EV Review: 2018 BMW i3

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

Anyone shopping for a premium electric car will find there’s a huge gap between the entry-level mass-market cars like the Nissan LEAF or Chevy Bolt and the luxury models like the Tesla Model S. BMW looks to plug that gap with a redesign of their compact electric car, the BMW i3. Its previous design enjoyed limited success in previous years, managing just under 6,000 units sold in 2016. Sales were flat due to lackluster range, inconsistent battery life, and trouble building value in the product.

The 2018 BMW i3 has been retooled for better range and enhanced styling. While its basic electric engine makes the same power as the former BMW i3, you can expect a better battery reliability. The exterior styling gets a wider stance that results in more interior room. Some of BMW’s best tech features are now found in the 2018 BMW i3, and that has the potential to differentiate it from the more value-driven options on the market.

Compared with others like it, the BMW i3 still has a shorter range, albeit still quite usable. And quick-charging options reduce the impact a low battery has on your travels. Hopefully, BMW can find widespread success with this second-generation i3.

Exterior Styling

Initial appearances don’t look all that dramatic between the 2017 and 2018 BMW i3. The blue or gray-accented grille openings and body trim are still present, in typical EV fashion. A closer inspection tells a different story. The 2018 BMW i3 rides 10mm lower and has a wider stance, donning a marginally sportier look.

BMW i3The BMW i3 still has the unusual window beltline, dipping low at the awkward rear doors, but that’s forgivable because of the gloss black roof and accents, as well as sharp-looking 19-inch standard wheels and full LED headlights, are quite nice.

There’s an all-new i3 for 2018 also, the BMW i3s, which takes on an even sportier appearance and receives 20-inch wheels. Adding $3,200 to the base price with little trade-off means it probably won’t be the top seller in the i3 lineup, although it has some nice touches.

Fit and Finish Interior

Interior and technology are where the 2018 BMW i3 really shines. The front seats are extremely comfortable despite being thin-backed, wrapped in either a recycled-material fabric or full natural leather. The entry-level Deka World trim has plastic interior trim. While it’s well done, the real wood trims in the Giga World and Tera World trims are far superior. As you can expect with every BMW, fit and finish is of the utmost quality. Sleek lines and simple-to-use features make it a dream to operate.

It’s an advanced vehicle, no matter the trim you choose. Standard features include heated front seats, automatic climate control, Dynamic Cruise Control, Comfort Access keyless entry, and rain-sensing wipers. A heat pump makes the 2018 BMW i3 relevant even in cold climates.

Most buyers will opt for the Technology and Driving Assistant Package, adding navigation, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Driving Assistant, and ConnectedDrive Services. It adds $2,500 to the base price.

One feature that should be standard is a sunroof. Instead, it’s offered as an add-on for $1,000. Apple CarPlay is also an additional cost, as is Harman Kardon premium sound. These are all things BMW should consider as standard features if they wish to maintain the 2018 BMW i3 as a premium or luxury vehicle.

Console of BMW i3Driving Experience

The 2018 BMW i3 could very well take you by surprise behind the wheel. There’s more power than you’d initially imagine in a compact car like this. The equivalent of 170 horsepower is evident, and 184 lb.-ft. of torque is immediately available from a stop. That equates to a 0-to-60mph acceleration time of 7.2 seconds. It’s no Tesla Model S, but that’s more than enough for the everyday commuter.

What BMW has done very well in the second-gen i3 has to do with its handling. It rides extremely well, obviously aided with the 10mm lowered suspension and the steering feel is better than average for an electric car.

2018 BMW i3 rear city streetIf you’re looking for a bit more zip, the 2018 BMW i3s might be more your style. Its 181hp electric motor lowers 0-to-60mph acceleration time to 6.8 seconds. The all-battery range is slightly less, though.

Recharging the 2018 BMW i3 isn’t an issue with the Level 2 charger. In just three hours, 90 miles of charge can be added at home with the BMW i Charging Station.

Features

MSRP $44,450 USD
Type BEV
Electric Range 124 miles / 200 km
Total Range 124 miles / 200 km
Time to Charge 4.8 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 127 kW
Battery Capacity 33 kWh
Top Speed 93 mph / 150 km/h
Warranty 4 Years / 50,000 Miles or 80,000 Kms Comprehensive Warranty
8 Years / 100,000 Miles or 160,000 Kms EV Battery Warranty

Conclusion

The 2018 BMW i3 is geared toward the individual owner. With high-quality touches like real wood trim and a fairly decent range, it’s definitely a sufficient EV for the typical electric car owner. It might be hard to justify the extra expense over an increasingly tough competition, however.

The range is slightly subpar. An extended-range model is offered, although it adds a gas engine to do so, defeating the point. If the all-electric range was 200 miles or more, the 2018 BMW i3 would be a force to be reckoned with.

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