2016 BMW i3 vs. Its Competition

2016 BMW i3

In terms of advanced technology and sophistication, the 2016 BMW i3 has no direct competitors.

Its range is comparable to the low end of the electric-car spectrum, but its owners are more likely to cross-shop a Tesla Model S—and the range-extended version is more expensive than the other electric model equipped with an engine, Chevy's Volt.

This year's all-new Volt is cheaper, quieter, better-looking, more powerful, more fuel-efficient, and delivers 53 miles of electric range—only about a third less than the BMW i3 REx.

As for the Tesla Model S, it's easily the best electric car in the world right now.

But it's also a large luxury sedan with seats for five and ranges of 240 miles and up—not to mention a price twice that of the electric BMW—so the BMW i3 wins on suitability for city use and urban transport.

While the Nissan Leaf has nothing like the interior grace and clever details of the i3, nor is it remotely luxurious, this year's model gets a range boost to 107 miles—the highest of any non-Tesla plug-in car.

The VW e-Golf, rated at 83 miles, is the antithesis of the i3's "look at me!" styling; no one will know it's an electric car unless they read the labels, but it retains all of the Golf's virtues.

Finally, there's the hybrid Lexus CT 200h, the smallest luxury hatchback sold today.

It delivers a genuine 40 miles per gallon and lots of more traditional luxury features—at a lower price than the i3.

2016 BMW i32016 BMW i3
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2016 Chevrolet Volt2016 Chevrolet Volt
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2016 Nissan Leaf2016 Nissan Leaf
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Volkswagen e-Golf Touch - 2016 Consumer Electronics Show2016 Volkswagen e-Golf
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2016 Tesla Model S2016 Tesla Model S
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Quick Specs
7.6
The 2016 BMW i3 is a futuristic and different kind of car, not just a new take on what a BMW represents.
8.0
The new 2016 Chevy Volt improves on its predecessor in every way that counts, and its 53-mile range is unsurpassed among plug-in hybrids—meaning its biggest weak spot is GM’s ability to explain and market it.
7.2
The 2016 Nissan Leaf remains a somewhat appliance-like drive, but its new range rating of 107 miles raises it to the top of its class—and it's still smooth, quiet, and calming to drive.
8.0
The 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf is a competent electric car, but its specs are less competitive than before.
8.8
There's still no direct competition for the 2016 Tesla Model S, which offers elegant design, 240 miles or more of all-electric range, and jaw-dropping acceleration in the higher-end models. It's one of a kind.
MSRP From    
$42,400$33,170$29,010$28,995$68,000
Gas Mileage    
43 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy
Engine    
ElectricGas/Electric I4ElectricElectricElectric
EPA Class    
Subcompact CarsCompact CarsMid-Size CarsCompact CarsLarge Cars
Style Name    
4-Door HB5-Door HB LT4-Door HB S *Ltd Avail*4-Door HB SE2016.5 4-Door Sedan RWD 60
Drivetrain    
Rear Wheel DriveFront wheel driveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveRear Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity    
45555
Passenger Doors    
N/A4N/AN/AN/A
Body Style    
HatchbackHatchbackHatchbackHatchbackHatchback 2016.5
Transmission    
AutomaticAutomaticAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2016 BMW i3 vs. 2016 Chevrolet Volt2016 BMW i3 vs. 2016 Nissan Leaf2016 BMW i3 vs. 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf2016 BMW i3 vs. 2016 Tesla Model S