The BMW i3 is an all-electric small car that uses state-of-the-art construction techniques, including super-light carbonfibre and aluminium, to offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor.
It can offer a realistic range of around 124 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 range-topping i3s, introduced in late 2017, offers increased straight-line performance and sportier handling than the standard i3. And with 181bhp and 99lb ft of torque, it can complete the 0-62mph run in a hot-hatch-rivalling 6.9sec (versus the i3’s claimed 7.2sec). It also looks far sportier than the standard car, thanks to a more aggressive front bumper, wider wheel arches and a black roofline.
The high list price for even the base model (and after the Government grant) will put some people 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.
Read on over the next few pages for everything you need to know before buying a BMW i3, including which version to choose.