The BMW i3 is a four-passenger, five-door hatchback and an entry-level luxury electric vehicle. Introduced for the 2014 model year, the i3 represents BMW’s first mass-produced zero-emissions vehicle.
BMW i3 Overview
Radical styling and a first of its kind carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and aluminum structure make the BMW i3 a thoroughly modern car. It’s also among the most fuel efficient vehicles on the market, and BMW is selling it at an attractive price.
The BMW i3 is powered by an electric motor with 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, which is paired with a one-speed direct drive transmission. The power plant, when combined with the i3’s low curb weight, results in excellent acceleration and incredible efficiency. The i3 has an all-electric range of 81 miles per charge. The EPA reports that its electric powertrain delivers 137/111 mpg-equivalent city/highway. Charging the i3 takes about three and a half hours using a Level 2 charging station. Driving dynamics are equally impressive, as the rigid chassis and low center of gravity result in a car that is nimble and rewarding to drive.
The BMW i3 is also available with an optional two-cylinder gasoline range extender that acts solely as a generator when the i3’s batteries fall below a certain level of charge. The little engine extends the range of the i3 to approximately 150 miles, which helps reduce range anxiety.
The i3’s interior is equally forward-focused and unique. Featuring over 25 percent renewable raw and recycled materials, the spacious cabin models what the manufacturer calls a “new definition of luxury.” Optional open-pore eucalyptus wood trim and olive leaf extract tanned leather not only place an exclamation point on the unique character of the i3, but exemplify BMW’s traditionally futuristic coach building approach to creating the environmentally focused electric hatchback.
Cargo space is on the small side when compared with conventional hatchbacks like the Honda Fit and Volkswagen Golf. The i3 offers 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 38.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
All i3 models come with standard interior features that include a USB port, Bluetooth, navigation and BMW’s iDrive system. The sophisticated navigation system studies the driver’s habits and plots battery usage against the distance traveled. It also helps the pilot make informed decisions for necessary stops and charging locations.
Driver assistance features include standard rear parking sensors, while front parking sensors, a rearview camera, forward collision warning and lane departure warning are available.
The BMW i3 can be considered alongside a number of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles from both mainstream and luxury brands. These include models like the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, Lexus CT 200h, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Kia Soul EV and Toyota Prius.