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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: BMW i3

Overall verdict
The best small premium EV you can buy.


Design, ability, fitness for purpose.


It ain’t cheap in any guise.


What is it?

The ‘2018’ re-fresh of BMW’s small EV ‘i’ car doesn’t mess with the recipe too much, and after just four years on sale, there’s not much need to - the i3 still manages to look forward-thinking and fashionable even in mid-life.

But the new one manages to look ever-so-slightly better. And it really is just a tweak: a new silver roof line strip, different bumper tweaks fore and aft, and a few other little tucks. The motive source remains the same, a synchronous electric motor with a single gear drawing from a lithium-ion high-voltage battery with a capacity of 94Ah (33kWh). That means 170hp and peak torque of 184lb ft, 0-62mph in 7.3 and a top speed of 93mph. The official NEDC lab-range is 186-miles, less in the real-world and if you punish the performance, but enough.

If you want even more go - but a tad less range - then there’s also now the option of the i3S, a sportier i3. It gets a 14bhp/15lb ft power hike over the standard car’s outputs, a black roof swatch, different bumpers again, 10mm lower sports suspension, a 40mm wider track, 20mm-wider 20-inch wheels and black arches - which look pretty good. It even gets Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) that ‘enhances agility and enables controlled drifts’. And yes, it actually says that in the press material. About an i3.