A classic electric car
The BMW i3 has been a hugely successful electric car for BMW, by kickstarting the brand’s electrified ‘i’ brand, and in its subsequent sales.
Since its launch in 2013, more than 165,000 have been produced, and with its funky styling and cool interior, the BMW i3 has held its appeal exceptionally well, especially with improvements to battery technology and the introduction of the sporty ‘S’ model along the way.
But as a modern classic, rather than a new kid on the block, can the BMW i3 still find the same numbers of new suitors amidst the launch of newer electric cars, such as the Volkswagen ID.3, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric, or Mini Electric? Let’s find out….
The BMW i3 uses an electric motor that produces 168bhp, or 181bhp, if you choose the BMW i3S model. That means 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds, or 6.7 seconds if you choose the BMW i3S. In reality, there’s little between them for performance, as both models feel nice and quick, thanks to immediate torque delivery, especially from a standstill.
Both BMW i3 versions use a 42kWh battery, which allows for a WLTP range of up to 190 miles, or 175 miles with the BMW i3S (the extra bit of sportiness nibbles away at the range).
The range isn’t poor, and indeed it’s more than enough for city and town driving with the odd long trip, however, it’s not as good as many rivals. For example, the Peugeot e-208 is claimed to do 217 miles on a full charge, while Volkswagen’s ID.3 has been estimated at 264 miles, even in its entry-level guise.
Charging times are quite good, taking 42 minutes to complete 0-80 % charge at a 50kW rapid charger. And at home, if you use a fast 7.4kW wallbox charger, it’ll take around five hours to do a full charge.
Fun to drive
In terms of driving experience, the BMW i3 remains one of the best electric cars around. It can do quiet and comfortable cruising around town (as you would expect from an electric car), but it can also be a lot of fun on open roads too, thanks to those BMW characteristics.
The BMW i3S model is especially good, as with just a handful of small tweaks, it’s noticeably more fun to drive, and slightly more eager than the standard model. It also offers sportier suspension, which means more ability through the corners, and the steering is slightly sharper too.
However, both BMW i3 models, even with large alloy wheels, are exceptionally easy and comfortable and fun to drive.
The BMW i3 interior was one of the show-stopping things about it when it first launched in 2013, and even today with minimal changes, it still looks great next to rivals.
It has a light and airy interior that feels more like a lounge rather than a car. BMW has also used lots of different recycled materials and a range of textures to give the i3 a look and feel like no other. The BMW i3 is even different to the rest of the BMW range in this respect.
It features rear-opening back doors, which look and feel very cool, though perhaps not necessarily the most practical choice.
And in terms of equipment, all BMW i3 models come well-equipped with rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, 19-inch alloy wheels, and heated front seats too.
Then if you decide to go for the S model, you get extra power, sports suspension, refined styling, and a larger set of 20-inch alloy wheels to look flash in.
A premium price
The BMW i3 has always been one of the most premium small electric cars around, and that continues to this day.
Its clever interior, unique style, and accomplished powertrain come at a price, with the BMW i3 starting from £33,025 as the standard model, and £35,555 for the sporty i3S. While our sales data suggests your target price should be more like £30k, and £31k respectively, meaning you could get a great deal or healthy discount.
And while the BMW i3 isn’t cheap, in reality, competitor models like the Volkswagen ID.3 and Hyundai Kona Electric cost a similar price, then it’s more than reasonable, a question of personal taste, or style and driving pleasure with the BMW i3, or space and practicality, with the Kona Electric, for example.
A superb small electric car
While there are certain areas where the BMW i3 might be showing its age, for example its technology isn’t quite so up-to-date as its newer BMW electric car siblings, or some other rivals, it’s still a brilliant electric car.
The premium and unique aesthetics and equipment, the overall style, and driving pleasure, make it a serious contender in the electric hatchback market. It might not be the newest look, or the newest tech, or the longest range, but those all come at a greater premium. And if you want a cool, fun, and high-quality EV, that’s ideal for city and town driving, then the BMW i3 remains hard to beat.