Base Motor 170-hp/184-lb-ft electric Opt range-extending engine 34-hp I-2 Drivetrain Rear motor, RWD Transmission 1A ...
Base Motor 170-hp/184-lb-ft electric
Opt range-extending engine 34-hp I-2
Drivetrain Rear motor, RWD
Transmission 1A
Basic Warranty 4 yrs/50,000 miles
IntelliChoice 5-Yr Retained Value 47%
A swanky city runabout built with today’s best tech.

BASE PRICE USA $43,500-$47,500*
BODY TYPE Hatchback

The BMW i3 is an enthusiast’s car, just not the typical go-fast speed junkie’s car. The BMW i3 appeals more to those enthusiasts who can appreciate creative, sustainable engineering. The plug-in electric vehicle is available with a range-extending two-cylinder gas motor that kicks on when the battery packs are almost depleted and recharges the batteries. The i3 is a showcase of innovative technologies, many of which will trickle down to the rest of the BMW lineup.
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Long-term test Winter Wunderkind Robert Hefferon has warmed to the i3

    CAR: #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #2017-BMW-i3 / #2017 / #2018

    OWNER: Robert Hefferon

    There was an extra air of smugness about me as I passed the fuel station and saw that prices had increased again, and it stayed with me all the way to work.

    The morning had already started well. I opened the curtains and saw a crisp covering of frost smothering the i3. There was none of that ‘Where have I left the scraper?’ or ‘I’d better set off ten minutes early’ business because the day before I had luckily and unknowingly got one-up on winter, and set the i3’s pre-conditioning schedule for 7.30am and 5.45pm.

    Another peek out of the window at 7.40am confirmed that the i3 was very kindly warming the cabin and defrosting itself. OK, similar things exist and have done for a while, but often they have to be activated in real-time. Incidentally, you can do that too on the BMW i3, if you don’t have a schedule set for the pre-conditioning or you want to access the car at a different time, by pressing a diamond-logo button on the key fob, which will instantly activate the warm-up function. The idea of the pre-conditioning setting isn’t just to keep me toasty: it also improves the batteries’ efficiency in the cold months.

    Win-win! And it got me thinking: how many people, despite warnings to the contrary, leave their car idling to warm up and de-mist? Countrywide that adds up to a boat-load of fuel! It’s the little things that make a big difference, and this little i3 has some big ideas. Less pollution, less global warming, more properly cold winters for the i3 to do its thing…
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  •   Mark Dixon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Electronic milestone BMW-i3 / BMW / #2018

    The #BMW-Group delivered more than 100,000 electrified vehicles to customers worldwide in 2017, as promised at the beginning of the year. This underlines the company’s leadership role when it comes to electro-mobility. A spectacular light installation marked this milestone, as the BMW Group headquarters – the famous ‘Four-cylinder’ building in Munich – was transformed into a battery. “This 99-metre-high signal is lighting the way into the era of electro-mobility,” said #Harald-Krüger , Chairman of the Board of Management of #BMW-AG . “Selling 100,000 electrified cars in one year is an important milestone, but this is just the beginning for us.

    “Since the introduction of the #BMW-i3 in #2013 , we’ve delivered over 200,000 electrified cars and, by 2025, we will offer 25 electrified models. Electro-mobility will continue to be my measure for our future success.”

    The 100,000th electrified #BMW of 2017, with the BMW ‘battery’ building in the background.
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  •   Mark Dixon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Techie on the case #2017-BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3 / #BMW

    Long-term test Robert Hefferon

    After singing the i3’s praises to anyone who asks, I sometimes find myself countering with a couple of niggles. But I might have been a little unfair. Let me explain. An electric car’s range always plays on your mind. The i3 is perfect for my commute for a couple of days without a charge, but plan anything longer and even with a full tank and charge you’re still limited. ‘Wouldn’t it be good,’ I thought, ‘if you could switch to the petrol-powered motor before the charge runs out…’ Well, it turns out you can. And it took only minutes playing with the settings to find it: ‘Hold state of charge’.

    If you don’t have access to a fast-charge point, being able to stop and fill up with petrol opens up the range and usability of the i3 that bit more, keeping the battery charged for the return journey or, in fact, allowing you to accumulate charge for when you need it. Another little hurrah moment came when working out the right combination of twists and clicks required to turn off the dashboard display – an unnecessary drain on resources when it’s not required.

