Motoring Review: BMW i3 - Range extender

BMW plays the generator game with this smart electric car

Price: £28,830 (after £5,000 government grant)
Battery: 18.8kWh lithium-ion
Engine:
650cc petrol engine with generator
Power: 167bhp electric + 34bbhp
Top speed (mph): 93
0-62 mph (seconds): 7.9
Fuel economy (mpg): 470.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 13

Crawling along the gridlocked approach to the Blackwall Tunnel in south-east London is no fun – even when you are at the wheel of a new BMW. But in selecting it as the test route for the BMW i3 launch, the German firm was highlighting just how radical its electric city car really is.

Instead of a traditional engine, it has an 18.8kWh battery that gives a range of 60 to 100 miles. BMW also hopes to sign drivers up for its renewable energy tariff so that those miles will truly be emission-free. If the battery does run out, it can be recharged using a tiny two-cylinder petrol engine in the back that works as a generator, thus enabling the journey to be completed.

However, what really makes the i3 stand out is that it's packed with technological advances. These include a high-strength carbon-fibre body, a lightweight chassis and a Formula One-style regenerative braking system.

It's not dull to drive, either, because it's managed to retain the driving characteristics of a BMW. But there are niggles. The battery regenerative system is perhaps too aggressive in slowing the car when you lift off the throttle and the ride is too firm. I'm not going to condemn the space-age interior, but it's perhaps a little too funky for some.

Similarly, the wacky, two-colour exterior won't be for everybody. And then there's the price; at close to £30k for a city car, the i3 is still something of an indulgence and I suspect it will be bought as a second car for "wealthy greens" in the suburbs rather than as a true emission-free solution for an urban population.

However, there's a lot to celebrate in this little car and BMW offers a five-year battery guarantee, promises to keep up second-hand values and offers buyers the chance to sign up to a renewable source of energy. Now all it has to do is get me out of this traffic jam.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

    £13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there