BMW i3 Versus Nissan LEAF

3 years ago by Mike Anthony 30

Nissan LEAF Versus BMW i3

Head to Head, Compare & Contrast. LEAF (left) i3 (right)

The debate of choosing between the BMW i3 and the Nissan LEAF is alive and well.

First, there are many similarities and differences between the two vehicles as pointed out by GazetteLive in the UK.

Both the i3 and the LEAF have about the same charging times of 7-8 hours (Euro wall socket) and feature illuminated charging sockets, DC fast charging, and an average range of ~ 80-ish (+/-) miles on a single charge.

The Nissan LEAF in similar SL trim gives you the a cheaper mid-range BEV that’s more simplistic, while the BMW i3 gives you some luxury, higher performance and more advanced features, but at a higher price.

In the US, the price of the entry level Nissan LEAF starts at $29,000, SL from $35,000, while the i3 starts just under $42,000. With both, there are available federal incentives up to $7,500 and some states offer an incentive as well.

The i3 has seating for 4, while the LEAF fits 5.

BMW i3.

BMW i3.

What it boils down to really is which vehicle suits your desires and fits into your budget.  It’s great to have choices, isn’t it?

GazetteLive recently put the BMW i3 up against the Nissan LEAF in a comparison test of sorts.  Here’s the verdict section from that comparison:

1st place: BMW i3

“It’s hard not to be swayed by the BMW’s eye-catching looks and cleverly designed cabin. Yet look beyond the car’s arresting visuals and you’ll find an electric car packed with innovative engineering that’s sure to filter down to more mainstream models. The i3 is also fast, comfortable and practical, while electric range is long enough for most short commutes. The only black mark is reserved for its disappointing handling.”

Nissan LEAF.

Nissan LEAF.

2nd place: Nissan LEAF

“As an eco-friendly family car that’s used for short, inner city journeys, the Leaf makes lots of sense – particularly in attractively priced entry-level guise. It’s also decent to drive, roomy and well equipped, while refinement and comfort are on a par with the BMW. Yet its styling and cabin aren’t up to the same standard, plus it’s not as quick. More importantly, the novel i3 makes the Nissan feel a little dated.”

Be sure to check out the complete comparison test by clicking the source link below.

Source: GazetteLive.

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30 responses to "BMW i3 Versus Nissan LEAF"

  1. x says:

    isn’t it obvious? bmw charges almost 50% more for the same range, one less seat and some bells and whistles.
    You pay pretty much 50% for that blue and white round sign.
    I don’t own and don’t plan to own any of these two cars,waiting for Model3, but if pressed I would chose leaf(never had a nissan wouldn’tconsider any of their cars).

    1. ELROY says:

      Maybe it’s because the BMW has class leading technology which allows it to be the most efficient BEV around, and quickest in its class.

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Does performance cost money?

      If so, that is why i3 cost more.

      i3 0-60mph: 7 sec.

      leaf 0-60mph: 10 sec.

      $4K for every 1 sec shaved…

    3. Oshbear says:

      50 percent more, really. It’s roughly 14 percent difference. Do your math leaf lover. A comparable SV leaf costs 35,000 compared to 42,000 for a base i3. T

      1. James says:

        Edmunds.com lists the average national price paid for i3 as $45,125. Find me someone who has paid $42,000 for one. Over 60% sold are ReX which top $50,000.

        The better comparison here would obviously be Mercedes B Class Electric vs. BMW i3. Their base cars are nearly identical in MSRP, and they speak to the same niche market.

        1. ELROY says:

          Not true… At the local dealership, I only saw one above $50k. Saw plenty of Rex i3s for $48k. And those go for almost $4k to begin with.

          As far as the BMW being 50% more in cost?? Well the LEAF does take about 50% longer to do 0-60 than the sub 7 second i3. Lol

        2. oshbear says:

          Look, there’s something called MSRP and invoice price. If you’re a slick shopper(which I am) anyone can find a 45k sticker priced I3 and pay 42k. Now there’s something called a Federal Tax Incentive, BMW offer roughly 5,000 of that directly off whatever price negotiated at dealer level (invoice).
          Then there’s a 2,500 California rebate check delivered to anyone that buys ev’s and will keep it for 36 months. So, we’re at about 10,500 off msrp. The models that are 50k have a useless 2 cylinder engine in the back. To compare the leaf is all electic no engine. The 2 cylinder engine is a 4k option. Comparing apples to apples!

    4. Lou says:

      Another fine example of the well educated consumer who has neither driven either vehicle but knows what he wants and has lots of opinions ..

  2. Stating “same charging times of 7-8 hours” is missleading without a context. The author should state at what kW power level.

    Eg: BMW i3’s 7.2 kW AC charger will allow a full charge in just over 3 hours, but will take 7 hours if only 3.3 (16A) service is available. The Nissan LEAF comes with 6.6 kW charger capable of charging fully in 3.5 hours, but like the i3 will take longer if limited power is available. (an entry level LEAF model has 3.3 kW charge, but has option of being upgraded to 6.6 kW like the other model offerings)

    The reduction in charging speed from 6.6 to 3.3 kW is not a restriction of the vehicles. This is not much different than driving at slower speeds on a road that is not in an good condition. It’s a case for safety, not a technical limitation.

    PS: Both i3 and LEAF are capable of DC Quick Charging on up to 50 kW (125A power) enabling 80% gain in the state of charge (SOC) in 25-35 min. ie: a charging speed of ~150 miles per hour.

    Both vehicles do charge at similar speeds, it just does not the 7-8 hours state in the article above.

    ***MOD EDIT- NOTE***

    Yes the story should reflect more clearly that the comparison is UK based and that the figures are from a standard wall plug, so the numbers are similar based on the maximum output in this situation. Thanks!

