BMW i3 – A No Compromise Plug-In Vehicle? – Video

3 years ago by Electric CarsTV 22

BMW i3

BMW i3

From Canada, we present this BMW i3 review.

As Auto Focus Canada states, it’s not a pretty vehicle, but its looks matter not once you’re behind the wheel.

The reviewer praises the i3’s lively steering and discusses the i3’s exceptionally strong regenerative braking.

In addition, she notes how roomy the i3 is on the inside, despite being quite compact on the outside.

All in all, Auto Focus Canada seems thoroughly impressed with this no-compromise plug-in vehicle.

The reviewer concludes that if the BMW i3 is the future, then sign her up.

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22 responses to "BMW i3 – A No Compromise Plug-In Vehicle? – Video"

  1. Spec9 says:

    It is a very nice car . . . but “no compromise”? That teeny tiny gas tank. only 4 passengers. Not much storage space. Weak performance up hills if battery depleted.

    Every car involves compromises.

    1. Jim_NJ says:

      Agreed, it’s a nice car, but I couldn’t believe it when at 2:24 the reviewer says, “the back seat is HUGE”. I’ve been in the back seat of the i3, and was suprised to find it more cramped feeling than my Chevy Volt’s back seat (which is quite small itself).

      1. Subjective says:

        It seems to go both ways. ALthough, most people agree the i3 is very roomy, there are contradictory reports of people claiming it’s cramped, such as yourself.

        I think the rear is way roomier than the volts. I kept hitting my head getting in and out of the volt and I’m only 5’3″. Even my gf kept hitting her and I warned her too. The large back window helps it feel airy, but otherwise I felt the Volt backseat was pretty claustrophobic.

        1. Jim_NJ says:

          Agreed that getting into the Volt’s back seat is more difficult than the i3. My perception might also be because of my expectations. I was expecting the i3 rear seat to be roomier than the Volt, and perhaps that made me feel like the i3 rear seat was small. There is minimal legroom in the rear seat of the i3. While I don’t feel like I can stretch my legs in the Volt’s back seat, the position is less upright and I feel like my knees are at a more casual angle in the Volt vs. the i3.

  2. Stimpacker says:

    The reviewer’s own words:
    “Take 3 other passengers”
    “City commuter”

    I’d like to see how well/convenient it is to carry 3 people. For a family car, I’d like to see how easy it is to carry an infant carrier and child seat in the back. Can’t imagine it to be easy with those suicide doors.

    Lastly, I’d like to see a review of the trunk space. Family cars, after all, has family things in the trunk.

    Good first attempt for BMW. Keep it up.

    1. EdoTesla says:

      Third attempt from BMW (eMini, ActiveE)…and this…?

      1. Spec9 says:

        Kinda weird how wildly different all three of those BMW EVs were.

  3. Bret says:

    The obvious compromise is in the range.

    I was really, really looking forward to the i3 and was planning to buy one. But, the disappointing range and styling have me waiting for something better. I may lease a LEAF and wait for the Model 3 instead.

    I commend BMW for making a ground-up EV that is truly a glimpse of the future. The life cell design and CFRP construction are something other EVs will emulate in the future. But, the quirky styling and sub 100 mile range just don’t work for me.

    Like Elon Musk Said, I hope BMW keeps improving the i3.

  4. wraithnot says:

    My wife and I test drove an i3 on Saturday and we were both pretty impressed with it. Our Model S is my normal daily driver and our primary weekend/roadtrip car, but my wife is in the market for a commuter car with car pool lane access that is easier to park in San Francisco than the Model S. We also tested a LEAF, a Fiat 500e, and sat inside a Mercedes B class electric (too many people had already driven it that day and the battery was too low for any more test drives).

    The i3 felt much faster than the LEAF or the Fiat 500e and while it wasn’t quite the rocket ship that the Model S is, it had more than enough power for normal driving and I found it far more entertaining to drive than the LEAF and far more at home at freeway speeds than the Fiat. The electronics and interior of the i3 are very polished (except perhaps the recycled plastic bottle material) and it feels far more futuristic than the other cars we looked at on the weekend.

