BMW i3 (2013) Review
BMW i3 (2013) At A Glance
Insurance Groups are between 21–29
On average it achieves 67% of the official MPG figure
The BMW i3 was a brave first step into electric cars for BMW when it was first introduced in 2013, designed to compete with other EV offerings such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe. Like its key rivals the i3 is a clean-sheet design, but with a premium BMW feel as well as an advanced lightweight body made from carbonfibre, a material normally reserved for expensive supercars. The i3 is available in standard and higher-performance S versions, while both models can be specified with a range-extending 0.6-litre engine that can be used to recharge the batteries.
Back in 2013 the electric car market was still in its infancy. The Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe were the only pure EVs on the market outside of the considerably more expensive Tesla Model S, and with charging networks also in their early days, electric cars were still seen as a niche choice.
BMW’s approach to creating an electric car showed serious intent. The compact i3 was designed alongside the hybrid i8 model, and both are made from carbonfibre for light weight and strength, even building a new factory to manufacture the base material.
The i3 was also one of the first premium electric cars to go on sale, staying true to the values of the BMW range. While the design is unlike any of its stablemates, with a clean, minimalist interior and an exterior that is quite unlike anything else on the road, the quality still shines through. The materials are attractive and the build quality is exactly what you would expect from the brand.
Those looks may not be for everyone - the i3 has almost no overhangs, is short in length but tall in stature - but it is distinctive and modern, and makes the most of its compact powertrain by offering generous interior space.
At launch the i3 was offered with a 60Ah battery in pure EV form, giving a range of approximately 120 miles on a full charge, while the range-extending model (badged REx) increases the range to approximately 200 miles.
In 2017 all versions of the i3 were fitted with a larger 94Ah battery pack to increase the range, and the i3S model was introduced in 2018 as a sportier take on the standard car with stiffer suspension, bigger wheels and tyres, extra power and an additional driving mode.
In 2019 BMW increased the capacity of the battery once again, with a 120Ah as standard pushing the range for the pure EV model to approximately 220 miles, while the REx model is no longer offered in the UK.
What really marks the i3 out is the way it drives. If you’re new to electric cars it will be something of a revelation, as it is not only undemanding to drive but also a great deal of fun.
You certainly don't feel like you're having to make any compromises because it's an electric car. It rides well too and thanks to its incredibly low weight - helped by the fact the body is constructed entirely from carbonfibre - it's fast, one of the fastest electric cars this side of a Tesla or Porsche Taycan.