Lowest-priced ID3 offers refinement of pricier models, easily qualifies for government EV grant, yet range remains decent despite having smallest of three battery on offer

What is it?

When VW’s first mass market EV, the Volkswagen ID 3, hit our market 18 months ago, its range structure was almost unbelievably complex. This car was supposed to be about serenity and ease of operation but it seemed to take buyers several evenings of close study to decide whether a Max, a Tour, a Tech, a Family, a Style, a City or a Business was right for them.

Once that was sorted, the buyer then had to decide which weirdly-labelled motor/battery combination was right — Pure Performance, Pro, Pro Performance or Pro S? Oh, and by the way, most ID 3s at that stage were too expensive to attract the Government’s £2500 subsidy for sub-£35,000 EV purchases. Something had to be done to simplify the whole proposition and it has been, for the ’22 model year range recently launched. 

It’s still complex, mind. And unforgivably, some 2022 models still aren’t correctly listed on the UK configurator. But with a bit of brain-strain you can now choose your ideal ID 3 in just one evening. The City, Business and Tour have been bundled into a Life model (available with four different powertrain combinations) and for 2022 seven ID 3 models qualify for the government bung.

Even in unadorned form the new Life is very well equipped though confusion still reigns over option choices: extras come in five packs, each of which has a pricier “Pro” version grafted on, but at least choosing wheels and colours is an understandable process. 

However the really big news is that for 2022 ID 3 buyers can now buy a clearly defined entry model — the Life Pure Performance — whose sensible spec, steel wheels, lower-powered 148bhp electric motor and most modest 45kWh battery give it the highly attractive starting price of just £27,120 once the subsidy is subtracted.


What's it like?

That’s the car we’ve tested here, albeit equipped with £650 worth of alloy wheels (the standard car gets 18-inch steelies) to make it look better in the pictures. The standard fabric upholstery looks durable and well made, the seats are nicely shaped for longer distances, the rear compartment is downright spacious, there’s plenty of fascination for gadget-geeks in the flexibly configurable dashboard, and you even have puddle-lights to help when you get in or out.

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Higher-spec ID 3s have been regularly tested in these pages and consistently pronounced refined, modern, enjoyable and efficient. What was different about this one was the smaller 45kWh battery, linked with the most basic motor.

The fact is, the car felt quick off the mark and acceptably brisk up to 55-60mph, after which it slowed down. The 0-62mph time is claimed at a decent 8.9sec, and the car will do 99mph, though taking it anywhere near that for long is a shortcut to visiting extra charging points on the way home.

The cruising range, claimed for 217 miles, was close to that in real life. We felt more comfortable charging it at 160-180, but one journey, mainly on B-roads, turned 200 miles with no bother.

Should I buy one?

Owners will find that if they treat this ID3 Pure Performance Life right, it’ll carry them 200 miles, or perhaps 10% fewer in the dead of winter.

Given that it can draw on the design modernity and dynamic sophistication that runs right through the ID3 range — combining these virtues with a very pleasant lack of frills and a £28k percent range — we have the distinct feeling this might just be the most sensible Volkswagen ID 3 of them all.

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Andrew1 8 November 2021
Refinement, what refinement? Have you seen that cheap plastic interior? Dacia Sandero can't stop laughing when it thinks of it.
catnip 3 November 2021

What does that big black plastic panel on the top of the bonnet do? Can you take it off?

artill 3 November 2021

I suspect you can pay more to have that extra panel on the bonnet painted, and even more if you want paint on the boot. 

And if the car has just been introduced why is the car photographed a 70 plate, it must have been registered no later than February.

oh, and £28k for a 200 mile range (or 150 in winter). Somehow this makes a Zoe look appealing. That is a mighty achievement

superstevie 5 November 2021

Zoe is great value compared to this, but it is smaller too. 

I'm guessing that this is a press car, which would normally have been flogged by now. However, with all these chip shortages, they'll be holding on to them for a bit longer. Thats my guess at least

Will86 3 November 2021
The car in the photos doesn't have alloys, those are the steel wheels with wheel trims. And actually I think they look fine. VWs trim naming policy is still odd though. Why has a base model got performance in it's name?
superstevie 5 November 2021

Pro Performance relates to the faster 201bhp motor.

Also, had a look on VW website, they've removed some trim levels from their configurator! All of the trims available have steel wheels/hubcaps as standard. Must be the chip shortage. The Tour version with the bigger battery looks like it has been dropped