordable. Whether VW loyalists will accept such cheap-feeling materials is another matter.

Infotainment and tech

The interior is dominated by the central 10.0-inch touchscreen. It's home to the ventilation controls as well as infotainment and the ever-increasing array of online services we have come to expect in modern vehicles. It operates in a way that’s reasonably logical but will require some familiarisation.

Neat functionality includes a set of ‘smart’ controls for the air-conditioning, which means you can let the car get on with figuring out how to warm your feet or defog the windscreen by pressing a single icon.

The instrument display is attached to the steering column, rather than the dashboard, which means it moves up and down with the steering wheel when you adjust it. This alone, though not unheard of, instantly makes you appreciate you’re in an unusual car. It is also quite a small screen, and the things it shows make no apology for ignoring convention and focusing on the essentials.

To this end there is a digital speedometer, flanked by infotainment (such as sat-nav) on one side and safety on the other. You can choose to focus on one or other of these by cycling through the view options via the steering wheel. The panel can be supplemented by an optional augmented reality head-up display. This is a high-resolution addition, with very clear graphics and something we would recommend adding.

As ever with touchscreen-dominated interiors, sorting out what you want to do often takes more time than using physical buttons. Volkswagen gets around this somewhat with voice control, allowing you to say ‘Hello ID’ and talk to the car to try and get it to perform most of the same functions; it's not error-free, but it does work very well compared with rivals' set-ups.

Where VW has resorted to separate controls these are mostly touch-sensitive. This would be fine if they weren’t so laggy - often you press the button, then press it again because you don’t think it’s worked the first time only to discover there's been a time delay in responding.

The ID Light is a nice feature. It's an illuminated strip in the base of the windscreen that uses various colours and lighting patterns to alert you to direction changes, warn you of hazards, announce a phone call, and indicate the car’s charging status.

Comfort

  • Quiet and refined
  • Decent ride quality, especially with DCC suspension
  • Roomy front and rear

Ride quality at speed is good, especially considering it has such large wheels, and it copes with poor road surfaces very quietly. It can be a bit fidgety at lower speeds, with the optional DCC adjustable suspension helping here. Seats are supportive, if a little lacking in padding, while there's plenty of room in the rear - a benefit of the car's compact, rear-mounted motor.

As with most electric cars, the ID.3’s motor makes almost no noise at all. It remains impressively hushed inside at all speeds, with much better isolation from wind noise and tyre roar than some rivals – though this does depend on the surface.

As such, our biggest refinement issue was with the windscreen wipers, which were decidedly clattery on one of our test cars.