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BMW i3 Review: Green Car Of The Year

March 27, 2014

Launched at the end of last year, the BMW i3 is quickly gaining traction in the eco-friendly car market. Industry experts are predicting the i3 to reach global success – could this be the first fully electric car to gain mainstream popularity?

Available in two versions, BMW have created a purely electric vehicle called the i3 EV and a hybrid featuring a small petrol engine, known as the i3 EV range extender. The pure electric version has a range of between 80-100 miles depending on driving style and conditions. The range extender version still uses the same electric drive train but features a 2 cylinder petrol generator to top up the batteries – extending the range marginally. The hybrid i3 is capable of up to 180 miles on a full charge and full tank of fuel – this may be lower than expected but the i3 is intended primarily as a city runaround and, as such, the hybrid version only features a small fuel tank. The range, however, is more than generous for the vast majority of outings.

The design of the i3 is as unique as the technology behind it. Unlike many competitors who have simply stuck an electric motor in a traditional petrol car’s frame – the i3 has been designed as an electric car from the ground up. Weight saving is the name of the game when it comes to improving efficiency. The body is largely made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastics, striking an uncompromising balance between strength and weight. BMW have used further pioneering weight-saving techniques such as aluminium suspension and wheels, hollow driveshafts and super lightweight, durable interior materials. All of these weight saving efforts are to offset the heavy lithium-ion batteries which power the i3.

The innovation doesn’t stop at the i3’s exterior. The interior feels spacious, light and simple – thanks to the simplified centre console, large windscreen and side windows. Messy controls and dials have been condensed into a neat TFT display, giving the dashboard a clean, sharp look. The i3 is rich on technology too – the base model features rear parking sensors, digital radio, USB connectivity, climate control, sat-nav and steering wheel controls as standard.

The BMW i3 might be electric, but it features hot hatch petrol performance. The electric motor in the i3 is extremely responsive to throttle input and the i3 will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, with instant and prolonged torque straight off the line. When driven hard, drivers will unfortunately sacrifice the range of the i3, so we recommend drivers with a heavy right foot go for the hybrid model.

As expected for a premium electric car, prices are fairly high, which begs consumers to make the decision between an electric or petrol car – where they could potentially get a lot more for their money. The all electric i3 EV starts at just under £31,000, and the hybrid range extender version is considerably more – just shy of £34,000. Buyers should bear in mind the £5000 government grant currently available for electric vehicles, making the i3 considerably more affordable – not to mention no road tax and low running costs.

It is hard to believe that the futuristic i3 is actually a production model that you can buy and drive today. The conceptual design of the i3 hasn’t been watered down for public consumption as with most manufacturers, proving that BMW really are committed to taking major steps towards the future.

If you’d like to get your hands on the i3, the Car Loan Warehouse can help with BMW finance. Why not use our car finance calculator to find out how much you could save on your next car? At the Car Loan Warehouse, we work with dealers and lenders to find you the best deal on financing your car, regardless of your credit history.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.