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BMW i3 review – the city car perfected?

evo staff
12 Feb 2018
Verdict:

The BMW i3 is a genuinely impressive take on the electric city car.

Evo Rating: 
For 
Brilliant performance, great interior, stand-out looks
Against 
Range extender engine noisy, limited range without it
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Performance and 0-60mph time

BMW has invested a fortune not only in the electrical components for its i cars, but also in a brand new factory in which to produce their carbon fibre bodies. A decision was made early on in the whole project to do this so weight could be kept down, preserving battery charge and extending the range. Hence the BMW i3 weighs just 1320kg in standard form.

So with maximum torque available from a standstill it should be no surprise that it puts in a decent 0-62mph time - at 7.3 seconds. Floor the throttle at rest and a little chirrup from the rear tyres (even in the dry) reveals that acceleration can be a little traction limited so it's even more impressive on the move, where the quiet motor just adds speed in a relentless surge.

For example, it accelerates from 50mph to 74.5mph (120km/h) in just 4.9 seconds - only 0.6 seconds slower than the DCT-equipped BMW M4. Top speed is limited to 93mph 'for efficiency reasons' and the i3 can easily keep up with fast motorway traffic such is the seamless acceleration always on tap.

The range extender engine adds 120kg to the i3 and the rear wheels are a little wider, so straight line performance is dulled a tad. It hits 62mph from rest in a claimed 8.1 seconds, which still feels brisk for a city-bound electric car. Top speed is the same, and when the little two-cylinder range-extending engine is running there's a little more noise, but it's still quieter than most conventional cars.

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