In the summer of 2013, BMW organized a wide show of its new i3 model. This event was all the more remarkable because the new car has a fully electric drive. The car was able to debut at one time in three giant cities: Beijing, New York and London.
In order to turn the conceptual model, which was demonstrated in September 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, into a production car, the BMW Group needed 2 years. However, the result was worth it – the Germans were able to make the car revolutionary, especially, highlighting a constructive plan. In this brand of the car, the designers carefully thought out all the nuances, any element was perfectly “ground” for its purpose. The whole model range is BMW.
As the basis for the appearance of the BMW i3, the LifeDrive architecture was borrowed. The vehicle appears before us as a spacious, lightweight and also safe vehicle. The way in which the design and application of modern materials is simple allowed us to overcome a considerable distance without charging, and ensured the safety of passengers in case of impacts.
Because a battery had to be placed inside the vehicle, the designers decided to move away from the concept of a full load-bearing body. The chassis was equipped with a body of aluminum and carbon fiber elements. All external elements of the body are made by the same technology as the bumper of modern cars, which greatly reduces the cost of production and repair of the body.
The unusual body of the five-door hatchback looks a bit futuristic, but a bit absurd design with a “gaze” of LED headlights, which in addition are highlighted by the blue color of the branded “nostrils” of the grille of the false radiator. A little decorative, as well as intricate looks window line and non-standard rear LED lights.
Interestingly, according to the designers, their work was limited by engineers, insisting on compliance with certain requirements. The electric car received a large front door that opens like a normal car door. There is no central pillar, and the rear doors open backwards. In general, the two-color bodywork color scheme was a good idea.
If the front part of the car looks a bit like the usual cars of our time, the side and stern parts look fantastic. Side parts of the car will make even those who are far from the world of cars look. The considerable on height and a smooth roof, unique and temperamental lines with transitions look excellent.
Complete, a bit strange exterior design of the wheel made of forged aluminum, with a diagonal of 19 inches, which are dressed in narrow and high tires. The fact that ultra-thin tyres have been installed has made it possible to provide an optimal balance between dynamism, controllability and resistance before rocking.
Despite the absence of a stand in the center of the body and the fact that the side doors were made without frames of glass, it did not affect the rigidity, because the capsule of the cabin is made of American SGL carbon. The chassis and other parts of the car were made with aluminum and light magnesium alloy.
Such innovations made it possible, without paying attention to 230 kg batteries, to reduce the weight of the electric car. It is noteworthy that the width of the tires does not exceed 15 centimeters, based on which, we can conclude that it is not recommended to go through steep turns at speed. The presence of multilevel arrangement of glasses reminds us of a sea wave in form.
The back part looks like it’s a work of art of our time. It was decided to abandon the metal. Interestingly, the i3 stop light not only lights up when the brake pedal is depressed, but also when the gas pedal is released, because electric cars are operated with the option of recovery, which slows down the car in order to compensate for the battery level.
The back of the BMW i3 electric car is bewildered and does not understand what the BMW nameplate is for. Everything was done in black except the rear bumper edge. The luggage compartment lid received LED lights with a curved line. They resemble the famous character from the cartoon “WALL-E”.
Surprisingly, BMW designers managed to combine comfort and compactness in the interior of the salon in i3. The bright and comfortable interior really has enough space for comfortable accommodation not only for the front passenger and driver. Comfort is also available for rear seat passengers.
However, the exterior design of the body caused a mixed reaction among potential buyers, with special attacks on the rear doors opening against the car and the line of glazing. When you pay attention to the interior of the electric car BMW i3, you do not immediately realize that more prevails – retro style or the latest technology.
The narrow front panel seems to be borrowed from the classic American cars, which were produced in the 70s of the last century. The climate control unit goes to an old lamp radio. But on the other hand, in a German electric car you can see a screen for setting up a multimedia system and a dashboard in the style of tablets.
