What's New for 2014
The 2014 BMW i3 is an all-new model.
BMW goes all-in on an electric vehicle future with the 2014 i3. The Bavarian automaker has designed the i-Series -- which also includes the high-performance i8 -- behind a philosophy of sustainable mobility. In the case of the i3, that means a dedicated electric city car. At just 151.4 inches long -- 2 feet shorter than the Nissan Leaf -- the i3 should have few problems finding good parking near the downtown museum. And with four-passenger seating, you'll be able to bring the art critics in your social circle with you.
Being a BMW, the i3 shouldn't lack for performance. Extensive use of aluminum in the chassis and carbon-fiber in the cabin means the i3 will weigh slightly more than 2,700 pounds -- still lighter than the Nissan Leaf. A powerful 125-kilowatt electric motor (equivalent to about 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque) will mount over the rear axle and drive the rear wheels. BMW says the i3 will dash from zero to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds and reach a top speed of 93 mph. BMW also claims the i3 will have a range of 93 miles and can quick-charge to 80 percent of its battery capacity in just an hour, or six hours for a full charge on a standard outlet.
Inside the cabin, a "freestanding" steering column houses key controls including the instrument cluster and gearshift lever, and eliminates a center console. Instead, three displays -- a 6.5-inch instrument cluster, 8.8-inch central display and a third screen dedicated to audio and climate controls -- form the bulk of the driver interface. The i3 cabin also dispenses with a center tunnel bisecting the floor and uses full-width seat benches front and rear for passenger-friendly ingress and egress.
How the i3 stacks up to other electric vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf remains to be seen, but its BMW heritage and promising performance should make it a distinctive choice. Check back for a full review of the 2014 BMW i3, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.