2020 BMW I3 Electric

2020 MODEL
$44,450 - $51,500
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6.9

Overall Rating

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2020 BMW i3 electric Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: July 12, 2020
Rishabh Mehra's image

Rishabh Mehra

Automotive Content Writer

The automotive industry is undergoing a whirlwind of the technology shift. Cleaner and greener transportation is the need of the hour. In 2014-15, BMW entered the electric vehicle market towards the cheaper and more affordable end of the spectrum with its smallest offering, the i3. BMW felt the heat from the competition and for the 2020 model upgrade, BMW has introduced a bigger battery for better range.

See detailed review »

Pros

Unique looks

Efficient powertrain

Peppy acceleration

Compliant ride

Hi-tech cabin

Cons

Limited EV range

Rear seats are cramped

Premium pricing

What's New?

Bigger 42 KWh battery pack, extended all EV range

Front and rear parking sensors are part of the standard kit


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$44450

bodystyle

4dr Hatchback

passenger capacity

4

drivetrain

RWD

engine type

horsepower

181 hp @ 4800 rpm

torque

199 lbs.-ft.

transmission

Single Speed

chassis

frame type

monocoque

brake rotors (f/r)

11-Nov

dimensions

wheelbase

101.2 in.

length

158.3 in.

width

69.9 in.

height

62.9 in.

curb weight

2972 lbs.

ground clearance

5.5 in.

capacity

passenger volume

84 cu ft.

cargo volume

36.9 cu ft.

payload capacity

838 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.2 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

124/102/113 mpg

warranty

basic warranty

4 yr. /50000 mi.

corrosion warranty

12 yr. /unlimited

roadside assistance

4 yr. /unlimited


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
2020 BMW i3 electric Review video
2020 BMW i3 electric Exterior video

Styles

2020 BMW i3 electric in Imperial Blue Metallic color 2020 BMW i3 electric in Jucaro Beige Metallic color 2020 BMW i3 electric in Melbourne Red Metallic color 2020 BMW i3 electric in Capparis White color 2020 BMW i3 electric in Mineral Gray Metallic color
Imperial Blue Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

6.0

Engine And Performance

5.0

Fuel Economy

9.0

Interior

4.0

Exterior

5.0

Competition

9.5

Final Verdict

5.8

6.9

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2020 BMW i3 electric Base

Base

power
181 hp @ 4800 rpm
fuel
Electric
mpg
113 combined

$44,450


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
4dr Hatchback (electric) Starting at $44,450 MSRP (124/113/102) 181 hp @ 4800 rpm, electric, electric
Single Speed rear wheel drive 4

2020 BMW i3 electric S

S

power
181 hp
fuel
Electric
mpg
113 combined

$47,650


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
S 4dr Hatchback (electric) Starting at $47,650 MSRP (124/113/102) 181 hp, electric, electric
Single Speed rear wheel drive 4

2020 BMW i3 electric Range Extender

Range Extender

power
168 @ 4800
fuel
Electric
mpg
113 combined

$48,300


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Range extender 4dr Hatchback (electric) Starting at $48,300 MSRP (124/113/102) 168 @ 4800, electric, electric
Single Speed rear wheel drive 4

2020 BMW i3 electric Range Extender S

Range Extender S

power
168 @ 4800
fuel
Electric
mpg
113 combined

$51,500


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Range Extender S 4dr Hatchback (electric) Starting at $51,500 MSRP (124/113/102) 168 @ 4800, electric, electric
Single Speed rear wheel drive 4

Expert Review

6.9

Overall Rating


The 2020 BMW i3 got a new lease of life in its midlife facelift. The i3 had always had quirky and futuristic design and still looks distinctive and stands out from the crowd. The infotainment system has been upgraded in line with the latest BMW connected technology and driver assistance packages. BMW has not fiddled with the electric motor’s power output. Two tunes are available. The standard i3 is good for 173 HP while the S version bumps the power up to 184 HP. As before, the performance is brisk thanks to the Carbon core chassis keeping the weight in check. The BMW i3 goes down well with all the environmentalists out there as it makes use of recyclable materials all around the cabin.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear View

