What is the net sum of BMW’s first mass-produced foray into electrification?
If you’re a die-hard looking for the famously satisfying driving dynamics of a 3-series, you’ll find yourself unquenched by the i3’s handling skillset. On the other hand, the spider chart of performance does spike on the acceleration side, and there’s also solace from those little things that please urbanites, like the unicycle-like turning radius of 32.3 feet and the efficient interplay between the voluminous interior cabin and the compact exterior footprint.
As it stands, the BMW i3’s price starts at an elevated but comprehensible $41,350, plus an extra $3,950 for the optional range extender. The gas-powered backup may offend EV purists (and to date, remains untested by the press), but the feature is a no-brainer for anyone remotely realistic about real-world driving. Speaking of, trim packages for the U.S. market are oddly named, with Mega World, Giga World, and Tera World describing the base, mid, and top-tier models.
While a well-equipped i3 will come uncomfortably close to the price point of the sleeker and sexier Tesla Model S — especially if BMW’s notoriously pricey packaging comes into play — sensualist brand aficionados will pin their hopes on the forthcoming i8. With its butterfly doors, supercar-like personality, and $136,625 price tag, the i8 had better feel like the Ultimate Driving Machine, gas burning tradition be damned.
But measuring the i3’s merits on whether its driving dynamics make it a true BMW relies on a metric that’s based on more than a century of internal combustion history. With different goals and a function-minded, one box silhouette to back up that focus, the i3 is an impressively polished, well-executed EV that just happens to wear a BMW roundel (not to mention those faux kidney grilles). As a city car offering efficient, comfortable, and well-designed transport for four passengers, the i3 delivers on its promise, and then some.
All photos by Basem Wasef/get-gadget. Follow the author on Twitter (@BasemWasef)
Update: 8:00am PDT Oct 22, A previous version of this review gave the car a different rating. This error has been corrected to reflect the author’s intended rating, a score of 8/10, “Excellent, with room to kvetch.”