Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Miles per pound (mpp) Miles per pound (mpp)

Electric motors, home charging 25.3 - 26.7 mpp
Electric motors, public charging 12.7 - 13.3 mpp
Low figures relate to the least economical version; high to the most economical. Based on WLTP combined fuel economy for versions of this car made since September 2017 only, and typical current fuel or electricity costs.

Fuel economy

Electric motors 3.8 - 4.0 miles/kWh
  • BMW i3 could slash your bills
  • Pure electric model cheapest
  • REX model costs a little more

There’s no doubt the pure electric version is the cheapest BMW i3 for running costs; choose the Range Extender and while you can top up the batteries by plugging it in, the engine will readily burn through its tiny nine-litre petrol tank in no time. Choosing an i3 REX does provide the ability to drive long distances, however, so long as you’re happy to refuel every 100 miles or so.

Stick with the electric car and, based on an annual 8,000 miles, charging it overnight on an economy tariff will cost around £9 per month, according to the manufacturer. A BMW diesel achieving 50mpg will drink nearly £90 in fuel over the same period and distance, showing the potential savings on offer.

BMW says most i3S are bought on finance; there are widespread low-interest deals, with monthly payments typically starting at less than £300. Strong residual values make the i3 surprisingly affordable for what is an expensive small car to buy outright.

The firm even offers a flexi-mile insurance scheme to reduce costs (insurance groupings range from group 21-29, depending on exact spec) based on usage, and Service Inclusive packages priced from £239 will cover all parts and labour for up to three years or 36,000 miles, transferrable to the next owner should you sell.

If you buy the pure electric version then BMW i3 emissions are exactly nil, as they are for all EVs. But traditionally the making of carbonfibre, which the i3 uses extensively, needs huge amounts of energy and creates a serious amount of pollution.

However, BMW uses hydro power at its Moses Lake plant in the USA to create the composite weave, and the Leipzig facility where all of the components are assembled to create the final car makes use of wind turbines for energy. So while it may not be entirely carbon-neutral, the i3 is certainly a giant step in the right direction.

Choose the i3 Range Extender and there are of course some CO2 emissions to deal with; the tiny 650cc two-cylinder engine emits just 13g/km while keeping the batteries topped up with energy. Our verdict? Cars don’t come much greener - or cleaner - than this…

  • Should be a reliable bet
  • Fewer moving parts than most cars
  • EVs are easier to maintain

BMW i3 reliability is proving strong and we are not aware of any big issues with this innovative small BMW. It’s been on sale since 2013 so any early gremlins should have been ironed out by now.

As a clean-sheet project, the company’s engineers put a lot of work into the i3 and no expense was spared in its durability tests. Only one recall has affected the model in the UK; a small number of 2015 model year versions had a steering fault, but this was dealt with swiftly and most should have had remedial work done. Check if you’re looking at a used car.

We’ve driven a number of BMW i3 hatchbacks now and the only big concern is the potential deterioration of the battery performance over time, inevitable due to chemical processes in any electric car. However, the signs are that this EV should prove reliable even as a secondhand purchase and the batteries are warranted separately – so if you buy from a main dealer you should be just fine.

Ongoing running costs

Road tax (12 months) £0
See tax rates for all versions
Insurance group 21 - 29
How much is it to insure?
Find out more about all electric cars here