This BMW i3 video review includes information about electric range, the range extender engine, price, tax rebates, performance, interior space and what it's like to drive. We also compare it to other electric cars. For more information, read the 2014 BMW i3 review.
So what is it? In simple terms, it's an electric car that can go between 60 and 90 miles depending on driving style and conditions. You can also get a small engine that acts as a range extender. The mechanical undercarriage is constructed of lightweight aluminum and the upper body cell is carbon fiber. The fact BMW has applied it to a car this relatively inexpensive is groundbreaking.
The i3 may be radically different than any BMW that's come before, but it still very much embodies those same pure elements that make a BMW a BMW. It still has a 50/50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive, plus sharp steering, an ultra-low center of gravity and wheels pushed out to the corners making it surprisingly responsive and even fun to drive. The stiff structure and well-tuned suspension also result in a comfortable, composed ride that doesn't get flummoxed by bumps around town.
The interior feels like you've been sent into the future. In this Giga World trim level, the seats and doors are covered in a rich combination of grey wool cloth and natural leather. The wood trim that cascades across the dash is matte finish - you can actually feel the grain. Yet, all of that wraps around the same sort of controls you'd find in any other BMW.
The cabin is also more functional than other electric cars. There are enormous door bins and there's an open space between the foot wells to store a purse. The back can seat two full-sized adults comfortably, though the clam shell doors aren't ideal in tight parking spots. Now, the trunk floor is quite high and the space is best suited to shopping bags, but the back seat folds flat, which is a rarity among electric cars.
Pricing starts at around $41,000 with the range extender costing about $4,000 more. Keep in mind the $7,500 federal tax rebate plus whatever state rebates might apply. That still makes it between 6 and 13,000 dollars more than other electric and plug-in cars like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and Chevrolet Volt, but given the materials, the engineering, the driving experience and the less compromised interior, it definitely seems worth the premium.