BMW i3 – Owner Review From the UK

MAR 25 2014 BY STAFF 10

As Tom Moloughney writes on his “The Electric BMW i3″ blog:

“A while ago I announced that I would be starting a new series here called, “I was Born Electric on…” I’ll be featuring readers who are i3 owners and who are willing to share their thoughts on the car after taking possession. Without further ado, I bring you Ross from the UK.”

*The words below are those of Born Electric i3 owner Ross from the UK

Hello, I’m Ross from The UK and I was Born Electric on Saturday, March 1st, 2014.

Why an i3?

Pistonheads BMW i3 Review Convinces Ross to Check Out i3

Pistonheads BMW i3 Review Convinces Ross to Check Out i3

I will start this blog by saying that I am totally obsessed by cars. I love cars, I always have, and the cars that find their way into our household are usually of the performance variety, ranging from TVRs to Hondas with even the occasional 4×4. To be perfectly honest, electric cars had never really appeared on my radar. I was aware of them obviously, but had never considered owning one. My view was that most of them were slow, couldn’t go very far and generally a bit dull.

However, one of my favourite websites is Pistonheads, and I happened to read their review of the new BMW i3 back in October. Wow! This sounded like one exciting little car. So, at this point I started doing some more research, reading every i3 review I could find. At this time, my car was an E92 M3 and my wife was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. This meant that we had two cars that were pretty expensive to run. Both had annual road tax of £490 and not so great fuel consumption. So, the i3 was beginning to sound attractive as it was fun, funky and cheap to run. That the electric only version could be run as a company car with zero benefit-in-kind was the clincher.

i3 Grabs Some Electrons

i3 Grabs Some Electrons

So, it came to be that I ordered an electric only i3 without seeing or test driving one – with the proviso that I could cancel my order if I didn’t like it when I test drove it. I had to wait about 3 weeks till the 16th November before I could get my hands on one.

Is it a real BMW?

I have owned three BMWs previously, an E46 330i (saloon), an E91 335i (touring) and the E92 M3 we have now. My wife had also owned two minis, a Cooper S and a Cooper S JCW. So we had high expectations. Before getting our test drive, we had an opportunity to have a good look around the showroom car. The consensus from all the family was that it was larger than expected and that from the outside the overall appearance was ‘funky’. Inside the i3, it was even better; the interior feels really modern especially with the large central nav screen.

We were blown away on the test drive. Putting your foot down just elicits a huge grin. It is such a hoot to drive. The instant and rapid acceleration takes a bit of getting used to but is addictive. Also being able to drive with just one pedal is great and it only takes a few moments to become accustomed to it. We were sold!

i3 Using M Lap Timer

i3 Using M Lap Timer

It really does drive like a BMW; the way it handles the road and the feel of the steering all felt familiar. Since taking delivery of my own i3, I have also taken it to a local sprint circuit. The circuit is only 600 metres in length but over 3 laps the i3 was great. It really surprised most of the people there and I was posting times that were quicker than two MX5s, an MR2 and and an E36 328i. I have also since discovered that the i3 is compatible with the ///M laptimer app. That said, don’t buy one as a track car! The range was down to just 43 miles on the day including driving there and back on a dual carriageway. The M3 is much better suited to track work.

Track day in the BMW i3

Track day in the BMW i3

The Options

For anyone considering the purchase of an i3, the options list can be a bit daunting. I chose laurus (laurel in the US) grey which I am really pleased with and the standard interior because I liked it! Suite was a consideration but at £2,000 I felt it was too expensive. I have recently discovered that the mood lighting with colour change is not included with the standard interior – this isn’t mentioned in the brochures or the website. I was lucky to get the Pro Sat Nav free as I placed my order early and I think everyone should consider this as it really suits the interior of the car. I ordered the heat pump option as BMW erroneously told me this was required to preheat the vehicle – it isn’t. Supposedly this gives better range in cold weather due to more efficient heating, but as I have nothing to compare it too I have no idea how effective it is. The Harmon Kardon hi-fi option is utterly brilliant and I am really pleased that I added that to my spec. In my opinion the standard wheels are awful, and the 428 alloys I ordered receive very positive comments. The heated seats are the fastest / hottest of any car I’ve owned and therefore a must.

