2017 BMW I3 Electric

#19
in Compact hatchbacks
2017 MODEL

$42,400 - $48,300

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Overview

There's no denying that the new 2017 BMW i3 is a new proof of concept for electric technology in a form we can all relate to; a cheeky and practical hatchback. It is a new hope for clean transportation but may not be that exciting for petrol-heads due to the common notion of electric cars being dull to drive.

What keeps the i3 running on the tarmac is a 60 Ah electric motor coupled with a single-speed transmission that puts out an impressive 170hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Hence, the performance side of things is well taken care of.

Standing on the opposite side of the ring are three very capable electric hatchbacks. Namely, the Nissan Leaf S, Ford Focus Electric and the VW e-Golf. As the i3 starts off from $42,400, it happens be costlier than the competition and so, it has a lot to live up to…

See detailed review »

Pros

Quiet and refined drive

Brilliant transmission

Cheeky yet modern design

Faster than rivals

Build quality

Cons

Slow charging batteries

Low driving range

Unimpressive handling

What's New?

No significant Change for 2017

A new optional sunroof is available


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$42400

bodystyle

4dr Hatchback

passenger capacity

4

top speed

91 mph

drivetrain

RWD

engine type

horsepower

170 hp

torque

184 lb.-ft.

transmission

single-speed automatic

chassis

suspension front

independent front strut suspension

suspension rear

independent rear multi-link suspension

brake rotors (f/r)

11 in. ventilated front disc/11 in. solid disc brakes

dimensions

wheelbase

101 in.

length

157 in.

width

70 in.

height

62 in.

curb weight

2799 lbs.

ground clearance

5.5 in.

capacity

cargo volume

15.1 cu ft.

towing capacity

5952 lbs.

payload capacity

937 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

6.6 sec.

rolling start (5-60 mph)

7.3 sec.

standing ¼-mile

16 sec.

braking (70-0 mph)

184 ft.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

137/124/111 mpg

warranty

basic warranty

4 years/50000 miles

drivetrain warranty

4 years/50000 miles

corrosion warranty

12 years/unlimited

roadside assistance

yes

ev battery warranty

8 yr./ 100,000 mi.



Styles

 2017 BMW i3 electric in Platinum Silver Metallic color  2017 BMW i3 electric in Mineral Gray color  2017 BMW i3 electric in Ionic Silver Metallic color  2017 BMW i3 electric in Fluid Black color  2017 BMW i3 electric in Capparis White color
Platinum Silver Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Safety

7.0

Exterior

8.1

Engine

7.7

Interior

7.6

Fuel Economy

8.0

Features

7.6

Driving

9.1

7.9

OVERALL RATING

Variant Name

MSRP


 2017 BMW i3 electric 60 Ah

60 Ah

Fuel: Electric fuel, Transmission: Manual, Seats: 4

$42,400

Configurations
60 Ah 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
Seating: 4 HP: 170-hp @ 4,800 rpm
Torque: 184 lbs.-ft. MPG(City/Combined/Highway): MPG (137/124/111)

 2017 BMW i3 electric 4dr Hatchback

4dr Hatchback

Fuel: Electric fuel, Transmission: Manual, Seats: 4

$44,450 - $48,300

Configurations
4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
Seating: 4 HP: 170-hp @ 4,800 rpm
Torque: 184 lbs.-ft. MPG(City/Combined/Highway): MPG (129/118/106)
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
Seating: 4 HP: 170-hp @ 4,800 rpm
Torque: 184 lbs.-ft. MPG(City/Combined/Highway): MPG (/111/)

Expert Review


CARHP Editorial October 26, 2018

7.9

Overall Rating


7.6/10
Features

 

7.7/10
Engine

 

8.0/10
Fuel Economy

 

7.6/10
Interior

 

8.1/10
Exterior

 

7.0/10
Safety

 
 
 

Standing on the opposite side of the ring are three very capable electric hatchbacks. Namely, the Nissan Leaf S, Ford Focus Electric and the VW e-Golf. As the i3 starts off from $42,400, it happens be costlier than the competition and so, it has a lot to live up to…

Features

7.6/10

The three trims of the i3 are distinguished on the basis of the electric power output from their motors. The range starts off with a $42,400, 60Ah motor and a few extra thousand dollars will get you a 94 Ah motor in your i3. At $48,300, the big daddy of the line-up has the same motor but this time, it has a range extender.

