BMW i3 unveiled with carbon fibre body, radical looks, suicide doors

BMW has taken the final bits of disguise off its electric hatchback, the i3, and while it includes plenty of cutting edge gear, sat nav is an optional extra (at least in Europe).

As we reported earlier the i3 in standard form features a rear-mounted electric engine sending 125kW (170hp) of power and 250Nm (184lb-ft) torque to the rear wheels. Range is estimated at between 130 and 160km (81 to 99mi), and foot to the floor the i3 can race from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds. Top speed is electronically restricted to 150km/h.

A range extending 2-cylinder petrol engine can be added to the drivetrain. This tiny 25kW motor doesn’t drive the wheels, but repleshes the lithium-ion battery pack when it begins to run low on juice. Thanks to its efforts the i3’s range is extended to around 300km.

Weight, on the electric-only i3, is kept down to 1,195kg thanks to a body that’s constructed primarily out of lightweight, but expensive, carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Standard equipment on the i3 includes thin, lightweight seats; reverse-hinged suicide or coach rear doors; Bluetooth hands-free; reversing sensors; climate control; and a false floor in the boot. If you’re willing to tick some option boxes you can gain adaptive LED head- and tail-lights; sat nav; electric glass roof; reversing camera; automated reverse parking; heated seats; and speed limit reading cameras.

The entertainment and navigation system features either a free-standing 6.5-inch or 8.8-inch screen connected to an iDrive controller. A SIM card slot is standard, and via the iRemote smart phone app drivers can check up on and configure their car remotely.

In Germany the new BMW i3 starts from €34,950 (A$50,200), while in the US the i3 will begin at US$41,350. That’s a little bit cheaper than the entry-level 5-Series in those respective markets, which begins at A$79,990 in Australia.

We’re still waiting to hear back from BMW Australia as to when we might see the i3 turn up local showrooms.

Dimension, weight, etc.

Length: 3,999mm,
Width: 1,775mm
Height: 1,578mm
Weight: 1,195kg

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Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]