Car Reviews

2016 BMW i3 Hatchback Review

Electric Dreams In The BMW i3

This month various members of the Carzone team got to drive BMW's exciting electric hatchback, the i3.


When you think of BMW, best-selling models such as the 3 Series and 5 Series normally jump to mind, but this month Carzone has been driving a new BMW with a difference. Say hello to the all-electric BMW i3! It’s the German manufacturer’s first mass-produced zero emissions vehicle, and while the i3 is environmentally-conscious and futuristic in its design, it’s also incredibly fun to drive.

In terms of styling, the i3 certainly stands out from any other small electric cars currently for sale in Ireland, such as the Renault ZOE or Nissan LEAF. You can expect lots of attention in the i3 as it certainly stands out from the crowd. Our test car is finished in a striking white, black and blue colour scheme hinting at its electric genes, while it also features U-shaped LED headlights, large 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and BMW’s trademark i-Kidney grille. Stepping inside reveals more interesting features; the rear passenger doors open in reverse for easy access to the back seats, while there are also large supportive bucket seats, a tablet-screen drivers display and subtle blue detailing throughout the cabin. It very much feels airy and spacious while BMW enthusiasts will be glad to note the ever-popular iDrive system has been included too. 

Undoubtedly the biggest talking point among Carzone staff who drove the i3 is how quickly this electric car accelerates (0-100km/h takes just over seven seconds). Power delivery is seamless thanks to the automatic transmission which is operated via a drive selector mounted beside the steering wheel, and the i3 is similarly capable at motorway speeds with a top speed of 150 km/h. In order to save battery life, there are three different driving modes to choose from that alter the electric motor's performance and range. In default 'Comfort' mode, BMW says the i3 can achieve 160 kilometres of driving on a full charge, while 'Eco Pro' limits the top speed to 120km/h and adds 15 per cent extra range. The most conservative 'Eco Pro +' mode limits top speed to 80km/h and also restricts the climate control usage to save on power.  

For a car that is crammed with so much technology, the i3 is incredibly easy to drive and get used to. As the electric motor is situated in the rear of the car, there is more room for the front wheels to turn in and this makes it easy to park and navigate in tight spaces. Popping the bonnet where you would normally expect to find an engine, reveals two charging leads; one for a standard household socket and another for quick charge points. We charged the i3 at some of the many ESB Quick Charge points located around Dublin and a full charge can be achieved in a few hours. BMW has also developed a smartphone app which allows you to remotely climate control temperature, check charge status, communicate with the Sateite Navigation system and lots more. The i3 is available in two different versions; fully-electric or also with a range-extender option, the latter of which we tested. Range extender adds a small petrol generator that means you can continue driving when the battery is depleted - an absolute must for those who commute outside of town regularly and will be using the i3 on longer journeys.

Various members of the team got to spend time with the i3 during the week it spent here at Carzone HQ; and the general consensus among the team was a resounding thumbs up! Check out some of the comments below:

Tracey said “I enjoyed every minute of driving the i3, so quick and smooth! It’s a head-turner too”

Mark said "Loved the acceleration which was immediate. The i3 provided a highly connected driving experience. Also Inside the cabin there was plenty of room in the front and plenty of room for my two kids."

Mirza said "It feels very high-up compared to a car. It’s like sitting in a jeep. I enjoyed driving it very much, very quick and smooth.

Ailish said "I was surprised at how quick and quiet it was! It was my first time driving an electric car and it was a lot of fun

Eoin said "It far exceeded my expectations, really great fun to drive. The expression on onlookers faces when you take off at the lights was an added bonus!"

Test Car Details:

Model driven: BMW i3 REX
Prices from: €33,590
Electric Motor Power Output: 168bhp
Torque: 250Nm
Engine (optional): 647cc two-cylinder generator
Transmission: Automatic
Body style: 5-Door Hatchback
Top Speed: 150km/h (limited)
0-100km/h: 7.2 seconds