The BMW i3 is a small electric car that’s available with an optional range extender to make it easier to live with. Sadly, it’s expensive and other small electric cars are more comfortable
The BMW i3’s well worth considering if you’re looking for an upmarket electric car that’s easy to drive around town and has a super stylish interior.
The BMW i3 is eligible for the Government Plug-In Car grant. Up until 9 November 2018, this gets you up to a £4,500 discount on the price of a new car. After this date, the grant drops to £3,500 off the price.
It was first launched in 2013 and received a few tweaks in 2017 including sportier bumpers, LED headlights and an upgraded infotainment system. Instead of the old i3’s rather small 6.5-inch screen, you get a high-resolution 10.2-inch screen with sat nav as standard.
Unfortunately, wooden dashboard trims and partial leather seats aren’t standard – they’re only available as part of BMW’s Loft, Lodge and Suite interior trim packages.
Even without one of these upgraded packs, the i3’s cabin still looks plush and there’s plenty of space for you to get comfortable – even if you’re more than six-foot tall.
Sadly, space in the back isn’t quite as generous but there’s still enough space for kids to stretch out. The i3’s special rear-hinged back doors mean there’s enough room to lift in a bulky child seat too, and its oddly shaped rear windows mean the back seats feel impressively airy.
The upmarket BMW i3 is a left-field choice in an already niche market but look past its sci-fi styling and you’ll find it’s pretty easy to live with
You can get the i3 as a pure-electric car or with a petrol-powered range extender. Pick the cheaper electric-only model if you spend most of your time driving around town and have somewhere to charge it.
If you regularly travel longer distances, the range-extender model is more suitable. Its small petrol engine charges the batteries as you drive along and adds a handy 80 miles to the i3’s 114-mile range.
Whichever model you pick, you’ll find the BMW very easy to drive. It’s turning circle is very tight and its large windows make it easy to see out of and a breeze to park.
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as comfortable as the Zoe and Leaf. Its stiff suspension and large alloy wheels highlight bumps in the road and you’ll hear quite a lot of wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds.
It can’t quite match the Zoe in terms of safety, either. It earned a four-star score from Euro NCAP in 2013 compared to the Renault’s five-star rating in the same year.
If you can live with this compromise, the BMW’s a stylish small family car that’s worth considering if you mainly drive in town and have somewhere to charge it.
You can read more in-depth info on the BMW i3 in the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what sort of offers are available on the i3, visit our deals page.