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2020 BMW i3 Performance Review


Performance: 8.3

The 2020 BMW i3's quick acceleration and easy maneuverability make it a great city car. However, its handling doesn’t feel all that stable at highway speeds.

  • "The firm ride can be jostling on uneven pavement, unbefitting a $50,000 car." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The BMW i3 is a surprisingly good all-around performer. The new 2019 car gains about 42 pounds' worth of battery weight, but that shouldn't upset the finely balanced handling and responsive steering much. Acceleration is quick, though some rivals are dramatically quicker." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "An electric motor delivers its torque all at once, so the acceleration is instantaneous, and continuous. With no mechanical transmission, the momentum is uninterrupted by gear changes, giving the i3 an almost slingshot-like effect." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The i3 comes standard with a 170-horsepower electric motor, and it's available with a 181-horsepower motor. Both are peppy and come with a single-speed transmission.

Standard electric-only models have a 153-mile range. Range-extended models add a gasoline engine to get a total range of 200 miles. The i3's range is decent, but quite a few of its competitors have longer ranges.

As far as charging times are concerned, the i3 gains 3 to 4 miles of range per hour with a 120-volt household-style Level 1 charger and 26 miles of range per hour with a 240-volt Level 2 charger. Using a 480-volt Level 3 DC charger at a public charging station, you'll get up to 80% of the i3's range in just 40 minutes.

  • "Like other electric cars, acceleration from a stop is strong, silent, and immediate. The rear-mounted electric motor catapults the i3 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds." -- Consumer Reports
  • "With its one-speed direct-drive transmission, the i3 pulls hard, smoothly, and in a linear fashion, all while staying completely silent. No fake engine noises here. It's a relatively quick ride, too." -- Car and Driver
  • "Without the need to shift gears, electric vehicles such as the i3 make for utterly smooth acceleration and braking." -- Edmunds (2019)

Handling and Braking

The i3 is an excellent vehicle for city driving. It can maneuver through busy streets just as well as it fits into tight parking spaces. Though it can take some getting used to, the i3's regenerative braking system is aggressive and facilitates one-pedal driving that's ideal in stop-and-go traffic. That said, the i3 doesn't feel as controlled on the highway, since the steering requires more corrections than usual.  

  • "Slowing down in the i3 is a dramatic affair for the uninitiated, though brake performance proved very good overall. The i3 has a very aggressive regenerative braking system, which slows the car rapidly the moment you lift off the accelerator. In fact, with a little extra planning, you can come to a complete stop using just the gas pedal." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The quick, responsive steering and a short wheelbase add up to an ultra-tight turning circle and excellent city maneuverability. But these same attributes can make the i3 feel darty on the highway at speed, especially since it can also be susceptible to following grooves in the road." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "What might be surprising is the i3's well-tuned handling, courtesy of a nearly 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and BMW's expertise in rear-drive dynamics. This is an engaging EV for less than half the price of a Tesla Model S. Happily, it's also supple and quiet in normal driving, with suitably upscale manners." -- Autotrader (2019)
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2020 BMW i3

MSRP: $44,450 - $51,500

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