Long-term tests

Volkswagen ID.3 long-term test: electric hatch excels as urban runabout

First report: it feels like a new beginning for our man with an electric hatch

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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These are early days in my crash course of ‘Running an EV’, but I feel as if I’m doing well on the theory. There’s still much for me to learn about the ID.3, but it’s very much a case of so far, so good. Now it’s on to the practical test, so here’s hoping that goes equally well.

  • Mileage: 2,104
  • Economy: 4.1mi/kWh

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but as I embark on six months with a Volkswagen ID.3, I feel like a learner driver all over again. You see, although I’ve been reviewing cars for more than 30 years and driven plenty with plugs, this is the first time I’ve ever run a pure-electric car on a long-term basis.

True, I’ve run a couple of plug-in hybrids, so I’m more than happy to top up a car’s battery at home. But I confess I’ve never really dug into the details of kilowatt hours, batteries, cables and chargers.

Then again, the ID.3 – and this 77kWh version in particular – should mean the learning curve isn’t too steep. It’s quite clearly a conventional five-door hatchback, which means it’ll slot into our family life very easily; and I already know that I can run a charging cable out under the garage door to the driveway at the front of our house.

In due course, I’ll need to look into the challenges of public charging, but to start with, I’ll be topping up the car exclusively at home, and from a three-pin socket. My theory is that I don’t do many miles, so I’ll never be charging the car from ‘empty’, and I’ll almost always be able to top it up sufficiently overnight for whatever I have planned the next day.

My most regular longer haul is down to the Sussex coast to visit family, but given that the car has a quoted range of 347 miles, I should be able to get there and back on a single charge easily enough. That’s a story for a future report, though, when I’ll also see how cooler weather affects the range.

Hopefully, the answer to that is ‘not much’, because one of the options fitted to this car is a heat pump. This means that the car uses less energy from the battery to power the heater, preserving the range.

It’s one of several optional features on this ID.3 – despite it being the top-spec Pro S model – with the two most expensive being the Driver Assistance Pack Plus and the Exterior Pack. The former bundles together Side Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist with Area View and a rear-view camera, plus keyless entry and Park Assist Plus.

The Exterior Pack adds matrix-LED headlights with dynamic light assist, an illuminated ‘grille’, LED tail-lights with dynamic turn signals, and tinted rear glass.

The driver-assistance features are most welcome, given how much time I spend in London traffic; and overall, I think the styling add-ons make the ID.3 a very smart-looking car, particularly in the (also optional) Olivine Green metallic paint.

This car benefits from being the recently revised model, too. That means it has a new-look nose, with extra air intakes in the front bumper and a longer bonnet, plus a chrome-effect strip running along the sides of the car over the windows. Inside, meanwhile, there are smarter materials designed to lift the perceived quality.

In all honesty, I think the interior still says £30k, rather than the £51k that the car actually costs once all the options have been taken into account. And I confess that, as with many others, I am rather underwhelmed by the laggy infotainment system. But otherwise, I’m finding EV life quite easy at the moment.

The ID.3 is perfect as Dad’s Taxi in suburban south west London, thanks to its combination of a smooth and refined powertrain with strong performance and relatively compact dimensions. It’s nice and relaxing in even the heaviest traffic, easy to navigate through city streets and no problem to park at the end of the journey.

Model:Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S 77kWh
On fleet since:September 2023
Price new:£42,870
Powertrain:77kWh battery, single e-motor, 201bhp
Options:Mains charge cable (£165), front and rear carpet mats (£105), removable boot floor (£75), 20-inch alloy wheels (£1,580), heat pump (£970), Driver Assistance Pack Plus (£2,095), Dark Olivine Green metallic paint (£860), Exterior Pack (£1,725), Interior Pack (£770)
Insurance*:Group: 28E uote: £984
Any problems?None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Chief sub-editor

Andy ensures that every word that is written in the magazine is up to the right standards week in week out. He has been writing, talking and presenting videos about cars for more than 30 years, and on the staff at Auto Express since March 2019.

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