6.0/10
Features

 

5.0/10
Engine and Performance

 

9.0/10
Fuel Economy

 

4.0/10
Interior

 

5.0/10
Exterior

 
 

9.5/10
Competition

 

5.8/10
Final Verdict

 

2020 BMW i3 electric Features

6.0/10

BMW i3 is offered in four different trims. The standard and S variants use the same batteries and motor setup but the powertrain is cranked up a bit in the S version to extract more power. There’s an option of having a range extender on both the trims. A 650cc two-cylinder gasoline engine is used as a generator which hikes the range beyond 200 miles, according to the rating. It’s easy to fill it up just like a regular gasoline-powered car so it is practical too.

Trims

BMW i3

BMW i3 Range Extender

BMW i3 S

BMW i3 S Range Extender

MSRP (RWD)

$44,450 $47,650 $48,300 $51,500

Key Features

Black mirror caps

Adds/Upgrades to i3

Adds/Upgrades to i3 Range Extender

Adds/Upgrades to i3 S

 

Power-folding, heated side mirrors

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) roof

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) roof

Slide-through interior floor design

 

Capparis White non-metallic paint with BMW frozen Blue accent

Rear coach doors

Rear coach doors

Manual front seats with folding rear-seat access

 

BMW U-shaped LED daytime running lights

Velour floor mats

Kenaf interior dash and door panels

Tire Pressure Monitor Rear-window defroster

 

Exterior thermoplastic bumpers, fenders, and door panels

Deka World (includes Atelier European Dark Cloth upholstery)

Slide-through interior floor design

Tilt/telescopic steering wheel column

 

D Radio with "multicast" FM station reception

Driver and 3-passenger seating

Manual front seats with folding rear-seat access

Power front windows with "one-touch" up/down operation

 

SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 1-year All Access subscription

50/50 split-folding rear seats Kenaf interior dash and door panels

Multi-function steering wheel

Electric interior trunk and hood release 12V power socket in the center console

 

Tire Pressure Monitor

Slide-through interior floor design

BMW Navigation Business system with iDrive Controller, 6.5" high-resolution screen and programmable memory buttons

 

 

Rear-window defroster &Rear-view Camera

Manual front seats with folding rear-seat access

BMW TeleService USB audio connection

 

What do we recommend?

The standard i3 coupled with the technology and assistance package seems to hit the sweet spot. The package includes some must-haves like driver-assist features and an upgraded infotainment system.

2020 BMW i3 electric Engine and Performance

5.0/10

The BMW i3 comes in two states of tune. The battery and motor package in the standard i3 makes a decent 170 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque. For some added oomph, i3 S is also available which bumps up the power to 184 HP. The torque is instant and right there from the word get-go. For daily city runs, i3 packs a decent punch and is a lot of fun to drive when pottering at a relaxed pace. The cherry on the cake would be the fact that all this performance is muted and the cabin remains totally devoid of any kind of noise or disturbance.

Out on the highway too, the performance is healthy and the i3 can maintain triple-digit speeds with ease. The BMW i3 S adds more pep to the daily drive. It gets 14 more horses and it makes quite a difference in the way the i3 picks up and reacts to the slightest of throttle inputs. With all this usable performance, its a breeze to drive this electric hatchback from Munich.

What’s the transmission like?

Electric motors have oodles and oodles of torque right from zero rpm so a proper transmission is never really required. BMW makes use of a single-speed transmission which in laymen terms also means, no gearbox. As a result, the drive is super smooth and the performance is seamless and uninterrupted.

Models

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

MSRP

$44,450

$30,700

$37,495

$30,885

Engine

Synchronous Traction Motor

Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

Permanent magnet Drive Motor

Synchronous Motor

Drivetrain RWD FWD FWD FWD

Transmission

1-Speed Direct Drive

1-Speed Direct Drive 1-Speed Direct Drive 1-Speed Direct Drive

Power

170hp@4,800rpm 134hp@N/Arpm 200hp@0rpm 147hp@3,282rpm

Torque

184lb-ft@0rpm

134hp@N/Arpm 266lb-ft@0rpm 236lb-ft@0rpm

Chevrolet Bolt EV is equipped with the biggest battery pack and thus is the most powerful car of the lot. On top of that, Chevrolet has managed to undercut the BMW i3 in terms of pricing which should be the strongest selling point for the chevy.

