Best BMW i3 electric car finance deals

Want to go electric but don't want to sacrifice style or performance? The i3 fits the bill and is now far cheaper than you might think used

Chris Rosamond
Mar 30, 2020

The BMW i3 has been around since 2013, but it hasn’t changed much over the years. That’s great news for fans of BMW’s first all-electric car who might be looking to save money on an early version. While the tech may not be quite as up to date, you still get a car that looks striking plus all the street-cred of driving an electric car that’s to all intents and purposes still current.

Conceived in the days when electric cars were distinctly ‘alternative’, the BMW i3 took a radical approach to both its design and construction. It's a five-door hatchback similar in size to the VW Polo or Ford Fiesta, albeit offering a far more upmarket feel, and does away with traditional pressed steel construction instead making use of a lightweight carbon-fibre body and aluminium chassis. This lightweight setup not only boosts the i3's range, but also makes it faster than you might expect.

We mentioned the i3 was alternative, and it exhibits a number of unusual features. The small rear doors are rear-hinged for easy access to the back seats - and can only be opened once the front doors have been swung out. Meanwhile, the body itself is tall and boxy, although due to its compact size it’s still a little cramped for adults in the back. The boot is constrained too, by the need to house batteries and a motor at the back, so you actually get more luggage room in a Ford Fiesta.

Improvements in battery and motor tech over the years mean later i3 models feel quite a bit faster than earlier ones. Even the early models zoom silently to 62mph in around eight seconds, with later models cutting that to nearer seven seconds. Meanwhile, the more powerful i3S has reduced that to less 6.9 seconds.

The i3 rides comfortably and handles corners well, though it's not the most satisfying car for enthusiastic drivers on their favourite B roads. If you spend more time darting around town and enjoy zooming away from traffic lights in silence, however, the i3 is still undeniably agile and fun to drive, proving comfortable, quiet and stress-free. It may not be far off a decade old now, but it's still a radical-looking thing, as newer electric cars play it safe to appeal to a larger number of drivers. Indeed, BMW is unlikely to replace the i3 when it comes to the end of its life – its focus will be on electrifying its mainstream models, instead of building exotic stand-alone electric cars like the i3.

All the more reason, therefore, to enjoy the i3 while it’s still state-of-the-art. Although all versions of the i3 look similar, there have been various options and upgrades available over the years. While there are no trim levels as such, BMW does offer the i3 in a variety of colour and trim setups called ‘worlds’. The current interior worlds are Loft, which is upholstered in a mixture of greys and brown, Lodge which adds a mix of leather and woollen cloth, and the most expensive Suite, which has luxurious full leather.

The BMW i3's standard specification includes a funky digital dashboard display instead of traditional dials, and lots of creature comforts including sat-nav, parking sensors, heated seats and climate control. Keep reading to decide which type of i3 is best for you.

Best BMW i3 PCP offers

BMW i3 offers

Back to basics, and the first thing you need to know is that early BMW i3 models came with less energy-dense batteries than the car gets today. The original 60Ah/22kW battery is quoted as having a range of 80 to 100 miles, driving through a 170hp electric motor. With a 32 Amp home wallbox or public charger you can be 80% charged in less than three hours. (The final 20% takes longer as it’s harder to stuff electrons back into a nearly full battery.)

If you’re use an ordinary plug, however, charge time is a lengthy eight hours. On the other hand, use a public rapid charger and you can be up to 80% in less than 30 minutes. A battery upgrade on 2017 cars saw the introduction of a 94Ah unit with 120-mile range, while more recently in 2019 a 120Ah battery was introduced with a 190-mile range.

BMW i3
Nearly new BMW i3

Buyacar prices from £30,687
Monthly finance from £485

BMW i3
Used BMW i3

Buyacar prices from £12,890
Monthly finance from £238

BMW i3 Range Extender offers

For drivers who needed greater range, from 2013 to 2017 the BMW i3 was offered with a petrol engine alongside the electric motor – but it only kicks in to help charge a low battery and doesn't drive the car itself. Though the i3 has a tiny petrol tank, this does mean that you can keep topping up the tank to stay mobile should you be unable to find a plug.

The small 650cc two-cylinder engine originates from BMW’s motorbike line-up, and it sits underneath the boot floor. Thus equipped, the BMW i3 REx (for Range Extender) with 60Ah battery is good for a theoretical 120-mile range, while the later 94Ah version offers a claimed 190-miles – although most real world tests suggest that’s optimistic.

Nearly new BMW i3 REX

Buyacar prices Limited stock

BMW i3 REX
Used BMW i3 REX

Buyacar prices from £14,995
Monthly finance from £266

BMW i3s offers

If you’re looking at newer i3s, keep in mind that from 2018 BMW tweaked the i3’s suspension to improve ride comfort and handling. That’s also when the i3s model was introduced, which has lowered sports suspension, grippier, wider wheels and tyres, and a marginally more powerful motor and Sport drive mode which improves acceleration but knocks the range back a little.

For 2019 models onwards the standard i3 will do 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, while the i3s passes the same milestone in just 6.9 seconds – not bad for an eco-warrior city car. This might sound like a small advantage over the standard car, but the i3s looks and feels a bit sportier, while the instant acceleration makes it feel faster than you might expect.

BMW i3
Nearly new BMW i3s

Buyacar prices from £36,490
Monthly finance from £580

BMW i3
Used BMW i3s

Buyacar prices from £22,574
Monthly finance from £344

 

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