SINGAPORE (July 30): Being more environmentally friendly does not mean you have to make compromises in your lifestyle. I discovered this when I took the BMW i3 for a three-day test drive in Singapore. The car is highly energy-efficient and can run purely on an electric battery. It is also an everyday car that is perfectly suited to an urban environment – and ferrying a family around.

With two young sons, it is important for me to set a good example for them and do all I can to save the planet for the next generation. And when it comes to sustainability, it would be hard to find a better car than the BMW i3. From the recyclable materials it uses within its body to the way it is manufactured, using only renewable energy sources, the BMW i3 lives and breathes sustainability.

Indeed, the car has broken the mould for what electric mobility should look and feel like. There was a time when people were concerned about the range of electric cars – how far they could travel before the battery needed to be recharged. On a single charge, the BMW i3 can travel up to 200km. That is four times the width of Singapore, if you go from the furthest point east to the furthest point west.

While I never drove the entire width of the island, I clocked up a lot of kilometres, heading into the CBD and back, taking my sons to their football class and for the weekly shopping trip, among countless other journeys. A quick look at the dashboard showed how many more kilometres I could drive before the battery needed to be recharged.

While I never needed a recharge, I knew I was not far away from a charging point. The network of charging stations is growing all the time, and it only takes a few hours to fully recharge the battery. All my trips over the three days produced zero emissions and cost nothing in fuel. It felt good knowing I was not causing any pollution to this green city, while keeping my costs very low.

There is a perception that electric cars do not go very fast. My sons and I were, however, pleasantly surprised at the speed and pickup of the BMW i3. It is definitely no slouch when it comes to acceleration, and felt punchy and nippy at all times. We also loved the striking two-tone colour of the car and its all-round good looks. It is one of the most modern-looking cars on Singapore’s roads.

Both the BMW i3 and its sporty sibling, the plug-in hybrid BMW i8, have received a large number of awards for innovation in the areas of light-weight construction, drive, sustainability, performance and design. Just glance at either vehicle and you will see why. So much effort has gone into the design of the BMW i3, from the eye-grabbing exterior to the calming, natural materials of the interior. Sit yourself in the driver’s seat and you will see a beautiful fl ow of the windows, which gives an unrivalled panoramic view.

When the BMW Group took on a pioneering role and founded the BMW i brand, it wanted to raise the profile of electro-mobility across the globe. Within just two years from its launch in November 2013, the BMW i3 had already established itself at the top of its segment. It is now the most successful electric vehicle in its segment worldwide.

BMW has high hopes for the i3, which is gradually changing people’s perceptions of electric vehicles. To do this, it needed to build a car that was sustainable and stylish at the same time. It managed to pull this off with the BMW i3.

At the end of my three days driving the BMW i3, I did not want to hand it back. The car had really grown on me. From its intelligent regenerative braking system and unique carriage doors, to its beautiful looks and silent but sporty performance, it is a car I could use e very day. The BMW i3 certainly makes sustainable living in our urban landscape easy.


Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast.