€37,102 / £32,475
BMW PARK LANE
44.1 - 52.3
€0 - £0
Acceleration very responsive
Very cheap to maintain
Space for 5 but only 4 seats
Back doors only open if front ones are too
Purchase price is substantial
There are many reviews out there that slag this car off and compare it to other fuel generated
models of competitors. As the creators of “ultimate driving machine"; I think they have done a very good job at creating what I can consider as "the actual car of the future". A brand that has taken the courageous leap to not only release an extremely modern and different looking car but all electric one too. This electrically driven small premium model is one of the most interesting cars on sale sitting next to the i8 which once again is a whole other story.
Three years from its first launch we got our hands on the new addition which is the BMW i3s: now lower and wider like myself but surprisingly faster. A more aggressive looking version of the i3 with a beautiful S in its name which as we all know is shorthand for sexy... or sport . Anyhow interestingly enough nobody ever added that letter to a car’s name while trying to imply it was slower or more sensible. The i3s was meant to have some more umpf over the standard i3 so they gave it an additional 16bhp (now reaching 184bhp) and 15lb ft. (now at 199lb ft.) over the conventional i3, although it is backed by the same 33.2kWh battery. Great news is that you can still have it as a pure electric vehicle with a 650cc twin-cylinder range-extending generator, which adds easily refillable range and 120kg of weight.
When we look at the way the i3s drives, it rides 10mm lower than a regular i3, has a 40mm wider
track and rides on larger wheels. Furthermore there is now 195/55 profile rubber on 20in
rims, rather than 155/70in tyres on 19s which is what I think makes the biggest difference to the ride and handling. All this combined gives it an incredible ability to handle on tight turns and at high speeds and eliminated that unstable feel that small vehicles give.
If we look at the i3s’s cabin is quite different to other electric cars on the market and definitely make people rethink what electric cars are all about.
Inside one must remember there is no transmission tunnel to get in the way and the materials in which the interior is made of are far from common. The beautifully shaped top of the dashboard is built from recycled plastic and olive leaves are used to tan the leather upholstery. Sustainability is the defining characteristic here, which ones again makes the i3 and i3s even more admirable.
A vast windscreen allows for great visibility during any driving situation and large side windows frame the interior with light and make it feel impressively spacious for such a small car. If you decide to go for the optional panoramic roof in a car of this size just know it's a spectacle to be seen due to level of light that will be inside your car through out any point of the day and a great way to see how empty your wallet is as it will set you back an extra £780.
Theres an option to get the cabin trimmed in one of four wonderful colour and material combinations which include Atelier that is standard on all i3s and comes with cloth seats and blue piping while instead if you choose to go with a bit of an upgrade on that you can go for faux-leather upholstery that will cost you an extra £1,000. Don't think it stops here tough, as if you like silver steering wheel detailing, a partial leather and wool-trimmed seats and an incredibly looking eucalyptus wood dashboard you can get ready to fork out another £1500.
Top-spec versions like the i3s we reviewed will cost you an extra £2000 but will get you full leather seats, leather trim for the instrument cover and a dark oak-coloured dashboard along with extended mood lighting and plush velour floor mats... definitely worth it !
If you consider the i3s as your electric car of choice remember that whichever option you choose you will get a 10.2 inch infotainment display which we can say is about time car manufacturers start including as a standard feature considering it's 2019. BMW has made this leap in the right direction and also includes built in satellite navigation and DAB digital radio. The way to navigate through the menus is simple and in typical BMW stile, very logical. The menus can be navigated using a handy click-wheel controller on the centre of the console and is even touch sensitive to facilitate gestures and writing letters or numbers. Anyhow unfortunately this is a little less technologic then other BMW models that we have come to love as there is no direct touch screen available in any i3 or i3s model. This is greatly due to the position of the screen which is out of reach and any attempts to reach for it could be distracting and dangerous.
