Driven: BMW i3

JonathanAugust 24, 2015

Yes it looks a little wierd. So what?

Driven: BMW i3

This year, no other car I’ve driven has attracted quite so much attention as the new BMW i3. With its futuristic looks inside and out, clever tech, and silent electric motor it got a lot of questions when out and about.

Plug-in electric cars are most popular in cities due to their limited range. However, the i3 will take you up to around 100 miles on a full charge, and the optional range extender can give you an extra 70 miles. Charging from a domestic socket at home it can easily be charged overnight, or in just 3 hours if you have a BMW i-Wallbox fitted. In many cities and motorway service stations have charging units readily available for a rapid charge in about 30 minutes – but up in the Lake District I’m not so lucky. Fortunately the tiny petrol generator in the range extender saved me from range anxiety suffered by many electric drivers.

The BMW i3 has tall and narrow proportions, and although it has a smallish boot and feels a little narrow across the back seat, with clever packaging it feels very roomy up front. Climbing into the high-set driving seat, you’ll immediately spot a pair of large TFT screens which display everything from speed, battery charge, reversing camera, and the excellent Sat-nav. With a variety of trims available, the interior is very distinctive, with many of the trims made from sustainable materials. Overall the feeling is high quality and impressively comfortable.

The passenger compartment of the i3 is made from Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic, so is not only very strong, but also very light. The car is 300kg lighter than a Nissan Leaf and the weight saving not only improves efficiency, but also performance. The i3 will not only sprint to 62mph in 7.2 seconds, but the seamless acceleration in almost silence without any engine noise is truely remarkable. The high driving position aids visibility around town, but I found the car to be equally at home on the motorway while commuting.

With the range starting at £30,980 (£34,130 with the range extender), it’s certainly not cheap. However, if you must have a premium-brand electric with the latest and best tech then the i3 just made it to the top of your list. With lease costs from just £289.99 + VAT (click here for more) maybe it starts to make sense – especially as a company car with such little BiK to pay. Setting the car to charge overnight on a low cost electricity tariff knocks the spots off queuing at the pumps too.


For: High quality, great range, & low running costs

Against: Boot space, & lack of charging points

Verdict: An innovative, high quality & essential electric.

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