The i3 is not cheap. Without a grant, the model starts at just over £34k for the all-electric version and over £37k for the range extender, not to mention the i3S which can set you back in excess of £40,000 if you opt for the range extender version.
Even with the government’s scheme taken into account, the cheaper car is equivalent in cost to a BMW 120d SE. It is also almost £5k more expensive than the larger Nissan Leaf and over £10k beyond the Clio-sized Zoe’s entry point.
However, BMW calls the i3 the first premium electric car, and that description feels warranted. In terms of quality – and by that, we mean both attention to detail and driving experience – the i3 is in another league.
BMW has not eliminated the limitations we associate with buying an electric car, though. Its battery – bought with the car rather than leased – comes with an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty and will take seven to eight hours to charge from a domestic plug.
Have BMW’s AC fast-charging Wallbox fitted to your house and that will shorten to about three hours. Find a public DC fast charger and you’ll still need half an hour.
Without the two-cylinder petrol engine, the i3 is limited to under 125 miles. With it, in our experience, the range increases, but you’ll still be leapfrogging between petrol stations to top up the dinky tank on a very long journey.
Its presence and an official CO2 rating of 13g/km also mean that the car qualifies for five per cent benefit-in-kind liability. The all-electric version remains free.