Motor Trend BMW i3 Test – 0 To 60 MPH 6.4 Seconds, Braking Is Unmatched


BMW i3

BMW i3

BMW i3 BEV owner Peder Norby (InsideEVs contributor) tipped us off to a Motor Trend test article of the battery-electric version of the BMW i3.

Of particular interest are a few of the test figures:

  • 0 to 60 MPH in 6.4 seconds
  • Braking 60 to 0 MPH 108 feet

The 6.4-second time is one-tenth of a second quicker than what Car & Driver posted, but a full six-tenths quicker than BMW’s officially posted time of 7.0 seconds.

Even more impressive is the 60 to 0 MPH braking figure of 108 feet.  As Norby states, The closest to the BMW i3 was the Alpha Romeo 4c at 111 feet.  Most of the others were in the 120-130 range.” 

Indeed, the BMW i3 is unmatched in this category.  Why the impressive braking performance?  Some think the skinny tires would hold in the i3 back here, but the truth of the matter is that the low curb weight of the i3 (combined with a solid braking system) allows it to excel in this category, despite those tires.  Wider tires could improve this figure slightly (a few feet), but they would add weight, which would negate some of the gain.

Where those tires show any weakness is in the 0.80 g lateral acceleration (mediocre, think Honda Accord or Subaru Legacy territory) and MT figure eight 0.69 g (approximately equivalent to the Motor Trend result for the Mini Cooper S).

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27 Comments on "Motor Trend BMW i3 Test – 0 To 60 MPH 6.4 Seconds, Braking Is Unmatched"

newest oldest most voted track tested the 2012 Model S P85.

It matched the 108 ft 60-0 braking distance.

My guess is the D with dual regenerative braking will beat 108 ft even though it is heavier.

The edmonds number I saw for the Tesla P85 braking 60-0 was 113 ft.

Why would regenerative breaking matter here? The idea is to stop as fast as possible. Does the Tesla have break calipers on only two wheels? Or are the calipers incapable of breaking the car without regen? Seems to me that the skid potential of each tire would be the dominant factor here.

Motor Trend’s number for the P85 seems to be 105. If you have a heavy car with big fat tires it gets you a lot of tire friction.

‘Heavy’ also gives you mass, which isn’t good for stopping…

That is pretty zippy. BMW is so close to having a great car. A little better design and little more battery . . . or at least a larger gas tank.

Remember the EREV version is slower 0-60 than the EV version.

Are the front wheels actually thinner than the rears? I feel the car would probably do better in cornering if all four tires were the size of the rears. You would give up a bit of range (2% or 3% perhaps?), but it would be worth it for improved lateral support if you drive in a curvy area and like it.

OK, I looked it up. They are thinner only on the REx:

Tyre dimensions front 155/70 R19
Tyre dimensions rear 175/65 R19
Wheel dimensions front 5Jx19
Wheel dimensions rear 5.5Jx19

On the pure EV version they are all 155/70 and 5Jx19.

I think it would be nice if some publication or web site looked at the impact of having 175/65 on the fronts as well as the rears on the REx. You could expect a couple of miles of range loss but OTOH you would have an easier time with tire rotation and replacement and possibly better cornering as well.

Mind you, I’m not recommending this, but it’s worth testing.

Actually, it isn’t that simple. Only the lowest trim version, Mega World, with the standard wheels has the same tires front and back. All other i3 BEV’s have the same tires as the REx.

The staggered rear wheels have a different width of rim front vs. back, with different offsets. No way to know if you could simply replace the fronts with rears until somebody tried and checked for clearance.

Note that plenty of cars can stop in less than 100 feet:

However they’re mainly sports cars, and all ICE.

And most if not all use very expensive carbon-ceramic brakes, unlike the i3.

For $49k, I say, meh…

Hey Peder, Tom, or other i3 owners, how is the life of these tires? How many miles and how is the wear pattern?

Have not noticed any tread wear yet, 8200 miles on one i3 and 7100 on the other.

The ol Mini-E could really eat up front tires 🙂 It looks like the i3 will be normal or better than normal from what I can see at 8200 miles.

Thanks Peder. I have heard the same about the Mini. Think about giving us a tire post around 30,000. Stock tires can be hit and miss. Some manufacturers do a good job of matching the stock tire and some just use it as an opportunity to save money.
Adding to the mix is how EV drivers drive slightly different. I find myself driving ultra conservative the majority of the time and the rest of the time like I stole it. Looking forward to a future progress report.

The i3 is essentially a 2-passenger car, which makes the price even less appealing.

I was amazed at how tight the interior is when I test-drove one.

The BMW i3 is a very good four passenger car with good legroom and great headroom 🙂

Murry, how tall are you? At 6 foot tall, I found the back of the i3 was better than most other BMW cars (and Audi’s too).

Side note– Oddly enough, I also found the VW Golf 4 door to be one of VAG’s most comfortable rear seats. Better than A4, A5, etc

Weird, I thought the i3 front seat room was much better than the Volt (and possibly Leaf).

Yeah. Going to have to disagree here. I test drove one of these for 3 days and I sat in the back several times. It was plenty roomy for an adult. Granted, only 2 seats in the back, so 4 seats total.

Having some weight in the rear helps with the weight transfer problem of the i3. So the rear motor i3 will outshine many front wheel drive competitors. But pretty darn impressive for a tall short wheel based car to begin with. And yes, BMW is usually very conservative when it comes to 0-60 numbers and engine HP ratings. Tesla tires are much wider, and the car is longer and low slung. So not much of a fair comparison, other than the i3 is way more efficient.

Braking and acceleration are impressive. Lateral G and figure 8 figures are very “meh”, but decent considering the tires.

Well, considering the tall profile and the skinny tires, you really shouldn’t expect much on the lateral G number.

I bet no other passenger car in the world can boast so large a rotor, to tire width ratio. Any thinner with the tires and they may as well tread the rotors 😉

The i3 did better in handling than the Volt despite the Volt’s larger tires. A lot of reviewers disparage the skinny tires on the i3 but they perform quite well despite their thinness because the contact patch are is still large because of the diameter of the tire. It was a brilliant way to maximize efficiency yet retain decent handling. That being said, the Volt came with high efficient but terrible performing tires. I replaced mine for a set of LRR Continental PureContacts and the cornering ability of the car improved immensely! I was stunned to feel how hard I could push into a sharp curve. The difference in g’s is quite noticeable. I’m sure someone will come out with replacemet tires for the i3 that perform better than the OE units. It’ll cost you range though….