    It also improves the minimalist atmosphere in the cockpit. Manufacturers are all too keen to flood your peripheral vision with dials and buttons, but the lack of these adds to the BMW’s futuristic and spacious feel. That said, a simple on/off button on the screen would be even better.

    Fair enough, if I had looked in the manual I would have found this out weeks ago (along with the obvious folding wing-mirror button and, more shockingly, the heated seats) but, honestly, does anyone do that? Working out these things for yourself is part of the joy of connecting with the car. I’m sure the i3 will keep surprising me and will continue to silence my niggles the more I use it.

    Left and above Robert likes the i3 cockpit ambience – and has discovered much by fiddling with the iDrive settings.
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Reflections on Evolution #BMW i3 #2015 and #Audi A2 #2004 . We reflect on the evolution of the #BMW-i3 and its parallels with the Audi A2, a car ahead of its time. Although more than a decade apart, we look at the innovative thinking and similar approach that went into the development of each of these ground breaking cars. WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk. THANKS TO: Matt Hayward.

    At first glance, there may seem to be little in common between these two cars. However, take a closer look and consider both are pioneering vehicles in their own right and similarities begin to appear. Although nearly 15 years separate the two cars, many parallels may be drawn.

    The world was not so different in the late 90’s. Fuel prices were steadily increasing with demand swaying toward more economical vehicles. The average car model only offered basic petrol and diesel engines while ancillaries like turbos or superchargers remained solely performance add-ons. Government aimed to increase emphasis on carmakers to begin providing more fuel-efficient offerings and this meant manufacturers had to become a little more inventive than they had been in the past.

    As the millennium approached, Volkswagen launched the new Beetle in 1997, a retro styled car, which offered a little ironic opulence by recreating an old - flawed - icon for a modern world. It wasn’t a great success. Despite good feedback when displaying the concept car in 1994, the market wasn’t ready for a retro inspired car that offered little more over its Golf underpinnings. A different tactic was needed, although the direction of the new Beetle would ultimately set a trend many others would successfully follow. It did accomplish starting a trend for retro inspired cars and today it is hard to imagine a road without the new Fiat 500 or BMW MINI.

    Audi took a different approach. Instead of trying to link itself artificially to a car of yesteryear, their design would be modern yet in-keeping with the current Audi model range while still managing to be avant-garde. Audi would bestow the car with a new attitude toward innovation clearly setting it apart from competing cars in its class. The #Audi-Al2 concept car was first shown in 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, in the same year the new Beetle was launched. It sported a neat aerodynamic look and was built from aluminium. In 1999, Audi surprised the world by introducing the A2 production model, a car that clearly derived from the Al2 concept shown just two years earlier.

    The #Audi-A2 was different, but how? First and foremost, construction defied convention and logic. Rivals like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class used a traditional steel construction, whereas the A2 used aluminium extensively – a first for a car of its size. This immediately put the A2 in a class of its own, at least with respect to the asking price, almost twice as much as the A-Class. Second, were the engine options. The two petrol engines available were relatively normal, having been taken from VAG’s Polo parts bin. The diesel option was a little different in that it was a three-cylinder turbo, at a time when four-cylinder oil-burners were par for the course. The fourth variant, which was not made available in the UK, consisted of a small capacity 1.2-litre petrol engine mated to an automatic gearbox. The idea was to offer the best economy and this special A2 featured additional aerodynamic tweaks too. In the UK, the gem in the range was the three-cylinder turbo diesel, as it provided plenty of power with exceptional fuel economy and low emissions, that still compares favourably more than a decade after its initial launch.

    The A2 was a bold offering. There was nothing else like it on the market. Unfortunately, this was likely the reason why it wasn’t the sales success Audi had hoped it to be. Car reviewers struggled to compare it to other vehicles as although its size placed it naturally into the super-mini class, it cost twice as much as some of its rivals. If compared by price, comparative vehicles were in a different class altogether and therefore incomparable. Unfortunately for Audi, the same confused attitude came from potential customers who found the A2 difficult to understand. The blend of MPV styling, super-mini class positioning and high asking price proved a difficult sale. On the one hand, it was classed by Audi’s own naming convention as being smaller than the Audi A3, which was true externally, but internally it was volumetrically larger. Similarly, the package offered was typical for the time. Skimpy equipment as standard but with extras added, a fully specced A2 offered the latest in-car tech, leather seating and even a luxurious glass roof – all at a price, of course. Sat nav cost an eye-watering £1,300 in basic guise, with the ‘Plus’ version costing a whopping £2,175. It is worth noting the base price for the A2 with a 1.4 petrol engine and no extras cost £13,145 in 2003. In truth, the A2 was a subtle pioneer, that many dismissed it in favour of more conventional offerings. That fact aside, the A2’s real genius was in the details. The aluminium construction was the most obvious development and relied heavily upon learning’s from the full-size A8 to make the Audi Space Frame (ASF) work for a super-mini. Overall weight for the A2 started at 1040.4kg for the 1.4 basic petrol model. Had Audi stuck to this alone, the A2 might have been seen as quite normal despite its alloy build.

