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Our unique Expert Ratings combine scores from 25 of the top UK motoring websites

BMW i3

(2013 – present)

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The BMW i3 is a small urban electric car, and was BMW’s first fully-electric vehicle when it was launched back in 2013. It received a substantial mid-life update in 2017.

The i3 was one of the pioneers of the electric car movement, and there is still nothing really directly comparable to it on the market. It boasts clever construction methods and lightweight body panels, developed to offset the significant weight of its batteries. Even eight years after it was launched, it is still a more innovative and futuristic vehicle than most other cars on the market – at any price.

However, the last eight years has seen EV technology evolving rapidly, and newer rivals are able to combine more space and better battery range in more conventionally designed vehicles at lower prices. As an indication of how rapid this evolution has been, What Car? magazine awarded the BMW with ‘Best Electric Car’ in its price range in 2017, while in 2021 it now carries a lowly two-star rating – the equal-lowest score that the magazine has given to any of the 230+ cars we have analysed to date in our Expert Rating index.

As it approaches the end of its production life, BMW is not expected to replace the i3 with a direct successor and is likely to shift towards electric versions of its regular model range.

Key specifications

Body style: Small five-door hatch
Motor: electric, battery-powered
Price: From £36,575 on-road*
* price includes £3,000 government plug-in car grant

Launched: Autumn 2013
Last updated: Autumn 2018
Replacement due: N/A

Image gallery

MEDIA REVIEWS

Reviews, road tests and comparisons from across the UK automotive media

Auto Express

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Auto Trader

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Autocar

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Business Car

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Car

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Car Keys

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Carbuyer

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Carwow

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Company Car Today

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Daily Mail

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Eurekar

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Evo

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Green Car Guide

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Honest John

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Motors.co.uk

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Parkers

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The Sun

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The Sunday Times

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The Telegraph

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Top Gear

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What Car?

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Which?

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SAFETY RATING

Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall rating: 4 stars
Date tested: November 2013

86%

ADULT OCCUPANT

81%

CHILD OCCUPANT

57%

VULNERABLE ROAD USERS

55%

SAFETY ASSIST

ECO RATING

Independent emissions and efficiency ratings from Green NCAP

Model tested: i3 4×2
Date tested: February 2019

10 / 10

CLEAN AIR INDEX

8.5 / 10

ENERGY EFFICIENCY INDEX

Security rating

Independent vehicle theft and security ratings from Thatcham Research

The BMW i3 hasn’t been tested for anti-theft protection by Thatcham Research. This is a new initiative that was launched in 2019 to assess, in particular, the security of new cars with keyless entry and keyless start systems. Based on the i3’s age, we’re not expecting it to be tested by Thatcham in the near future.

Awards

Trophies, prizes and awards that the BMW i3 has received

2017

  • World Car Awards – World Urban Car
  • What Car? Awards – Best Electric Car, £20K – £40K
  • Auto Express Awards – Best Electric Car

2014

  • UK Car of the Year
  • World Car Awards – Best Green Car + Best Car Design

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Similar cars

If you’re looking at the BMW i3, you might also be interested in these alternatives

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense | Fiat 500 Electric | Honda e | Kia Soul EV | Mini Electric | Peugeot e-208 | Renault Zoe | SEAT Mii Electric | Skoda Citigo e iV | Smart EQ Fortwo | Vauxhall Corsa-e | Volkswagen e-Up

The rapidly expanding electric car market is changing almost monthly, but is still relatively small compared to the number of petrol and diesel models available. That means that there are fewer direct competitors but a variety of different cars for a given price point. Of the cars listed above, few are genuinely similar to the BMW i3 in terms of size and specification, but all are trying to fill a similar role for urban driving.

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