2017 BMW i3 Review

Fuel Type
Electric
Transmission
Automatic
Drives
RWD
MSRP
$42,400
City MPG
137
Highway MPG
111
OVERALL RATING 3.9 of 5.0
  • Performance
    4.0 of 5.0
  • Cost of Ownership
    4.6 of 5.0
  • Interior
    3.6 of 5.0
  • Reliability
    3.5 of 5.0
28 Sep 2016
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We’ve had the i3 since 2013. It began as the first electric vehicle by a well-known luxury car manufacturer and quickly became a modern classic in the automotive world. The i3 was designed with BMW’s other luxury EV, the i8, in mind, but it’s hard to tell. The i3 quickly became popular due to its luxury BMW styling and extensive tech features. Other manufacturers then began developing and releasing EVs that quickly outperformed the 2017 BMW i3 94Ah. As a result, BMW has released a new i3 for 2017, with a better battery and a longer electric range. However, the new battery is not the only improvement made to the i3.

Exterior design

The exterior of the i3 hasn’t changed much from the previous model. The distinctive short, stumped hood and small waist remain. The proportions of the i3 make it difficult to see how it was inspired by BMW’s i8. The front fascia resembles that of the i8, but then again, every BMW fascia does.

The large wheels and odd-shaped rear window on the 2017 BMW i3 94Ah make the side of the vehicle stand out the most. Most EVs have extremely small wheels that risk looking out of proportion. The Toyota Prius is a good example of this; the car’s large rear makes it appear especially disproportionate. Because the i3 is much smaller, the relatively large wheels work extremely well. We’re glad BMW reintroduced the standard 19-inch wheels for the 2017 model year. Optional 20-inch wheels are new for this year.

The i3’s back end is just as impressive as its front and sides, especially with a contrasting exterior color. The body metal is then painted in the desired color, but the sideskirts, hood, roof, and rear are black. These contrasts are especially noticeable in the back. The i3’s styling is completed by the futuristic-looking taillights that are sunk into the body metal.

This year, the exterior is available in one all-black color and five two-tone colors. Except for one exterior color, the sideskirts are accented with an “iBlue” highlighting line. For the United States, the new 2017 color is Protonic Blue metallic paint with Frozen Grey highlights. Europe is bathed in a brilliant Solar Orange hue.

Interior design

The interior of the 2017 BMW i3 94Ah was also updated. To begin, there are four distinct color schemes to choose from, dubbed Atelier, Lodge, Loft, and Suite. Suite is a new design for 2017 that combines dark cloth made from recycled materials. Dark Oak Wood or Light Eucalyptus Wood dashboard inserts are now available on the two highest trims.

The i3’s standard sound system includes four speakers. An upgrade to a Harman Kardon HiFi system with twelve speakers and an amplifier is available as an option. Automatic air conditioning and a universal garage door opener are also standard.

A 6.5 or 10.2 inch infotainment screen and a 20GB hard drive for music are options. Heated and ventilated seats, rain and light sensors, and a multi-function steering wheel are also available as options.

Engine specs

For 2017, the electric motor is paired with a 94Ah (Ampere hours) battery. The 2016 i3 will still be available in dealerships in Europe, with a 60Ah battery. The new 94AH is a lithium-ion battery that is significantly more efficient than the 60Ah. The electric motor is a three phase AC synchronous electric motor with a horsepower rating of 170. The car has a 114-mile all-electric range (183 km).

The 2017 BMW i3 94Ah battery can be charged in 4 1/2 hours using a level 2 charger, which is one hour longer than the i3 60Ah battery. The car includes DC Fast-charging capability as standard. A fast charger takes 40 minutes to recharge a drained i3 94Ah battery to 80 percent capacity.

What distinguishes the 2017 i3 is the available optional Range Extender. This engine is a 650 cc two-cylinder gasoline engine with a maximum output of 38 horsepower. The gas engine does not directly power the engine of the car, but rather a generator that charges the electric battery. When the Range Extender is present, it automatically turns on when the battery percentage falls below a certain threshold. It then generates sufficient energy to keep the percentage at that level.

Tech specs

BMW can be proud of its technological capabilities. A staggering array of cutting-edge technological features, both standard and optional. Real-time traffic information, adaptive cruise control, navigation, and BMW Assist are all included in the infotainment system (roadside assistance). HD Radio, parking assist, and keyless entry are also standard.

The Professional Navigation System, which is specifically designed for EVs, is an optional feature. It comes with ConnectedDrive, which calculates the distance to your destination and recommends the best driving mode. It recalculates a more efficient route and highlights charging stations along the way if possible. This navigation system is so intelligent that it can calculate the distance-to-drained with pinpoint accuracy. It employs statistics such as driving style, electric features activated, traffic, outside temperature, and, of course, charge status.

BMW’s Home Charger Connect comes standard with WiFi and offers remote charging services.

A rearview camera, Traffic Jam Assistant, and Approach Control Warning with Pedestrian Detection and Autonomous Braking are also available. Active Cruise Control with Stop/Go and Speed Limit information is also available as an option.

Price and sale date

The 2017 BMW i3 94Ah is already available in Europe. Before options and packages, prices begin at €34.950.

The BMW i3 60 Ah starts at $42,400 and the 94 Ah starts at $44,500 in the United States. The 94 Ah with optional range extender starts at $48,300.