Once you’ve programmed the sat nav it gives clear, easy-to-follow directions. The infotainment system has been specifically tailored to suit the i3 and comes with handy menus to help you hunt down the nearest fast-charging point instead of just displaying local petrol stations as other more lazier brands have done by just throwing in standard infotainment systems. On the other hand if you really dislike the BMW standard menus and configuration you can pay an extra £235 for Apple CarPlay which is a system that allows you to mirror your iPhone onto the screen and allows for media streaming apps to operate from the iPhone to the screen but I personally think apple CarPlay in general is as unreliable as the weather in London...but that's my opinion and once again this option is not available for Android phones.
As standard the car has great sounding speakers but if you a serious music fan like us you’ll want to upgrade to a louder and crisper Harman Kardon unit. It’ll set you back £640 on its own or comes as part of the £1,500 i3 Plus Package. The latter brings with it a web browser feature for the infotainment system, tinted windows and different 19-inch alloy wheels that are definitely for the people that are looking for something different and a head turner.
Performance and Economy
The Standard BMW i3 and i3s comes with a compact battery pack and a small electric motor driving the rear wheels. This ideally gives you a range of 160 miles between charges, but in reality due to real road conditions we found we managed to do 125 miles by calm driving before you’ll need to start recharge. In general this is a fantastic vehicle for road trips if you set your mind to having to recharge but it makes it ideal for short commuted to and from work in a busy and congested city like London.
Anyhow it is important to consider that if you are a person that intends to use it regularly for longer distance drives a range extender model like the one we had called the i3s is what you'll need. The i3s's system uses a small petrol engine and generator tucked under the boot floor to recharge the BMW’s batteries on the move. It helps boost the i3’s total range to a more usable 206 miles and only produces a slight hum as you drive along. It’s barely noticeable at slow speeds and fades into the background completely on the motorway.
Even once the batteries have run out of juice, the range extender can power the i3s along quite happily and return around 50mpg in normal driving conditions. Unfortunately, the tiny nine-litre fuel tank means you’ll have to stop every 80 miles to fill up but does make the i3s significantly more practical for everyday use in comparison to many electric vehicles currently on the market.
Don’t go thinking the i3’s a sluggish eco car only suited to plodding to the shops – its 184hp electric motor delivers almost instant bursts of acceleration helping it sprint from 0-62mph in a thoroughly respectable 6.9 seconds, enough to shoot your head back into the headrest.
Charging takes approximately 10 hours from a household three-pin socket but you can top up its batteries from nearly flat to around 80 per cent in just half an hour using a public fast-charge point. You can find more information on charging in the graph below.
At the front you will find more then enough room for two adults while at the back you might find it a little tighter but still sufficient space to take everyone from point a to point b. What the mystery everyone wonders about for this car is why they have not included a fifth seat in the middle as considering there is no centre hump another Adult could easily squeeze in let alone a child. This is one mistake I think is what takes all the positive aspects of this car and sends them to the back in terms of choice for a useful small electric car instead of being at the top as it should be. Families require five seats and having this restriction most of the time will get them off the idea of buying an i3or i3s.
The doors in this car are spectacular to say the least. They are a wow factor wherever you go like the Tesla Gulwing doors. The rolls Royce style suicide doors make this car really look like a car of the future especially when they are completely open and you can see the profile of the seats without any unnecessary pillars and structural clutter. This also makes taking children or other heavy objects like my friends overweight dog in and out very easy and I dream of having such a car when I have a family of my own. Now we must look at the negative aspect which are the fact that the rear windows do not open like a Chrysler van of 2005 and the back doors can only be opened when the front ones are too. This is due to the way they are constructed making closing the ones at the rear impossible due to the front overlapping. I mean common BMW my refrigerator no longer has that problem since 2002 ... Also the handle is hidden on the inside meaning it can be difficult to reach sometimes or like the case of my neighbour that she didn't even know there was a handle.
Overall tough it's a wonderful design feature and I love BMW's courage and determination to make this such a special little car.
Interior lighting in the i3 and i3s models are quite limited including the choice of colours. You can choose between two options which both come standard in any one of the two. You can choose classic BMW orange or modern sport white as they like to call it and is also the case in newer facelift models of the 4 series. Considering I would imagine among all difficulties that can be involved in designing a car I would imagine this would be extremely simple for BMW so it's quite unfortunate that there is not a multi colour selection like other BMW models as it would really give the cabin that design kick to perfect the modern feel.