MOTORS REVIEW: BMW i3 offers drivers an electric-powered ‘bubble of serenity’

BMW i3
BMW i3

Driving the BMW i3 is a remarkably stress-free experience.

One of the first things you notice is the lack of noise of the engine.

BMW i3

BMW i3

Pressing the accelerator pedal, and not hearing any roar from under the bonnet, makes it feel as if you are caressing the road rather than attacking it.

That is not to say the i3 lacks any pace, as the surprisingly-powerful acceleration allows you to glide rapidly from a stationary position and move from 30mph to 60mph in a handful of seconds.

Once you get used to the absence of engine sound, every other vehicle on the road zooms past like a Dyson cleaner puncturing your electric-powered bubble of serenity.

One unusual feature of the car is that, when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the speed automatically reduces as the electric motor uses the kinetic energy to recharge the battery.

BMW i3

BMW i3

The result is that the brake pedal becomes less of a necessity, adding to the calm driving experience.

As would be expected in a car with a large electric motor, it is not the lightest, but BMW’s commitment to renewable energy means it has been manufactured using sustainably produced carbon that is as lightweight as possible.

Rather than having a traditional four-door opening design, the back doors are opened via a handle on the middle of the car, creating a “wardrobe2 opening effect to the interior.

One of the most impressive features of the i3 is a function that enables the car to carry out a parallel parking manoeuvre without any driving input at all.

All that is required by the driver is to press a button after driving past a possible parking space and the vehicle then reverses into the gap, carrying out all steering, accelerating and braking.

Another interactive element of the car is its integrated Sim card, which can be connected up to a smartphone by the BMW app, allowing the driver to turn on the air-conditioning or heating, even when they are not in the vehicle.

On the top of the list of concerns of people considering buying an electric car is the range of the battery.

The i3 has a range of up to 125 miles and can be charged to 80 per cent capacity within three hours.

BMW offer a Wallbox which can be installed at your home so the car can be charged overnight.

Drivers can also connect to all the nearest available charging points using the ChargeNow system.

With a price-tag from £32,330, the i3 is at the upper end of affordability for many people but a £4,500 subsidy is available from the Government due to its environmentally-friendly credentials.