VW ID.3 facelift turns up the tech but doesn't bring back buttons

Published: 28 February 2023 Updated: 28 February 2023

► ID.3 facelift pushed through a year early
► Updated styling, improved interior
► But important infotainment upgrade delayed for RHD models

The Volkswagen ID.3 hasn’t been around for very long, but in response to customer feedback VW has pushed through the EV hatchback’s mid-life facelift, bringing a slightly updated look, new tech features inside and out and a higher-quality interior.

While mostly subtle, the updates should go some way towards addressing some of our complaints with the ID.3 – though arguably the most important changes won’t hit the UK market until mid-2024. And since this is a facelift, rather than a totally new generation, VW’s been unable (or unwilling) to fix everything.

Volkswagen ID.3 facelift - rear three quarter

Not that it necessarily needed to. While VW CEO admitted ‘work needs to be done’ on the latest generation of VW infotainment, it’s not stopped the ID.3 selling around 300,000 examples since it launched in 2019.

The new VW ID.3 doesn’t look much different…

Styling changes are pretty subtle. The eagle-eyed will notice that the bonnet has been reshaped – it now features sculpted lines, and has ditched the black plastic top panel of the current model in favour of sheet metal all the way up to the base of the windscreen.

The front bumper’s been reshaped too, with new and slightly jowly ‘air curtains’ added at the edges – the current car’s diamond-shaped styling motif has gone too. As have the stickers that some models had on the C-pillar – not classy enough for the new improved ID.3.

Round the back, there are new two-part rear lights, with the sections on the boot lid now illuminated rather than being mere reflectors. A couple of new alloy wheel designs and a new colour, the shifting Dark Olivine Green, complete the visual changes.

What’s changed on the inside?

Well, customer feedback has lead VW to explore the ‘soft-touch’ section of its plastics cupboard. You now get new door cards with soft-touch tops, as well as deeper armrests – though the infuriating double-duty window switches remain.

The dashboard too has undergone a softening, with the lower section feeling far plusher than the car it replaces. And just in case you’ve forgotten what car you’re driving, the air vents are now split with a panel bearing the legend ‘ID.3’.

Volkswagen ID.3 facelift - interior

The interior materials are also more sustainable than before – there’s no leather of any description, and VW claims that on delivery to the customer the ID.3 is net carbon neutral. Tidy.

That customer feedback comes from a few sources. Of course, it’s good to know that VW has read reviews by motoring publications – but the bulk of the changes come from talking to dealers or from the ID. Driver’s Club – 15,000 owners of ID.3s, 4s and 5s who were only too happy to tell VW what they didn’t like about their cars.

What about that updated infotainment?

Ah. That’s a bit awkward. You see, European cars will get a new 12.0-inch infotainment screen, already seen in larger ID models. But due to the positioning of the lighting panel in RHD cars, we here in the UK will be stuck with the old 10.0-inch display.

At least until mid-2024, when another update will see all cars upgraded to a new 12.9-inch display, similar to the system previewed on the ID.7. This will see the lighting panel for RHD cars shifted to a much more sensible location close to the door, as well as the gear selector moved down from the side of the instrument binnacle. Glory be, the volume and climate slider controls beneath the screen will also be illuminated at this point.

The schedule for this new system is unfortunately fixed, while the facelift has been brought forward by a year – hence the delay.

Volkswagen ID.3 facelift - infotainment

Other complaints which have been addressed are an improved e-route planner for sorting out charge stops on a long trip, and the shuffling around of certain features in the infotainment system – such as placing charging controls right at the top menu level. There’s also the improved head-up display first seen on the ID.5.

Unfortunately, Volkswagen’s done nothing about some of our other complaints, such as the wipers that leave a big streak in the driver’s eyeline on RHD models. And you still get the irritating touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel.

What else is new?

Well, VW’s adding the ability to subscribe to ‘functions on demand’ – essentially buying or renting features after you’ve purchased the car. This is also a bit of a lame duck in the UK, though, as of the three main features – dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, and 30-colour ambient lighting – the first two will be standard equipment on all UK cars. Still, no harm in renting the funky lighting for Pride month.

In future, this could be extended out to more and more of the car’s equipment – items like adaptive cruise control or automatic high beam headlights, which it’s cheaper to build into every model but could save customers a few quid should they only want to pay for them, say, for the duration of a short lease.

What’s the new VW ID.3’s range?

Volkswagen ID.3 facelift - front three quarter

The electric powertrain’s virtually unchanged, which means the range is too – any extra weight is compensated for by better aerodynamics. That means you still get 264 miles out of the 58kWh battery, and 339 miles out of the larger, 77kWh option.

VW has however increased the maximum charging rate from 125kW to 170kW, allowing for speedier topups, and added V2L tech – giving owners the option to power 240V home electric equipment from the car’s battery.

What does the new ID.3 rival?

Since the pre-facelift model launched in 2019 the number of EV rivals has increased dramatically, and so VW’s benchmarked a few for this model that it wouldn’t have four years ago. The MG 4 is strong competition – it’s not as premium as the ID.3, but highly competitive in terms of range and space as well as being much cheaper. Other strong competition includes the in-house rival, the Cupra Born, as well as Tesla’s Model 3, especially after Tesla’s latest round of aggressive price cuts.

When can I buy one?

UK order books will open towards the end of May with deliveries following shortly after. VW’s prioritising build slots for its MEB cars, and from 2023 will build the ID.3 in its home factory in Wolfsburg, adding greater capacity to the plants already in Dresden and Zwickau.

In future there’ll be a low-mileage battery option, below the existing 58kWh unit and acting as an entry-level point. There’ll also be a high-powered GTX model, which unlike existing GTX cars will be single-motor and rear-wheel drive.

Pricing is likely to be similar or a smidge higher than the existing ID.3, as is usually the way with facelifts, but we’ll know more closer to launch.

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; enjoys Peugeots, naturally-aspirated diesels, column shifts and steel wheels