A quick and totally uninformed review of the 2016 BMW i3
I’m not going to pretend I’m a car journalist or pretend that I can get my hands on new loaner cars. The truth is that my dad is looking for a new car and the BMW dealership offered to let him have an i3 for a couple of days.
Let’s start with the most common criticism. It’s an ugly car. I agree. It’s odd how BMW got these futuristic styling clues so right with the i8 and so wrong with the i3. If the i8 is the prom queen, the i3 looks like its sad and ugly younger sibling. You can see the common features but you have no idea how one turned out so well and the other didn’t.
So I’m not a fan of the styling. But all that changes when you’re inside.
It’s roomy, much roomier than you’d expect from such a small car. The cabin doesn’t feel overly luxurious but the materials are high quality. The few plastic bits are made from recycled soda bottles which I think is cool.
And that’s the great thing about this car. Every little detail about it makes for a great story. Eucalyptus wooden dashboards, seats made from ecological wood. BMW has worked hard to make everything that little bit special and different. It’s a great car to take mates in and just show them all the cool new things your car can do.
It’s part of that shift where carmakers want you to see your car as an app, where nifty tech features and handcrafted dashboards are more important than things like handling or performance. And I think that’s great. If I’m doing a lot of city driving I want my Spotify to just connect and my navigation to just work and my collision avoidance to make me not crash. There’s a time and a place for this sort of cleverness and that’s day-to-day city driving. In fact, it feels like no other car maker has cornered this market quite as well. You’ve got small city cars, but they don’t have any of the techie stuff. If you want the clever tech you need to go to an exec saloon car, which is then too big for the city. I think the i3 fills this niche perfectly.
That’s why I like it.