Trim

60 Ah

94 Ah

94 Ah w/Range Extender

MSRP

$42,400

$44,450

$48,300

Key

Features

Fixed Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints Regenerative 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low Beam Auto-Leveling Daytime Running Lights Preference
Digital Display Front And Rear Vented Discs, Brake Assist  Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
Systems Monitor Hill Hold Control and Electric Parking Brake Radio w/Seek-Scan
Perimeter Alarm Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering Speed Compensated Volume Control 
Leather Steering Wheel Speed Sensitive Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers Aux Audio Input Jack 
Radio w/Seek-Scan  LED Brakelights Steering Wheel Controls
Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control  Radio w/Seek-Scan Radio Data System and External Memory Control
Steering Wheel Controls, Radio Data System and External Memory Control Speed Compensated Volume Control  SiriusXM Satellite Radio -inc: 1-year AllAccess subscription
Aux Audio Input Jack Aux Audio Input Jack, Steering Wheel Controls Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity
4 Speakers Radio Data System and External Memory Control 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
HD Radio Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity Real-Time Traffic Display
Satellite Radio w/1 Year Subscription SiriusXM Satellite Radio -inc: 1-year AllAccess subscription Automatic Air Conditioning

We Recommend

While a range extender does come in handy, spending a whopping $48,300 on a hatchback sounds insane. Instead, the 94 Ah without the range extender sounds just right even if you look at the options list. A “basic” 42,400 dollar i3 isn’t bad either and thanks to its outlandish looks, you’ll be turning heads as if you just popped out of 2038 (this bad boy isn’t nuclear though)

Engine

7.7/10

 

Engine And Transmission

As mentioned earlier, there are only two electric motor options (60Ah and 94Ah) available in the i3 while the third trim has been upgraded with a range extender. Both motors are paired with a single-speed automatic transmission that happens to be the best one an electric car of its kind could have.

Models

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

MSRP

$42,400

$30,680

$29,120

$30,495

Engine

Electric Motor

80kW AC Synchronous Motor

107kW Electric Motor

100KW Electric

Transmission

Single speed automatic

Single speed automatic

Single speed automatic

Single speed automatic

Horsepower

170 hp

107 hp

143 hp

134 hp

Torque

184 lb-ft

187 lb-ft

184 lb-ft

214 lb-ft

Electric cars are known for their torquey motors propelling them into hyperspace within a matter of seconds. The case is similar here as the i3 makes a decent 184 lb-ft of torque but take a closer look at the competition and you’ll find that the BMW has also taken care of the ponies put out by the i3; a very impressive 170hp.

Acceleration

The extra horses from that 60Ah motor is advantageous at the red light when you want to outsmart those crooked environmentalists in Leafs and e-golfs trying to befriend you thinking that even you’re driving a run-of-the-mill electric go-kart. In situations like those, the i3 pounces from 0-60MPH in just 6.4 seconds and the quarter mile is devoured in just 15.3 seconds.

Models

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

0-60 MPH

6.4 sec

9.7 sec

9.9 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter mile

15.3 sec

17.3 sec

17.7 sec

16.6 sec

Engine

Electric

Electric

Electric

Electric

Ride And Handling

The sad reality about saving the planet while driving your heart out is that the electric cars fit for the job happen to be a little too dull to drive. Unfortunately, the i3 also follows this trend and the steering feedback is artificial. Furthermore, it lacks the classic BMW driving feel that we have become so used to.

When you stop comparing the i3 to its gas-powered siblings, you’ll find that it is very nippy to drive around town thanks to the lightweight carbon-composite chassis and the 170 horses from the electric motor pushing it forward quick enough to not dwell into its faults.

