Review: 2023 Volkswagen ID.3 first drive

From £37,115

Despite only being launched in 2020, Volkswagen has updated its ID.3 electric hatchback. Mid-life facelifts are nothing new in the car industry, but this one has come sooner than expected. As more of a mild makeover and tech update, VW has clearly listened to feedback and acted on it super quickly. The result is a more mature proposition.

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The initial response to the original ID.3 was lukewarm, and even though it’s gone on to become the brand’s bestselling electric car in the UK, it’s clearly not met Volkswagen’s expectations globally. The exterior styling tweaks are subtle, so you really need to know what to look out for.

> Review: Volkswagen ID.3 pre-facelift

The front of the ID.3 now features enlarged air intakes and a longer-looking bonnet as a result of the removal of the black strip beneath the windscreen. The honeycomb effect on the bumper has also vanished and LED headlights are now standard.

Badging along the side of the car, plus the decals on the rear pillar, have also gone (delivering cleaner lines), while the rear light cluster is now fully operational (the inner segment is no longer just a reflector) and there’s also a distinctive X-shaped light signature.

Inside, the overall quality of the materials has been improved with softer surfaces, while the seat covers and door trims use fabric made of 71% recycled materials.

The infotainment system was the original ID.3’s big Achilles heel, and crucially, the “new” model has updated software (now with over-the-air update capability).

> Review: MG MG4 EV

VW says it’s listened to its customers and tweaked the menu structure, while the layout has become clearer, and the charging menu is now located on the first level of the 10-inch touchscreen display.

It’s still not the best system out there, but it seemed much slicker and more responsive on our test drives – even though the touch-sensitive sliders are still there at the bottom of the touchscreen and on the steering wheel.

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Sadly, UK buyers will have to wait until 2024 for the new, larger 12.9-inch central screen, which benefits from backlit climate and volume controls – one of the big criticisms of the original car.

On the plus side, the 2023 software update includes a more intelligent route planner for the sat nav (which schedules charging stops more effectively on longer journeys), improved voice control and an excellent augmented reality head-up display which projects directions from the sat nav onto the road ahead.

> Review: Cupra Born

Elsewhere, the battery and motor setup stay much the same. There’s a choice of two batteries – 58kWh in the Pro and 77kWh in the Pro S, delivering ranges of up to 266 miles and 347 miles respectively.

Priced from £37,115, both develop 204bhp, though the smaller battery model is slightly quicker in the 0-62mph sprint (7.4 vs 7.9 seconds).

Usefully, Volkswagen has uprated the charging capacity for the ID.3. So, the Pros S can be charged from 5-80% within 30 minutes at speeds of up to 170kW, while the Pro takes 35 minutes with a charging capacity of up to 120kW.

On the road, the revised ID.3 is much the same as the “first generation” model, which means that it’s competent and assured, but it’s unlikely to put a smile on your face.

There are three drive modes (Eco, Comfort and Sport), but the differences are subtle and the reality is that the ID.3 is all about comfort and extracting maximum miles from a charge.

> Review: Nissan Leaf

There’s also plenty of grip from its rear-wheel drive set-up, though it’s no Golf in the handling department.

It’s a doodle to drive, generally composed and a refined motorway cruiser. City driving is fine too, with pretty good all-round visibility (the front pillars take a bit of getting used to), light steering and a tight turning circle of just 10.2 metres. Oh, and there’s a rear wiper, which isn’t a given these days.

We tested it over a variety of roads and it smoothed out the poor surfaces very well. The brake pedal still has a relatively long travel feeling, which isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does take some getting used to.

If anything, the 58kWh Pro was a tad more nimble, but there’s little between them – and ultimately, the ID.3 still lacks the driving engagement of some rivals.

Also. paddles or buttons behind the steering wheel to adjust the brake generation level would be a bonus.

One area where the ID.3 can’t be faulted is inside the cabin where there’s plenty of space front and rear, with room for full-sized adults in the back.

The boot has a decent 385-litre capacity, rising to 1,267 litres with the rear seats flipped down.

It’s safe too, boasting a maximum of five stars from Euro NCAP. The ID.3 has all the latest safety and driver assistance systems. New for 2023 is Travel Assist, which helps keep your vehicle in its lane, keep its distance from the vehicle in front and maintain your pre-defined speed.

The ID.3’s rivals include its VW Group cousin, the Cupra Born, plus the MG4, Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Astra Electric.

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Volkswagen has listened to feedback and the updated ID.3 is a welcome improvement. Comfortable, composed, safe, refined and practical, the new ID.3 is a sensible electric hatchback choice.
Show More

Quality

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Performance

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Range

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Comfort

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Dynamics

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Fast Facts

Price

£37,115
-42,870

Battery Capacity

58-
77 kWh

WLTP Range

266-
347 miles

Maximum Power

201 bhp

Torque

228 lb-ft

0-60

7.4-
7.9 secs

Top Speed

99 mph

Boot Capacity

385-
1267 litres

Pros and Cons

Practicality
Comfort and refinement
Good range
Composed drive
A tad expensive
Infotainment system not perfect
Lack of dynamism
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