The i3s’s cabin is quite unlike that of any other car on the market.
There is no transmission tunnel to get in the way, and many of the materials used throughout are enticingly unconventional: the top of the dashboard is fashioned from recycled plastic, for instance, and olive leaves are used to tan the leather upholstery. Sustainability is the defining characteristic here, which is entirely fitting and only makes the i3 seem a more authentic product.
Even with the dark colour scheme of our test car’s interior, the cabin doesn’t give the impression that it’s lacking in space – at least from the front seats. The large windscreen not only provides excellent forward visibility, but it also lets plenty of natural light into the cabin. Although you sit fairly high up, you also sit with legs outstretched and head space is excellent.
Relocate to the back seats, though, and this same sense of spaciousness isn’t as prevalent. Visibility is good back there but leg room is tight even by supermini standards and the rear-hinged coach-style rear side doors – which are interlocked with those at the front – can make accessing the back seats a more elaborate process than it really needs to be, particularly in a narrow, perpendicular bay. It also pays to remember that the i3s is a strict four-seater.
BMW’s mid-life update of the i3 and i3s brings with it an improved version of the firm’s already excellent iDrive infotainment system. The 10.25in display is controlled by the familiar rotary controller and the screen itself now displays its content in even sharper resolution, at 1440 by 540 pixels.
Apple CarPlay preparation has been included as a cost option (£235) for the first time and the voice recognition technology has been updated.
Public battery charging points can also be displayed on the navigation map and the guidance system can alter a programmed route to redirect you to them if it deems the battery’s charge levels to be too low for the car to complete the trip. That’s handy for alleviating range anxiety.
Boot space comes in at 260 litres, so the BMW clearly isn’t as useful a car as the latest e-Golf (341 litres) or Hyundai Ioniq (350 litres). A Zoe is more spacious, too, by some distance. Still, while it might not match direct rivals, the i3’s boot is an easily accessible, flat space that isn’t difficult to load heavier items into – although its bulky charging cables need a place to live and the boot is going to be the most likely candidate.