If you like having conversations with complete strangers, chances are you’ll like the BMW i3. That’s because this compact hatchback’s extraterrestrial golf-cart styling is unique enough that even people who don’t know anything about cars will likely comment on it. They’ll want to look inside, where they’ll find a roomy four-passenger interior that makes this a surprisingly practical urban runabout.
While design is what sets the i3 apart, the vehicle likely also will attract another group of curious passersby: those who’ve heard about the cutting-edge technology BMW has put into the i3, starting with the lightweight carbon-fiber body. Propulsion options are just as exotic, with a choice between a battery-only powertrain and a model with a tiny two-cylinder gasoline engine (referred to as a range-extender) that serves only to recharge the car’s batteries.
The BMW i3 is not a one-size-fits-all transportation solution, but it makes a fine daily ride—as well as a great conversation starter.
- New longer all-electric range of 153 miles on a full charge
- Sporty handling
- Limited range, even with range-extender engine (200 miles)
- Only four practical seats
- Interesting tech but odd styling
- Base Price: $44,450
- As Tested: $57,770
- NHTSA: Not yet tested
- 124/102 MPGe (miles per gallon/equivalent)
- 31 mpg (gas engine only)