I’ve had the car for just over two weeks and already done more than 900 miles. Range anxiety really hasn’t been an issue although I have got home a couple of times with only 3 miles left. It’s a great car and it seems that for the distances we generally travel it is going to meet most of our journey needs. For those occasions when it doesn’t I will just have to put up with that howling V8…

BMW i3

BMW i3

*If you own an i3 and would like to participate in the Born Electric guest blogger series, email Tom at:

Categories: BMW, Test Drives

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10 Comments on "BMW i3 – Owner Review From the UK"

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If the car can convince an obvious die-hard petrolhead that is some recommendation. I wonder why he didn’t go for a Tesla Model S though – more space for hauling stuff than his wife’s Cherokee, better acceleration than the M3, safer than either of them and 265 miles of real world range.

How about “price”? He already notes (regarding the i3): ” Suite was a consideration but at £2,000 I felt it was too expensive” – the Tesla premium is no day in the park.

Ross has nice style. I like his pants, shoes, belt, etc… and his i3 lol.

Great review. Different stripes for different folks but all things equal I’d buy this any day over a Tesla. 1/2 the price! plus it gets you almost the same range using the range extender (180 miles, same as the 60kwh Tesla). plus MUCH nicer interior, has autonomous parking and full BMW features that Tesla skimped out on.

i3 over the greatest car ever made? Bad choice there pal.

same range as a 60kw tesla using gas lol come on

i3 is not better than the model s in any way. Its nice but doesnt compare.

Autonomous parking? Ya because its so hard to park your car yourself like every driver always has for the past 100 years?

anything autonomous in a car is bad. I fear the day those cars become a reality.

“Autonomous parking? Ya because its so hard to park your car yourself like every driver always has for the past 100 years?

anything autonomous in a car is bad. I fear the day those cars become a reality.”

LOL thanks for sharing your ignorance with us, luddite. I guess we should ditch ABS, airbags, and traction control, and also go back to cranks instead of starters. Automated systems are for losers!

Let’s embrace all the fender benders humans get into, because we all love finding dents on our car when returning to the parking lot and paying for those repairs.

“Range anxiety really hasn’t been an issue although I have got home a couple of times with only 3 miles left” –

Quotes like that from EV enthusiasts really get to me. OF COURSE, RETURNING HOME WITH 3 MILES LEFT IS A BIG DEAL. With battery degradation over time – that 3 miles will become, “A couple times I didn’t make it home, so I traded in my i3 for…” ( Perhaps an i3 with a ReX ).

Studies keep showing BEVs cannot reach mass appeal until these close calls stop, and range increases to a number near 200-300 miles which negates all the fears. Sometimes these fears are unjustified, but at a range of below 100 miles – for people that are not soley inner-city, the car is merely a toy.

So great for folks who have a hefty annual income, and can afford that toy for errands, but at $50,000 – it’s an expensive toy.

I’ve been lost in the countryside a couple times in my life, and running low on gasoline. Those few times you’ve prayed that you can find a town with a service station stick in your mind. I imagine the sensation is similar looking at an energy meter that says you’ll soon be stuck – needing hours of charging to get home or to your destination.

The influx of 80-100 mile BEVs can do nothing but hurt the reputation of electric cars because that fear of the above situation is real.

For me, that’s why the Volt made so much sense. At half the cost of an i3, I can’t wrap my head around that 30-40 miles of EV range that you really cannot tap into unless it’s a round trip…How that computes for all those who are waiting with bated breath with cash in hand for such a limited, expensive vehicle.

“Handles like a BMW” – look at that thing LEAN! LOL!

The Volt is great, but GM screwed up in giving it such average acceleration. $30k cars with 4 seats are supposed to be faster and more exciting to drive.

The i3 is only $6k more than the Volt. That’s probably less than the premium you pay for any other BMW over a similar-sized North American car.

Nice review from a BMW enthusiast. I do think the Rex could make this car a person’s only car , like a Volt, but with much longer electric range; which means overall more electric miles as Volt owners like to claim over pure BEVs. It’s more efficient too … though that’s a guess since I’ve yet to see the official EPA numbers.