    However, Audi used the A2 as a design exercise and it is clear to see. For example, the bonnet had no hinges and so had to be removed fully in order to access the engine. The idea was servicing should only be carried out by professionals. For the owner, a handy flap was provided at the front of the car behind what would normally be the grill.

    For the A2 though, it was a flat piece of aerodynamic plastic, rather than a mesh grille. Concealed by the service hatch was the dipstick, oil filler and screen wash. It was a neat idea that meant checking the basics was a doddle and a, literally, clean affair. Few cars offer similar inventive thinking with regard to checking the essentials. Moving inside the cabin, thin and functional sun visors can be found and their design ethos continues throughout the cabin. Slots exist at the back of the C-pillars, to locate the seat belt buckles when folding the rear seats. The rear seats themselves were fully removable, transforming the A2 into a flat-floored ‘van’ when needed. The aluminium construction also meant there is a sub floor where electronics are kept hidden, but easily accessed via panels beneath the carpets. The boot space could be fitted with an optional false floor too, allowing for storage of less used items to be hidden from view and making a more usable stacking option for the tall area. Some have hypothesised that the A2 might have been made electric drive, as there appears to be space to house large batteries, although this was never hinted at or offered by Audi during the car’s short six years of production.

    The A2, as mentioned, was no sales success. Instead, Audi only managed to sell fewer than 200,000 units, which compares unfavourably to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which sold around one million units. Price was likely the major contributing factor to this, as reviewers and owners alike praise the A2 for its drivability. The 1.4 petrol engine, although rudimentary, offered performance akin to a larger offering thanks to the lightweight materials used throughout the A2 construction. The 1.4 TDI was available in several variations, namely the 75 and 90PS. These provided a great driving experience, sounding more like a grunting V6 than a pokey three-cylinder. Several owners have since retuned their cars to offer more performance and even added an additional longer gear for motorway cruising. Some customers complained about the A2’s hard ride and this was addressed in 2003 by replacing suspension with softer components.

    Driving the A2 is a rewarding experience, particularly the #Audi-A2-TDI90 model. The engine may not be unique to this car, but in the A2 it feels completely at home. Low-down torque means traffic driving is kept relaxing and when at speed the A2 makes for a decent cruiser. On country roads with the OpenSky at full aperture, the A2 can even be quite sporting.

    It might be a city car, but it is more than that and does everything well. And it only costs £30 a year to tax, as the emissions are that low. The 1.4 petrol doesn’t match the TDI for economy or emissions, but in todays used market it makes for an interesting proposition. Sadly, the 1.6 is the one to avoid. Many suffered over enthusiastic driving and problems crept in too. If well maintained though, they offer a sporty package and the performance the 1.4 lacks. Overall, the A2 offered an advanced car for its day, which helps keep it looking and feeling fresh today. The BMW i3 has a similar design ethos to that of the A2 and consequently it too features an innovative approach for a car of its class.

    It all began with the i3 concept, formerly known as Mega City Vehicle (MCV). In 2011, BMW decided to create a new sub-brand named BMW i, which would serve as an outlet for their electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Following successful trials of the MINI E, a car first seen in 2008 and largely created to meet Californian zero emission regulations, the BMW ActiveE was born. This time based on a larger BMW 1-Series, the drivetrain would evolve to be used in the i3. These two cars came under the umbrella of, ‘Project i’. The third and final phase of the project was to launch the i3 and i8, having studied invaluable data from the trials of both the MINI E and ActiveE. The approach to the i3’s design was similar to that of the Audi A2. Firstly, it had to be a little different from the usual hatchback and secondly they didn’t want it to end up not looking like a BMW. The decision had been taken to design it from the ground up, as it was to be the company’s first mass-produced electric car. An aluminium chassis was to be employed to house suspension, steering, batteries and electric motor, while a carbon-fibre body would be mounted atop. This heralded the first mass production use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for a car of its class. Before the i3, CFRP was the reserve of racing cars and high-end sports cars. The structure isn’t the only area where unconventional materials have been used either. The interior materials use renewable and sustainable materials where possible, including KENAF, which is a fast growing cotton-like fibrous substance, used on the doors and upper dashboard. The leather in the ‘suite’ interior option has been tanned using olive leaves to give a beautiful deep purple hue and keeps the process as natural as possible. Seat textiles in the other interior trim options are made from 100% recycled fibres too.

