The BMW i3 is an all-electric small car that uses state-of-the-art construction techniques, including ground-breaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium, to offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath the floor.
It can offer a realistic range of between 80 and 100 miles, or you can pay more to get a range-extender version with a two-cylinder petrol engine that can stop the batteries from running flat. In theory, the range-extender will keep going as long as you keep refilling the (tiny) fuel tank – but since it adds only around another 80 miles of range, you'll be making frequent stops at petrol stations.
The i3 offers excellent performance, particularly around town, where its instant accelerator response, quick steering and exceptional manoeuvrability give it real appeal. Only its firm ride lets it down from a driving point of view.
The high list price (even after the Government grant) will put others off, but as a leasing option or a company car choice, the i3 can make real sense – as long as the inherent limitations and compromises involved with electric vehicles fit into your lifestyle.
More than anything, though, the i3 brings real desirability to the EV market. This is a car you can want for more reasons than pure environmental credentials – and that sets it apart from its peers.