FirstDrive: BMW i3 – Verdict


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

On initial sampling then, the i3 is an appealing electric car. It may not have been the first on the market, but starting from scratch has been worth the wait.
It’s entertaining to drive, well designed, and the range-extender option is just enough to cater for those with range anxiety.

If the thought of driving a diesel hatch deters you more than the i3’s looks, then you have a pretty compelling alternative with this. The accumulative time spent queuing at the petrol station in your lifetime will diminish quite quickly too, even if the i3 does come at a price.

You do get software updates during ownership which may improve the battery over its lifeline but just be aware of its seasonal performance. It’s too soon to tell what the overall lifeline of the batteries will be themselves, but there haven’t been many horror stories from those with hybrids yet.


The main reservation we’ve found isn’t specific to the i3 though, and remains to be more of a universal reservation; having recently lived in London, the question remains as to whether Britain has the infrastructure to support the number of electric cars being charged up in the cities.

The amount of times a Tesla had been found hogging the single, token charge point down the road resulted in another stressor to work for everyone else. Owners who’d lose out would effectively lose both their parking space and fuelling station in one sitting.

As a result their day was pretty much set, as they’d have to constantly check back every other hour just to prep their journey home. If not, they’d have to seek an alternative one on the way home – factoring in for an additional 1/2 hour wait. On that basis we’d go for the range extender to comprehensively cover most situations.


Even with this considered, the i3 is good enough in its own right. There will be those who’d wish for a bigger petrol tank, but the i3 deserves credit for having one in the first place.

If we needed affirmation of what it would feel like to step back in time, it was when we’d switched back to the Fiesta. The Ford was suddenly displaying more vibrations than usual, and having that immediate response and great traction of the i3 meant that I left the BMW forecourt scrabbling for grip. Whoops.

not cool 2


For more information on the i3 and its features, you can find the Video Owner Manuals here.

Thanks to Rybrook BMW for the use of their i3.


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 – Verdict

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