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Volkswagen ID3 Pro S 2024 review


It’s like a Golf, reinvented – and Volkswagen’s small electric hatchback is on the way to Australia in late 2024

Good points

  • Useful, wieldy size
  • Pleasant interior
  • Smooth ride quality
  • Subtly fun to drive
  • Reasonably efficient
  • Long driving range

Needs work

  • Large battery adds cost, weight
  • Smaller battery not for us
  • Fairly modest power
  • A few tech foibles
  • Pricing not yet known

Really, the Volkswagen ID3 ought to have been called the Golf EV. It is Golf buyers who will take perhaps the most shine to VW’s compact electric hatchback that is on its way to Australia late next year.

Volkswagen’s decision to brand most of its range of fully-electric vehicles ‘ID’ was a transitional step, and one that the marque will begin to unpick in the late 2020s. Next decade’s Golf and Tiguan will be electric.

But once it arrives in about 12 months from now, the silent, electric ID3 will sit alongside its more affordable, similarly-proportioned, petrol-powered Golf sibling in Volkswagen’s Aussie showrooms.

Rear left three quarter view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 hatch

Golf and ID3 do not share a name and their platforms are completely different, too – with the electric hatch adopting a sophisticated rear-wheel drive EV architecture that enhances cabin space as well as driving dynamics.

While vast technological strides are taken under the skin of the ID3, existing Golf buyers will find many similarities: the EV’s 385L boot space (and shape) is nearly identical to the Golf though back seat room is a bit better thanks to a long wheelbase.

The ID3 is an astounding 10cm taller than a Golf – it doesn’t quite look that high – with the extra space allowing Volkswagen engineers to place a huge 77kWh (usable) battery between the EV’s axles.

Interior and dashboard view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3

That’s a vast battery, and it pays enormous dividends for people who, perhaps, haven’t lived with an EV before – the kind of people who want long range and fewer charging headaches.

The ID3 is extremely efficient in town: we recorded about 13.5kWh/100km for an urban range of 570km – not at all far from the circa-660km you’d see in a Golf at a realistic 7.5L/100km.

Unlike petrol cars, EVs are thirstier on the highway than in town – and on the open road, we got 15.6kWh/100km out of the ID3 for a touring range of 493km. A Golf would do 800km or so.

Front left three quarter view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3

Still, the ID3 can be replenished in half an hour or so at ultra-rapid highway chargers thanks to relatively swift 170kW DC charging speeds. As a tourer, it’s not Golf-convenient, but it isn’t worlds apart.

And the ID3 has the real benefit of being able to recharge from a power-point or wallbox at home. You don’t do that with petrol!

We’ve laid out a lot of figures – but the upshot is that the Volkswagen ID3 joins the Tesla Model 3 and Cupra Born as one of the most efficient EVs out there. Combined with its large battery, the ID3 is so easy to live with.

Side profile view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 hatch in dark olivine green

Speaking of the Cupra Born: the ID3 is its very close relation. The pair are built in a Volkswagen factory in Germany and share many mechanicals while differing in styling, steering and suspension tuning.

Globally, both the ID3 and Born are available with an Australia-specification 77kWh battery, or a smaller, lighter 58kWh pack promising about 400km range.

Volkswagen executives say that the 58kWh battery pack will not be available in any model for Australian buyers for the foreseeable future. In some ways, that’s a shame – it would reduce costs and still pack plenty of range for most people.

Front seats of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 hatch Pro S

In the ID3, the 58kWh pack could serve in a true base model. It brings vehicle weight to 1815kg, compared to 1933kg for the 77kWh pack. The extra weight adds range but dents the 150kW ID3’s performance with portliness.

Not by that much, though: we found the ID3 with the big battery to be reasonably swift while accelerating and fun in the corners. It’s heavy – at times you sense that – but with the weight kept low, you can be quite aggressive with the car while it remains remarkably stable.

And the fact that the single 150kW/310Nm electric motor is on the rear axle means that you can adjust your line in corners with the accelerator. It adds another layer to the ID3’s already accomplished body control and steering.

Front left three quarter view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 Pro S in dark olivine green

Our initial test drive took place in the alpine region of southern Germany and northern Austria with Aussie-spec cars. We found a section of tight hairpins that had us really giggling – on a technical bit of road the ID3 is hugely rewarding.

That makes it quite different to a Tesla Model 3 – also a RWD car. The Tesla is highly capable, really fast and even more efficient, but feel-free steering and overly disciplined, flat cornering posture induces too much understeer. That’s never a problem in the Volkswagen.

Back in town, the ID3 has deliberately light and easy steering, making it pleasant and simple to maneouvre. Visibility is excellent thanks to the fishbowl glasshouse.

Side profile view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 Pro S in dark olivine green charging

Then there’s ride quality, which is smooth, slick and quiet, with excellent damping of suspension noise and impact harshness. Our tester ran on huge 20-inch wheels but bump absorption was first-rate…on quality European roads, at least.

It’ll take a proper test on pockmarked Australian roads to really place the ID3 – but its sportily-tuned Cupra Born has already shown that this MEB platform deals with our surfaces very well.

When it is released in Australia, the ID3 will arrive to Volkswagen showrooms already accommodating the larger ID4 and ID5 midsize SUVs. The ID3 will bring a sorely-needed addition to the small EV segment.

Steering wheel of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 Pro S

The ID3 was released in Europe in late 2020 but early cars were criticised for laggy infotainment technology. Volkswagen has struggled to get on top of EV software architecture but if our test cars were anything to go by, the brand is starting to improve here.

An update for the ID3 was hurriedly prepared and is ready for Australian deliveries to start – the cars we drove had been upgraded as such, with a subtle styling clean-up at the front end, more pleasant interior materials and – happily – lag-free cabin tech.

Like some other Volkswagen models, the ID3 still has touch-capacitive steering wheel spoke controls and unlit climate control sliders beneath its touchscreen, but these elements will be nixed in a further update that might land before this EV even gets to Australia.

Touchscreen of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 Pro S

The brand is in the midst of generally rolling back to physical steering wheel buttons, while illuminated climate controls are being pushed in before a broader interior rethink for VW’s next-generation EVs after 2025.

Still, the cabin was more than usable in our test, and materials were Golf-like rather than feeling stingy – the Cupra Born, austere in some areas, will hopefully receive similar changes soon.

Seat comfort was good and the front pews – finished in attractive dusty grey in our test vehicle – not only packed dinky dual armrests and electric adjustment, but also seat heating and a seat massage feature. Support started to run out after four or five hours in the saddle.

Rear view of a 2024 Volkswagen ID3 Pro S in dark olivine green

But for most people, the ID3 will be a city car capable of easily sustaining longer trips on the highway where required.

For that duality of purpose, it’s a really suitable vehicle – if only it was arriving sooner.

A specific release date will be firmed up early in 2024 and we should know pricing in the middle of next year.

Volkswagen is so far keeping mum on whether the ID3 will be offered with multiple trim grades.

If a ‘mid-spec’ car with the big battery is on the cards, a $60,000 entry point before on-road costs doesn’t seem out of the question. That’s similar positioning to the Born.

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