    ***MOD EDIT- NOTE***

    1. George Betak says:

      Yes, Brian, I was going to point this out also. Another thing to not is that these vehicles may be differently equipped in different markets. The i3 will come with 3 kW single-speed charging in Germany, but the 7.2 kW onboard charger will be standard in the US. Even on the lowest trim. Meanwhile the LEAF S will come only with a 3 kW onboard charger unless the buyer selected the optional charge package. Confusing enough? I’m only mentioning this, since it’s not fair to make sweeping assumptions and generalizations. Both vehicles have about the same size of the traction battery pack, and will recharge in about the same amount of time. The i3 could be half an hour to an hour faster due to its 10% smaller battery pack. Conversely, BMW has temporarily reduced the charging rate, which probably nixes this slight advantage until this issue has been fully addressed and corrected.

  3. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

    “The i3 has seating for 4, while the LEAF fits 5.”

    What a horrible understatement.

    The i3 is really a 2+2 with very small rear seats and limited luggage room. It’s a sports car.

    The LEAF is classified in the US as a mid-sized family car with a lot of cargo capacity.

    If they weren’t EVs no one would think of comparing them. Of course autophile journalists love the sports car better – we get that. I wouldn’t expect them to rate the Altima higher than the 1-series BMW either.

    1. Stimpacker says:

      +1

      Yet another dumb comparison article (2 in the span of a week, wow).

      The seating for 4 and the suicide doors are hugely negative for families with young ones.

      Why pay $$$ more for the tech? These EV’s have limited range, the typical owner won’t be going far in these things.

      If the tech and cool factor matters most, then get a Tesla.

    2. MTN Ranger says:

      I disagree. Rear seating is comparable to the Volt (but that’s not saying too much).

  4. wraithnot says:

    My wife and I test drove both cars last weekend and I found the i3 to be much more fun to drive, more luxurious and modern inside, and it had absolutely perfect regenerative braking. It also has the optional range extender, although this has carpool lane ramifications in California. On the other hand, the LEAF was cheaper, larger both in terms of passenger room and cargo space, had an awesome optional 360 degree parking camera setup, four doors that all open independently, and there are MANY more places to fast charge with it’s CHAdeMO port than with the i3’s CCS port.

    I liked the i3 more, but in the end we decided to go with the LEAF since it was cheaper and had more easily available fast charging. And then my wife saw the “poor” rating for the LEAF’s small overlap crash test and promptly ruled it out. We may still get an i3 if it does better than the LEAF in IIHS crash testing and we can get a good deal on one.

    1. George Betak says:

      The i3 REX will qualify for green carpool lane stickers. They have recently been extended, and the new allocation should last until December or so.

      http://insideevs.com/california-senate-clears-path-additional-15000-green-hov-stickers/

      1. wraithnot says:

        I agree that the extra 15,000 carpool stickers getting approved is likely. But it’s not a done deal yet. That seems like a pretty big gamble for people who are buying a plug-in car mainly for the carpool lane access.

    2. The partial offset test is a new test added to the group of tests for the 2015 MY vehicles. A most vehicles selling as 2014 MY and earlier have not undergone this additional partial offset test. eg: Honda Fit EV and RAV4 EVs will never be subjected to the test.

      The LEAF was designed/first build in 2010 and hasn’t had any significant body changes since. Rumor is the LEAF will receive a major redesign for 2016/17 MY (see other postings on InsideEVs for details).

      FYI: This fall the M/B B-Class and KIA Soul EV, both similar PEVs, will also be available.

      1. wraithnot says:

        We tried to test drive the B-class electric, but it was so popular that the battery had already been depleted by all the earlier test drives. The salesman did let is sit inside, open the hood, etc. and it is a very nice car. But the options we would want quickly escalates the price beyond what we want to pay for a second car. The KIA Soul EV could be a contender. We’ll probably check it out when it’s available.

        1. Phr3d says:

          have to ask, wraithnot, is it the HOV sticker that removed the Volt from contention for you?

  5. Thanh Lim says:

    This is like comparing a Honda with a Lexus eh? You pay more for the refinements and the BMW is definitely fine.

    I just can’t put myself to spend on a luxury brand like the BMW.

  6. Spec says:

    I’d say the i3 is the better car . . . but you do pay a lot more for it. So it is pretty even IMHO.

  7. Michael says:

    Kia Soul EV have a big Advantage to all other. The modernst battery (better than Nissan &Bmw) with 200 Wh/kg and 27 kWh. I think Range will be good!

    1. Hector says:

      I have read the weight will be similar between the kia soul electric and Leaf. Just 10% of battery more and worse aerodinamic will make hard to feel a big diference in the range.
      Mercedes B class will feel like an improvement, but we all know which brand is responsible of that.

  8. jessy says:

    If I was an American citizen, I would drag this website at the courts, if I was American I would lodge a complaint against this website.
    This site propagandizes, is not objective and lies as we inhale.
    Everything is made to favor the bmw i3. shame on you.

    INSIDEEVS IS CORRUPTED AND PAID BY BMW TO FAVOR HIS i3.

    1. Trace says:

      What? What are you going on about?

      1. Aaron says:

        He forgot his meds. Again.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Someone here usually mods these, but I have to say this one made me smile…so its stays.

          Even though Mike wrote, this I think ‘jessy’ was talking about me, as BMW sent me like a half-dozen i3s and a couple i8s to cast them in a good light…I can’t drive them all, but they are pretty sweet lawn ornaments.

          1. Phr3d says:

            Have them all delivered to Fremont and filled with concrete at destination/drop-off.

            (see also Paul Newman)

    2. ELROY says:

      Who is he?? And does he really own an i3??