BMW’s first foray into mainstream electric vehicles, the i3 offers fully electric propulsion along with much of the brand’s superior driving characteristics. It may not look like a BMW, but otherwise qualifies as a member of the family.
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2014 BMW i3 Overview
What's New for 2014
The i3 is an all-new vehicle from the tires up.
Choosing Your BMW i3
Every i3 carries a rear-mounted 125-kilowatt electric motor that delivers 170 horsepower to the rear wheels. Full battery charging takes about 3.5 hours. According to BMW, the i3 tops out at 93 mph and goes 70-110 miles on a single charge depending on your power needs and the driving mode you select (the i3 has three).
The available Range Extender is essentially a gas-powered generator that boosts the i3's range to 120-185 miles. You can extend the range indefinitely by keeping the 2.4-gallon tank full.
Standard equipment emphasizes technology over luxury and includes features like HD radio, navigation and rear parking sensors.
The i3 comes in three trim levels, or "Worlds" as BMW call them, which differ mainly in interior trim:
- Mega: Carries leatherette seats with cloth inserts.
- Giga: Features leather-and-wool seats, a leather dash cover and wood trim, plus satellite radio and a universal garage door opener.
- Terra: Adds full leather seats with hand stitching.
There are just two option packages to choose from:
- Parking Assistant: Includes a rearview camera, automated parallel parking, and a nifty feature that helps you find a parking spot.
- Technology: Includes the above package, plus an upgraded navigation system, real-time traffic data and a suite of smartphone apps.
A handful of extra features are available separately, including 20-inch wheels, heated front seats and a Harman Kardon sound system.
The available gas-powered Range Extender transforms the i3 from a niche vehicle to a car without limitations. Yes, it costs about $4,000, but that's money very well spent in our view.