The front panel, which was decorated with light-colored plastic, imitates the old style and thus imitates wood. In addition, there is no central console. But already to the present time can return a small projection on the tunnel, where the rotary controller of multimedia system settings is located.
The front seats are similar to those used in the third series, but have some disadvantages. For example, the backrest is too thin and very stiff because of the frame that protrudes. In principle, on short distances on city roads it is not a critical disadvantage, because the advantage is that you can sit any person, even a grown-up. More chairs have large ranges of mechanical settings. There is also side support.
There is quite enough free space on the back sofa – three adult passengers can fit here, but they will not feel very comfortable. The floor is completely flat. Despite the fact that the distance between the rows of rows is not very large, the width and height of the electric car give the opportunity not to worry about capacity.
It should be added that the rear doors, which open against the electric car, make it easier for the rear passengers to get into the cabin. Luggage compartment of the BMW i3 has a modest 260 liters of useful space, but transforming the cabin, you can achieve as much as 1.1 cubic meters of free space, which is quite decent.
The most important attributes of the driver in the cabin are the compact steering multifunction wheel, which consists of two spokes and a 6.5-inch color display, which serves as a combination of instruments. A German stitch is already visible directly on the centre console, due to the 8.8-inch display of the iDrive multimedia system and the stylish climate control unit.
Interestingly, the multimedia system includes an installed SIM card, Bluetooth and USB. The materials include leather, natural wood, relief fabric, composite panel and plastic. Many details of the i3 BMW saloon are associated with the deck of the yacht. By the way, the German car is a bit similar to the famous Rolls-Royce car, where there are also swing doors.
The BMW i3 is powered by a 170 hp electric motor at the rear. (125 kW). The torque is 250 Nm. This engine, according to the creators, has excellent power density among analogues and allows you to accelerate the car up to a hundred in 7.2 seconds.
You can drive on the highway at speeds up to 150 km/h. Like other electric vehicles, the BMW i3 has a regeneration system designed to recharge the battery when braking. By the way, there is no internal combustion engine. As an option, a 34 hp gasoline engine with a generator for recharging the battery is available.
In this way, the electric car becomes a full-fledged serial hybrid with “easy hand movement”, which almost doubles the mileage. The gasoline “additional” engine, which can be purchased as an additional function, has a volume of 647 cm3. It is equipped with a 9-liter fuel tank.
The rear wheels drive the car. A one-stage gearbox is provided. A single-stage gearbox is installed between the wheels and the motor, which is powered by a 360 volt battery.
It consists of eight modules, and they are in turn positioned on the platform in order to make the low center of gravity. The electric motor itself weighs about 50 kilograms.
It takes about 8 hours to fully charge the batteries from a standard power source. But if you use a 50 kW “fast charging” device, the battery will be charged up to 80% in half an hour. Charging from the mains, which gives out 9 kW, takes at least 8-10 hours.
The battery is located in such a way that the car becomes well controlled and more stable due to its lower centre of gravity. Batteries have a service life of about 8 years. About, because the time depends on the place of use, temperature and other things that affect the life of the battery.
The car itself is designed for a mileage of 100,000 km. Battery capacity of 22 kWh provides mileage without recharging in the range from 130 to 200 kilometers. Such a wide range is determined by both road conditions and seasonal temperature.
The machine was designed according to 2-module technology “Drive and Life”. The car is a chassis made of aluminum, together with McPherson racks on the front axle and 5-lever architecture on the rear, which includes a power plant, traction battery and other devices.
A Life module was installed on the frame, which is expressed in the body. Its “skeleton” was made of carbon, and the hinged parts were made of plastic. The steering wheel received an electric amplifier. Brake system on all wheels includes a disk system, which is ventilated in front.
The BMW i3 is 3,999 mm long, 1,578 mm high and 1,775 mm wide. The wheelbase is 2,570 mm and the clearance is 140 mm or less. In terms of weight, the i3 has a mass of 1,195 kg and an optional internal combustion engine of 1,315 kg. The mass was distributed between a pair of axles in a 50:50 ratio.