How fast it the BMW i3 off the line?

The BMW i3, being am electric car, might just be the quickest accelerating car at a traffic signal. The electric motor rockets the car ahead with the utmost immediacy. The 0-30 mph sprint is the highlight of the BMW i3. It totally obliterates other family cars in its segment and the sudden burst of mad acceleration is quite rewarding and addictive too. Upwards of 30 mph, the performance is strong but the graph tapers down south. So for city runs, i3 seems to fit the bill.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback 0-60 MPH in just 7.2 sec

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

0-60 MPH

7.2 sec

10.2 sec

6.5 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

N/A

17.8 sec

15.3 sec

N/A

Top Speed 93 MPH 102 MPH 92 MPH N/A

Engine

Synchronous Traction Motor

Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

Permanent magnet Drive Motor

Synchronous Motor

Chevrolet Bolt storms ahead of the competition and maintains the lead by quite some margin as it has the biggest battery pack and highest rated power and torque figures. BMW in its standard variant could really catch up the Chevy but the S variant might give a strong competition to the Chevy.

What’s the handling like of the BMW i3?

The BMW i3 was always designed as an electric car from ground-up which gave BMW designers an opportunity to design the battery pack and incorporate it in the chassis neatly. The BMW i3 has a carbon fibre re-enforced chassis for added strength and to keep the weight in check. The batteries are cleverly placed within the floor which keeps the centre of gravity as low to the ground as possible. This translates to cleaner and more stable handling, especially around the bends. Its tall boy design limits its handling capabilities and coupled with some skinny tyres, it doesn’t come across as a corner carver. That being said, around a sharp bend it feels grounded.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front View

The ride is mostly sublime and goes well with its premium demeanour. Smaller wheel size would be a welcome addition to the package. The 20-inch wheels on the i3 do crash a lot over big bumps and small sidewalls don’t help either.

What about the braking performance?

The braking procedure on the BMW i3 is quite interesting. The conventional brakes are heavily aided with the regeneration braking function. There is no option to alter the ferocity of regen brakes on the i3. It works like engine braking but on stilts. The regen braking performance is such that the car can come to rest without even the slightest dab on the brake pedal.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front Brake is 11 in.

The conventional brakes, however, feel natural and the pedal feel is adequate too when considering regen braking. Under heavy braking, the BMW i3 remains stable and maintains its composure due to its weight distribution.

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

Brake Rotors Front

11"

11.2"

11"

11.1"

Brake Rotors Rear

11"

11.2"

10"

11.5"

Curb Weight

2965 lbs

3164 lbs

3563 lbs

3433 lbs

60-0 MPH

125 ft

N/A

N/A

N/A

The brakes on the BMW i3 have to deal with the least amount of heft and as a result, the braking feels quite effortless and confidence-inspiring compared to its competition.

2020 BMW i3 electric Fuel Economy

9.0/10

The 42 kWh battery in the BMW i3 gives a range of almost 153 miles which is quite decent considering the segment. There’s an option of keeping the range anxiety at bay by speccing a range extender which would help the i3 to cover more than 200 miles on a single charge. The range extender adds weight and as a result, the electric-only range of the REX model plummets by almost 5%.

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

MPGE (City)

129

150

128

124

MPGE (Highway)

106

122

110

99

MPGE (Combined)

118

136

119

112

Range 259 miles 170 miles 259 miles 259 miles

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/yr)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Around the city and the highway, Hyundai Ioniq proves to be a more efficient EV and would require less frequent charging trips. The design of the Hyundai Ioniq seems to be the ace in the whole here in this comparison.

