We've known for a while now that Volkswagen is planning a smaller electric vehicle than the ID.3 compact hatchback, and this is the first time we get a look at it.

Well, sort of, because as you can see, these spy shots show a test mule built using the modified bodywork of a VW ID.3. At first glance, it looks just like an ID.3, but a closer look reveals a shorter wheelbase and much smaller rear doors.

This proves that Volkswagen's small EV is in the very early stages of development, so there aren't any details available about it. Still, Volkswagen dropped some cues here and there since it debuted the ID. Life Concept in September 2021.

Initially believed to preview the brand's future ID.2 small electric crossover due in 2025, the ID. Life – more specifically its styling – reportedly fell out of favor in Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen brand's design chief Jozef Kaban was replaced on February 1 by Andreas Mindt, and a report from Germany claimed that design differences between VW brand's new CEO Thomas Schaefer and Kaban ultimately led to the latter's demotion.

Gallery: Volkswagen ID. 2 Test Mule Spy Shots

It is believed Kaban was asked to rework the styling of the ID.2, but what happened after that is anyone's guess. We do know that Volkswagen teased its entry-level EV in May 2022 and it looked nothing like the ID. Life Concept. The design sketch teased a high-riding vehicle featuring similar styling cues to the ID.3. 

Back to the test mule spotted near the Arctic Circle, we can't judge it by the design because the bodywork has no relevance whatsoever to the final production model. 

Volkswagen is using the test mule to test the powertrain, which is expected to use the updated MEB+ platform. The ID.2 will be closely related to the Cupra Urban Rebel, and both are expected to get FWD-only variants. Mind you, while the ID.2 will be a sporty crossover, Schaefer said the brand's entry-level EV will also come as a small car, likely branded ID.1.

The automaker plans to build the entry-level EVs at the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, with the hatchbacks to eventually replace the current VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza subcompact hatchbacks. As for pricing, VW previously said the starting price would be just under €25,000 ($26,700).

There's also a slight possibility that this test mule previews the next-generation VW Golf EV, though nothing seems to support that hypothesis other than the bodywork that's smaller than the ID.3. On a related note, Volkswagen is planning to unveil an ID.2 concept soon, which should provide a clearer idea of the brand's future small electric crossover.

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@insideevs.com