The i3 was BMW’s first major breakaway from
traditionally powered petrol and diesel engined cars. It’s also the first from its futuristic
i sub brand. Thankfully, it’s still enjoyable to drive thanks to modern construction techniques
and the use of carbon fibre and aluminium offsets the weight of the battery. Importantly,
for anyone who cares about BMW’s heritage, its rear wheel drive. The only difference
is it’s an electric motor driving those wheels. Your can buy it with either a pure electric
power train or as a range extender hybrid with a small petrol engine and electric motor.
The electric i3 has a decent real world range of around 124 miles between charges. While
the ranger extender will take you approximately 90 miles further between fill ups and you
can use petrol motor to keep it topped up on the move. Keep watching to find out everything
you need to know about buying a BMW i3 and which version you should choose. Like other
electric cars, the i3 gives you all of its power from the moment you press the execrator.
That means it’s seriously quick off the mark and nippy enough to negotiate its way around
town traffic. Although the power tails off as you reach its top speed, that maximum is
93 mph so the i3 is well suited for motorways. The i3 has three driving modes to choose from:
Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+. In contrast to conventional systems, its Comfort that
offers the best performance. Switch to Eco Pro mode and the car’s energy recuperation
system cuts in sooner. Take your foot off the throttle and it slows the car down, harvesting
that energy and feeding it back to the battery. It also limits the top speed to 70 mph unless
you put your foot hard on the throttle to override it. Eco Pro+ is best left for urban
use as it limits the top speed even more and also shuts off the climate controls. While
the i3 sticks to the road well and has little body roll through the twisty sections, the
trade off for this is a pretty firm ride. It’s quite crashy on the 19 inch wheels and
if you go for the 20s it’s even worse so we would avoid those. There’s plenty of adjustment
in the seat and the steering wheel, which mens people of all shapes and sizes should
find a comfortable driving position. Our only criticism is that there’s no lumbar adjustment,
which means that long journeys could get a little uncomfortable. It’s easy to get in
the back once you get use to these hinge doors, but once you are here there’s not much leg
or head room. Even though the i3 is the smallest BMW you can buy, I have to say the interior
is up there with others in the range. The switches look like they’ve been borrowed
from a big executive saloon and there are exposed flashes of carbon fibre and appealing
finishes all over the cabin. BMW business is the standard infotainment system on the
i3 and it comes with a 6.5 inch screen and a chunky rotary dial on the centre console.
It’s a breeze to use. Go for the professional system and you get a 10.2 inch screen and
a pad on the middle dial, which enables you to write in postcodes. Both systems have been
fine tuned for the electric car user and they show you the nearest charging points and if
you set a destination on the sat nav, it warns you if it’s out of range. So let’s see how
easy it is to set a destination and also to pair my mobile phone. If we go to menu and
telephone and bluetooth devices, add new device, let’s see if I can see it on my phone. Bluetooth.
There it is. BMW i910. Pair. Ok. Excellent. I am paired. Now, I’m going to go back to
the nav now and give it another opportunity to find a charging point. So if I go to points
of interests and vehicle charging station. There we go. Now that I know my phone is paired,
I have slightly more patience and look at that. Now it’s had a chance to think about
it there are plenty of of charging stations around so let’s just click on one. This one.
There’s plenty of room up front in the i3 thanks to no traditional hand break and the
gear lever is on the steering column plus the dash has a deeply scalloped base, which aids
legroom even further. The same can’t be said for the rear though . It’s easy to get in
the back once you get use to these hinged doors, but once you are in here there’s not
much leg or head room. Boot space is not up there with the class leaders unfortunately.
There’s enough room for your weekly shop, but storing push chairs or golf clubs could
be a challenge. There’s no getting around the fact the BMW i3 is expensive to buy even
taking the government’s electric car grant into consideration, it still costs almost
twice as much as a regular hatch back, such as a Ford Fiesta. It should be cheap to live
with though because you can charge it from virtually empty from a domestic plug socket
over night for a mire few pounds. Servicing should be reasonable too, especially if you
go for BMW’s fixed plan which lasts for 5 years or 60,000 miles. So, should you go pure
electric or for the range extender? Unless you’ll be doing regular 100 miles plus treks,
we’d stick with the electric i3. It’s a few thousand pounds cheaper to buy and you won’t
have to buy petrol for it and the difference in distance between the two is not as much
as you might think. The full electric i3 goes 124 miles in between charges and the one fitted
with the range extender, it’s only around 100 miles more at 210 in between fuel stops.
Whichever BMW i3 you choose you can be happy in the knowledge you’re driving one of the
most agile, desirable, small electric cars on the market. For plenty more on the BMW
i3 including our full online review head to “whatcar.com” and don’t miss another video.