2017 BMW i3 review | What Car?

2017 BMW i3 review | What Car?

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.
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About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. This is good EV car, for city driving and with the range extender it is reasonable for occasional long journeys as well. Tesla is total shit as EV… and overall as car!

  2. that short limited range may work in the UK/Europe, but is impractical for Canada or the USA, outside of cities only.

  3. Always terrible editing from what car and this woman annoys the hell out of everyone. Change it.

  4. Omds omds man! Her voice when she was trying to connect the phone to the car, was so soothing and beautiful! I wish I knew someone that spoke like that damn

  5. Mobile phone paring and storytelling style make Rebecca very obsolete in 2017. She was better before, especially while she was with carbuyer.

  6. oops I forgot you cannot re- fuel with Diesel you have to buy a new car when the fuel tank empties , well luckily with an i3 you can recharge the battery in approx 37 mins from near empty and can choose to miss stops and run on Rex for approx 100 mls should you choose long trips are relatively easy , a different mind set is all that's required , also done Mcr – John O Groats for a long weekend 1280mls , how far do most ICE drivers travel less than 50 mls , I was one of them , not any more 😂

  7. In my opinion Matt has developed more as a car reviewer since moving away from Car Buyer. The same can't be said of Rebecca, she has gone back the way. Matt is way better than Rebecca now, more character and personality, with a fluid performance. Rebecca is not doing enough videos to maintain her previous level. Very poor and repeating the rear seat section twice is just pathetic!!

  8. hmm range extender only 100 miles extra…yes but you can bring small petrol emergency tanks with you, I guess you can drive for 1000 miles if you want. That extender version would certainly be my choice.

  9. We've had one for 8 months now and I love it! I think Rebecca should have had the car a little longer to get a better feel for the ins and outs.
    A shame they didn't discuss leasing costs as it puts it not far above a Nissan Leaf in terms of monthly cost. 8 months in, 5000 miles covered and we haven't bought petrol/diesel since!
    If you're at all tempted – go and test drive one – they're fricking go karts! 🙂

  10. "Only 100 miles" more sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but you have to consider Australia's geography. ~95% of the people live in cities and large towns that are fairly closely spaced along the east, west, and north coasts. If you are one of those people, and if you're Australian chances are very good that you are, there's no need for anything more than the standard 124 miles. If you're taking a trip longer than that, which you might once or twice per year for holiday or visiting rural family, you probably already take a train or fly instead of using your current petrol-powered car's 300 mile range. However, in the parts of Australia that are further apart, the vast, empty outback, 224 miles is nothing, you might as well not have the extra 100 miles because you're still not getting anywhere. Sure, there are small mining camps that are much closer together, but they'll never have charging stations. If you live in the Northern Territory, or South Australia outside of Adelaide, just don't get an i3. But relatively few people live there, so I doubt BMW is concerned.

  11. She says the range extender only adds about 100 miles.  For a car with about 100 mile range, that's quite a lot!   If this is the future for cars, it's quite sad.  Poor driving dynamics and little horsepower with emphasis on battery regeneration.  Might as well walk or ride a bike if CO2 is the over riding factor in car design.

  12. This car is surprisingly the best value electric car in my local market currently, because if you got a similiarly specced BMW 1-Series instead, you would only save some 4000€, which considering they both cost way over 30.000€, isn't that much at the end of the day, especially considering all other electric cars currently sold here are over 14.000€ more expensive than a traditional counterpart.

  13. my guess is £4£ the i3 is pretty much the same monthly running cost as a fiesta (mid range one) if you do 25000 miles a year on PCP plus fuel vs electric cost

  14. "It's easy to get in the back once you get used to these hinged doors…"? Do they have any other type?

    Seriously, though, that's fine while you sit on your own, but try doing that in your average supermarket car park with thoughtless drivers either side. You get yourself in a right tangled squeeze trying to open both doors at the same time. It has to be the worst design ever, just because the stylists were trying to be clever!

  15. Really like the i3 – but the price stops it being a sensible buy – the low running costs don't make up for this unfortunately. Perhaps it will make more sense as a used buy?

  16. "Not much difference in range between electric-only and range extender version". It bloody doubles the range!

  17. What a hideous car. Poor range, poor practicality. Anyone else notice the seat belt for the front seats is linked to the rear doors – so if you wanted to stop and let someone in the back you'd have to also undo you're seat belt? Still… thanks for being Rebecca… Rebecca.

  18. it's 90 miles electric range when it's colder in the uk and the petrol is 70miles range (from an owner) We love our i3. Oh and you can get a mountain bike in the back with the front wheel off (just measure your bike).

  19. Is horible in comparison with the normal 3 Series :)) 3 Series Coupe looks like dream car. This looks like the trash bin.

  20. I wish somebody producing and directing would talk to Rebecca about her presentation. Mostly great but she does get a bit screechy on the uplift and it sounds almost like she's putting too much emphasis on what she is saying.

  21. too bad about the high price, id rather pollute the world than paid all this extra money for electric, bring the prices down to £15k NEW and more people would get one also getting just the electric version of the car is not so great say if I want to go too leeds which is 40 miles there and 40 back id be pushing it with out a charge before I come home

  22. I don't mean to speak for everyone else out there, but I suspect most people aren't interested in all the stupid gadgets and phone sync blah blah blah, everything does that these days it's nothing special. We care about RANGE RANGE RANGE, until you've gotten that upto 250 miles stop wasting our time.

  23. Gear lever on the right 😕 as a left hander that'll seriously do my head in… BMW Should give you the option to which side you want it on…

  24. I had the opportunity of using one of these for a couple of days and I must say I was impressed from the get go. I drove 68 miles over 2 days to and from work and found it a dream to drive. I had a laugh when, at the traffic lights, about 4 cars of various huge sizes all went in the over taking lane and when the light changed to green I just 'went' thinking where did everyone go! It goes so fast if you are not careful LOL. I definitely a convert. I love my 1 serious so much that in a couple of years I will review the i3 again. 😉

  25. Call me what you will… but I truly prefer European locals reviewing BMW products in general. I'm from the US… and some of the reviewers here are just insufferable…

  26. Electric cars are getting faster and cost of running the car is getting cheaper. For environment lover's it is the solution but cost of the product need to be reduced. You look good in that outfit and anything looks good on you.

  27. Don't get the Ford Fiesta comparison. Although the outside measures might come close. The i3 is more or at least feels more roomy! Also the i3 is way more fun to drive in my opinion. They just introduced an updated i3 with now 120ah battery pack.

  28. What a dreadful review. Shows she has no idea what people need to know from an EV. Heating for start? Does it have a heat pump? Rear camera? Fast DC charging? List goes on and on. Goes to show people who do car reviews follow one another like sheep and have no idea what they are doing.

  29. It is small enough for to infants on the backseat, two adults in the front and a child buggy in the trunk.
    If she is as big as her nose then i understand when she says it is small in the back.

  30. There is no way i care enough about the environment to pay double the price of a normal car for this. It would take about 30 years to get your money back on fuel saving.

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