    Like the A2, BMW used the i3 as a design exercise and added details are what make it a little more interesting than any other electric car. The first and most obvious novelty of the i3, are its rear-hinged back doors that, when opened, provide a pillarless aperture for passengers to clamber aboard. It is a similar approach to that seen in the popular Mazda RX8 but is still an unusual solution. Seating in the i3 and A2 is provided for four persons, although the A2 did have a rear bench option, making it a five-seater. BMW’s opinion on this is they would look into offering a five-seat variant, if there was sufficient demand.

    The dashboard features two screens with no traditional instrument binnacles, as they are simply not needed. Driver information is provided on a simple but highly effective screen mounted behind the steering wheel. The centrally mounted and seemingly floating screen displays the usual multi-media and sat nav as is usual. It is not a touch screen either, in part because it is positioned too far away to comfortably reach and by being non-touch, it will not attract unsightly fingerprints. Instead it is operated by BMWs familiar iDrive control wheel. The cabin is a refined and comfortable place to be and it is easy to sense it would make an excellent companion in a city environment.

    The i3 can be equipped with additional technology that enables the car to automatically park itself with the only user input being the brake. This £790 option comes with a high-res reversing camera, sensors at every corner and the ability to actually steer the car. All Audi could offer for the A2, a little over a decade earlier, was an acoustic rear parking system as a £350 extra. This does help demonstrate how technology has shaped vehicular development since the late 90’s.

    The i3’s powertrain is another area of innovation. BMW did not do what most have done and pick a suitable electric motor from the shelf. Instead, they have developed a new motor in-house, which produces a respectable 170bhp. Being a BMW, they mounted it in the rear of the car providing the i3 the trade-mark rear wheel drive pushing power many know and love about other BMWs. Batteries are neatly stored within the double-skinned the floor and keep the centre of gravity low, which is ideal for handling. Equipped with its narrow tyres, performance and range of the i3 is surprisingly good with 0-62mph reached in 7.2 seconds and a 100 mile range from a single charge. Skinny tyres means less rolling resistance and helps the i3’s efficiency.

    It is a ‘Marmite’ love/hate relationship with the i3’s energy regeneration. When throttling back, regeneration is consistently firm, making the hydraulic brakes all but redundant. There is no regen adjustment aside from your own foot, unlike in other electric cars. Once accustomed to it, the strong regen becomes intuitive. It allows for faster braking response too, whereas in a conventional vehicle engine retardation is gentle until the hydraulic brakes are applied. In the i3 braking force begins the moment your right foot is lifted. Some critics have complained it is overly harsh and certainly in scenarios like motorway driving it can be a touch over sensitive. Overall though, it is an interesting new approach to the way we drive; something other EV manufacturers have stayed clear of and instead opted for a more conventional feel. BMW appear to have instead embraced the potential an electric drive has to offer a different driving experience, rather than try to make the it feel familiar. It’s special and it feels it. Of course, if the battery range isn’t sufficient or a charge point isn’t available, BMW also offer the range extended model. This variant (as photographed) has a twin-cylinder 647cc petrol unit. This range extender only activates if charge in the battery is sufficiently low that it needs to operate. It extends the official range by an additional 93 miles maximum. Because BMW realise that it shouldn’t be relied upon for general driving and should instead only be used as a backup in times of need, they have fitted only a 9-litre fuel tank. Simply by carrying a Jerry can, range may be increased substantially. The idea is to keep the car fully electric as often as possible. The reason for the range extenders existence at all is because BMW accept that electric vehicle charging infrastructure is still in its infancy.

