2015 BMW i3

The electric cubist car of the future, compact with a hatchback.

  • Likes
  • interior design
  • acceleration
  • efficiency
  • responsiveness
  • driving experience
  • Dislikes
  • range
  • some awkward exterior design elements

Offering a futuristic design and high levels of technology, BMW's i3 electric hatchback gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Ultimate Driving Machine." With its odd, almost-cubist exterior design and eco-chic interior, the i3 feels like a glimpse into the automotive future. It's constructed with a lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell, an aluminum chassis and radical design principles aimed at making it one of the most convenient and energy-efficient ways to get around a city. Unlike most EVs currently available, the BMW i3 was planned from the ground up as an electric car; as such, it's able to explore possibilities of space efficiency unheard of in a traditional piston-powered car. Thus, the i3 can be the same length as a Miata but offer a roomy interior for 4 passengers. And thanks to the inherently low center of gravity that the electric powertrain provides, the i3 can have a tall roofline without compromising stability or handling.

Get past the i3's exterior, figuratively and literally, and you're treated to one of the nicest car interiors available. With a look that combines Danish Modern with "Star Trek," the i3's cabin is inviting, comfortable and futuristic. The dash is dominated by a sweeping ribbon of bamboo, while the tall roof and lack of a center transmission hump provide an open, airy feeling not usually found in small cars. Materials are high-quality and eco-friendly, as well, with recycled plastics and sustainably-produced wood pieces throughout. Our Solar Orange/Frozen Gray test car came with the optional ($1,700) Giga World package, which adds comfort access keyless entry and satellite radio with a one-year free subscription. It also came with 20-inch alloy wheels to replace the still-massive 19-inch wheels that are offered standard.

The i3's 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is rated to deliver about 81 miles of range per charge and takes about four hours to fully recharge on a 240-volt fast charger. The BMW i3 also offers a unique, optional "range-extender" — a 647-cc gasoline scooter engine which turns a 37-horsepower generator and extends the car's total range up to about 150 miles on its 1.9-gallon gas tank.

If your commute is less than around 35 miles and, like many urbanites, you mainly use your car for short trips, then the BMW i3 could be your car of the future, today. With lease deals in the $300- $400 per month range, the i3 proves that even relatively affordable electric vehicles need not be unappealing golf carts. So, while the exterior design of the i3 from may resemble something Marcel Duchamp scribbled on a napkin, BMW nonetheless deserves credit for taking a risk and investing in a dynamic, sustainable and fun automotive future.

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, 12-year/unlimited-mile rust perforation warranty, 4-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance, 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty

Visit the BMW website

Specs

Base Price: $41,350

As Tested: $41,350

  • 138 / 111 mpg
  • EPA
  • 6.5 sec
  • 0-60
  • 170 hp
  • Horsepower
  • 90 mph
  • Top Speed
  • Engine: AC synchronous
  • Horsepower: 170 hp
  • Torque: 184
  • Transmission: 1-speed direct
  • Curb Weight: 2,635 lbs
  • Wheelbase: 101.2 in
  • Length: 157.4 in
  • Width: 69.9 in
  • Height: 62.1 in
  • Turning circle: 32.3 ft
  • Brakes: Front and rear ventilated discs with ABS
  • Suspension: Front MacPherson strut, rear multilink
  • Traction: Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and Cornering Brake Control standard, can't be turned off
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 sec
  • 60-0 mph: 109 ft.
  • Top Speed: 90 mph
  • EPA City: 138 mpg
  • EPA Highway: 111 mpg
  • Combined MPG: 124 mpg
  • Seating Capacity: 4
  • Safety: NHTSA and IIHS: not rated, EURO NCAP: 4 Stars

Similar Cars

2015 BMW i8

  • 0-60: 4.2 sec
  • Horsepower: 362 hp
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

2015 BMW Alpina B6

  • EPA: 16 / 24 mpg
  • 0-60: 3.7 sec
  • Horsepower: 540 hp
  • Top Speed: 198 mph

2015 BMW 228i

  • EPA: 23 / 36 mpg
  • 0-60: 5 sec
  • Horsepower: 240 hp
  • Top Speed: 153 mph

2014 BMW 435i Coupe

  • EPA: 22 / 32 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.3 sec
  • Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2014 Tesla Model S

  • EPA: 94 / 97 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.1 sec
  • Horsepower: 302 hp
  • Top Speed: 120 mph

2014 Jaguar F-TYPE V8 S

  • EPA: 16 / 23 mpg
  • 0-60: 4.2 sec
  • Horsepower: 495 hp @ 6,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 186 mph

