The BMW i3 was the first fully electric vehicle developed by BMW that was made available to the public. This is the least-typical looking BMW ever produced for global markets – only the badge gives it away. The non-BMW look of the vehicle didn’t stop people from applauding the company’s efforts. The i3 showed electric vehicle manufacturers that small electric vehicles can still be classy.
Because the i3 is a fully electric vehicle the driver receives instant torque the second the foot goes on the accelerator. So if this machine was to line out against some of the top road-cars on the market, the i3 would probably give a much faster acceleration speed. In fact, according to the manufacturer, the i3 will bring you from 0-100 km/h in just 7.2 seconds.
The car is powered by an electric motor that produces 170 bhp and a torque of 250Nm. The i3 uses a specially developed lithium ion battery that powers everything in the vehicle.
Regardless of range anxieties, the i3 is probably the ultimate city car. Because the vehicle is small it is very easy to drive and manoeuvre in and around towns. The steering is well-weighted and very direct. The ride is especially firm if you are driving on the 20 inch alloys. To soften the journey a bit we would advise going for the 19 inch wheels.
This is among the most refined small electric vehicles. Somehow BMW has managed to bring their fine quality to this machine. The car’s motor operates efficiently and silently. Unfortunately the vehicle does suffer from road noise, but this has to be expected from smaller vehicles – especially if they’re made from extremely light carbon fibre materials.
The interior of the i3 is stunning. BMW didn’t cut corners on materials when the opted to create this car, and as small vehicles go it’s a chart topper. This is a long way from a conventional BMW interior. This car doesn’t have all of the soft furnishings that you would find a 3 Series or a 5 Series. The vehicle is flooded with light from the large windscreen. The dash board nearly floats above the floor to give a feeling of space, and the blue strip in the steering wheel is retro-futuristic.
Unfortunately the i3 only received 4-stars from the Euro NCAP tests, which is disappointing because it would have been nice to see this car succeed better in that too.
There are two seats to the rear, but to be honest they are for children only. The boot offers space of 260 litres, which is something that could be improved on.
The battery comes with an 8 year or 160,000km warranty. The BMW i3 should be cheaper to run than a vehicle with a conventional engine. A full charge, which costs approximately €2, should drive you for approximately 150 to 160km (depending on your style of driving). However, there is a version with a range extender petrol supply also available – this is a tiny 2-cylinder engine. The petrol tank is tiny, but it should double the distance you can travel. It’s up to potential owners to decide if an 8 hour charge (from a regular socket) or a 5 hour charge (from a BMW charger in your home) is practical.