    If you’re still of the mind that the comparison between these two cars is a little odd, then please draw your attention to more recent Audi thinking. In 2011, they looked at renewing the A2 badge with an all-new aluminium and CFRP car that would be powered electrically and offered as a plug-in hybrid too. Dubbed the A2 Concept, this was at a time when BMW were undertaking their trials with the ActiveE. Initially, Audi intended the new A2 to be available in 2015; unfortunately this was cancelled but would have been a natural competitor to the i3. In lieu of a new A2, the i3 has been distinctly lacking in this department. Reviewers have tried to compare the i3 to the likes of the Nissan LEAF and Kia Soul EV, both good vehicles in their own right, but their only similarity to the i3 is that they are driven electrically. The forthcoming Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED (Electric Drive) may offer the closest competition to the i3 yet, in terms of price and performance, but does not share the i3’s philosophy and was not designed from the ground up as an electric car. The new A2 would have evolved the original thinking behind the first A2 we see here and featured such novelties as a glass roof that could be made opaque at the press of a button.

    So, from a design perspective at least, these two cars share lots in common with the approach and methodology to create the ultimate city car. It is a credit to both Audi and BMW for being brave enough to put them into production. The A2 was launched at a time when premium super-minis were not the order of the day and BMW have launched the i3 at the start of an electric vehicle renaissance. Whether or not it will suffer the same fate as the A2 is questionable but likely. BMW probably never set out for the i3 to be a profit-making car. If they had, they would have played safe and opted for either a conversion of an existing model to electric, as witnessed by the experimental MINI E and ActiveE trials, or by using more conventional materials to keep developmental costs down. Again, parallels may be drawn between the A2 and i3 as the A2 for Audi served as a great model to test out ideas and allow their engineers some playtime. Likewise, the i3 gave BMW designers a blank page from which to begin designing the ultimate city car.

    To drive each of these pioneering vehicles gives a sense of being in something special. A2 production stopped in 2005 and it is therefore a fairly rare sight on UK roads. Likewise, the i3 has an exclusive appeal as it is only a couple of years old and the electric drive is a lifestyle choice that doesn’t come cheap or suit everyone – you have to really want an i3 to buy one.

    If you’re on a much tighter budget than the purchase of a BMW i3 requires, the decade old Audi A2 is worth a look. The 1.4 TDI is the model to go for in either of its 75 or 90 power levels. Top spec examples, like the car featured in this article, which have an OpenSky glass roof, sat nav computer with screen, 17” Sports alloys and full leather interior rightfully fetch a premium over standard cars without the added extras. It might not be an electric car, but its spirit embodies all you might want from an i3 and due to the second hand values of the A2, even with fuel costs added in, it will take many years to offset the difference in price between them.

    The designers of these cars came to similar decisions despite there being a decade separating their choices. The comparison of them is an interesting one in that neither can truly be directly compared, they are different cars after all, but the parallels existing between them are uncanny. Both are great cars and sure to be remembered for their pioneering approach.

    i3 & A2 Aggresive i3 styling is certainly distinctive and has won both fans and critics alike. The A2 may not look as striking but, appearances aside, there is no denying the two share lots in common.

    A2 INTERIOR Minimal but functional. The Interior could be specced up with additions like sat nav and Bose sound as well as a choice of trim.

    ABOVE The 2011 A2 Concept featured electric drive, was to be sold as an EV and PHEV and, before it was cancelled, would have gone on sale in 2015.

    REAR VIEW i3 tailgate is a single piece of glass, incorporating lights behind it. Both A2 and i3 share remarkably similar proportions.

    i3 INTERIOR The Suite interior trim option features leather tanned by olive leaves. Notice the Kenaf fibre on the upper dashboard and door.

    LEFT TO RIGHT FROM FAR LEFT Rear-hinged doors are stylish and make access easier than a 3-door hatch. A small storage space can be found under the bonnet. Column mounted gear selector is chunky. Parking assist offers automated parallel parking. Well lit plug-in socket.

    FRAMEWORK Like the A2, the i3 uses aluminium for its chassis. Bolted on top is a carbon fibre ‘cell’.

    CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT A 2004 A2 1.4 TDi, with 17” Sports alloys and OpenSky glass roof. The engine is accessed via removable (not hinged) bonnet. Service panel gave access to oil, dip stick and screen wash.

    FACTORY LINE Aluminium was used extensively for the A2, a first for mass manufacture of a super-mini.

    MAIN The A2 and the i3 are both four seat cars that aimed to buck the trend.

