The BMW i3 electric car might not be the most aesthetically appealing motor ever to hit the roads, but it’s certainly one of the most environmentally-conscious.
Powered by electricity alone, the BMW i3 car is emission-free and offers, according to BMW, an impressive “nearly silent” driving experience.
While BMW claims the design of the car is “inspiring”, it looks rather buggy-like to me, with its over-sized wheels, rather stunted front and what looks like two flared nostrils between the headlights. That said, it’s hard to quibble with the interior, with its spacious leg-room for passengers and neat twin-screen dashboard.
However, passengers in the rear will notice that their legs are higher than they might be in alternative vehicles due to the battery pack under floor, so it may not be an altogether comfortable rear-seat ride for anyone who is particularly tall. But this is a design that BMW has worked on long and hard, and which ensures the i3 is one of the most dynamic environmentally-friendly cars available.
The car is comprised of two separate units, the ‘life’ module, which is the passenger cell made of carbon, and the ‘drive’ module, which houses the suspension and drive components.
Doing a turn
By keeping these two separate, it means there is no tunnel running through the middle of the car, giving passengers more space and lowering the car’s centre of gravity, giving it extra agility. After all, this is a car which has a turning circle of less than 10 metres – only your black cab taxi driver can beat that. It’s also impressively light, weighing in at around 300fk less than a Nissan Leaf.
The i3 is easy to charge too. If you have your own parking space, you can use the BMW i3 Wallbox charging station, mounted to the wall of your house or garage. This will charge the car up to 30% faster than if you use the standard charging cable provided, so you can charge the BMW i3 in around four hours. If you use a regular plug, a full charge will take from eight to 10 hours.
The battery itself is lithium-ion and high voltage, and uses a heating/cooling system which means it is less affected by temperature fluctuations than batteries of this kind normally are. It comes with an eight-year warranty or 100,000 miles for extra peace of mind.
Quick off the mark
Once charged, the BMW i3 is a speedy little number accelerating from 0 to 60km/h in under four seconds, and to 100km/h in just 7.2 seconds. It has a range of 80-100 miles, making it an ideal choice for anyone with a short daily commute, or who rarely uses their car for long journeys.
So what will this green machine set you back? It doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting from £25,680, but then you have to remember that after this initial outlay there are some big financial benefits. There’s no road tax, and you won’t have to pay the London Congestion Charge if you drive in the capital. Running costs are also substantially lower, with a full charge costing just a few pounds compared to the steep cost of a tank of petrol.
The car certainly looks as though it is already hot property. Actress Anne Hathaway has hit the headlines in recent days, for reportedly being one of the first people to import the car from Germany, because she couldn’t wait for it to go on sale in the US this spring.
In fact, it’s been claimed it is more likely she was driving one of a number of pre-production versions, which had been imported specifically for the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and are now being used for test drives, or loaned to those in the public eye to boost their appeal. Whatever Hathaway’s reason for driving i3, this nifty number is clearly already in high demand, and, as the green revolution gains momentum, it could just end up one of the most popular cars of 2014.