Braking

Special care has been taken in the 60-0MPH figures as well but it somehow falls short of the braking distances of the Focus and the e-golf. It isn’t that bad for a car having its performance and at a distance of 125ft, it’s much better in this arena than the Leaf’s 129ft.

Model

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

Brake Front (in.)

11.0

11.1

10.9

11.3

Brake Rear (in.)

11.0

11.5

10.7

10.7

Curb Weight (lbs.)

2799

3323

3640

2455

60-0 MPH (ft.)

125

129

121

122

The brakes in the front and back are 11 inches in diameter and they perform very well in tricky situations. The decent braking figures are also a direct result of the i3 being the second lightest car in its class at 2799 lbs

Fuel Economy

8.0/10

The heavy price tag, the added complications and high maintenance would all just be unnecessary pains to bear if it wasn’t for the excellent fuel economy figures offered by this new Beemer. It gives a combined 125.3 miles to the gallon which makes it triumph over its rivals.

In the city, expect around 137 MPG and on highways, 111 MPG without any worries.

Model

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

MPG (city)

137.0

124.0

118.0

126.0

MPG (highway)

111.0

101.0

96.0

111.0

MPG (combined)

125.3

112.0

107.0

119.0

Interior

7.6/10

"BMW’s i3 EV for 2017 has an interior that is futuristic yet minimalistic. Like its exterior, some elements work better than others. The "responsibly-forested eucalyptus dash and wide-screen displays reward the senses- KBB

Seating And Comfort

As you’d usually expect from a BMW, the interior is finished in beautiful, high-quality leather from the seats to the steering wheel. Only 4 passengers can fit inside the i3 and its rivals offer enough space for five adults.

The car does happen to be tiny on the inside too since the headroom and legroom offered could’ve been better. The seats support your back and offer satisfactory thigh support but the seating position could’ve been significantly improved.

Here are the detailed measurements of the interior:

Model

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

Passenger capacity

4

5

5

5

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

39.6/53.6/40.5

41.2/54.3/42.1

38.3/55.6/41.9

38.4/55.9/41.2

Second

(Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

37.2/49.2/31.9

37.3/52.5/33.3

37.9/53.7/33.2

38.1/53.9/35.6

Infotainment

Like all Beemers, the i3 also comes with the signature BMW ConnectedDrive infotainment system that is a joy to use and responds quickly to your commands. In the middle of the dash, there exists a 6.5-inch screen which is unusually simple compared to the rest of the tech mania found in the car.

The screen may also be controlled via a rotary knob in the center console. This particular system in the i3 does not come with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay which is a huge let down in a car claiming to be the future of transportation.

Interior Features

  • USB Port
  • BMW ConnectedDrive system
  • 6.3 inch infotainment screen
  • Rotary knob controller
  • Leather steering wheel
  • HD Radio system/Sirius XM Radio
  • Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • AUX Input
  • Voice Command
  • Optional Navigation system

Cargo

The space in the boot is one department where the little i3 needs to improve if it plans to pose as a practical electric run-about for the masses. Both the e-golf and Leaf S provide more cargo space as seen below:

Model

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

Cargo Volume rear seat up (ft.3)

15.1

23.6

14.5

22.8

Cargo Volume rear seat folded (ft.3)

36.9

30.0

N/A

52.7

Exterior

8.1/10

"The BMW i3's exterior is polarizing. In one sense, it is as unconventional as its powertrain. Glance at the overall design of this BMW's side windows, and you may see the shape of a bottle on its side, with the spout just over the i3's rear wheels"- KBB

Dimension And Weight

The “mickey mouse of the future”-ish design and all its quirky bits don’t mean that the i3 is a heavy car. In fact, it happens to be the second most lightweight car in its class at 2799 lbs.; only second to the golf's 2455 lbs. This is refreshing as electric cars usually happen to be heavier thanks to the motors powering them.

Model

BMW i3 60Ah

Nissan Leaf S

Ford focus electric

Volkswagen e-golf

Curb weight (lbs.)

