BMW i3: owner review

BMW i3 owner Mark Gallagher on why he'll never drive anything other than an electric vehicle as his main car. Plus, the one thing about his i3 that frustrates him...

Used test: BMW i3 vs Volkswagen e-Golf

Car: BMW i3 42.2kW

Owner's name: Mark Gallagher

“I drive around 1000 miles a month in my BMW i3, with my most common journey a 120-mile commute to Heathrow. I came out of a diesel BMW 4 Series with some concerns around range, none of which have been realised.

“There are compromises – for example, there have been a few occasions that I’ve cursed the rear doors, which can only be opened when the fronts are open – but they are few and far between. To save range I leave a little earlier for trips, but I drive slower, more smoothly and arrive more relaxed and, usually, at exactly the same time. Before I was rushing to sit in queues. As a result I think I am probably a better driver: in less of a rush, more aware of what’s ahead and more patient with other road users. I was actually cautioned by a BMW dealer, of all people,  that the i3 would eat its range on motorways, and to be careful. I haven’t found that to be the reality at all.

“Only when I have to make very long journeys do I very occasionally take the train rather than worry about public charging points, but it’s no big deal. When I have charged using public infrastructure it has usually been fine, but I do a lot of research first, as some aspects of the network are appalling. Ecotricity in particular seems to have reliability issues, while I did complain to Polar when some of the units at Heathrow were broken for a few weeks.

BMW i3 - interior

“I like that it is a ‘cool’ car too. I feel smart when I preheat it via the app, revel in the silence and torque and so on. As such, I don’t remotely feel I’ve taken a step back. In fact, I drive it around feeling like I’ve taken a big step forward.

“I actually bought an Alpine A110 at the same time as the i3, as a weekend car for a bit of fun. It’s quite telling that the Alpine is not getting nearly enough use, because the i3 is as much fun in its own way. Of course they are very different, but I don’t feel the Alpine is there to fill a shortcoming in my life.

“All in, I’m sold. The UK’s size makes it perfect for developing an electric car network and taking a leading role into getting people into electric cars. If you are interested, I’d just urge you to have a 24-hour test drive rather than a short spin. Ignore the negative reviews and find out for yourself if it will fit in to your life. If you can charge at home you’ll need to do 175 miles a day or more for it not to work for you – and how often do you do that?

“I will never go back to having a combustion-engined car as my daily mode of transport and cannot wait for the arrival of new electric cars over the next three to five years. However, I will have one or two engined cars in the garage for weekends – a classic will soon join the Alpine, because I love cars, the internal combustion engine and all that they entail.  But it will purely be for fun.”

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