BMW i3 hatchback - Interior & comfort
BMW i3 is spacious, but the suspension is a little firm, so you feel bumps in the road
While some small electric cars look disappointingly conventional inside, the BMW i3 has an interior that reflects the futuristic technology under the surface. Overall comfort is generally good, although city streets – where many BMW i3s will spend most of their time – expose the car's firm suspension, so it’s a little more jiggly than you might like. You might also notice the somewhat upright body shape makes the i3 a little susceptible to crosswinds when passing over bridges or along exposed roads in rural areas.
Get on the motorway and this is soon forgotten and the ride settles down. Although the i3 makes hardly any mechanical noise when cruising this means that other sounds become more dominant. Noise from the tyres increases with speed as does the noise of the rushing wind, with no engine noise to drown them out – although the standard audio system does a good job of replacing unwanted noise with something more to your taste.
BMW i3 dashboard
The i3’s dashboard features hi-tech screens in place of conventional dials and a large digital display in the centre of the dashboard. BMW also offers the car with exotic (and renewable) materials such as eucalyptus wood, which lift the overall ambiance and suit the i3’s planet-friendly nature. Getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy, because the car has plenty of adjustment in the driver's seat and steering wheel.
To go with its up-to-the-minute looks, the BMW i3 comes suitably well equipped with technology that makes life very easy for the driver. The proven and recently updated iDrive system is easy and intuitive to use via the rotary controller in the centre console, and the screen displays information in a crisp, easy-to-follow manner. Some might find the various menus daunting to navigate at first, but every function very quickly becomes familiar.
All standard i3s come with 19-inch alloy wheels (the i3s receives 20-inch alloys), Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, a DAB radio and sat nav. Changes to the i3’s specification at the end of 2018 saw new colours being added to the model range, which suit its slightly otherworldly, futuristic character.
The sat-nav is particularly easy to use and the instructions given are very clear and easy to follow. A neat feature is that it'll highlight an area within the car’s range given the battery life available.
There are four interior choices, or ‘worlds’ according to BMW. The standard-fit Atelier version features cloth upholstery in black and blue, and it has a lightweight recycled dashboard. Above that are Lodge, Loft and Suite, which add materials like wool, eucalyptus wood, synthetic and sustainable leather, and real leather.
BMW's ConnectedDrive online system also comes as standard. This allows you to find details of your destination via an internet connection, or a central call centre or concierge will find them for you. A smartphone app also means you can check on the car remotely.
Although it’s pretty well equipped, the i3 wouldn’t really be a BMW without a tempting, yet expensive options list. Upgrading the interior into Loft, Lodge or Suite trims costs roughly £1,000 to £2,000, for instance, while an upmarket Harman Kardon stereo will set you back around £640 and adaptive LED headlights are £700. BMW offers Apple CarPlay on the i3 as a £235 option. Android Auto isn’t currently factory-fitted by BMW but that is set to change in 2020.
One extra that makes sense to select is BMW’s ‘i Wallbox Pure’ home charging station, as this allows battery charging in around five hours – assuming you’ve somewhere to install it. Once the Government Office for Low Vehicle Emissions (OLEV) grant has been taken into account, this should cost just a few hundred pounds.