The BMW i3 is... wait for it... the ugliest car to have ever graced the roads. No, scrap that - it's the BEST looking car to have ever graced the roads. Do you see where we're going with this? BMW's design team have taken what's great about the BMW i8 concept and turned it in to a city car reality. The result is a car you're either going love or hate. In our opinion, it looks fantastic, sitting on 19-inch rims like a bad boy cruiser with a silver and black paint job like something out of Tron. The whole front of the car is unmistakably BMW and whereas the VW e-Up! sits high like a pram, the i3 sits squat and fat.
The BMW i3 is faster to 60 mph than many 2.0-litre TDI cars. Its electric motor develops 170 bhp and 184 lb /ft of torque, helping the car surge from 0 - 62 mph in just 7.2 seconds (the same as a 120d). The Volkswagen e-Up! develops 82 bhp and 155 lb /ft of torque, making the car good for a 0 - 62 mph time of 12.4 seconds. Yep, the VW is more than 4 seconds slower to 62 mph. Both cars benefit from instant torque once you mash the throttle but in every situation the BMW pounds the e-Up!
BMW has developed the i3 to keep it as light as possible; it has an all-new aluminium suspension, hollow driveshaft's, and they have even gone as far as to give the windscreen wiper a honeycomb structure just to save weight. The result? The BMW i3 feels exceptionally nimble with a very fast turn in; it also has a 9.86-metre turning circle. Although the car has 19-inch alloy wheels - yes, 19-inches! - it doesn't ride particularly firm, although, it is deceptively sporty. This helps the car feel faster than its 7.2 second 0 - 62 time suggests.
Inside, the BMW i3 looks like no other BMW ever produced. It's as special as the exterior, with twin digital displays for both driver and passenger, a chunky steering wheel, aluminium inserts across the fascia and overall, it feels incredibly premium. In fact, it puts all other super minis to shame.
Neither the BMW i3 or Volkswagen e-Up! set the world on fire with their claimed ranges. However, due to the added capacity, the BMW edges this one - it has a theoretical range of 80 - 100 miles from a single charge whilst the e-Up! will last just 65 to 70 miles, according to VW themselves. The BMW i3 is also available with a range extender - this features a two-cylinder motorbike engine that develops power for the electric motor, creating a range of between 160 and 186 miles. This set up is expected to be very popular.