    The cargo space under the hood (aka frunk in Telsa lingo) was too small for any real cargo and the rear cargo area could probably hold a couple of bags of groceries at best. But it could hold a decent amount of cargo with the seats folded down.

    The main downsides are the price (the Model S took quite a bite out of our car budget) and the fact that my wife needs to go a bit farther than the BEV version can comfortably go about once a month. The version with the range extender would take care of the once-a-month distance, but unfortunately the green car pool stickers that it would qualify for are just about exhausted in California. But we still may get one if they install some CCS chargers in key locations.

    1. James says:

      Repetitive for those who’ve missed my numerous posts about this car – but for you only, here’s some things you may not have considered about this very expensive commuter-range car.

      1) Cost of body repair. You sound more affluent than the average American, so I’m assuming the $50,000-ish price of the i3 is not a deterrent for you. Yet, have you considered that the only place you’ll be able to repair the car is a BMW dealer. That means every fender bender or scratch is going to be a very big deal. Over at they reveal what body repair will entail-special proprietary tools, training and cut and gluing CFRP panels. It all sounds OK, until you also read that BMW has informed consumers and the insurance industry that body repair costs are in line with BMW ICE 1 Series autos. When insurers begin to pay out the enormous repair fees for i3, surely the rates will skyrocket. You can’t choose your own body shop to do the work for you.

      2)The Canadian reviewer says BMW’s choice of lightweight materials results in the bonus of having a smaller drive battery pack. Yet, does that benefit you the buyer, or BMW the builder? Smaller battery pack, yet Nissan LEAF range capability? I’d say BMW pays less to buy batteries and passes the savings on to BMW – and charges you premium car prices.

      3) This reviewer ( Like oh, so many! ) falsely says the cabin is made of carbon fiber. It’s not. It’s CFRP which is molded
      plastic with a veneer of carbon fiber…more plastic than CF so not just a formality.

      4)As many, mention is made that i3 has the “premium feel”, or implying a LEAF, Rav4EV, SparkEV or others that const considerably less have a cheap feel. I’m wondering if that only means interior…

      5) Skinny, skinny, tall tires. A company that places it’s reputation on handling and “premium SUVs”, or “Sport Activity Vehicles” – makes a car that is tall in form factor and has high, narrow wheels? One tester said i3 felt “zippy or communicated better than say, a LEAF or Volt with the road, but later amended his comment to say – ” perhaps my perception was that you get more road noise in i3 and it has quicker steering “. Maybe it’s just me, but when a vehicle of any kind is called “premium” yet gives the impression of being peppier because it’s dartier and less insulated…I beg to differ.

      6) Not made in America. I know, lots of folks say they won’t buy a Volt because it’s a Chevrolet, and past experience…etc. Yet I challenge people to look at Volt’s quality. GM stepped it up – they had to. Volt is a quality proposition that’s not as limited as i3 and costs a hunk less – and less cost of ownership. Anybody who’se owned European cars knows you pay European parts, maintenance and service for that right. Like Tesla, Volt is MADE IN USA. It’s why I feel it’s worth a wait for Model 3. Those more affluent understand even more than the average person how buying something manufactured here keeps much more money in our economy and not going abroad.

      7)Very frustrating doors. Sounds like you won’t be hauling kids in back of the i3, so you do have that going for you. Otherwise, if you do plan on hauling backseat passengers, get ready for a zoo with those opposing rear doors that only close in sequence with the fronts. Cute at first – a real drag 2 years into ownership! Rear passengers never “get” those doors and you spend way too much time closing doors for them – a real pain.

      So we have to ask ourselves. How much of that “premium” feel is in our heads? How much weight do we put on branding and image? How important is seeing American again be a maker nation and not a taker nation?

      I don’t think i3 is going to be a success at any level for BMW. I think it’s niche is too narrow and for a $50,000 car that will cost loads to service and repair…it’s abilities are far too limited.

