Electric car of the Year 2017: BMW i3
The BMW i3 is the 2017 Auto Express Electric Car of the Year, with the Renault ZOE and Tesla Model S commended
BMW has made some significant improvements to its i3 baby EV over the past 12 months. Range is a critical factor in an electric car, and thanks to a new, larger-capacity 94Ah battery, the i3 can now go further between charges. It promises a real-world range of over 120 miles – or more than 200 in the i3 Range Extender that uses a small petrol engine to charge the battery pack on the move.
That’s a good couple of commutes for the average British motorist, so you could conceivably charge up every other evening – or even more rarely, if you have access to charging points away from home.
Meanwhile, the rest of the i3 remains as appealing as ever. Its cabin feels smart, clever and sophisticated, with some of the best infotainment in the business and use of sustainable materials reinforcing the car’s eco-friendly theme without impacting on quality.
The refinement of the electric motor is superb as well. There isn’t so much as a hint of whine here and it delivers sprightly performance away from the line, making it ideal for nipping around town.
The set-up of the powertrain also ensures the i3 is incredibly easy to drive. The single-speed electric motor delivers smooth acceleration off the line, while the effect of the regenerative braking is so natural that you adjust instinctively to the one-pedal driving technique, using the electric motor to slow the car by lifting off gently, recharging the battery to add even more valuable range.
BMW has taken a more aggressive approach to the car’s pricing, too, so you can actually get an i3 for less than £290 a month, depending on your annual mileage limit. Factor in the savings you’ll make on fuel and how desirable the package is, and you’re left with a really compelling proposition that proves electric motoring is a genuinely viable alternative to a conventional petrol or diesel-powered supermini or city car.
BMW i3 REx (£31,720)
The range-extending i3’s extra fuel filler flap will be a sign of defeat for some drivers. For the rest of us, it’s peace of mind that the car can still be used for occasional longer journeys, with the small petrol engine recharging the batteries on the move to get you home. There’s such a modest premium, we think it’s still worthwhile, even with the larger battery.
Another EV that’s had a range boost over the past year; the ZOE now claims up to 250 miles on a single charge. The car’s strength is still how normal it feels, with supermini dimensions, easy-to-use controls and compact dimensions that make it easy to park. It’s well specced for the money, plus affordable monthly rates add to the appeal.
Tesla Model S
The Model S is still attracting new customers to electric motoring, and a constant stream of over-the-air updates means this is a car that continues to improve, even for those motorists who’ve already bought one. Colossal range, jaw-dropping performance and Tesla’s Supercharger infrastructure make it a stunning luxury EV choice.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2017
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK right now? The 2017 Auto Express New Car Awards reveal all...
- 2Car of the Year 2017The Auto Express Car of the Year for 2017 is the Land Rover Discovery
- 3City Car of the Year 2017The Volkswagen up! is the 2017 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the Year 2017The SEAT Ibiza is the 2017 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Citroen C3 and Skoda Fabia commended
- 5Compact Family Car of the Year 2017The Volkswagen Golf is the 2017 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra commended
- 6Family Car of the Year 2017The Skoda Superb is the 2017 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Toyota Prius and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport commended
- 7Estate Car of the Year 2017The Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2017 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Skoda Superb Estate commended
- 8MPV of the Year 2017The Citroen Grand Grand C4 Picasso is the 2017 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the Renault Grand Scenic and SEAT Alhambra commended
- 9Small SUV of the Year 2017The Citroen C4 Cactus is the 2017 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the Dacia Duster and Peugeot 2008 commended
- 10Mid-size SUV of the Year 2017The Peugeot 3008 is the 2017 Auto Express Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca commended