New for 2017
- Fair Market Price$ 41,744
- 0-60 MPH7 SECS
- EPA MPG137 CITY/111 HWY
- Safety (IIHS)Good
The 2017 BMW i3 gets a new 94 Ah, 33 kWh battery, which extends range to 114 miles of city/highway use, per BMW. That’s a 50 percent increase in stored energy, and a similar increase in all-electric driving range without use of the optional gasoline-powered range extender.
Also new for 2017 are a new set of 19-inch wheels, advanced real-time traffic information, a Deka World interior theme, and no-cost DC fast-charging for two years via ChargeNow DC Fast chargers at EVgo stations across the U.S.
The BMW i3 is the smallest, most urban-targeted vehicle in its “i” range of vehicles, which includes, to date, the BMW i3 and BMW i8. The i3 combines a practical five-door, hatchback layout with a small footprint and high maneuverability.
The 2017 BMW i3 gets a significant upgrade over previous versions of the compact, (optionally) range-extended electric urban runabout thanks to its new 33 kWh battery, which increases its all-electric range from 81 miles (EPA-rated) to 114 miles (according to BMW). The 2017 i3 is powered by a 170-hp, 184 lb-ft electric motor, which BMW says will accelerate the i3 to 60 mph in “just over” seven seconds.
The 2017 BMW i3 is efficient for an electric vehicle, requiring an EPA-estimated 27 kWh to cover every 100 miles. That compares favorably even with the electric car superstar, the TeslaModel s, which requires 34-38 kWh per 100 miles. Charging the i3 takes 4.5 hours with a Level 2 charger, but with the built-in 50 kW DC fast charger compatibility, the i3 can be charged to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.
If range anxiety gets the best of you, BMW also offers a 650-cc two-cylinder gasoline-powered range extender for the i3. The range-extended version of the 2017 BMW i3 also comes standard with the new 33 kWh battery pack, but also gets a 25 percent larger fuel tank for 2017, though BMW hasn’t disclosed a new total range figure for the extended-range version. The range extender adds 270 lbs to the i3’s curb weight, and slows 0-60 mph acceleration to eight seconds.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have released crash test ratings for the 2017 BMW i3.
What We Think
The BMW i3’s extensive use of cutting-edge technology—a carbon fiber main structure, battery-electric power (with optional gasoline range extender), extensive recycled material used in the cabin—is attractive to buyers seeking an efficient urban vehicle. Its quirky look and BMW branding are further draws. But when it comes to driving dynamics, the i3 is not at all in the same class as other BMW vehicles, whether you’re talking about the also high-tech and efficient i8 or the company’s more conventional cars. In our first drive of the vehicle, we noted sloppy handling in slaloms and corners—decidedly un-BMW characteristics. Steering feel, too, is minimal.
On top of the i3’s dynamic shortcomings, the heavy use of recycled material in the cabin leaves users feeling like they’re in a cheap and underwhelming environment, despite the i3’s premium positioning and price.
The new 33 kWh battery in the 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) stores 50 percent more electricity, but does it in the exact same space as the previous battery pack, thanks to improvements in the energy density of the lithium-ion cells inside.