Road Test – BMW i3
Content & Photos by Joff Alexander-Frye
I’ve never driven a concept car. That was until I recently picked up a brand-new BMW i3 from Westerly BMW on Marsh Barton, Exeter, for a 24-hour road test. As I surveyed the distinctive exterior of the car and started to explore the futuristic interior, I started to feel that I was getting pretty close.
With angular bodywork and unexpected proportions forming a unique fascia, the i3 really does surprise you from the moment you lay eyes on it. And that was before I even sat in the driver’s seat and started to get my head around its array of technological features.
Indeed, technology lays at the very heart of the i3. As one of the leading electric vehicles (EV’s) on the market, it boasts a plethora of innovative qualities, designed for comfort, performance and entertainment.
For example, the model which I happened to be driving was a range-extender (REX) model, fitted with a two-cylinder petrol generator, which stops the batteries from going flat and increases the battery range by an additional 90 miles or so.
With the electric-only model emitting 0g/km of carbon dioxide and the REX model only 15g/km, the i3 is an interesting option for those looking for a new company car too, due to the extremely low company car tax that it attracts. Add on top of that the fact that a full battery charge will take you about five hours and only cost you about £3 on average and the seemingly high initial price tag soon becomes justifiable.
BMW are clearly confident in the quality and life span of the batteries at the heart of the i3 as they offer an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty as standard on brand-new vehicles.
The battery isn’t simply built with reliability in mind though (although reliable it is). The last thing that I expected when I first put my foot down, pulling away from the forecourt for my test drive, was the eye-widening, pin-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration that the i3 has up its sleeve. With a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and the power of 168 horses stuffed into its battery, I managed to comfortably beat a brand-new Mercedes CLA off the mark at a set of traffic lights. I’m not sure who looked more surprised, me or the driver who had just looked down his nose at me as if to say, “My German whip is better than yours”. ‘Maybe not’, I thought as he became an after-thought in my rear-view mirror.
So, for a market-leading EV, which makes complete sense to use for city life or as a company car, look no further than the i3. Electric cars were once considered ‘the future’. It turns out, the future is now.
Head down to your local Westerly BMW dealership to find out more or take a test drive of your own.