2799

3323

3640

2455

Length(in)

157.0

175.0

172.9

168.1

Width(in)

70.0

69.7

71.8

70.8

Height(in)

62.0

61.0

58.2

57.2

Ground clearance (in)

5.4

6.3

6.3

5.6

Wheelbase (in)

101.0

106.3

104.3

103.5

Track width (in) F/R

61.9/62.0

60.6/60.4

60.5/59.6

60.8/59.5

It is the smallest car available in the segment with a length of just 157 inches and width of only 70 inches. It stands at 5.4 inches off the ground and has a height of 62 inches. The other details regarding its dimensions can be seen below:

Exterior Features

  • Perimeter alarm
  • U-shaped LED headlights
  • Carbon construction
  • Closed design kidney grille
  • 19-inch BMW alloy wheels
  • LifeDrive design

Safety

7.0/10

When you look like a car from the future, might as well have all the safety tech from the present and a few crazy new ones too. The perimeter alarm, tire pressure warning and emergency SOS just emphasizes the fact that BMW is aiming for the crown in the safety department.

Here is a detailed list of all the tech goodies used for your safety in the 2017 BMW i3:

  • BMW Assist Call Emergency Sos
  • Rear Parking Sensors
  • Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
  • Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
  • Driver And Passenger Knee Airbag
  • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

IIHS Rating

The IIHS folks are tough critics when it comes to car safety but the i3 has managed to impress them as well. The only places where it could possibly improve would be the quality of head restraints and child seat anchors as seen below:

IIHS Ratings

Small overlap front driver side

Good

Small overlap front passenger side

Not rated

Moderate overlap front

Good

Side

Good

Roof strength

Good

Head restraints & seats

Acceptable

Front crash prevention

Advance

Child seats anchors (LATCH)

Acceptable

**Not yet rated by the NHTSA**

Competition

There are three very advanced alternatives to the i3 just waiting to ascend the throne of the “most practical electric hatchback” and it seems like they’ve got what it takes…or have they?

Nissan Leaf Vs BMW I3

The Leaf S was born for one purpose: to make electric cars suitable to be driven on a day-to-day basis with extended range and practicality. Though it hasn’t been a very appealing car to go for, it has done its job quite well and posed as one of the most usable electric hatchbacks of the current decade. An 80kw AC motor linked to a one-speed transmission is what keeps the Leaf S running and it pumps out 107 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque. It makes up for the lack of performance through its comfort and practicality which is exactly where the BMW comes short. It starts off at just $30,680 but it is not to be confused with a luxury hatch in any manner…

Ford Focus Vs BMW I3

You ever wonder why the Brits and Europeans keep comparing every new hatchback they see to the Ford Focus? It’s simply because the car is the perfect mix of fun, practical and efficient and its electric sibling couldn’t possibly disappoint the market then…
Despite being heavier than the i3, it still manages to take you around corners with confidence and the steering feedback is almost similar to what you’d get from a regular Focus. It seats 5 passengers comfortably and has a very ergonomic interior design. A 107kw electric motor propels the Focus forward with 143 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque which isn’t on par with the i3 but is pretty much sufficient for a car of its size. It is the cheapest car in its class at $29,120 and is a much better car than the i3.

Volkswagen E golf Vs BMW I3

The Volkswagen Golf is the undisputed king of hatchbacks ever since it was introduced to the public in the early 70s. It is the greatest example that a sensible car doesn’t have to be boring in any way and the Golf’s new electric version could only be expected to make the same statement with its new powertrain. Under the hood, there’s an incredibly efficient 100 kW electric motor making 134 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque which means that it pulls harder than the i3 thanks to the extra torque. Compared to the regular Golf, it may be less fun to drive but it isn’t exactly dull. Price starts off at a very reasonable $30,495.

Final Verdict

The i3 is a promise to driving enthusiasts that an eco-friendly future doesn’t have to be entirely boring. This little Beemer is a cheeky, fun little thing having enough “oomph” to put a smile on your face unlike most of its rivals.

It has state of the art safety features mixed with unmatched performance and all that is complimented by the futuristic design that never ceases to capture the attention of bystanders wherever you take it.

Sure, it is more expensive and not very practical but think of it as a common man’s i8 for city streets and then it just might start making some sense…

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