This was my first electric car driving experience and at first glance the BMW i3s seemed a little quirky, with its fishbowl rear windows and rearward-opening back doors. You could say it was a design icon, however I was still a little hesitant to hop in.
Once I did though, I was pleasantly surprised by the spacious, attractive, innovative interior. It's all very European and chic, and when you learn that the standard interior trim uses a blend of eco-friendly fabrics and naturally prepared bamboo and that the cabin also has wool-based textiles and recycled plastic on the doors and dashboard, you can’t help but be impressed.
The 10.2-inch iDrive touchscreen with satellite navigation along with a four-speaker system, includes a suite of active safety systems, such as speed-limit info, forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise. The dash layout is clean and simple, with just two large floating screens taking care of infotainment and trip information including a large digital speed read-out.
I set up the Bluetooth, get some music running through the Harman/Kardon speakers and take off realising there’s no engine noise so the vehicle’s movement feels eerie. The BMW i3s packs some punch, with a rapid response under acceleration and lives up to its expectation that electric cars do indeed produce instant torque. The i3s is no exception which produces 270Nm and 135kW and claims a nippy 0–60km/h in 3.4 seconds.
In the default Drive mode, the i3s is quite zippy, shift into sport and throttle response is in a different league, and is where you’ll have the most fun. With its aggressive regenerative braking system you pull up pretty swiftly, which can take some getting used to, because it slows you up faster than you might think.
The agile and compact i3s makes for a great around town car with parking made easy. This isn’t necessarily the car you buy if you want to move a family around and the boot is quite small, meaning you might have to limit your luggage. But for a couple heading away from the weekend it would be perfectly suitable.
I was impressed by the i3s, it feels like a car of the future. It won't be for you though if you're looking to blend into the crowd. It makes a statement, both inside and out. I think there's a lot to like, it's fun to drive, it's a lovely space to sit in, and it costs virtually nothing to run. Is electric the future? The i3s is sustainable and emission free – so without a doubt its a top contender.