In-depth reviews

BMW i3 (2013-2022) review - Range, charging and running costs

The i3 is reasonably expensive to buy, but day-to-day costs should be minimal

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs Rating

4.0 out of 5

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The BMW i3’s range started out at 81 miles; weak considering back in 2013 you could get an updated version of the first generation Nissan Leaf with 124 miles of range.  

With its dinky 22.6kWh battery pack, a maximum charge from an optional CCS charge port saw the first i3 being able to replenish plenty of its battery pretty quickly, going from 7 miles to 56 miles of range in 20 minutes. 

The range-extender model was launched alongside the fully-electric i3, adding a two-cylinder motorcycle engine that acted as a generator to help maintain battery charge. A maximum range of 150 miles was available from this powertrain. 

At the end of its life, the BMW i3 came with a 42.2kWh battery - over double the size of the original’s. This allowed for a maximum 190-mile range. 

There’s a choice of Comfort, EcoPro and EcoPro+ drive modes, and the latter two are designed to save energy, with EcoPro+ going as far as switching off the climate control and limiting speed to 56mph to maximise range.

The last of the line i3 could accept a 50kW charge rate which means a 10-80 per cent recharge could be had in 36 minutes. Plug in to a wallbox at home and you’ll have to wait 6 hours and 15 minutes for the i3 to go from 0-100 per cent. 

Insurance

The standard model with the range-extender powertrain will be the cheapest i3 to insure, sitting in group 21. The larger battery towards the latter stages of its life means an insurance group of 27 - a couple of groups higher than an equivalent Nissan Leaf. Unsurprisingly, the most sporty i3s version sits in the highest insurance band for the i3 range at 29. The higher insurance band can be attributed to the cost of repairs to that carbon body structure, which could be significant in the event of an accident.

Depreciation

Our expert data predicts the i3 should hold onto around 55 per cent of its original value after a typical ownership period of three-years and 36,000-miles.

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