This wasn’t easy. Both my wife and I drove the 3 cars, more or less, back to back. We put together our own pros and con list and came to our own order of cars, we did decide to keep pricing out of the equation at this stage and judge the cars solely on their features and driving capabilities. Once we had each order of cars, we gave a score to each position to get an overall order between us.

Its been pointed out that I didn’t test some of the other cars available in the UK, like VW e-Golf, Kai Soul EV, Mercedes B250e and the Hyundai Ioniq. Well we did initially consider these but decided to limit ourselves to 3 cars, firstly to make it an easier comparison and secondly there were reasons for each of the other cars for us to exclude them, maybe unfair reasons, but reasons non the less. The e-Golf was excluded as I have a Golf GTE now and while I really like it, we wanted something a bit different than the Golf. The Mercedes B Class was very interesting, but hobbled, we believed, by the slow charging and lack of Rapid option. The Kia Soul EV was excluded purely on Aesthetic grounds, probably very unfair but my Wife would not drive it and finally the Ioniq was not on release at the time we wanted to make a choice. But the NIEVO team fully intend to test drive each car at a later time and report back.

Firstly, with regard to the cars we did test, I’ll point out, there are no bad cars here, they all drove really well and to be honest I think we would be happy with any of them. They all had their strengths and they all equally had their weaknesses, as good as they all are, there was no perfect car. Maybe a Tesla but that’s not on the table and at that price it’s not perfect either – Model 3 where are you ?!

I’ll also point out my wife is not a ‘car person’ and came into the test drives with very little baggage as regards badges, or expectations of any of the cars (she currently drives a 2 year old Peugeot 208 1.0l). I on the other hand am a car guy, a petrolhead until recently. But over the last 2 years I’ve looked towards Electric vehicles as the future and plotted my path to get to a full EV. I went from, I admit it, a Diesel, yeah a Diesel Volvo V40 R Design two years ago to a Plug in Hybrid, the Golf GTE, as my first tentative step towards electric cars. I was so happy with the Golf GTE and with both car leases ending in early 2017, this provided an opportunity to change to a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) for at least one of us.

However as a recovering petrolhead my mind was already leaning towards some cars and away from others, I’ll admit it, with the Nissan Leaf, my expectations were low, I’d never like the look of it and because it’s been out so long I thought it would feel old and slow. My initial impressions of the Zoe were different, I quite liked the exterior and the interior looked fine in the photographs and reviews. The one I thought I liked the most before the test drives was the BMW i3. Interesting to me was my final order below, the Leaf really really shone to me, it drove so well and did everything in such an accomplished manner, it jumped up in my estimations, massively so, to be honest after the drives I’d say the Leaf was the car that surprised me the most.

The Zoe I was most disappointed in, not that it was bad, just my expectations were a touch too high, but at the right price the Zoe could definitely be a contender. The i3 was as I was expecting, a really great drive, quick and silent. I loved the interior, very modern although the 4 seats is just weird, the exterior has really grown on me and I now feel it’s very futuristic, however the i3 and the Zoe are City cars, whereas the Leaf is a normal UK sized car (think Ford Focus).

My Wife’s views, while less conflicted and less affected by previous thinking, were still a little complicated. Her initial thoughts were the i3 was ugly, with the Leaf being acceptable in the looks department while the Zoe was pretty. As far as the driving characteristics, she thought the i3 was by far the best, nice high seating position and faster than the Leaf or the Zoe which, in her estimations, were very similar to drive. She preferred the interior of the Leaf over the other cars (I was surprised about this), she agreed with me that the interior on the Zoe felt just a little bit cheaper than the Leaf, however where I though the i3 interior was futuristic and funky, she thought it was horrible, especially the Kenaf dashboard which she likened to a rear parcel shelf. Sigh, I really thought this would be easier.

So we both agreed that any of the cars would be acceptable, we wouldn’t rule out any of them as possibilities, we both wrote our order of preference separately as follows.

Pre Pricing Conclusion

Question MarkSo My order of cars was

  1. BMW i3
  2. Nissan Leaf
  3. Renault Zoe

My Wifes was

  1. Nissan Leaf
  2. Renault Zoe
  3. BMW i3

Giving an arbitrary value of 3 for first, 2 for second and 1 for third this mean the total scores were

  1. Nissan Leaf – 5 points
  2. BMW i3 – 4 points
  3. Renault Zoe – 3 points

This is our agreed final order of the cars, based purely on the cars themselves, how they looked and drove, before pricing. I’ll point out again, we agreed we would be happy with any of the cars, providing the pricing was appropriate.


Onto pricing, now I’ll not put specific prices down here, as I’m sure deals will change each week and month and it’s pointless, I will however compare the pricing we got in terms of difference from the Leaf as the baseline.

This gets a little complicated as I need to compare full costs, including servicing, tyres and insurance, as my work scheme includes all of these.

