BMW i3 (2013) Review

BMW i3 (2013) At A Glance

Available as a range extended version. Impressive performance and handling. Superb interior design. Eight year battery warranty. UK Car of the Year 2014.

Styling is best described as 'complex'. Boot is a touch on the small side.

New prices start from £36,350
Insurance Groups are between 21–29
On average it achieves 67% of the official MPG figure

You could very well be looking at the future of electric motoring. Or at least the beginning of the future. While BMW may not be first manufacturer to launch an electric car - we've already had the likes of the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe - the i3 represents a big change in the world of alternatively powered vehicles. If ever there was a car that could convince the sceptical about electric vehicles, this is it.

For starters, it's the first premium electric car designed from scratch and that quality shines through. The interior blends a modern and minimalist design with the solid build quality you'd expect from BMW. Yet it manages to feel distinct from any conventional BMW, helped by features like the clever coach doors.

The styling is unique too. It's fair to say it divides opinion, but it certainly stands out and makes a 1 Series looks decidedly dull.

There are in fact two versions of the i3 available - the standard electric powered model with a range of around 80 to 100 miles and a range extender model which has a little 650cc two-cylinder engine that provides power for the electric motor and extends the range to 180 miles.

What really marks the i3 out is the way it drives. It's amazingly capable on the road and despite its skinny tyres, the handling is mightily impressive.

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 carbon fibre - it's fast. The electric motor provides 170PS and performance is similar to a MINI Cooper S.

Unlike the Leaf and the Zoe, you don't lease the battery in the i3 - it's all part of the cost of the car. And at £25,680 (including the Government grant) the i3 does look good value.

Real MPG average for a BMW i3 (2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

67%

Real MPG

300–351 mpg

MPGs submitted

10

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

ASK HJ

How much will a dealer contribute to a faulty sensor replacement?
I bought a BMW i3 eight months ago secondhand from an independent dealer. It's done 1000 miles since purchase. An error was shown and BMW have indicated that the engine sensor is not reading. A full replacement is required. How much can I expect the dealer to contribute? Thank you.
The car dealer can be held liable for any faults that develop within the first six months. This is because the fault is considered to be present or developing at the time of sale. After this time frame you'll need to prove the car was faulty at the time of sale. A report from the BMW garage might help with this. But the line of liability is generally with the independent dealer that sold you the car and not BMW UK. For your legal rights, see: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/how-to-reject-a-car-your-consumer-rights
Answered by Dan Powell
Is a used BMW i3 a good idea?
I've been considering a used EV as a second car for some time and always thought that would be a BMW i3 as I love the design. I'm now in the process of searching for a range-extender version - around 2017/18 - but I have read of some complaints about excessive tyre wear and also electrical problems in i3s. Also, as a matter of interest, it seems the only manufacturer of i3 tyres is Bridgestone and, as I prefer all-weather tyres, this will be a problem as it appears they don't make an all-weather tyre to fit the car. Have you heard of any of these issues with the i3 or anything else I should watch out for before finally deciding to buy?
We've had a few gremlins reported but nothing too concerning: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/bmw/i3-2013/good We're not aware of any all-season tyres that'll fit the i3, but you can certainly get winter tyres. BMW recommends 155/70 winter tyres on 19-inch wheels.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What secondhand electric cars would you recommend?
Are there any kind of secondhand fully electric cars for a budget of about £14,000?
A Nissan Leaf would be a good choice. You'll be able to get a 30kWh model in budget, comfortably capable of more than 100 miles between charges even in winter. Also consider a BMW i3, Kia Soul EV or Renault Zoe.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Why don’t manufacturers build range extender cars?
We’re seeing more hybrid and pure electric cars but very few electric range extender cars (e.g. BMW i3 REx). Why do we not see more of these? Your normal day to day mileage or even long motorway trip is taken care of by the battery and the small petrol engine can be used to get you home or to a charge point if you run low. Other that the i3 and the Ampera the idea doesn't seem to have caught on. Any technical reason why?
Range-extender vehicles are pretty inefficient. Under electric power, they have to lug around a heavy engine and then using said engine to charge the battery returns pretty poor fuel economy. Plug-in hybrid vehicles take a similar approach but, unlike range-extender vehicles, they can use the petrol or diesel engine to drive the car.
Answered by Andrew Brady

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