Normally we’d expect to see a car updated after three or four years, but in the world of electric cars, things move fast. While the ID.3 landed with a big fanfare and some reasonable reviews, even Volkswagen would admit that it could have done better. Early cars were plagued by buggy software while the brand’s decision to ditch its traditional sombre but sophisticated design approach didn’t sit will well with existing owners. Turquoise paint and white steering wheels may have looked great on the drawing board and on the show stands, but to Volkswagen’s conservative buyers, they were all a step too far, too soon.
So now, just over two years after the ID.3 first arrived, there’s a new version charged with broadening its appeal to the masses. Calmer, less controversial and more traditional in approach, the new ID.3 has its sights set on Golf and Polo buyers looking to go electric without shouting it from the rooftops.
Volkswagen ID.3 Styling
At the front, the new model has a less ‘smiley’ face, with two vertical ‘fang’ air vents. The bonnet now appears longer because the wide black strip under the windscreen has been removed, and it’s been reshaped.The headlights, are brought into line with the rest of the ID range and are designed to resemble the human eye. When the driver approaches the vehicle with the key, the ID.3 appears to wake up and open its eyes, with the projector units swivelling.
At the side there is a silver strip along the roof, and the controversial stickers have gone from the rear pillar. Move to the rear and there are new two-part tail light clusters which stretch onto the bootlid. The brake lights are inscribed with an ‘X’ and the indicators sweep from inside to out. If you spec the optional LED matrix headlights, you also get animated lighting patterns in the lamps which welcome and say goodbye to the driver.
There are also new wheels and a new colour, called Dark Olivine Green.
Volkswagen ID.3 Driving
The rear wheel drive ID.3 has plenty of punch from a standing start and feels steady and solid, without any scrabbling from the front wheels - something other front wheel drive electric cars can sometimes be prone to. The steering is light and while we have no complaints when the ID.3 is driven around town or on the motorway, take it on a stretch of country road and you'll wish it had a little more feedback. Country roads are also where you notice that the overly firm suspension doesn't soak up lumps and bumps in the road too well, although you can add adaptive suspension to both versions of the car, which does make things softer.
However; the ride quality settles down when you pick up speed and on a nice stretch of ‘A’ road or when cruising on the motorway where it feels far more composed. The natural habitat for the ID.3 isn't country roads, where this car really comes into its own is around town, when it’s tight turning circle, peppy performance and the light steering come into their own. Visibility is good all round, although the small rear window does compromise your view slightly.
Volkswagen ID.3 Interior and practicality
The really interesting bit of the new ID.3 is the interior, which has had a major quality upgrade. The big criticism inside the last ID.3 was the quality. It might have been screwed together properly, but it felt a bit cheap. The new model feels much more, well, Volkswageny. There’s lots of squishness on surfaces you’ll touch often, and the door panels have been completely redesigned.
The seats have the optional comfort upgrade as standard, rather than being a cost option. Everything is free from animal products too.
There is still lots of room in the back – that hasn’t changed. But the quality hasn’t had quite the same upgrade as the front of the car. But there is some extra squishiness here too.
If you are one of the people who moaned about the quality inside an ID.3, then you rest assured you were heard.
Volkswagen ID.3 Technology
This is the reason the facelift of this car was brought forward. The technology just wasn’t good enough. Even when it worked properly the switches were infuriating and customers hated them.
Now in this new car there are proper buttons – in some places at least – to make everything easier to use. But – there’s a big catch. The nice 12-inch screen you’ll see in pictures of left-hand drive cars isn’t coming to the UK. We have to put up with 10 inches, because the headlight switch gets in the way of the bigger unit. There’s a big change coming in mid 2024 though, with a bigger and better screen with treats like illuminated switches.
The ID.3 also gets Volkswagen's clever swarm data tech. The ID.3 will talk to other VWs and transmitters by the side of the road to warn of things like traffic, accidents or nasty weather. That’s clever. The facelifted model is also the first ID.3 to get Over The Air (OTA) software updates, which will remove the need for owners to go to their nearest dealer to get their car updated.
But a big irritation hasn’t been fixed – the wipers. Frustratingly, they will still have a wiping pattern which is optimised for left hand drive, which gives us Brits a bit of a blind spot and splashes in our line of vision. But at least it still has a rear wiper – which is becoming something of a rarity these days.
Volkswagen ID.3 Range, battery and charging
The hardware and mechanicals are a cut and paste of the old car, with a choice of 58 and 77kWh power packs will be offered first, with the same 201bhp motor at the back powering the rear wheels.
The 77’s official range is quoted as 347 miles – slightly more than the old car. According to VW this is because the new model’s aerodynamic improvements.
For the first time there will be a five seat option for the 77kWh model too. This had previously been unavailable as the potential weight of the passengers would have tipped the car over its weight limit. To get around this, the new car will only be offered with limited equipment levels to keep the kilos off - this is expected to appeal to commercial drivers. Engineers are also working on a revision which will allow buyers to have both the big battery and posh trim levels in future.
The smaller 58 version manages 265 miles – one mile more than the old car. A smaller battery option will be offered in 2024, but it won’t be the 45kWh pack which was previously offered as this fails to meet new safety standards.
There are some bits of tech with make the car easier to live with and charge though. The most useful is Plug & Charge which means you can just arrive at a charger and plug in. As long as you have the account set up, the car and the charger will have a chat and you’ll get billed late, without having to faff with apps or contactless.
The smaller battery can charge at up to 120kW on a suitable DC point, while the bigger 77 can take power at up to 170kW. Both will accept 11kW AC power.
It might not look very different, but the new ID.3 has a list of improvements which prove that VW listens to customers. It always had the feeling of a car which had been rushed through its development process, and the new model is far more polished, especially inside. The improved trim makes it feel far less ‘budget’ and it still retains all of the spaciousness of the previous model. In the UK at least, we have to wait until mid 2024 for the latest infotainment tech though, which is a real shame.