Safety systems include front and front airbags for front passengers, ISOFIX child seat fixtures, anti-lock system, automatic door locking, LED head optics, rear parktronic, traction control and course stabilization, cruise control, a system that can warn the owner of a potential collision, a function that can recognize pedestrians and automatically stop the car, etc.
The body of the vehicle itself was equipped with a carbon skeleton, which not only reduced the overall weight of the vehicle, but also increased the overall degree of safety.
The new electric model of BMW i3 has been tested by specialists of the European bureau Euro NCAP for the degree of safety according to its methodology. Looking ahead, we can say that the majority of specialists were surprised – the car received only 4 stars out of 5 possible.
The German vehicle passed basic tests according to the Euro NCAP system, according to the results of which it became clear how the vehicle behaves during collisions and what protection it provides to the driver and adult passengers, children and pedestrians.
In addition, the employees of the European company evaluated the safety systems of the vehicle. The electric car was subjected to a frontal impact at a speed of 64 kilometers with 40% deformable obstacle. The side impact was with a cart at a speed of 29 kilometres per hour. Also, the five-door was tested by hitting the stern area.
Following the head-on collision, the BMW skeleton was barely damaged. In general, the driver and front passenger are provided with good leg protection, but the driver has a chance to get some left leg injuries. In addition, adult sedans can suffer minor chest damage.
During lateral contact with the deformable trolley, the German received the maximum number of points. The model showed excellent protection for all areas of the body. And during a harder hit against a pole, the owner has a chance to get serious chest injuries. In addition, the front seats, together with the head restraints, provide a reduced level of protection against whiplash injuries to the neck and spine during a rear-end collision.
The level of safety for children (1.5 and 3 years) in the BMW is good – in this segment, the German segment was able to earn the highest possible score. During a side collision, the “children” are well kept in the special seats, which allows them to confidently protect themselves from all kinds of dangerous head impacts on the interior details.
Speaking for pedestrians, it is better for them not to fall under the five-door model – the car got the maximum rating only for the bumper, which does not promise great damage to pedestrians’ feet. But the front edge of the hood is very dangerous for hip bones and joints, and the head can suffer because of the rigid front roof posts.
The basic version of the i3 is already equipped with electronic stability control technology and a function for reminding front seat occupants of unbuckled straps. But because the second row of seats does not support this function, an electric car has been fined.
The protection of adult passengers in the BMW was 31 points, child safety was 40 points, pedestrian protection was 20.8 points, and safety systems were equipped with 5 points.
Complete sets and prices
BMW 3 sales started in the autumn of 2013, but it can only be purchased from specially certified dealers. A little later, BMW i3 sales were opened in Russia, but the number of such dealers was only two – one in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg. The price of the machine in its basic configuration was about 35,000 euros. Modification of Ranger Extender will be estimated at about 39 450 euros.
The standard equipment of the electric car includes an air-conditioning unit, full optics with LEDs, iDrive multimedia center, digital dashboard, 19-inch wheels, multifunctional steering wheel, power windows and other “locks”.
The more expensive version also includes an internal combustion engine. There are three modes of operation of the power plant: standard Comfort, economical Eco Pro and the most economical Eco Pro+.
As an option, you can install an electrically powered glass panoramic roof, seat heating, parking assistant, full LED headlights and other chips that raise the price list of the car up to 45,000 euros.
BMW i3 2017
The exterior of the five-door car was slightly corrected by adjusting the bumper, wheels and body painting schemes. In addition, the specialists were able to separate the full LED optics and install an upgraded iDrive system, which has a high definition display and enhanced functionality.
The most important external changes affected the front and rear bodywork. The front part now has a full-fledged LED headlight optics, a slightly modified bumper, which received horizontally installed LED turntables.
Besides, there’s a false radiator grille without a blue frame. If before, the car had a contrasting black color of the hood, trunk doors and roof, now it can be seen on the side posts, which helped to make a more assembled appearance.
The German “five-door” has a small size, which makes it an indispensable assistant in urban mode, providing good maneuverability.
