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BMW i3 review

Category: Electric car

Section: Performance & drive

BMW i3 2018 grille rear tracking
  • BMW i3 2018 front cornering
  • BMW i3 2018 grille rear tracking
  • BMW i3 2018 front seat dashboard
  • BMW i3 2018 doors open interior view
  • BMW i3 2018 panoramic roof
  • BMW i3 2018 right panning
  • BMW i3 2018 grille detail
  • BMW i3
  • BMW i3 2018 control close-up
  • BMW i3 2018 front cornering
  • BMW i3 2018 grille rear tracking
  • BMW i3 2018 front seat dashboard
  • BMW i3 2018 doors open interior view
  • BMW i3 2018 panoramic roof
  • BMW i3 2018 right panning
  • BMW i3 2018 grille detail
  • BMW i3
  • BMW i3 2018 control close-up
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In this section:
  • Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
  • Suspension and ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Noise and vibration

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Regardless of whether you choose the regular i3 or sportier i3s, the electric motor sends its power to the rear wheels. That's unusual because the vast majority of electric cars are driven by their front wheels. The advantage? Well, try to pull away swiftly in a Kia e-Niro on a damp road and the front wheels scrabble in vain as they try transfer power to the road. In the i3 things are much more composed.

The i3 is pretty fast, too: even the regular model can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3sec, whereas the slightly more powerful i3s cuts that time to just 6.9sec. You'll find it hard to resist embarrassing petrol and diesel cars away from the traffic lights.

Even on standard 19in wheels, you'll notice plenty of thunks and bumps along pockmarked urban roads. The ride on the optional 20in wheels (standard on the sportier i3s) is even firmer – although comfort was improved markedly during revisions in 2018.

Put simply, it's no longer bone-shakingly uncomfortable, but rivals such as the Nissan Leaf, Peugeot e-208 and Kia e-Niro still smooth out surface imperfections notably better.

BMW i3 2018 grille rear tracking

Handling

It may be an electric car but the i3 is still a BMW at heart, and the company's engineers have managed to make it feel surprisingly responsive and agile. The steering has a consistent, satisfying weight to it and a tiny turning circle helps make the i3 ideal for the urban fray. You'll be amazed at its manoeuvrability in tight spaces; this is a car perfectly suited to slipping into tight parking spots and winding up multi-storey car parks.