With the BMW I3 being one of the first EVs to be built from scratch as an EV, not an old ICE model converted to EV, this made testing it out even more exciting. The latest models are now a refined version of the revolutionary small (B-Class) EV to come off the blocks more than five years ago. Refined and with a design upgrade visibly noticeable here and there (re-styled bumpers!) we are talking a car that won World Green Car of the Year AND world Car Design of the Year in 2014, which means that the pedigree is there.
We gave the car a good work out over a month and in a variety of drives – local and further afield. One of our first doubts was that visually the BMW i3 looked quite small and compact… Would it be comfortable for the kids, not only the driver? To our surprise, it was much more spacious than it seemed. The fact that it has no engine (don’t worry, it does have a synchronous electric motor!) means plenty of space for the driver, and its slick interior design definitely gives you a feeling of space in the back as well as the front. Plenty of room for the kids but not that they were worried, with the array of on-board features for our younger passengers (and for ourselves). It was fun and startlingly useful checking out BMW’s iDrive 6 interface and Apple CarPlay. Technology is certainly taking us places.
The design of the EV is extremely original and caught lots of people’s attention; people would stop us and comment on its great looks (2018 brought full LED headlamps all round, including the fogs), asking how it works and if it’s an EV. The BMW i3 really is a fab ride, and the great sports-like design gives you added value compared with other EVs on the market. Not only does it look good it´s also convenient. On a rapid charger, it would only take 20 minutes to fully charge up (80%), the perfect amount of time to grab a cuppa. Using the app was an incredibly helpful way to send commands to the car remotely and keeping updates whilst charging. Another reason why we were impressed with this EV was that even during the colder months it would range over 120 miles. Cold temperatures do impact battery efficiency, no matter what manufacturers would have you believe, but the BMW i3’s pack endures the cold!
We loved the way it looks but, most importantly, also the way it drives. The handling of the car was …. electric!! Driving an EV requires a little bit of care when first stepping into one. Don’t be fooled by “battery”- rear wheel drive and single-speed transmission (working from a lithium-ion high-voltage 33kWh battery; 2019 42.2kWh) mean the response to the accelerator is absolutely top. The power to overtake is there when you need it, making this car’s standing start to well over 60, a question of one-digit seconds! And low digits at that, absolutely awesome. Just remember that EVs drive in different ways to ICE cars and control of the accelerator, while one of the perks of driving an EV, is also a skill. Lucky that re-tuning for all latest i3 models means a sports-like drive, no matter what the model, and improved handling at high speeds. It definitely felt sport and definitely nippy.
There’s a lot of things to like, it´s fun to drive, it’s a lovely space to sit in, noise free and super cheap to run. It worked for the family and also for the driver left to his or her own devices! We would happily be the owners of this superb EV.