The side of the new BMW i3 received massive wheel arches, where the 19-inch “rollers” hide, as well as intricate window line and spectacular “splashes” on the sides. It’s nice that after the upgrade, the rear doors opening against the movement were not removed in the car.
The rear area has already usual futuristic style parking lights, a compact luggage compartment door and a new rear bumper with two fog lights. Using its unusual appearance, BMW i3, is instantly recognized in the city, but, to say that the model is attractive, not everyone can. Although everything decides the taste.
Inside the vehicle, everything remained the same as before. Important changes have affected the multimedia complex iDrive, which now knows how to recognize voice commands better. In addition, he received an optional 10.25-inch touch screen display.
The previous version boasted only an 8-inch monitor. The driver’s seat has a compact multifunctional steering wheel and 8-inch LCD display, which acts as a “dashboard”. The central part of the torpedo has a multimedia center, which seems to be hovering over the central console and a laconic, stylish climate control unit. All these elements were performed taking into account the best traditions of the brand.
Between the seats, the designers prescribed a comfortable armrest and iDrive washer, a cup holder and an electronic parking brake button.
Rear-mounted seats are designed for two people. However, there is only enough space for a couple of people. Despite the fact that the car does not have a transmission tunnel, the third will be obviously superfluous. The electric car differs a convenient arrangement of buttons for management of work of many systems.
The interior decoration of the BMW i3 electrohatchback has 4 available options: Ateli, Loft, Sweet and Lodge. Lodge inside received wooden inserts. Separately, it is necessary to say for the level of silence, which is just a fantastic level.
The car is fitted with a SIM card, which provides the owner with all the necessary information about the location of refueling on the display of the multimedia system in on-line mode. It is pleasant that it is possible to call in call-center BMW, despite of a current site (roaming is absent).
Price and equipment of the new BMW I3
In our country, the 2017 model will be offered only in a hybrid version of “REX” (Range Extender) and in a certain configuration. Therefore, the cost of the car starts at $67449. Already in a base complete set there is:
- 19-inch cast discs;
- Six airbags;
- Air conditioner;
- Fabric interior decoration;
- Heating of front seats;
- Digital dashboard;
- Multimedia complex iDrive;
- Electric windows on all doors;
- OEM navigation system.
On top of that, the basic version has a reverse proximity alarm, ABS, EBD, ESP and other modern safety systems. There is a high-voltage battery, charging cable, ISOFIX child seat mountings, rear spoiler, iDrive controller, support for vehicle remote control technology, 12V socket and interior spot lighting.
More expensive versions have an advanced multimedia system, a hatch, a pedestrian recognition function, which is able to drive at low speed, stop the car automatically.
There is also a rear camera, combined interior decoration, cruise control, climate control and other equipment. The restyled version of BMW i3 2017-2018 will be available in Russia in the first half of 2018.
For European countries, the company even offers to install a canopy on the parking place, where there will be solar panels charging the car. It is estimated that such a charging “station” is about 16,000 euros.
Comparison with competitors
It is clear that this list cannot be huge, as electric cars are only gaining popularity. However, BMW i3 still shares the market with the American Chevrolet Bolt EV Standart and the German Volkswagen e-Golf Comfortable. This could also be the case with the Tesla Model S, which is a luxury car, but its price puts it in a different segment of the cost than the i3 model.
However, after the release of the Tesla Model 3, the basic cost of which is 35,000 dollars, the American can be a direct competitor to a German company. Another closest competitor can be called Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive. These companies have been competing with each other not for the first year, but now they share the market of electric machines.
Mercedes already has five seats for passengers, and it is a little more. B-Class has received a 28 kWh battery and BMW – 22 kWh. In reality, after pressing a button, the Mercedes EV with the S package turns into 31.5 kWh, which is 40% more.
It turns out that the massive battery on the B-Class promises an additional minimum of 8-16 km of travel without recharging. After all, it is possible to pay attention to cheaper, however, the most sold version of the electric version of the car – Nissan Leaf.
