The New BMW i3
The all-electric BMW i3 hatchback was introduced to the BMW range in 2013 and has received an update for 2019 with a bigger battery pack that offers more electric range.
The i3 has been hugely popular on UK roads, with 2017 being the best-selling year to date. As of March 2018, BMW have sold 10,000 in the UK alone.
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BMW i3 interior and technology features
For a small city car, the i3 feels really spacious inside and can easily seat up to four adults. Interestingly, upfront the central compartment is missing which adds to the overall feeling of space and gives the interior a unique look and feel. It has a boot space capacity of 260-litres with the rear seats up, which is small but more than enough when you consider that the i3 has been designed for urban driving and not long journeys. With all the rear seats lowered however you get a boot space of 1,100 litres. The i3 has a slim and easy-to-use steering wheel. The wide windscreen improves your visibility of the road ahead, as well as any oncoming pedestrians or cyclists which is helpful for a silent car.
As for technology offered, you get BMW’s iDrive system with a high-resolution 10.25-inch infotainment screen and sat-nav as standard. It has to be noted that the infotainment system is not a touchscreen, but it is still very easy to operate. The infotainment system rotary dials and buttons allow you to easily navigate through the various menu screens and select the functionality you want. In addition to the infotainment system and sat-nav, you also get a selection of connected services, heated seats, parking sensors, Bluetooth and LED lights as standard. Autonomous braking, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as optional extras for an added cost. The special rear-hinged back doors means its extremely easy for passengers to climb in and out of. With the front and rear seat doors open there’s also plenty of room to fit and secure a child seat.
BMW i3 drivetrain and charging
UK buyers have a choice between either the standard 168bhp i3, or the optional181bhp i3s. The i3 is powered by a 42.2-kWh battery (120-amp-hours) and offers a range of 188 miles, but BMW claim that a more realistic figure is close to 160 miles. The 181bhp i3s has more power but slightly less range compared to the i3s – 177 miles under WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure). However, BMW says that in real-world driving conditions the i3s will also cover around 160 miles, matching the i3. That is almost a 30% improvement compared to the older model.
|Boot capacity||260 litres||260 litres|
|Acceleration (0-62mph)||7.3 seconds||6.9 seconds|
The regular i3 is capable of hitting 62mph in just 7.3 seconds (almost a second faster than the Suzuki Swift Sport) before reaching a top speed of 93mph and produces 250Nm of torque. As for the i3s, it produces 20Nm more torque than the standard i3 and has a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. The new battery was developed by Samsung, and keeps the same dimensions as the unit it replaces.
The batteries within the i3 and i3s are installed deep in the floor. Recharging the battery pack takes 15 hours using a regular 2.4kW mains electricity supply. When it comes to charging your i3 at home, you can choose to get an optional BMW i wallbox installed. Since the i3 has been given a category 1 rating, it qualifies for the UK governments £3,500 plug-in grant. The BMW i wallbox provides three-phase charging at 11.0kW, enabling the i3 to recharge in about 3 hours. On a rapid 50kW DC system, the i3 can get up to an 80% charge in half an hour. You can also recharge your i3 using a standard 7kW charger that offers about 80% charge in 4 hours, while the CCS connector (which is an upgraded charger) can get up to an 80% charge in 40 minutes. Business owners will also be happy to know that the i3 will have a BIK tax rate of 0% for 2020.
BMW i3 models
The i3 range is offers 2 models: the entry level i3 and the more performance-orientated i3s. Both models are eligible for the UK governments £3,500 plug-in grant.
Below highlights some of the standard equipment differences between the i3 and i3s.
|i3||i3s In addition/replacement to i3|
|19" BMW i light alloy Turbine style 429 wheels||20" BMW i light alloy Double-spoke style 431 wheels|
|2.4kW AC charging||Bicolour with mixed tyres|
|A-pillar and roof moulding in High-gloss Black and Chrome optic highlight||Additional 14hp of engine power, additional 20Nm of torque and 0.4 seconds reduction in 0-62mph time|
|Aragats Grey / Black Neutronic cloth upholstery||Additional SPORT driving mode with adapted sport driving pedal behavior|
|Bluetooth hands-free facility with USB audio interface||A-pillar and roof moulding in High-gloss Black|
|BMW eDrive motor||Front bumper with i3s specific High-gloss Black inlay and highlights (finished in BMW i Blue or Frozen Grey),|
|BMW Professional radio without CD player||Front floor mat with i3s model designation in the centre,|
|Carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) body structure||High-gloss Black wheel arch extensions and wider track (+40mm)|
|DAB digital radio||i3s badge on rear tailgate|
|Kidney grille||i3s specific steering characteristics|
|High-gloss Black with Chrome contrast edging||Kidney grille|
|LED headlights||High-gloss Black with Chrome contrast edging|
|Sport suspension (10mm lower)|
BMW i3 exterior features
Although updates to the exterior of the i3 look near identical to the old model, there are a couple of new tweaks. Immediately evident is the attractive U-shaped feature line in matt black on the bumper and the full LED headlights which gives the i3 a more bold and aggressive profile.
Further changes include the standard 19-inch alloy wheels and new exterior colour options. Exterior colour options include: Capparis White with BMW I Blue highlight (standard), Imperial Blue with highlight Frozen Grey metallic (optional), Mineral Grey with highlight BMW i Blue (optional), Fluid black with highlight BMW i Blue (optional) and Melbourne Red with highlight Frozen Grey metallic (optional). You can get a new optional sports package included in the i3. It includes a lowered sports suspension, a 10mm reduction in ride height, 20-inch alloy wheels and new tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.