    2004 #Audi-A2-1.4TDI (90) SE
    Engine - 1.4 TDI
    Power - 90 hp
    Max Speed - 115 mph
    0-62mph - 10.9 sec
    Fuel Tank - 42 litres
    Transmission - 5 Spd. Manual
    Engine Spec - Common-rail, turbo
    Engine CC - 1,422
    Torque - 230Nm @ 2000rpm
    Fuel Type - Diesel
    Economy avg. - 65.7 mpg
    CO2 Emissions - 119 g/km
    Weight (kerb) - 1,160 kg
    Length - 3,826 mm
    Width - 1,673 mm
    Height - 1,553 mm
    Price (June 2004) - £16,410 OTR

    2015 #BMW-i3-REx
    Motor - AC
    Power - 170 hp
    Max Speed - 93 mph
    0-62 mph - 7.9 sec
    Fuel Tank - 9 litres
    Battery - Li-ion 18.8 kWh
    EV Range (REx) - 105 miles (+93)
    Torque - 250 Nm
    Fuel Type - Electricity + petrol
    EV Economy - 4.5 m/kWh
    (REx avg.) - (470.8 mpg)
    CO2 Emissions - 13 g/km
    Weight (kerb) - 1,315 kg
    Length - 3,999 mm
    Width - 1,775 mm
    Height - 1,578 mm
    Price inc. PICG - £29,130 OTR
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    The #2016 #BMW-i-Series#BMW-i3 ‘Sport’ announced / #BMW-i3-Sport / #BMW

    BMW has released what it’s calling a new ‘Sport’ package for the i3 and while it does offer potential owners more opportunities for making their car individual to them we can’t see why it’s being given the Sport tag. The package includes a choice of 19- inch alloy wheels, sun protection glass, LED headlights and the Harman Kardon Loudspeaker system, none of which scream sporty to us! It’s good value though as at £1700 it represents a 26 per cent saving (£610) if the parts were spec’d separately. Customers also have a choice of three new colours for the i3; Fluid black, Mineral grey and Platinum silver which all come with the #BMW-i Blue highlight. Fluid black allows the i3 exterior to be specified in all black for the first time with #BMW-i-Blue-highlight .
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    i3 extends appeal

    We mentioned it a few months back but we’ve now had official confirmation – the i3 has been endowed with a larger battery and can now travel 195 miles on a single charge in everyday driving conditions which should go a long way to allaying range anxiety fears. The #BMW-i3-94Ah / #BMW-i3 / #BMW / #2016 replaces the current 60Ah version and has a capacity of 33kWh thanks to the higher storage density of its lithium ion cells. While the car has a more than 50 per cent increase in its range the battery dimensions remain unchanged making the i3 as practical as ever. Performance is just as sprightly as before, with a 0-62mph time of just 7.3 seconds thanks to its 170hp electric motor while its top speed is 93mph. The higher output batteries will be available in both the pure electric version as well as the Range Extender model too. The latter has slightly slower acceleration at 8.1 seconds for the 0-62mph dash but it’s capable of travelling 276 miles on a full battery and a full fuel tank.

    At the same time as the improvement in the car’s range, BMW says there’s been an increase in efficiency too and reckons that if charged using a low charging tariff the cost per mile for an electric i3 would equate to running a diesel car that’s capable of returning 470.8mpg. The Range Extender model has also seen a reduction in its emissions to just 12g/km of CO². In addition to this, the new model also benefits from improved efficiency and DC Rapidcharge as standard. AC charging is now multi-phase allowing charging of 3.7, 7.4 or 11kW, representing a 50 per cent increase compared to the previous i3 60Ah. This means the charging time for the new 94Ah i3 is less than three hours, in spite of the significantly larger battery capacity. It can also be charged at home using a standard three-pin plug or by specifying a BMW i Wallbox.

    As well as the hike in battery output there have also been a few changes to the spec of the i3, too. Protonic blue has been added to the colour palette – previously only available on the i8 – and there’s a new Atelier interior that comes as standard. This features Neutronic cloth in Aragats grey with #BMW-i #BMW-i-Blue-highlight highlights on the front seats and a black leather steering wheel.