Reviews from the owners
Although the model is not a record sales in Russia, there are still people who use a German hybrid car, so the general idea of the model is already there. Many owners note the cosmic appearance of the car. It is easy to see only at the entrance and immediately distinguish it from other vehicles.
The salon is nice, but some BMW i3 owners believe that the central console is missing. In addition, according to the feedback of the owners, the hatchback is different capacity. The family of 4 people can be freely placed inside and go on vacation in the country house. The important thing is that the battery charge is enough for a trip back and forth. However, it is good if the owner always has gasoline on hand as a backup.
I am pleased with the good dynamism stated by the manufacturer. A full charge lasts for 152 kilometers, this does not include the “EcoPro+” mode. With this mode it is possible to drive up to 200 kilometers. A full fuel tank is enough for about 100 kilometers. If you combine the movement of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, you can drive about 300 km.
However, almost all owners complain about the very low number of electric refueling stations. In addition, it is even more difficult to find a professional car mechanic, who will be able to repair the vehicle if it fails. In addition, the car has received very large price tags, which stop many people to buy this car.
The pros and cons
- Saving money;
- No refueling with liquid fuel (version without ICE);
- Possibility to order a car with a generator;
- Good balancing of the characteristics of the chassis;
- Excellent dynamic indicators;
- Unusual and unique design;
- Pretty good capacity in a salon;
- Good maneuverability;
- Small radius of turn;
- Good level of safety;
- Lightweight aluminum bodywork;
- There are two large displays;
- Different systems can be controlled using the touch screen;
- There is an energy recovery system in place;
- Convenient iDrive system;
- Worthy basic equipment;
- Environmentally friendly transport;
- LED lighting;
- Big wheels;
- Pleasant and simple interior;
- Assembly quality;
- Free space even for tall passengers;
- Comfortable seats with various adjustments;
- There is a function of fast battery charging.
Cons of a car
- Small mileage on the same charge;
- Few charging stations in Russia;
- The big price;
- Design for the amateur;
- Still, a small trunk;
- Small tank for the version with an internal combustion engine;
- Expensive repair;
- For our roads a rigid suspension bracket;
- There are no specialized mechanics who have provided proper maintenance of the new model;
- Only a couple of people can sit comfortably at the back;
- It is not clear resource of electric motors and loss of their capacity with age;
- Small clearance.
Summing up our review of BMW i3 electrohatchback, I would like to say that the Germans tried to make a quality product. It is necessary to tell that they managed to do it to a greater extent. Of course, we can complain about the lack of an acceptable stock of battery, which does not allow you to feel confident. Rather, on the contrary, you have to constantly monitor the level of charging.
Also, the car does not have a large luggage compartment, however, do not forget that the car is positioned as a public transport, so it has enough of its own trunk and battery charge for everyday driving. The car feels comfortable in the city also thanks to its small size. It is necessary to tell about “unearthly” appearance of the German electric car which causes close looks at any motorist.
The interior decoration of the Germans always turned out to be excellent, and BMW i3 is no exception. The upgraded version shows off two color displays, one of which supports touch control. Despite the rather modest size, inside there is enough free space, everything is in its place, controls are at hand.
The front panel is not overloaded, which improves ergonomics. The quality of assembly and finishing materials at a high level. Comfortable seats with side support in place. A couple of people can sit comfortably in the back row. The trunk has not received a record volume, but allows you to carry the necessary things with you.
The good dynamics of the electrical model and the ability to switch to an internal combustion engine make the machine versatile. The Germans have not forgotten to equip the car with a recovery system. The level of safety will not allow you to doubt the reliability of the BMW i3 2018.
We wanted to reduce the cost of the cars a little bit, as well as the appearance of more specialized filling stations, which greatly facilitated the operation of the car. In terms of range, the Germans are not yet able to compete on an equal footing with the company Tesla, but BMW specialists are on the right track, smoothly moving to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
We advise you to read the article: BMW history