BMW's resident electric vehicle, the i3 might not look like of any of its stablemates, but performs with nearly as much charisma. Buyers in search of gas-free motoring with an athletic twist will find a lot to like.
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2017 BMW i3 Overview
What's New for 2017
A larger battery for increased range and a sunroof join the option list.
Choosing Your BMW i3
The i3 retains its rear-drive, rear-engine layout and tall hatchback body. The electric motor delivers 170 horsepower through a single-speed automatic transmission. According to BMW, the i3 averages 81 miles of range with the standard 22-kilowatt-hour battery. The optional 33-kWh battery bumps that figure to 114 miles. Actual range will vary according to power needs and the selected driving mode (Normal, Eco Pro, Eco Pro+).
Recharging a fully depleted 22-kWh battery takes about 3.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet. The 33-kWh battery needs 4.5 hours of charging time. The optional Range Extender — essentially a gas-powered generator like you'd get on a Chevrolet Volt — boosts the i3's average range to 180 miles.
The i3 is EPA-rated at 124 miles per gallon equivalent in combined city and highway driving, or 118 MPGe with the larger battery.
Trim levels break out according to range:
Every model offers a choice of interior trim materials, or "Worlds" as BMW calls them:
- Deka World (standard): Full cloth seats
- Mega World ($1,400): Leatherette seats with cloth inserts (standard on 60 ah)
- Giga World: ($1,800): Leather and cloth seats, plus eucalyptus wood trim
- Terra World ($2,600): Full leather seats and dark oak trim
BMW offers two option packages for the i3. The $1,000 Parking Assistant Package adds a rearview camera and an automated parking system. Those features are also available in the Technology + Driving Assistant Package, along with an upgraded navigation system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking for $2,350.
The only individual factory options are a sunroof ($1,000), Harman Kardon surround-sound system ($800), and 20-inch wheels.
BMW has partially compensated for the cost of the larger battery in the 94 ah by giving the 60 ah a slightly nicer standard interior (Mega instead of Deka). With a difference of just $1,200 between the two, we'd go for the longer-range 94 ah. Whether to tack on the Range Extender at $3,850 is less clear-cut. While it might remove range anxiety, it doesn't turn the i3 into a long-distance EV by any means.