2020 BMW i3 electric Interior

4.0/10

The BMW i3 is a true BMW from the inside in terms of the quality of materials used and the fit and finish of the panels. As its an electric car and a part of the “i” series from BMW, the interior design is quite futuristic and fresh and different from regular BMW sedans and SUVs. BMW has used light colours on the inside to keep things easy on the eyes. Light interiors also make the cabin feel airy too.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front And Rear Seats

At the front, as there’s no engine to bolt-on, the hood area is incorporated in the cabin pushing the dashboard as further as possible and as a result, there is a generous amount of room in the front.

On the dashboard sits a 6.5-inch screen on the base model which can be upgraded to a 10-inch unit powered by BMW’s latest software. To break the monotony upfront, there’s a healthy use of wooden panels. At the back, it’s not such a happy story. Space in the rear is quite limited and taller passengers would find it difficult to spend time.

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

Seating Capacity

4

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

39.1/56.1/42.2

39.6/53.6/40.5

39.7/54.6/41.6

41.2/54.3/42.1

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

37.4/55.0/35.7

37.2/49.2/31.9

37.9/52.8/36.5

37.3/52.5/33.3

Nissan engineers have done a commendable job in designing the new Leaf. It has the most amount of room upfront and can carry 5 passengers with ease. BMW’s short footprint is quite evident on the inside and especially at the rear.

What are the infotainment features on offer?

BMW makes one of the best infotainment systems in the car market right now and the i3 comes armoured with it. The screen is easy to read and the display is crisp. There are shortcut buttons just below the screen thereby increasing the practicality even further. The system is easy to use and is free from any kind of lag.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchbac Infotainment Screen

Infotainment features:

  • Harman Kardon system
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • AUX
  • Integrated Roof Diversity Antenna
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio -inc: 1 year All Access subscription

How big is the Cargo Space?

The boot space behind the third-second row of seats is nothing but average. The electric motor and generator take up some of the space and thus the boot space is a bit compromised.

That being said, the general shape of the boot is square-ish so loading in and out of the boot is a breeze. For better usability, the rear seats fold down and have 50:50 split function. They go all the way down and lye flat.

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

Cargo Capacity

15.1 cu.ft.

23.0 cu.ft.

16.9 cu.ft.

23.6 cu.ft.

Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq can take up the most amount of cargo thanks to their big boots and cubby spaces all around the cabin. The BMW i3 disappoints in terms of storage space and can be a deal-breaker for some.

Interior features:

  • Heated Front Seats
  • 6-Way Driver Seat
  • 6-Way Passenger Seat
  • 50-50 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
  • Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
  • Leather Steering Wheel
  • Valet Function
  • Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter
  • Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access
  • Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
  • Integrated Navigation System
  • Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
  • Fixed Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Dashboard
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Dashboard
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Steering Wheel
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Steering Wheel
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Dashboard
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Dashboard
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear Seats
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear Seats
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Charging Ports
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Charging Ports
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Cup Holder
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Cup Holder

2020 BMW i3 electric Exterior

5.0/10

The BMW i3 design is a total departure from conventional BMW design language. It looks boxy and has a traditional tall boy design. With that said, some of the design cues are heavily inspired by the ever so beautiful i8. LED headlamps and taillamps are reminiscent of i8, which is a good thing. The quirky design theme continues to the sides as well. The rear doors are hinged at the back and open on the opposite direction. To aid accessibility, the pillar has not been incorporated.

2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Three Quarter View

These quirks come with their own limitations. To access rear doors, the front doors have to open wide first. The way these doors function can be a headache in a tight public car park. Rear windows are set towards smaller size and are fixed. To make it feel less cramped in the rear, the window line dramatically kinks downwards. The roof is set high and gets a floating appearance to make things look interesting.

