I hesitantly sold my Mercedes CL600 and decided to lease the i3 REx to replace it. I am not a tree hugger but I am a technology geek and the i3 has some fantastic technology built in. My first impression of the i3 was that this is one ugly car and I did not like the look of the pizza cutter tires. However, after driving it for several weeks, not only have the looks grown on me (as well as the 20 inch skinny tires), but i find it the car extremely enjoyable to drive. In fact, it is so enjoyable that my wife prefers the drive to her Range Rover Sport and is constantly asking me to leave it at home so she can drive it. The off-the-line acceleration is fantastic, which has helped alleviate the sorrow of losing my V12 gasoline engine. The interior room for the front occupants is extremely roomy (I am 6'1" with a large frame). For a sub-compact car, this feels roomier than most other much larger cars. The user interface took a while to learn, but now that I am familiar with it, I am very impressed. The entertainment options are endless, especially when I connect my iPhone and use all of the music, streaming and pod cast services. I use the car primarily to commute to work, 36 miles round trip. I am also able to charge the car at work. For commuting, the car is ideal. I do have the range extender, but I have never actually used it as I have good charging options between work and home but it does take range anxiety out of the equation. If I had to pick anything that I don't like, it is the placement of the electrical charging port, which is located on the back, passenger side of the car. This requires me to get the charging cable and walk around to the other side. While this is clearly a first-world problem, it would have been much easier to locate the charging port close to the driver's door. The materials inside are excellent and I especially like the wood in the dash. I leased the vehicle because I am not yet comfortable with the residual value of an EV, but given the subsidies available, and the fact that I no longer buy gasoline, this is a very economical vehicle to operate. Overall, I was just looking for a very different car experience from buying another internal combustion car. The experience so far is highly recommended.
My volt lease was up and I couldn't extend to wait for the 16 volt. So I wanted to stay electric and this was the only other choice with "range extending" capabilities. So as a VERY happy Volt owner I was very worried about changing. So here is the deal. Had the car a week with a mix of city and freeway driving at speeds up to 75 mph.
BMW -the plusses: way faster acceleration . Way quieter ride. Better road feel and solid feeling. Perfect regenerative braking. Much roomier cabin and comfort for tall folks ( Im 6'3). Better/Great turning radius. Perfect higher but not to high seating/drivin position. Easy In&Out. Considerably better battery range - about 72 miles / compared to 38 miles. Better regenerative battery charging in city driving. Able to extend mileage better. Much better BMW 4 year full maintenance warranty. Love the "coast" mode when you just ease off the gas just right. One pedal driving!! Love that! Easier access to rear seats. Better safety features ( adaptive cruise control with city stop start is awesome). Have not seen this on another car. Set it for 40 mph. Brings you to a stop in traffic and stays engaged. Then starts you up again when the light changes. Pretty much auto pilot driving. Auto magic Parallel parking mode. (Have not tried this yet so can't say if it actually works well or not). Traffic nav system included with best energy routes based on traffic. Better solid German build quality compared to volt. Switch gear , fit and finish.
So whats not to like that the Volt does better? Ride still to "stiff" and I have the 19" wheels. It's on the border of being the perfect balance. The 20" wheels have a lower profile tire so I am sure they would make the ride even more stiff which would not be good. I don't know why so many car manufacturers keep making such stiff suspensions when most americans like a softer ride. Cant you find the right balance? Some cars do, but a lot don't. (Rumor is the new 2016 volt will have a better ride quality than the current model). Also not good in the BMW is the car is a bit "skittery" on broken pavement when taking a turn. Especially the back can kick out. This is because it is very light and the tires are very thin. But the regular handling on decent roads feels good but the steering is very "sensitive. Especially at freeway speeds. The slightest movement of the wheel really moves the car. I may get used to this but for now I have a harder time keeping the car in a straight line. Don't know if this is the thin tires or light weight or weight of the electric steering or a combination of all three but this is where the volt drives much better. User customization of the many features of the car is lacking and much better in the Volt. Range extender engine is much quieter in the BMW but has only a 1.9 gallon tank which will get you about 60 miles more if full. Volt holds 8 gallons so gets you the range of a regular car. So the BMW is really a city car with the bonus of if you need to make a ton of trips across town in one day, you can do it. So if you are cool with just a city car you should not have any concerns about the BMW. Larger side mirrors on the volt are better. New volt will have lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. BMW doesn't have that. Kind of baffling as this is tech that many cheap american cars now have. In particular blind spot monitoring is a very worthwhile feature in my opinion. Oh forgot. Volt radio , even the high end Bose upgrade is not that good. It's OK but The BMW with the upgraded Harmon radio is great in comparison. Big beef. Charging port on the BMW is on the passenger side REAR of the car! So pretty much you need to back in to any parking space or your home if you want to charge. The volt is just in front of the drivers door. Perfect spot. Not sure I understand the logic of the rear charging door. But the BMW has a lighted charging port that changes colors. cool. Also BMW has super fast Tesla like DC charging built in at no extra cost. Now if only you can find a DC charging station. Someday. Some of the interior "eco" materials used on the BMW make it feel weird and cheap. It is recycled material but it looks like crap. I'm sure the germans can figure out a way to make recycled material look nice and have a soft finish which would make the car even quieter. Cost. Volt is 10,000 cheaper for the loaded model. Thats a big difference. The volt in three years has been almost 100% trouble free. A very rare thing for a high tech car. i give GM very high kudos for building such a high quality car that has not needed to be in the shop.
Summary? I'm liking the much quieter ride and super power acceleration and better comfort of the Beemer. The unique styling can be a turn off for some but I think it grows on most people. Now lets see if it is as reliable and trouble free as the volt. I hope so. I'll report back after more driving.
I agree with Diane. It is a terrific electric car, with great performance and handling, a beautiful interior, fine ergonomics, and great fun to drive. That said, it is not ready for prime time. BMW USA has so far failed to get serious about the electric market. The super-fast charger receptacle is not compatible with any in my NC and there are only a few in the whole U.S.!! Nissan has 1-2 hour chargers at many (most) dealers. BMW has zilch. Why not? My dealer says too expensive to install. Thus long trips are on gasoline, unless you can find a ChargePoint station and feel like taking a 4-5 nap while charging. Unless BMW gets serious I'll switch brands when the 2-year lease is up.
Used primarily as a daily drive to/from work, 48km each way. This
leaves 15km - 40km at the end of the day. Level2 charger in the garage keeps the BMW i3 full.
Off the line and even on the highway this is a very responsive car.
The high seating position and very open design gives a great view of the road.
Figure on saving about $2,500 per year due to 1/10th energy costs and 1/2 maintenance and service costs.
A very practical and fun car to drive for me, makes the commute that much better.
Seamless performance and comfort. Serenely quiet. The ultimate commuter. Still digesting that there is really no maintenance - just plug it in at home or the office every few days. I drive 20-30 miles/day and it is exceptionally well-suited to my use. I could not be happier the i3 - hard to imagine going back to an ICE after this.
Update: no maintenance issues to date. Did better in snow with all-season tires than I expected - handled 6" and some ice on a couple of separate occassions. Back seat is just for occasional use. My wife complains that the suicide doors make it particularly challenging to access the back seat when parked in a parking lot. I never did buy the charger. Just plug into wall outlet and let charge overnight.