BMW i3 Review
The i series from BMW has been a long time coming, with our first glimpse of course the i8 concept in Mission Possible 4, it has always been very much the promise of the future. Well the time has eventually come, and in the next few weeks we shall see the all new BMW i3 hit UK dealerships.
It’s a strange machine to behold, so rare is it for a manufacturer to preview a concept car and then release the production model so true to those beliefs. Upon viewing and getting in the car, it feels more like at an auto show than it does a working production car. But be assured that this is a fully working, fully functioning road car, in-fact it’s the most refreshing car we have ever driven.
There is no other car like it on the road, the BMW i3 turns heads, makes people point and in a strange way it brings people together to talk, and we have no doubt it then has the possibility to divide them on opinion. Even though it’s a small car, it’s large outer surfaces make it look bigger and very modern, you could even be forgiven for thinking it has fallen straight out of the hit cartoon the Jetsons.
Stepping inside you fall into a sea of tranquillity, those coach doors with no B pillar opening you to a minimalist approach but one that feels warm and inviting, with bare carbon weave layered with a range of sustainable use materials such as leather, fabrics and wood, each textured in their own way to compliment the other. With the removal of the unrequired, the interior feels roomy and spacious.
Information is fed to the driver through two LCD screens, one in the centre for general information such as satellite navigation (including a cool spider web showing exactly how far your current battery power will take you) and of course standard functions such as the media centre. The other replaces the dash console with driver specific information on power, range, speed etc. They are placed well and give a contrasting feel to the sustainable materials behind them.
Pressing the start button, you will need to hunt for gearstick, of which there isn’t one. Instead a rocker switch with forward, park and reverse. So now we are ready go, ready to lift off (we wish) and cruise in perfect silence, which is very weird in itself. If you haven’t driven an all electric car before there will be slight learning curve, just think of it as a light switch, the car and accelerator is either on or off, no 80’s dimmer switch here. That means you can actually drive with hardly any brake, the regenerative braking (similar to KERS but putting more energy into the battery) slows the car down for you.
Upon pushing the accelerator you have the strange and pleasant surprise of speed. Forgetting it’s to 60mph is 7.9 seconds. To 40 the BMW i3 will probably beat most cars on the road, and when you are darting in and out of city traffic that is invaluable. Overall the drive is near faultless, smooth and responsive, you would think the low drag wheels (which look to have been stolen off a Boris Bike) would lack in grip and aid body roll, but they really don’t. And you can happily go to the 93 mph top speed with no drama and still with little road noise and much comfort.
Now for the charge: the standard BMW i3 will give you a workable range of around 100 miles between charges, which can be achieved at the 4000 odd charging stations sprinkled around the UK (all of which are pretty much free at the moment under Government schemes), or of course at your own home with the i charging station which as standard will take a little over 3 hours. The great thing about the home charging is your ability to manage the whole thing through your smartphone. You can set charging times to make the most of any off peak charges, you can also set the time at which you will get into the car and your climate conditions so the car is pre-heated (or cooled) before you arrive, and using wall power, saving your battery. It’s a wonderful connected world that is sure to only get better.
The majority of people will opt for the Range Extender, which is playfully named REX. All of the same specs but with a 647cc engine, not to power the wheels, but to re-charge the battery. Ultimately extending the range to that of a little over 200 miles, and if you can’t get to a charge point, it enables you to keep filling up and just keep on driving.
BMW i3 Review Verdict
A refreshing car with a refreshing attitude. We fell very much in love with the i3 and we think most city goers will too. You may not be an eco warrior yet, but the BMW i3 could be your first step to helping save our planet. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…as they say.
Driving round you can feel your karma taking a re-charge from the good you are doing. And what a cool way to do it.
Overall the BMW i3 is quite an amazing experience. Will it change cars and the industry in the future? We certainly hope so.