Model

BMW i3

Hyundai Ioniq

Chevrolet Bolt LT

Nissan Leaf

Curb Weight

2965 lbs

3164 lbs

3563 lbs

3433 lbs

Length

158.3"

176.0"

164.0"

176.4"

Width

69.9"

71.7"

69.5"

70.5"

Height

62.9"

57.1"

62.8"

61.4"

Ground Clearance

N/A

5.5"

N/A

5.9"

Wheelbase

101.2"

106.3"

102.4"

106.3"

The BMW i3 rides on super skinny 20-inch wheels and look cartoonish from every angle. The BMW i3 falls short with the outright space in the cabin and that’s down to it having the shortest wheelbase in the segment. The BMW i3 does have an upper hand with a dynamically sorted chassis and is the lightest among its competitors.

Some notable exterior features:

  • Wheels: 20" x 5.5" Front & 20" x 6.0" Rear -inc: BMW i light alloy double-spoke bicolor
  • Black Rear Bumper w/Body-Colored Rub Strip/Fascia Accent
  • Body-coloured Front Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent and Metal-Look Bumper Insert
  • Body-coloured Door Handles
  • Coloured Bodyside Insert and Black Fender Flares
  • Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
  • Speed Sensitive Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers
  • Composite Panels
  • Lip Spoiler
  • Perimeter/Approach Lights
  • Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Auto-Leveling Daytime Running Lights
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Front View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Rear View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View
2020 BMW i3 electric Hatchback Side View

2020 BMW i3 electric Safety

The BMW i3 gets driver assistance package and adaptive cruise control which works seamlessly in bumper to bumper traffic. That being said, a host of safety features are optional and lane keep assist is absent from the checklist too. Safety ratings for this year’s model are not available but back in 2018, the BMW i3 took part in several tests conducted by NHTSA and it passed with flying colours.

Safety features on offer:

  • Anti-theft alarm system
  • Acoustic safety-belt warning
  • BMW Assist eCall includes Emergency Request (SOS button) and Enhanced Automatic Collision Notification
  • BMW Remote Services includes Stolen Vehicle Recovery, Remote Door Unlock, and BMW Connected App Compatibility
  • Programmable LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Impact sensor that activates Battery Safety Terminal disconnect of the starter generator
  • Front and rear Head Protection System (HPS)
  • Driver's and passenger's front airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with advanced technology
  • Seat-mounted front side-impact airbags
  • Front safety belts with automatic pre-tensioners
  • Front-passenger-seat-occupation recognition with Passenger's Airbag Off indicator
  • Coded Driveaway Protection
  • Automatic-locking retractors (ALR) on all passenger safety belts for installation of child-restraint seat
  • LATCH attachments for child-restraint safety installation

2020 BMW i3 electric Competition

9.5/10

BMW i3 vs Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq trumps the Beemer in terms of outright practicality. Its got a bigger boot and the rear seats are more accessible and comfortable to spend time in. BMW ups one on the quality and richness of the cabin. But that sense of luxury comes at a premium. The Hyundai Ioniq would be a better buy as its cheaper, more practical and maintaining it won’t be heavy on the pocket either.

2020 Hyundai Ioniq

BMW i3 vs Chevrolet Bolt EV

 The Chevrolet Bolt seems to be the jack of all trades in this head to head. It’s the most powerful compact electric hatch here and can go the farthest on a single charge. While doing so, it will keep you safe at all times. The BMW, on the other hand, is a much better and well put together package. It feels more premium and has a much more communicative chassis. The ride certainly feels plusher than the Chevy. With that said, the price gap is wide enough to make the BMW feel a bit overpriced.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV

BMW i3 vs Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is the ultimate OG when it comes to EVs penetrating the automotive market. Over the years, Nissan has perfected the formula and for 2020 model the end product seems like a decent replacement for a day to day ICE powered hatchback. It’s big on the inside and is a mile muncher. The Nissan Leaf is a no non-sense compact EV hatchback.

2020 Nissan Leaf

2020 BMW i3 electric Final Verdict

5.8/10

The BMW i3 is the premium offering in the compact luxury EV hatchback segment. It might seem a bit overpriced on paper but the in terms of quality, it’s top-notch and is right up there with premium car market segment leaders. It makes use of intelligent recyclable and eco-friendly materials which makes this car more desirable to some of the prospective buyers. A range extender is a welcome edition too.