What is it?
It looks tall and the ride is supple, yet it rolls and pitches amazingly little, because so much of the weight is low to the road. The steering is pretty quick, so it's possible to wind in some sudden changes of direction, and the car accepts them without getting upset. The front end feels light and biddable. Of course the thin tyres don't hold on for ever, and it's set up to understeer if you go in too fast. Sure it's rear-drive, but it's not about oversteer. Rather, the benefits of RWD are the pure steering and the excellent traction. And also an astoundingly tight turning circle, another feather in the cap of a car that'll be driven a lot in cities.
The high driving position and great visibility are also feelgood assets for threading yourself among tight traffic. And for parking, you'll be glad it's supermini-short. But there's decent room for four people inside. And what a lovely cabin. BMW has used the i project to invent a whole new design language, of spare, ornament-free surfaces and reduced bulk in the dash and seats. It feels extremely modern and calm, but high quality.
On the inside
It's ruddy sprightly. That's the lightweight part coming home to roost. With a high-torque 170bhp motor and a power flow uninterrupted by gearchanges, it's at 62mph in 7.2 seconds. The addictive thing is the instant and proportional answer you get whenever you twitch your right foot. The same applies when you lift off, too. There's strong regenerative braking from the motor even before you touch the brake.
This is a compelling electric car. It's not the first on the market, but BMW has put some original thinking into almost every part of its design and engineering. It drives sweetly, is distinctively designed, and has the reassuring range-extender option if you are anxious about running flat. Very cool for an electric car...