      1. wraithnot says:

        1) If we get close to buying one, we’ll get an insurance quote first. The insurance costs will be the direct issue for us rather than the repair costs (which will be the insurance companies problem in case of an accident).

        2,4) The LEAF was actually the top contender- until my wife saw the frontal small offset crash result of “poor” for the LEAF. We’ll definitely wait until similar crash test results are available for the i3 before going any further.

        5) It did feel a bit less stable during cornering than my Model S, but good enough for normal driving.

        6) We’re ultimately looking to get a Tesla Model 3. The i3 would be a stopgap until the Model 3 is available. The ideal situation would be taking over someone’s lease that decides it’s not what they bargained for.

        7) We do have a baby on the way, but the back seats seemed fine for loading an infant into a child. If we get the tail end of someone else’s lease, the i3 would probably get returned before the kid was old enough to open the door for themselves.

        Overall I agree that the i3 won’t be a big seller in the US due to the various factors you mentioned. But if we can get a good deal on one, it would meet our needs for a second car until better alternatives are available.

        1. See Through says:

          Also, CA is adding 15000 green HOV stickers to the pool. They just keep putting a cap ( like the perpetual ‘sale ending soon’ signs) so people will hurry to buy these cars.

      2. Thanks for these comments James. I have been dreaming a little (meaning, I want one, but not seriously) about getting an i3 since a little more range and acceleration might be nice, but the price and insurance costs have squashed those dreams. I’d also love to have the BEV only version with the CCS, but there are no stations near us at all. We’re just getting a few CHAdeMO chargers near us for the iMiev and it makes a big difference in how we can use the car. To go back now to not having that for who knows how long, if ever, is kind of a big downside and would make the $700 CCS option potentially a waste.

      3. dack says:

        Flipping great post. Thanks a lot.

    2. See Through says:

      Green HOV sticker? BMW i3 REX qualifies for white sticker in CA. That was the whole idea of downsizing the gas tank, to discourage people from using it too often like in Volt.
      Do check with CARB website – I thikn the REX qualifies for a white sticker.

      1. FFY says:

        The REX does not qualify for the white sticker. See here:

        But as “See Through” wrote, the CA congress is about to add another 15,000 green stickers. They should last until about the end of the year.

        BTW, it is nonsense that “every fender bender or scratch is going to be a very big deal” with the i3. The bumpers and body panels are not made of CFRP (only the “life module” is) and can be easily replaced like on any other car. The insurance rates are inline with other premium compact cars, just like BMW said.

        1. ELROY says:

          Yes, James is absolutely wrong about that. The body panels are incredibly easy to remove and replace also. And the BMW videos actually show how easy it is to repair CFRP . And yes, the coach doors pose no problem at all removing and installing car seats. As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about always setting child locks, so the kids don’t open their doors accidentally.

  5. Disappointed says:

    A search of “Problems with BMW i3”, reveals may problems that are being discovered by early adopters.
    Unsold i3’s are stacking up in the lots of BMW dealerships across the country. Today the inventory is 1,650.
    The promises have not been kept and the obvious reason is BMW built this plastic enclosed golf cart for their
    economic advantage, cheap Everything!
    Except Price !
    The money spent on daily advertising should have been spent improving the car and it would be selling itself.

    1. Mike says:

      Funny. The car has just been released. Yes, they’re stacking for delivery.

  6. AddLightness says:

    It’s amazing how good the Model S is compared to the BMW i3 and i8. Performance wise it can match the i8 while still uncuttering its price slightly. And its a 5-7 seat luxury sedan vs a 2 seat supercar. The base Model S sedan although 25k more than the i3 is a much better deal IMO. While I appreciate that BMW is putting this significant foot forward I’m just blown away by how a new company like Tesla can come in and steal the show.

  7. ckl says:

    This person is in Ontario. Retest this vehicle in the winter, when there’s snow on the roads.

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