Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Our Fleet Test Drive: BMW i3 - first report
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Our Fleet Test Drive: BMW i3 - first report

Date: 19 May 2015   |   Author: Guy Bird

Why we're running it: To see if this EV cuts in beyond the theory
Equipment: 6 airbags, stability and cornering brake control, hill-start assist, auto aircon, electric windows, leather-covered multi-function steering wheel, satnav, Bluetooth hands-free facility with USB, 50:50 split-fold rear seats, rear park distance control, 19in streamline star alloys, halogen headlights
Options: Lodge trim (£1500), 19in turbine alloys (£680), Harmon Kardon hi-fi (£640), DC rapid charge prep (£560), silver metallic paint (£530), Enhanced Bluetooth with USB (£350), internet (£95)
Media Package - BMW Professional (£960), Park assist package inc. colour reversing cam (£790), Winter package inc. heated
front seats (£260), Online Entertainment (£190)

I'm not going to pretend otherwise: the arrival of our BMW i3 is the most excited I've been about a long-termer since. well, forever. I've already driven it several times in the UK and abroad, and as a UK Car of the Year judge voted for this future-facing EV to help it claim 2014's UK Car of the Year crown.

But living with one for six months will be a whole different story. So if you're sitting comfortably, I'll begin.

The first thing to say is how different it looks compared with all the other cars (even other BMWs) on my pretty regular London street. Open its barn-style doors and the feeling of having stolen a concept car from a motorshow only intensifies.

Step over the matt, carbon fibre-reinforced plastic sill - part of the advanced lightweight structure offsetting battery weight - and you face a thoroughly original dashboard. Its bent wood top-mounted glove box looks like something from a modern hotel, although the i3 actually feels more ergonomically considered than most of those - from its column-mounted gear lever and latest iDrive controller, to its wide colour screen with great graphics (check out the satnav's 3D Houses of Parliament for evidence).

Sitting in a BMW you'd expect the i3's 170hp electric motor to be sprightly, and it is - hilariously so at traffic lights when boy-racers incorrectly assume your EV isn't up to it. Childish, of course, but that power with such a lightweight body is also useful for quick overtaking to get out of trouble too.

And the reality is the lack of engine noise and the vehicle's gently regenerative braking tend to make you drive the i3 increasingly calmly. Which brings us neatly to a key part of our long-term test - and potential Achilles heels of all current electric vehicles - the dreaded 'range anxiety'.

BusinessCar wisely opted for the range-extender version of the i3, which adds a tiny 647cc petrol engine solely to recharge the battery when it's running out of juice. Truth be told though, I've only filled up at a petrol station once so far - with four litres costing £4.68! - which has added about 75 miles real-world range to the 80 or so from a full battery alone, or 155 miles in total against an official range of up to 180.

The rest of the time I've topped up with electricity only, and am awaiting my first charging statement to work out some sort of electric cost per mile if not traditional 'mpg' figure.

With no off-street parking, I'm already changing the way I live by factoring into my plans where my local charging points are. It's a little scary but really exciting too, as it feels - right now at least - like I'm driving a little slice of the future, today.

BMW i3 Range Extender

Mileage 674
Official consumption 470.8mpg
Our average consumption N/A
Forecast/actual CPM 56.9p/NA
P11D price £35,575*
Model price range £30,925-35,575*
Residual value 39.1%
Depreciation cost £21,675
Fuel £1670
Service, maintenance and repair £1722
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £1031
CO2 (tax) 13g/km/5%
BIK 20/40% per month £28/£57


  • Eco innovation
  • Ground-breaking design
  • Life-changing compromises.