BMW i3 electric motor, drive & performance

Good handling and nippy acceleration make the BMW i3 an ideal town car

The BMW i3 feels nimble around town, while the acceleration is crisp and responsive. Low-slung batteries keep the centre of gravity down, but the weight of the i3 is still enough to dull handling on a twisty road. The ride is a little on the stiff side. too.

BMW i3 electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

The standard BMW i3 motor produces 168bhp, with all power available instantly when you prod the accelerator. There’s a single-speed automatic transmission and the car will sprint from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 93mph. The 182bhp electric motor in the ‘hotter’ BMW i3s gets it from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds with a 99mph top speed. Progress is near-silent and the motors go into energy regeneration mode when you lift off the accelerator. This slows the car down without use of the brakes, and BMW reckons in normal driving it reduces use of the brake pedal by as much as 70%. Once you’re used to the regenerative braking effect, it’s a very relaxing way to drive.

Handling

The BMW i3 features skinny low-resistance tyres, which means there’s not a lot of outright grip if you want to drive hard. However, with the motor positioned on the back axle, you do get the typical BMW rear-wheel-drive feel and the i3 is certainly more fun than most electric cars. If that’s important to you, it’s worth upgrading to the i3s, which not only gets broader tyres, but also features 10mm lower suspension and uprated springs and dampers. It works, up to a point, but the i3's overall weight and tall body mean it’s definitely not a hot hatch. The ride is a little on the firm side, too, and it’s clear the short-travel suspension hasn’t been designed primarily to soak up bumps or keep body lean in check on twisty British lanes. It all means the i3 works best on urban roads, in spite of the jiggly ride.