BMW i3 review - Interior, design and technology
Concept car looks and design-led interior set the scene for a technology masterclass
The i3 has been designed from the ground up as an EV – and it really shows. Taking its cues from the BMW Coupe Concept that debuted in 2012, the battery-powered car looks like it’s driven straight off a designer’s computer screen.
Tall and narrow proportions give the i3 the look of an MPV rather than a family hatch, but you could argue it stands in a class of its own. Lightweight plastics are used for the heavily sculpted body panels, while the bonnet and glass tailgate get a distinctive gloss black finish. Other highlights include the angular window line, swept-back headlamps and metallic blue trim for the faired-in grille and lower sills.
The futuristic feel continues inside. Access is easy thanks to the rear-hinged doors and lack of a B-pillar – although you have to step over the wide sill. Once in, you’ll be able to enjoy the cleverly packaged and imaginatively designed layout that’s easy to use and beautifully finished.
Climb into the high-set driver’s seat and the first thing you’ll spot is a pair of large infotainment screens – one ahead of the driver and one that appears to ‘float’ above the centre of the dashboard. These units display everything from speed to sat-nav info, and are controlled via a dial on the centre console. A choice of tactile wooden, metallic, cloth and leather trims are available, bundled into what BMW calls ‘interior worlds’, while the low-set dashboard and vast windscreen create a bright and airy feel.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
You’d expect a cutting-edge machine like the BMW i3 to pack quite a punch in the infotainment stakes, but actually, the car offers much the same degree of connectivity and control as other cars in the BMW line-up.
That’s hardly a disappointment, though. There’s a sophisticated sat-nav as standard, a 10-inch screen with iDrive touch controller, DAB radio, hands-free Bluetooth plus access to a variety of social media, music and email apps. You can also upgrade with a Harman Kardon sound system. Apple CarPlay preparation is included these days as well, although you need to register for a free BMW ConnectedDrive account in order to access it.
- 1VerdictThe BMW i3 is innovative, stylish and good to drive - delivering a premium small electric car with plenty of road presence
- 2Engines, performance and driveSprightly electric performance and good handling make the i3 fun; a compromised ride can’t spoil it
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDay-to-day running is cheap as chips, but you pay for the privilege at both ends through a high list price and average residuals
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingConcept car looks and design-led interior set the scene for a technology masterclass
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe i3 is roomy and comfortable for four, thanks to great design and clever packaging
- 6Reliability and SafetyThere’s an 8-year warranty on the battery, but pedestrian safety costs the BMW i3 vital Euro NCAP stars