The BMW i3S is weird. It looks weird. The interior is weird. It’s weird to drive.
But in a world where cars are morphing into indistinguishable blobs powered by variations of the same four-cylinder engine layout, the i3 range's overwhelming weirdness is a charming reminder of what happens when talented automotive engineers are given a bit of freedom.
And rather than transplanting its existing interior fundamentals into the car, it took inspiration from trendy lofts and delivered a light, airy cabin full of clever materials.
The seats are dyed using olive leaf extract, the door trims made of recycled composite, and the wood trim delightfully natural. It’s just a nice place to spend time.
It drives unlike any other BMW, too. You sit high with excellent vision, and the instant torque from the e-motor means you can just whizz through traffic. It’s no Tesla but with a 0-60km/h time of just 3.4 seconds, it excels in the stoplight drags, too.
Internal combustion is still fun, sure, but electric power is just better for the cut-and-thrust of urban life.
That’s not to say the i3S is perfect. Far from it, actually. With a $69,990 starting price as a pure-electric it’s way too expensive and there isn’t nearly enough space inside. Sure, four people will fit, but the boot is absolutely tiny.
You’ll just fit a week’s shopping, but anything more is a struggle. Oh, and the suicide doors look cool, but make it tricky to let people out of the back seats without the driver/passenger also getting out.
You know what? I kinda don’t care. There’s a purity, a clarity of purpose about the i3S lacking in much of the motoring world. I came away from my time with it completely charmed.
It’s the perfect city runabout, and a tantalising glimpse of what’s to come when electric vehicles are more widely adopted – a loveable little weirdo that doesn’t care what the world thinks.