2014 Jaguar F-TYPE S

  • EPA: 19 / 27 mpg
  • 0-60: 4.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 171 mph

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster

  • EPA: 17 / 25 mpg
  • 0-60: 4.5 sec
  • Horsepower: 429 hp @ 5,250 rpm
  • Top Speed: 0 mph

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium Collection

  • EPA: 19 / 30 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.9 sec
  • Horsepower: 272 hp @ 5,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 149 mph

2013 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

  • 0-60: 4.6 sec
  • Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 183 mph

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE

  • EPA: 126 / 99 mpg
  • 0-60: 13 sec
  • Horsepower: 66 hp
  • Top Speed: 80 mph

2014 Audi RS 7 Quattro Tiptronic

  • EPA: 16 / 27 mpg
  • 0-60: 3.7 sec
  • Horsepower: 560 hp @ 5,700-6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 174 mph

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo A/T

  • EPA: 24 / 31 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.3 sec
  • Horsepower: 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio

  • EPA: 28 / 34 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2013 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

  • 0-60: 4.6 sec
  • Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 183 mph

2014 Volkswagen GTI 4-Door

  • EPA: 24 / 33 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 200 hp @ 5,100 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

  • EPA: 31 / 40 mpg
  • 0-60: 10.4 sec
  • Horsepower: 109 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 0 mph

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE

  • EPA: 126 / 99 mpg
  • 0-60: 13 sec
  • Horsepower: 66 hp
  • Top Speed: 80 mph

2014 Mazda 2 Touring

  • EPA: 29 / 35 mpg
  • 0-60: 9 sec
  • Horsepower: 100 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 103 mph

2014 Audi S7 Quattro S Tronic

  • EPA: 17 / 27 mpg
  • 0-60: 4.5 sec
  • Horsepower: 420 hp @ 5,500-6,400 rpm
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

  • EPA: 128 / 110 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.3 sec
  • Horsepower: 200
  • Top Speed: 93 mph

2016 Tesla Model S P90D Ludicrous

  • EPA: 89 / 98 mpg
  • 0-60: 2.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 762 hp
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

2016 Chevrolet Spark

  • EPA: 31 / 41 mpg
  • 0-60: 10.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 98 hp
  • Top Speed: 110 mph

2014 Tesla Model S

  • EPA: 94 / 97 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.1 sec
  • Horsepower: 302 hp
  • Top Speed: 120 mph

2014 Mazda 2 Touring

  • EPA: 29 / 35 mpg
  • 0-60: 9 sec
  • Horsepower: 100 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 103 mph

2014 Kia Forte EX

  • EPA: 22 / 36 mpg
  • 0-60: 7.4 sec
  • Horsepower: 173 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2014 Fiat Fiat 500L

  • EPA: 24 / 33 mpg
  • 0-60: 9 sec
  • Horsepower: 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 120 mph

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE 2WD

  • EPA: 24 / 31 mpg
  • 0-60: 0 sec
  • Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 0 mph

2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD

  • EPA: 22 / 31 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 240 hp @ 5,500 rpm
  • Top Speed: 0 mph

2014 Volkswagen GTI 4-Door

  • EPA: 24 / 33 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 200 hp @ 5,100 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE

  • EPA: 126 / 99 mpg
  • 0-60: 13 sec
  • Horsepower: 66 hp
  • Top Speed: 80 mph

2014 Mazda 2 Touring

  • EPA: 29 / 35 mpg
  • 0-60: 9 sec
  • Horsepower: 100 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 103 mph

2014 Audi RS 7 Quattro Tiptronic

  • EPA: 16 / 27 mpg
  • 0-60: 3.7 sec
  • Horsepower: 560 hp @ 5,700-6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 174 mph

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo A/T

  • EPA: 24 / 31 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.3 sec
  • Horsepower: 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic

  • EPA: 24 / 32 mpg
  • 0-60: 6.3 sec
  • Horsepower: 208 hp

2014 Lexus IS350 Convertible F Sport

  • EPA: 19 / 27 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.8 sec
  • Horsepower: 306 hp @ 6400 RPM
  • Top Speed: 0 mph

2014 Infiniti Q70

  • EPA: 16 / 24 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.2 sec
  • Horsepower: 420 hp
  • Top Speed: 157 mph

2014 Infiniti Q60

  • EPA: 18 / 26 mpg
  • 0-60: 5.7 sec
  • Horsepower: 325 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Top Speed: 158 mph
blog comments powered by Disqus