Perhaps the biggest complement you can pay the e-Golf is that it feels much like any other Golf. It occupies the same dimensions as other seventh-generation five-door models; aside from a slight reduction in boot space due to the underfloor lithium ion batteries, it’s just as practical; and it can be bought for less than £30,000 after government purchase incentive, so it’s only as expensive as an upper-mid range Golf with a petrol or diesel engine.
The e-Golf is powered by a 134bhp motor that delivers 199lb ft of torque, with 33.2kWh of usable battery capacity offering a claimed NEDC range of up to 186 miles; which is more like 120- in real-world use.
Performance is as strong as you’d expect to find in any typical five-door hatchback, and considerably better at town speeds, while the car’s handling disguises its mass very cleverly and its practicality is strong.
The i3 has a rare quality for an electric car: multi-faceted appeal. You might want one because of the way it looks, or for the spritely, involving way it drives; and either way, you might not actually care much that it’s electric, such is the power of the car’s various lures.
While the i3’s short wheelbase can make it feel a touch nervous on motorways, its keen handling ensures it thrives in the urban environment for which it’s designed.
That’s helped by its innovative carbonfibre-reinforced plastic chassis, which ensures the car is remarkably light. The 168bhp electric motor (rising to 181bhp for the i3S) offers peak torque at zero revs; and so, although the car’s top speed is only 99mph, it has strong performance getting there which wouldn’t shame a warm hatchback.
Using that performance does impact on the car’s true electric range, although the addition of a 42.2kWh battery at the beginning of 2019 has finally taken the i3 through the 150-mile barrier on real-world range.
Until recently BMW offered a range-extender version with a backup petrol engine, but it discontinued the i3 REX in 2018.