Priced from £34,070 Release date Late 2017
The BMW i3 is one of our favourite electric cars, because while it does everything that the less expensive Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf can do, it also offers a smart interior and one of the best infotainment systems on the market. In fact, we named it the best electric car you can buy for £20,000-£40,000 at the most recent What Car? Car of the Year Awards.
Now, though, there's a facelifted version that offers more range, improved technology and even a sporty i3s model for those seeking hot hatchback levels of performance.
2018 BMW i3 features and interior
Styling changes over the current i3 are relatively minor, including black roof pillars and black roof lines, a new range of paint finishes and updated front and rear bumpers designed to make the car appear wider and more sporty.
The sporty i3s, meanwhile, features lowered suspension, large 20in alloy wheels with wider tyres, a more aggressive front bumper with large air intakes, gently flared wheel arches and more space between its rear wheels to improve agility.
Inside, the focus is around a new 10.3in infotainment screen that runs the latest version of BMW's iDrive system, as seen in the new 5 Series.
Buyers can choose from four interior trim options, dubbed Altelier, Loft, Lodge and Suite, which changes the material used for the seats.
New optional features include parking and traffic jam assistance systems, which enable the car to park itself and maintain a set speed in slow-moving traffic respectively. As standard, the i3 comes with heated front seats, rear parking sensors, climate contorl, a digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights and wipers.
2018 BMW i3 engines
As before, the i3 is available both as a pure electric vehicle and as a range extender – where a small 37bhp two-cylinder petrol engine keeps the battery topped up on the move, adding about 90 miles of real-world range.
The i3's electric motor produces 168bhp, which is enough to get the electric hatchback to 62mph from a standing start in 7.3sec and on to a limited top speed of 93mph. BMW says this updated i3 can travel for up to 186 miles officially in pure electric form, but that 125 miles is likely to be more acheivable in everyday driving.
The i3s, meanwhile, features a more powerful 184bhp electric motor that also produces more torque, allowing it to reach 62mph in 6.9sec with a top speed of 99mph. Again, its real-world range is quoted as 125 miles.
Both the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf offer more range, at 186 miles and 155 miles respectively. The Tesla Model S, meanwhile, manages significantly more than that.
In range extender form, the i3 and i3s both have real-world range of around 205 miles.
2018 BMW i3 price
The updated BMW i3 and i3s are already available to order, with prices starting from £34,070 – although that drops to £29,570 when the Government's electric vehicle grant (worth £4500) is taken into account.
Full prices of the facelifted BMW i3 and BMW i3s are below:
- BMW i3 – £34,070
- BMW i3 range extender – £37,220
- BMW i3s – £36,975
- BMW i3s range extender – £40,125
First deliveries are expected towards the end of this year. It's also worth noting that the i3 is eligible for an additional £2000 discount if you trade in an older diesel car, as announced by BMW earlier this month.
The best electric cars on sale right now
10. Volkswagen e-Up
The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It's just that, unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models.
What Car? rating
9. Nissan Leaf
One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astra and similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that enables a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.
What Car? rating
8. Toyota Mirai
The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you'll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It's powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled but, at around £66,000, it's certainly pricey. And with limited volumes coming to the UK, it's likely to be a very rare sight.
What Car? rating
Page 1 of 4