Road Tests

BMW i3

4

thumbs upHugely clever, a joy to drive, world-class technology, disarmingly friendly

thumbs downNot much fun on motorways. The price....

Should You?

The most accomplished Fiesta-sized EV in the world and bristling with good ideas. Chose the optional get-you-home 32bhp petrol engine and you increase the usable range by an 80 miles. Battery-only models will give a driving range of around 80 to 125 miles. The i3 is hoot in town with amazing regenerative brakes and 0 to 60mph in 7.2 secs.  Cabin is glorious with high driving position plus roomy enough for four grown ups and well fitted out with standard Sat Nav and lots of bright design touches. Hefty £30k plus pricing is an issue but batteries have an eight-year 100,000-mile guarantee. We’d go for the range extender option even though the tiny motorcycle engine only has a nine-litre fuel tank.  Cool image and lots of classless street cred. London Fire Brigade, Metropolitan Police and even the LAPD are all running fleets of i3s with great success.  BMW are bringing out improved models out soon with a 195-mile battery range but no plans to upgrade existing cars. A five year servicing package is only £375.

My Charging Life

Plug it into a socket at home and it takes seven hours for an 80% recharge but fit the BMW wall-charging box and that falls to three hours.  On a fast charger you’ll be up to almost fully charged in 30 mins. Because you’ll drive the i3 with verve expect only 80 miles to one charge but you can eke out the range to 100 miles if you’re more feather footed.

The Downsides

The i3 is the same price as a BMW 120D SE and there are compromises. Even with the range extender option you’ll be stopping to fill up (again) every 70 miles or so. The drone from the bike engine can get a bit wearing and those suicide rear doors can take some getting used to. Tick too many option boxes and you’ll pay over £35k. Don’t specify 20 inch wheels either – it ruins the ride.

Verdict
5

Quite simply the best small EV money can buy – new or used. We rate the i3 very highly indeed.