BMW i3 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

BMW i3

£ 35,970 - £ 40,500
810
Published: 08 Dec 2017
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

As with any EV, pottering about town or short inter-urban hopping is generally a joy in an i3. Quiet, capable, surprisingly urgent, with a decent ride even on quite large wheels. No, it won’t win any hardcore handling awards, but that’s not really the point. What’s more amusing is feeling like you’ve got a little slice of the near-future, and enjoying the relaxed way in which you can commute. It also has a decent turning circle and is remarkably easy to park - for which you can thank the bluff bonnet and boot: it’s easy to see out of, and place. The regenerative braking - where the i3 harvests energy during any braking cycles  - takes some getting used to (it feels like heavy engine braking when you lift off the throttle, depending on how forcefully you’ve configured it), but once you’re used to it, you can actually drive with just the one pedal.

If you want something with a bit more spice, then the i3S is also an option. It properly rockets away from the lights, and 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds doesn’t tell the story of 0-30mph where this car excels. You can leap ahead and tuck into traffic quickly and safely, and although the accelerative urge tails off fairly smartly after about 50mph, it’s everything good about EV delivery: instant, urgent, silent. And it really does feel much faster than the standard i3. In fact, nipping around in traffic is slightly startling: never has 14bhp made such a difference. And yes, it handles more neatly, feels more secure and can dispense with an enthusiastic roundabout without feeling like it’s going to tip over. No, it doesn’t ‘drift’, but it does tuck the nose in a little via its driven rear wheels, and that’s enough.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

BMW I3 135kW S 42kWh 5dr Auto [Unique Forever]
  • 0-626.9s
  • CO2
  • BHP184
  • MPG
  • Price£ 37,745

the cheapest

BMW I3 125kW 42kWh 5dr Auto
  • 0-627.3s
  • CO20
  • BHP170
  • MPG
  • Price£ 35,970

the greenest

BMW I3 125kW 42kWh 5dr Auto [Lodge Interior World]
  • 0-627.3s
  • CO20
  • BHP170
  • MPG
  • Price£ 37,470
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