It’s official - the BMW i3 will soon be dead. BMW has confirmed that the last i3 will roll off the line in Leipzig this July, bringing to an end a nine-year production run of around 250,000 units. Yes, this really is a nine-year-old car, but it doesn’t look it, wouldn’t you say?
Sadly, its indirect replacement isn’t going to be anything like as interesting. The iX1 will be an electric version of the X1 crossover, a prospect so dull I nearly fell asleep halfway through writing that sentence. The i3 on the other hand stands out, and when you jump in, boy are you in for a treat.
With a flat floor, a two-spoke steering wheel and an unusual-shaped dash, it was very different from anything else BMW had made before. And yet, still had all the usual physical buttons and the classic iDrive controller seen in any other product from the company. Where it mattered, the i3 felt familiar. Compare that to the iX we had in a few weeks ago, which has an annoying over-reliance on its central touchscreen.
On the subject of that car, the i3 is less than half the weight. BMW only fitted the i3 with a small 18.2kWh (useable) battery pack giving a range of 80 miles. Modest, but more than enough for the typical daily mileage of many drivers. This along with a carbon fibre passenger makes for a car that weighs just 1,195 kg, so even though it has just single 170bhp rear-mounted motor, it’s quick. 0-62mph happens in around seven seconds, and famously, 0-30mph is a smidge faster than an E92 M3.
Anyone wanting to go a little further could opt for the range extender or ‘ReX’, which added a 650cc parallel-twin bike engine acting as a generator. Fed by a nine-litre fuel tank, it bumped the range to 150 miles. This went up to 180 when the i3 received a 27.2kWh battery in 2017, then 200 after the car got its final upgrade to 37.9kWh.
For a relatively compact car, the i3 was expensive throughout its life. Currently, the cheapest one is around £34,000 in the UK. Since it’s been around for the best part of a decade, though, earlier examples are a lot less, with prices starting at about £12,000.
This 2015 18.2kWh ReX is currently up for sale on Buy a Car for £15,949. It’s covered 56,922 miles, and only has one former keeper on the logbook. If you’d rather have a bigger battery than the range extender, this 2017 27.2kWh example isn’t much more.
Battery degradation can be a concern with used EVs, but the consensus is the i3 fares well in this regard. BMW even guarantees 70 per cent capacity after eight years.