    The new i3s go on sale in July and are priced at £27,830 for the fully electric version and £30,980 for the Range Extender – both prices include the £4500 OLEV government grant.
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    ELECTRIC SHOCK UK 94Ah i3 Range Extender

    We’ve sampled the pure electric i3 in Germany but how did we get on with the Range Extender version when we tested it in the UK? Words: Bob Harper Photography: BMW

    Sampling the 94Ah i3 REx in the UK

    You should, by now, be fairly au fait with BMW’s slightly oddly-styled i3 electric vehicle – it’s been on sale in the UK since the tail end of 2013 – and certainly in urban areas it’s becoming a relatively common sight. Designed from the outset as a purely electric vehicle it’s been a big success, but like all purely electric machines there have been range concerns from buyers worried about running out of juice, but with the new improved i3 94Ah version BMW is hoping to banish range anxiety to the history books.

    The update to the i3 has come around the time you’d expect for a BMW face-lift, but there haven’t really been any discernible exterior changes other than the inclusion of Protonic blue to the colour chart which was previously the preserve of the i8. No, it’s under the skin that BMW has added to the i3 with a new battery pack that is claimed to offer up to 195 miles of range, although in more normal everyday type driving (ie. with the lights, wipers, air con and heated seats in operation) BMW says it will do at least 125 miles. And the Ranger Extender model we have here will do a further 80 or so miles once the 650cc twin-cylinder 38hp motorbike-derived motor’s kicked in to keep the batteries topped up – a process that happens automatically or via driver instruction.

    Power and torque outputs remain the same at 170hp and 184lb ft of torque from the 125kW electric motor but the 60Ah battery pack has been replaced with a dimensionally identical 94Ah battery unit which accounts for the longer range. Performance is virtually identical with 0-62mph coming up in 7.3 seconds for the pure-electric version while the REx model we have here is ever so slightly slower at 8.1 seconds.

    While that figure used to be the preserve of the hottest of hot hatches (yes, I am looking back quite a few years) these days you might think it’s nothing to write home about, but with maximum toque available the whole time the i3’s performance is much more satisfying than the raw figures might suggest. In a nutshell it’s an absolute hoot to punt along. Forget for a moment the eerily quiet progress you’re making and concentrate on the actual driving experience and you’ll have a ball.

    It feels genuinely quick from the off and even on the move can surprise you with its eager ability to pile on speed. Not only is it quick, it’s supremely well- balanced and as all the weight (what there is of it – this is still a lightweight machine even at 1365kg for the Rex model and just 1245kg for the pure EV) is hidden away in the ‘Life Module’ chassis it has what must be the lowest centre of gravity of virtually the entire BMW range. The tyres might be skinny, but they hang on tenaciously and you really can get hold of the i3 and chuck it about like a proper rear-wheel drive hot hatch.

    In the older model this sort of entertainment was often curtailed by a glance at the dwindling battery reserve display but we drove this example from the wilds of Oxfordshire to London at pretty high speed over a mix of fast-flowing back roads and motorways and still had 30 percent battery life remaining – not bad for a 90-mile journey where we were using all the available performance with scant regard to preserving battery life. And while it was good to know that there was the reassurance of having the Range Extender motor to recharge the batteries if required it wasn’t awakened from its slumber on this journey.

    With four ample seats and five doors the i3 should be able to put up with most things you throw at it. Obviously with a 260-litre boot it’s not going to accommodate the family on holiday, but fold those seats flat and you’ve got 1100-litres to play with – more than enough to shift larger items about when required. And the i3’s interior is still a great place to while away time – it might look like no other #BMW but it carries plenty of standard kit as standard and as it’s a BMW there are a plethora of options to choose from should you wish to jazz it up even further.

    Charging your i3 might be seen as a bit of a pain in the backside at times and initially I think many were put off by the fact that it takes 10 hours with a conventional three-pin plug. Install an AC fast charger though (such as a BMW iWallbox) and you can cut that time to around four hours or to just 40-minutes with the newest style DC rapid charger. This latter item meaning you could very easily stop at a service station for a comfort stop and a cup of coffee and return to a virtually fully-charged i3. Range anxiety? Nah, that’s a thing of the past.

    And it’s also interesting to compare the i3 with other cars of its ilk when it comes to their potential ranges. The only way of doing this is to compare their NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) ranges, and while they might not be representative figures it’s the only comparison you can make without driving all the cars together on the same roads at the same time. For the record an e-Golf will do 118 miles, a Renault Zoe keeps going for 149 miles while a Nissan Leaf tops out at 155miles. Which leave the 94Ah i3 as the NEDC range champion – 195 miles for the pure EV and 243 for the REx.

