What to Buy: 2013–2021 BMW i3

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From the July/August 2023 problem of Automobile and Driver.

BMW’s funky-looking electrical i3 by no means actually caught on within the U.S. Its greatest gross sales yr was 2015, when barely greater than 11,000 of the EVs (together with the REx model, the one with the non-obligatory vary extender) discovered properties. And but, its odd appears to be like and sensible form would match proper in with right now’s electrical automobiles.

The i3 could have wheels that appear to be pizza cutters, however there’s nothing cut-rate about it. A carbon-fiber passenger’s cell rides on an aluminum skateboard that carries the suspension, a single motor driving the rear wheels, the battery, and, within the REx model, a small engine borrowed from a BMW scooter. Equally odd is the two+2-door configuration, and as an alternative of typical supplies, inside panels are hemp-reinforced plastics exhibiting off a random fiber sample.

Forward of its time when new, an i3 right now makes a remarkably inexpensive pre-owned second automotive. BMW by no means gave the i3 a long-range battery. Its smallest battery, discovered within the 2014–16 i3, provides 81 miles by the EPA’s measure, and its largest, in 2019–21 fashions, hits 153. When you can stay with that sort of vary, you may love an i3.

“Effectivity, nonetheless, is boring. Ambition is thrilling. And the i3 has ambition in its soul.” —John Pearley Huffman, C/D, September 2014

Powertrain

All i3 fashions are motivated by a 170-hp AC motor. In 2018, BMW added an i3s variant, which upped energy to 181 horses and got here with a firmer suspension tune. Battery measurement grew twice. After launching with an 18.8-kWh pack, the i3 bought a 27.2-kWh pack for 2017 after which a 37.9-kWh unit for 2019. The electrical motor has sufficient torque, 184 pound-feet (199 for the i3s), to really feel fleet in visitors, because of a curb weight beneath 3000 kilos. We recorded a sub-seven-second 60-mph time in 2014. The heavier REx, with its 647-cc two-cylinder engine and generator, is a bit slower however will get you a 1.9-gallon security web (2.3 gallons beginning in 2017) that provides one other 70 to 80 miles of vary.

Worth

As a result of the i3 bought a gradual circulation of operating adjustments (and since these automobiles are the latest), the 2019–21 i3s have the very best worth and might fetch over $30,000. Properly-used early fashions flirt with four-digit pricing, however a clear automotive with average mileage ought to promote within the teenagers. DC fast-charging functionality was non-obligatory in 2014 and commonplace from 2015, so first-year fashions with out it promote for much less.

Drawback Areas

Shopping for an EV with a nasty battery is a expensive error. Examine an i3 when the battery is totally charged. If the indicated vary is considerably lower than the EPA label worth, transfer alongside. However an eight- or nine-year-old i3 with an indicated max vary nonetheless within the 70s might be okay. Pre-2018 automobiles suffered from drive-bearing failures, that are audible at parking-lot speeds; fashions from 2018 on have up to date bearings. When you worth connectivity, keep away from early automobiles (some 2017s and prior), which have out of date 3G communications. With the REx, ask how typically its oil was modified, and even check out and scent the oil on its dipstick.

John Roe|Automobile and Driver

2014 bmw i3 rex

John Roe|Automobile and Driver

Present Listings (Might 2023)

2015 BMW i3 (18.8-kWh battery)
Worth: $16,598 Mileage: 10,955
2018 BMW i3s REx (27.2-kWh battery)
Worth: $24,759 Mileage: 27,675
2020 BMW i3 (37.9-kWh battery)
Worth: $28,763 Mileage: 11,506
(Listings from CarGurus)

2015 BMW i3
170-hp AC motor, direct-drive, 2853 lb
Take a look at Outcomes
60 mph: 6.5 sec
1/4-mile: 15.3 sec @ 86 mph
High Velocity: 92 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 163 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.78 g
From C/D, September 2014. Acceleration instances adhere to our previous rollout rule of three mph.

Headshot of K.C. Colwell

Govt Editor

Okay.C. Colwell is Automobile and Driver’s government editor, who covers new automobiles and expertise with a eager eye for automotive nonsense and with what he considers to be nice automotive sense, which is a humblebrag. On his first day at C/D in 2004, he was given the keys to a Porsche 911 by somebody who did not even know if he had a driver’s license. He additionally is without doubt one of the drivers who set quick laps at C/D‘s annual Lightning Lap observe check.

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