FirstDrive: BMW i3 – Engine / Performance


Intro
Looks / Practicality
Engine / Performance
Driving / NVH
Range
Verdict

Power from the batteries are sent to the rear wheels in traditional BMW fashion via a single-speed transmission. The 0 – 62mph time of 7.9 seconds may not suggest much on paper, but in reality the electric motor’s characteristic provides more than that; its instantly fast. The torque is available immediately (from zero revs effectively) without any prominent lag, and like with our previous Fiesta ST, there’s enough shove to wake you up.    0 – 37mph (60km/h) takes 3.9 seconds.

You can make vigorous progress even on half throttle and, with only that single gear, you get a prolonged shove into the seat which soon becomes addictive.
Driving up hills just feels like a regular flat surface too as you’re not met with the sense of losing momentum, a requirement to change gear, or with any increase in volume from a revving engine.

i3 power_torque
Being 120kg lighter, the pure electric version is even quicker reaching 0 – 62mph in 7.2secs. Top speed for both is limited to 93mph.

Thanks to that carbon-fibre-reinforced passenger cell sitting on an aluminium chassis, the BMW i3 is no heavier than a Ford Focus. That in combination with the torque means the i3 feels really light-footed and so it’s quite easy to keep a pace with everyone else.


BMW i3 Vs E92 M3

The M3 hasn’t been graced with a clean start but this does demonstrate that there’s something to be had with instant torque from an electric motor!


What’s best about an electric motor though is that you don’t feel like you’re straining the car to get the utmost performance out of it. With practically no moving parts, it just doesn’t feel like it’ll kick up a fuss whether you’re pootling along, or driving vigorously. And because there are no moving parts, you effectively just have washer fluid to top-up upfront.

In the i3 Range Extender, there’s also the rear-mounted, two-cylinder, 647cc engine underneath the boot floor. The engine isn’t connected to the wheels but to a generator to directly charge up the batteries.

So what we have is a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car – like a 911, except on skinny 155 – 175-section tyres. Sound terrifying? Well we don’t need to be…


Spec: Range Extender
Engine: E-motor: 168bhp, 184lb ft (@ 0rpm). Range Extender: 647cc 2-cylinder with integrated generator, 36bhp ( @ 4500rpm), 40ft lb ( @ 4800rpm)
Transmission: Single Speed
Mpg: Official: 470.8mpg 
Performance: 0-62mph: 7.9 Secs, 93mph
Colour: Andesit Silver
Options - 19" BMW i Turbine-spoke style 429 alloy wheels, Interior world: Suite (Velour mats, Leather seats, Multifunction steering wheel), Media Package - BMW Professional (Traffic Info, Sat Nav and Concierge Service), Park Assist Package (Park Assist, PDC sensors, reverse camera).

5 thoughts on “FirstDrive: BMW i3 – Engine / Performance

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