Inside the BMW i3: Want to heat the car before leaving the house? There’s an app for that

The intelligent smart-car that’s good for the environment

Inside the BMW i3: Want to heat the car before leaving the house? There’s an app for that

Test driving the BMW i3

The BMW i range of cars seeks to strike the balance between being good for the environment and making your life that bit easier. The BMW i3 is a bold looking, all electric car that doesn’t fit the stereotype of eco-vehicles.  For those interested, it can go 0-100kmh in 7.2 seconds. It boasts a whole host of tech and design features internally, so I went along to a BMW Agent in Sandyford to take a closer look.  

There’s no two ways about it; the i3 is an eye-catching car. While the outer design is slightly different to previous models, it’s obviously a BMW vehicle. 

Opening the passenger door puts an end to any sense of small. The windscreen arches right above the heads of the driver and passenger, giving a cockpit-like sensation. The gear stick is on the steering wheel, freeing up floor space and then there’s the dashboard. The dashboard has more gadgets than you can shake a stick at, but doesn’t feel cluttered.


At the centre of the dashboard is a navigation panel, jammed with features. It homes the elements we’ve come to expect such as sat nav and radio, but the BMW i3 has a concierge service and, basically, a computer to help the driver and passengers. This computer is controlled by a dial, called the iDrive controller, which is placed between the two front seats. Users can move the dial to input a location or message, or alternatively can draw out letters on the circular pad. The letter recognition is impressive. 

This panel also displays useful information to the driver about how much charge they have left in the battery and illustrates how the energy is being used. It’s remarkable to watch the graphics on screen highlight what aspect of the car is using energy in real time.


Battery power

The BMW i3 is a fully electric vehicle. It produces zero emissions and the tiniest hum of noise. It’s powered by a 22 kWh, 450 pound lithium-ion battery. The range on the BMW i3 BEV is 160kms and BMW i3 REX is 300kms depending on your driving style but there is a range extender option, meaning drivers can top the car up with some fuel to go the extra distance.

Think about that for a second; the battery that powers your phone can run a car which packs a serious punch when it comes to speed. There’s hope for a smartphone that’ll last an entire day yet! 


Behind the steering wheel is a 6-inch screen, within the eyeline of the driver. Firstly, and most importantly, this screen tells the driver when the car is ready. The engine is so quiet, users may wonder if the vehicle is powered on. The computer on board ensures there’s no fear of leaving the car on upon exiting the vehicle. A notification pops up once the doors open and cuts the engine. It’s clever so you don’t have to be. This screen also shows speed and battery consumption every inch of the journey. 

Some of the other features include an adjustable steering wheel and camera sensors that make parallel parking easier. There’s an accompanying app which enables users to heat up the car, before setting foot outside their home. The app also helps the owner monitor the progress of a charge remotely. This minor feature ensures the driver’s time is used efficiently; there’s no guesswork involved here - the app clearly states when the car is good to go. 

I have viewed other green cars, but this was different; the BMW i3 was purpose built. It wasn’t made as a diesel car and altered to become friendly to the environment. The BMW i3 was built from the ground up.

It’s worth noting that there is a huge amount of room in the back of the car. I did the sit-in test and can verify that it’s comfy, not cosy. There’s two isofix points in the car for car seats and a cup holder for one’s babyccino. 

There’s no shortage of boot space either. Using my shopper’s eye, I estimate a full week’s shop could easily fit into the boot. 

The BMW i3 is, at present, the dream city car. It’s cheaper to run, fun to drive and packed with gadgets to make life that bit easier.


This article was produced in association with BMW Ireland. Learn more about the BMW i3 or book a test drive here