Electric Car Experts Review the BMW i3 Add Your Review
BMW i3 Look and Living
You’ve noticed them around – especially the white ones. The BMW i3 stands out. It’s BMWs “obvious” electric car. But take a closer look. There’s still lots of beautiful BMW touches in play – signature kidney grills of course, stylish use of glass on rear, seriously good looking alloy wheel upgrade options. The
Weight matters to battery life so BMW has incorporated a serious amount of light, tough carbon fibre into the body. The front doors are noticeably light weight to open. And it’s this carbon fibre that allows BMWi3 to avoid the traditional separating column between front and rear doors. The result: opposing, carriage doors that provide a less traditional means of accessing the back seat. Not quite Back to The Future scissors of the i8 but it still might be your cup of tea. You do have to open the front doors to open the back, so the BMW i3 probably isn’t as true a 5 door as you can find. We got a 6’4” passenger into the back seat without too many difficulties. But there isn’t space for 3 back there, the centre seat has the back seat cupholders! The boot is small at 260 litres.
The standard “Interior World” is nothing to write home about. BMW has incorporated more natural fibres and materials into the interior dash (wood – eucalyptus trim) and seating (pure new wool). This helps the green creds for the model and also saves weight. But nothing special to look at. The leather upgrade (naturally tanned using olive leaves) is a much better, not inexpensive optional extra (this is the Suite Trim option at £2000).
6 / 10 (8 if you love the carriage doors)
Now this was an improvement on the e-Golf I reviewed last week. The new model BMW i3 has a very flash Technology Hub as standard. Not touch screen (though it looks like it should be) – it consists of 6 tiles (customisable) that can display a myriad of data – be it navigational, vehicle performance, connectivity and communication, vehicle and BMW info – all accessed by the turn of a giant knob where the hand brake used to be. It’s also possible to programme button shortcuts – such as Eco mode.
I didn’t pair any of my devices to the car during the test but it is possible to lock and unlock your car using an Amazon Alexa skill. Not sure how practical this is – but it’s interesting to see a manufacturer thinking about Voice Control and Artificial Intelligence use cases to improve the user experience of their vehicles.
With the new model being delivered in the UK from June 2018, it’s really going to be hard to consider a second-hand model without the new Tech Hub if a stylish and fully loaded technology user interface is your thing.
Some of the navigation options that you get with the eGolf as standard like Adaptive Cruise Control are extras for the i3 – but then the i3 option Driving Assistant Plus also bundles City Collision Mitigation, Preventive Pedestrian Warning and Traffic Jam Assist into the £790 option.
8 / 10
BMW i3 Performance and Drive
In a straight line, I really liked the i3. Acceleration was smooth and powerful. Auto-hand brake for hill starts was perfectly trustworthy, no hint of a roll back (and no flashing lights banging on about going into and out of auto-hand brake mode like the e-Golf). Very comfortable acceleration to take the vehicle to motor way speed limits, making merging and overtaking easy to do. What I really liked was the power of the deceleration for city driving. Take your foot completely off the gas and the car wants to slow down. It’s really responsive. You could learn to drive without the brake pedal.
The i3 is a high-roof hatchback and I felt it handled like one as it cornered. There is probably a reason BMW have recently launched the BMW i3S (we tested the BMW i3) with wider wheel base and (slightly) lower profile. It would be good to see so me of these tweaks making their way into the basic i3 in a newer model. It could really help the overall attractiveness of its handling. A future test for Electric Car Experts.
Range, charging and Greenness
With the newer 94Ah battery (available in i3 models from late 2016, helping the value of second hand i3s a little), the i3 gets a real world 115 mile or so from a fully charged battery. The car comes with 3 modes – Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro +. Comfort gives access to top speeds and the various Eco modes cut electricity consumption to extend range. I found acceleration in Eco Pro + mode very sluggish during motorway driving during the test drive. Probably a City only option.
But a key USP of the BMW i3 for me is the £3000 Range Extender option – a quiet (and it was quiet) two-cylinder petrol engine. When engaged, the range extender powers a generator to keep charge levels constant. Real world estimates are that the 9 litres of unleaded will get you an extra 70 miles of charge. BMW state a total of 205 miles can be achieved! You have the option of tapping into the range extender (once battery falls below 75%) fossil fuels with the reassurance that it’s there if you or your family need it. The i3 is smart enough to initiate the Range Extender option when it is extremely low on charge. With all things electrical, there’s a compromise, with an extra 120kg of weight required for the Range Extender engine, electric range is reduced.
Specification and Extras
BMW puts together the green manufacturing back story quite well, claiming its carbon fibre is produced with 100% water power and the Leipzig production plant runs on 100% wind energy. They also claim reduced energy consumption for this model. With 5 years of production experience, it’s important that the energy efficient vehicle we drive away is produced as efficiently as possible.
Cruise control and rear parking sensors are standard, front parking sensors and rear cameras are optional extras.
Please add your review and help our community with your valued experience and feedback.
The BMW i3 is unique with it's carriage doors and 2 coloured design options. Has a great USP in the Range Extender.
- Impressive Technology
- Range extender
- Latest model available from June
- Handles like the high roof hatchback it is
- Looks 'different' but you might like it!