Tesla owner reviews the BMW i3

by Bernie McGroarty on July 21, 2014, 12:19 pm
”tesla driver in i3”

While I don't think the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S actually compete, or even have much in common other than the fact that they are electric, It's interesting to read what drivers of other EVs think about the i3 after a some time behind the wheel. Green Car Reports ran an interesting review of the BMW i3 from an actual Tesla driver. Electric luxury sportscar meets sustainable urban mobility. Have a look at some key points from the review of BMW's i3.


When the Model S is your benchmark for acceleration, every other car is bound to disappoint. And the i3 does. It's spritely, but hardly overwhelming.

The Tesla has a creep mode that can be turned on and off, and I've always kept mine on. But I found I liked the i3's complete-stop mode.* It's inspired me to turn off the creep mode in the Tesla for a few days. We'll see how I like it.

Since the little BMW weighs fully a ton less than the Tesla (2600 pounds versus 4600 pounds), I didn't expect it to have a ride as smooth as the bigger car. And it doesn't.*

While the Tesla drives like an ingot on rails, I found the i3's steering slightly nervous, requiring tiny adjustments even on smooth, straight roads.*

BMW fans and driving-glove/heel-and-toe types may view this highly sensitive steering feedback as a good thing. I can see their point, but I don't agree.


Efficiency was surprisingly mediocre during my two test drives. It is astonishing and disappointing to me that the i3 would be only about 7 percent more efficient than a car that's nearly twice as heavy.

All of BMW's engineering savvy, a clean sheet of paper, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic for the body shell, and the company comes up with an EPA range of......81 miles? Really?

Ease of entry, Maneuverability:

With the i3, Driver access is good--a lot better than the Tesla.*Great for tall, creaky guys like me. I could actually see what was behind me when I backed up. Amazing. And with the four corners of the car so close, maneuvering in tight spaces was a breeze.

In the end:

For now, the Tesla Model S remains secure in its position at the top of the electric-car pantheon. Competition from the i3? Hah!

Source and read the full review from Green Car Reports.

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7 responses to Tesla owner reviews the BMW i3

mrbelk commented:
July 24, 2014, 3:30 pm

On the range: I don't know what the guy wanted. it's only a 22kWh battery pack. The i3 was never intended to be a road tripper or long commute car. It's a car for large urban/exurban areas where 90% of your driving is < 40mi round trip. I'm quite sure that if BMW had wanted to build a true Model S competitor, they could have.

OBS3SSION commented:
July 24, 2014, 3:56 pm

I've test driven both, and the Model S is an awesome car. Tesla went the route that an EV should be a premium-looking, performance driving car with the range similar to a gas car. I love it, and love the fact that I would only worry about range anxiety once or twice a year.

BMW decided to go the route of making a car that screams its EV-ness. A tall, short and narrow city car that, let's be honest, you either love it or hate it. My opinion is somewhere around 'dorky golf cart'. But it seems perfectly suited to large city driving, where space is at a premium, and you're not traveling long distances. For what it is, the i3 is a great little car! It was much more fun to drive than I was expecting.

I live in a suburban area around a small city. I don't need a megacity car. I want a fun-to-drive, sexy-looking car that can get me longer distances without worry. Here's hoping the Tesla Model 3 and the BMW i5 are what I'm looking for in a few years!
BestCS commented:
July 30, 2014, 11:11 am

The I3 was designed for dorky tree huggers which I understand California is full of!

Yuk yuk!
Runon MD1 commented:
July 30, 2014, 9:00 pm

Guilty as charged, I suppose, BestCS.

But I have been asking my acquaintances whether they have observed me walking around drooling, "Yuk, yuk, dopety-dopety-doh" while wearing a red and black checkered hat with ear flaps, and, at least to this point in time, responses have varied from, "Huh?" to, "What the hell are you talking about...are you from Dayton?," which I will presume to mean that they haven't.


318iSteve commented:
July 31, 2014, 3:54 am

Next week: An F-350 driver reviews the new Chevy Colorado!
Drbeqg commented:
July 31, 2014, 12:26 pm

Took delivery of my i3 yesterday. It is a sensational vehicle--everything I had expected and more. For the skeptics, do a test drive. Quiet, nimble, fast off the mark, responsive and comfortable--I don't have to stoop down to get into the seat. Everything about the interior shouts quality. Great car. Hope everyone who is waiting for one will enjoy it as much as I am. The wait is worth it.
ddk632 commented:
July 31, 2014, 12:37 pm

Congrats! Enjoy in good health. They are fun, for sure. Drove one in LA last year at the auto show.