The BMW i3 represents the first time carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) are being used in a mass-production electric car. This exotic material makes the i3 extremely lightweight and strong. Combined with injected thermo plastics to make up the whole of the car’s body, the i3 will never rust, will likely last forever, and will be dent resistant.
As a pure purpose-built EV, the i3 poses no real compromise on a day-to-day basis. It features a roomy cabin and a decent, useable trunk.
The 2014 BMW i3 is, according to BMW, a true BMW where driving dynamics are concerned.
Range always poses an issue for potential buyers. At roughly 100 miles or 160 km, it should be sufficient for most buyers.
The purchase price may turn some consumers away; however, it is only slightly more expensive than the Chevrolet Volt.
Price of the 2014 BMW i3 Preview
Base price for the 2014 BMW i3 is $44,950. Equipped with a range-extender, pricing starts at $48,950. Offered trims will be: Loft Design World, Lodge Design World, and Suite Design World. The Technology package (BMW Connected Drive Services, Internet access, DC fast charging system, and Hi-Fi stereo) will be optional on all trims.
The 2014 BMW i3 is a monospace or hatchback-type, 4-seater urban family vehicle.
The all-important signature kidney grille reminds all that this is a BMW. The black hood, roof and glazed hatch are a distinctive feature for the “i” cars. Handsome adaptive LEDs headlights and floating LED taillights are standard.
The lower beltline in the rear and absence of a “B” pillar improve side-rear visibility. The trick “coach” or suicide doors aid rear passenger ingress and egress.
The 2014 BMW i3 is 3,999 mm long, 1,775 mm wide and 1,578 mm high. 19” wheels with front P155/70 tires are standard. With the range extender, rear tires grow to 175/65. 20” wheels are optional.
Inside the 2014 BMW i3 Preview
The cabin is surprisingly roomy thanks to numerous thoughtful elements such as thin seats and the absence of a centre console and tunnel. The latter enables passengers to slide out one way or the other should the car be in a tight parking spot.
The instrument cluster and Control Display consist of freestanding screens, one behind the steering wheel and the other in the centre top portion of the dashboard.
Materials used onboard may not sound as exotic as CFRP; however, they are all from recycled, natural or renewable sources. BMW refers to this approach as “next premium.” For example, the dashboard and door cards are made from dried grass, aka fibres from the kenaf plant. It looks great and is in fact far more premium than it sounds. Eucalyptus wood is optional.
The 2014 BMW i3 features the interior volume of a 3 Series and the quality materials and attention to detail of a 5 Series.
The 2014 BMW i3’s boot has a useable volume of 260 litres. Max cargo space with the rear bench folded is 1,100 litres.
2014 BMW i3 Preview powertrain
The 2014 BMW i3’s electric Hybrid synchronous motor with integrated power electronics engine is in the rear, under the trunk floor, and drives the rear wheels.
The large 22 kWh battery (or drive module which is made of 100% aluminum) is located in the center of the car, between the axles. A full charge on 110 volts requires 20 hours. The available 7.4 kW charger enables a 3-hour charge.
The drive system’s output is 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Its power propels the i3 to 60 km/h in 3.7 seconds and to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds. The i3’s range is between 80 and 100 miles or 130 to 160 kms.
For those with range anxiety, BMW offers a 2-cylinder range-extender engine. The 650cc 2-cylinder petrol engine develops 34 horsepower and is mounted along side the electric motor above the rear axle. It is fed by a 2.4-gallon (9.1 litre) tank and is available on all trims. It adds up to 265 lbs on top of the 2,630 lbs weight.
The 2014 BMW i3’s turning radius is a short 9.6 metres. It features a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
All manners of airbags and electronic nannies are standard on the 2014 BMW i3. The CFRP shell has an impressive ability to absorb energy. An F1 car cockpit is made of the same material.
Comparing the 2014 BMW i3 Preview
Lexus CT 200h, Acura ILX Hybrid, Audi A3 e-tron