BMW’s only current EV built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform is the iX, but the manufacturer sells several electric versions of its existing combustion models, like the iX3, i4, i5 and I7. Most are global models available in a wide range of markets worldwide, but one is only available in China, and it’s a very interesting proposition.

It’s a locally manufactured all-electric version of the G20 3 Series called the i3 eDrive 35L. It uses the i3 name, which most people associate with BMW’s first bespoke EV, which was discontinued in 2022.

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BMW only sells the long-wheelbase 3 Series in China

All German automakers offer a long-wheelbase version of their midsize executive sedan in China, and BMW is no exception with the G28 3 Series, which is also available with a fully electric powertrain.

It’s rear-wheel drive with a single motor producing 282 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (the same drive unit that powers the iX3 available in Europe), and it draws from a 70.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a usable capacity of 66.1 kWh, which gives it a claimed CLTC range of 326 miles.

The “L” in its name implies a longer wheelbase than the standard 3 Series. The long-wheelbase 3 Series bears the G28 code name, including the electric variants.

Its wheelbase is just over 4 inches longer, almost 117 inches, meaning it has extra legroom in the rear, which is highly prized among executive Chinese buyers. Even though it’s considerably heavier than any other 3 Series (it weighs just over 2 tons or about 4,473 pounds), it can still accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.2 seconds; top speed is 112 mph.

This unique electric 3 Series is built by the BMW-Brilliance joint venture, which also makes a more powerful, longer-range i3 eDrive 40L model (pictured below). That has a 77.8 kWh battery that ups the CLTC range to a claimed 367 miles, and power and torque go up to 335 hp and 317 lb-ft. This cuts the sprint time to 62 mph to 5.6 seconds but top speed remains the same.

Gallery: BMW i3 eDrive40L

Brand new, the i3 eDrive 35L costs about 350,000 yuan, or $48,200 before any incentives, but according to Elliot Richards on EVs, who reviewed one of these cars on his YouTube channel, you can get a used example for less than half that. After having driven almost exclusively Chinese-market cars, Elliot doesn’t get along too well with the BMW’s interior, infotainment, and some of the interior design choices, but he praises it for the driving experience.

He criticizes it for the smattering of carbon bits around the cabin, thinking the car comes as standard like that. However, when was the last time you saw carbon fiber around the outer grip parts of the steering wheel, or the armrest cushion and rear console? He also notes that having buttons and a screen to adjust rear climate settings is not as good as just having a touchscreen, which, from a usability standpoint, isn’t true—manufacturers ditch buttons in favor of screens to cut costs, not make the user experience better.

What is undeniably impressive is the amount of space in the back, thanks to the extra wheelbase. It looks like BMW made the rear seat cushion longer for improved thigh support, and this should make traveling in the back of one of these long 3 Series considerably better than in the standard model. It also looks like the battery pack on the floor doesn’t push your knees up as much as it does in some ICE cars turned EVs, which should further enhance long-distance comfort.

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It’s pretty clear from this review that the long electric 3 Series isn’t aimed at the typical Chinese buyer who wants a massive screen or air conditioning that doesn’t turn off after 20 minutes of the car being idle to make sleeping in the car possible and some animated character that makes funny faces as your voice assistant (although BMW now offers that in its new Mini Operating System 9). BMW has done a lot to tailor the car to the Chinese market. Still, it’s ultimately a niche proposition aimed at those Chinese buyers who prefer European cars and value driving dynamics, a sporty feel and flashy tech features.

Do you think this model would sell outside of China? Would you buy one in America or Europe? Let us know in the comments.

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