    So, should you buy one? Ultimately this will be dictated by your motoring needs and you’d probably be a brave soul to buy one if it was the only car you had access to unless you’re never likely to contemplate a long journey by car. On the other hand if all you journeys are sub-150 miles we reckon an i3 would be a safe bet. It’s cheap to run, attracts low benefit in kind and is an absolute ball to drive – if the electric future is like this sign us up.

    TECHNICAL DATA: #2016 / #BMW-i3-94Ah-Range-Extender / #BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3-94Ah / #BMW-i3-REx /

    DRIVETRAIN: 125kW permanent magnet synchronous #electric-motor with 33kWh gross, 29kWh net lithium-ion battery, single speed reduction gear, rear-wheel drive. 650cc twin-cylinder (38hp) engine to recharge battery pack
    MAX POWER: 170hp
    MAX TORQUE: 184lb ft
    0-62MPH: 8.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 93mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 11.3kWh
    CO² EMISSIONS: 13g/km
    PRICE UK: From £30,980, including government’s full subsidy £4500 plug-in car grant
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    i3 scoops USA award / #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #2017 / #World-Urban-Car / #BMW-i3-I01 / #BMW-I01

    The BMW i3 94Ah has been named the inaugural winner of the #2017-World-Urban-Car of the Year award, announced at the recent New York International Auto Show.

    “We are delighted and honoured that the BMW i3 has been recognised,” said Ludwig Willisch, Head of BMW Group Region Americas. “It highlights BMW Group’s commitment to sustainable mobility.

    “The design brief for the i3 was to create a Mega City Vehicle for the cities of the future, and the 2017 BMW i3 94Ah provides more range, paired with a high-level of dynamic performance, making it the perfect urban vehicle for people around the world.”

    The latest i3, with 94Ah, offers 50% more battery capacity and enhanced range, thanks to the higher energy density of the lithium ion cells, even though their external dimensions remain the same.

    Performance figures from the 170hp AC synchronous electric motor remain virtually unchanged for the new model, with 0-62mph achievable in 7.3 seconds.
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  •   Robert Hefferon reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Guilt-free, as charged #2017-BMW-i3 / #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3-I01 / #BMW-I01

    It was with a certain amount of disbelief that I responded to David Lillywhite, when he told me we were getting a BMW i3 as a long-term test ‘pool’ car. ‘Haha, an electric car, in Octane, very droll…’ Turns out, it’s a great leaving present from our outgoing editor.

    As I write this, the i3 has been with us just over a week and it’s been driven more than 400 miles. No big away days, just a lot of commuting, a couple of diversions in the evening, and a weekend of messing about doing family stuff. We’ve spent £2.50 on petrol, and only then because of an unplanned pre-office excursion one morning that drained the battery and called upon petrol power.

    You see, it has what’s known as a range extender. There’s a 168bhp, 184lb ft electric motor driving the rear wheels, and it’s powered by a 94Ah/33kWh battery pack, which weighs a not-insubstantial 230kg.

    When you run out of range (typically we’ve been managing a little more than 100 miles on a full charge), the engine kicks in to keep the battery charged: it doesn’t drive the wheels. You’d notice the difference if it did, as there’s just a 647cc scooter-based two-cylinder under the boot floor, generating away with its modest 34bhp. You can hear it, but only just; it’s much quieter then the gennies that assault your ears by temporary traffic lights.

    The lack of a petrol soundtrack doesn’t mean this is an unexciting drive, however. It zings away from a standing start (0-62mph in 7.3sec!) and has you grinning with its silent verve. The steering is keen and sharp, and the low centre of gravity (those batteries sit below the floor and much of the structure is carbonfibre) means you can fling it into corners.

    The i3 still feels so modern, four years on from launch, with a genuinely refreshing interior design and funky styling outside, and its focused nature is impressive. It doesn’t try to be an MPV or an SUV; instead, this is a fabulous car for two, plus an occasional couple (or kids) in the back, where there’s decent space though limited access thanks to small suicide doors that can’t be opened when the front ones are closed. The boot’s compact too, though those rear seats flip. And it’s not confined to the city. The i3 is comfortable at speed, and entertaining on sweeping A-roads. You just can’t go too far in it on a single charge. Which means we’ll keep you posted about whether we’re swapping our green guilt for range anxiety.

    From top The i3 is quick – and saves our classics and our fuel on Octane commutes; appropriately futuristic interior.
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