Another decision we made was to go for the bigger battery options of the cars, to provide that little extra range and to not go for the REX option, as the bigger battery should be all we need. I admit this is a little unfair on the Zoe at this stage as while the 40kWh battery is announced, it’s not available to order yet, but I did get pricing of the larger battery Zoe. We also got pricing for the 22kWh Leaf and the 60Ah i3 in case there was special deals for the outgoing battery, but the difference in price was minimal compared to the additional range afforded.

So we are comparing the price of the following.

  • Nissan Leaf 30kWh Acenta Model
  • BMW i3 94Ah Base Model
  • Renault Zoe Dynamic Nav 40kWh Model

I priced insurance and servicing annual costs for the Nissan and Renault and estimated 2 tyres per year (10k miles) into the costs for the Leaf and Zoe.

Pound SignI have to clarify my work lease scheme provides a very affordable way to get cars being a salary sacrifice scheme, however not all cars are available on this scheme, the Golf GTE was, the BMW i3 is, however both the Leaf and the Zoe are not.

I was told when asking it was because of the battery lease complications, I pointed out that was not the case for non Flex and Zoe i models, but they said at this point the cars are not part of the scheme.

This is a pity as it makes it hard to compare the street pricing, but I’m in the fortunate position to be able to use this scheme if required, this is why I have split the conclusion in two parts, one based on the merits of the cars themselves and one based on the pricing I was able to personally achieve. No doubt others will get very different prices, but this is my outcome.

Im going to avoid putting the actual prices into this review, happy to discuss on private message however, as prices and offers change so regularly.

The result with regard to pricing was surprising, even though my work scheme is really good, we expected before pricing , that the i3 would still be significantly more expensive than the 30kWh Leaf and probably even larger difference to the Zoe. However assuming the Leaf as the baseline cost per month

  • Bmw i3 94Ah base = slightly CHEAPER than the Leaf 30kWh Acenta!
  • Renault Zoe 40kWh = was massively MORE expensive than the Leaf 30kWh Acenta!!
  • Renault Zoe 22kWh = was cheaper than the Leaf 30kWh and the BMW i3 but not by much

We priced the 22kWh Zoe against the other cars to see if it was significantly cheaper than the other cars, but it was only slightly cheaper than the Leaf and i3, we felt the extra cost was worth it for the extended range alone.

BMW i3

Final Conclusion

So with the knowledge of the pricing we reviewed our order of cars, My wife had expected, even with my work scheme that the i3 would be a lot more per month, with it being cheaper than both the Leaf and significantly cheaper than the Zoe 40, this knowledge meant she elevated it to first, with Leaf second and Zoe third, so the combined final order is.

  1. BMW i3 
  2. Nissan Leaf 
  3. Renault Zoe 

Obviously your own test drives and requirements might be different than ours and the pricing is likely to be different again, but the i3 is our final choice, but I will point out again we would have been happy to drive the Leaf or the Zoe as well.


UPDATE: Placed Order!

All that was left was to move to order, which I have now done (Late Dec 2016), awaiting a delivery date, I did change the specification of the i3 a little from base. I added the Media pack (larger centre screen, with additional features) and 20inch Style 30 Alloys along with Protonic Blue paint

Fingers crossed for delivery end of March beginning of April 2017, I’ll update once arrived, Excited now!


6 Responses

  1. As a long-term i3 owner (100,000km and counting) I’d strongly advise against the 20″ alloys. They negatively impact the ride quality, tires are more prone to punctures and only summer tires are available in that size.

    • Thanks cros13, Order is placed….. so changing now is unlikely, but the 20″ alloys look sooooo good 🙂 Not sure where you are from, but Winters here are not really true winters so hoping that doesnt affect things too bad, would consider separate winter wheels however. Hopefully Ride quality isnt too bad, I’ve read posts that say ride quality goes down and ride quality is not worse (as i3 is quite hard normally)

      • I’m just 100km south of you and I do a 87km each way commute to Dublin every day… Believe me, in winter as soon as the mercury goes below 7C or it gets wet the extra control of winter tires are worth it.

        In regards to the 20″ rims on Irish roads…. well even on the 19s I had a split sidewall inside the first 48 hours of ownership and two punctures since then. Reports from those running on anything but the smoothest of german roads are that the 20s are much more fragile.

        Ride quality has improved on the 33kWh i3, I suspect changes to the suspension vs. my 2015 22kWh. But again people who’ve had both wheels sizes like Tom Moloughney report ride is harder with the 20s.

  2. Tom has a blog post here:

    BTW… If you do get winters I’d recommend Nokian WR D4 over the Bridgestone Blizzaks BMW supply. The Blizzaks are meant for snow and ice and negatively impact high-speed handling, the Nokians are optimised for wet conditions just above freezing like we normally get.

    Good luck with the car anyway… I wouldn’t change my i3 for anything this side of a Model S… and even then I’d try to find a way to still keep her.

  3. Oh… since you are going for the BEV… definitely grab Aux. Cabin Heating… That’s the option which adds the heat pump…

    More than halves energy consumption from the heating system. Roughly the same cost as the 20″ alloys over the 429 or 428 19s.

    I have two sets of 428 alloys, one for my winters and one for my summers. My REx has all the options fitted.

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