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BMW I3 and Chevy Bolt versus the M3

Niroc

Member
Apr 28, 2019
110
68
Portland Oregon
As a good consumer I have been doing some car comparison. The 3 cars (electric) that I test drove are the Chevy Bolt, BMW I3, and of course the M3.

The I3 is very small I was a bit taken aback when I saw it up close. I almost considered it a waste of my time even being there at the dealership. But after spending some minutes walking around, opening and shutting doors and hoods, I got use to it. And people are right. Inside, it feels much bigger. I think it is due to a light interior and very little room behind the second seat is hidden.

I like the exterior design of the outer car and feel the back suicide doors are very usable. The hatch room in the back is small and thankfully the space expands quite a bit when folding down the second row. I don't care for the carbon plastic interior. This car didn't have the wood accents and I think it would look very nice on this car. Too bad BMW didn't add it to all their I3’s

The sprint from a stand still is very, very good. It is an electric car so... of course. The regenerative pedal is very aggressive and instantly liked the feel of it. Very, very cool. The I3 did well going over the bumps and grooves in the road despite those odd skinny tires. Noise level reduction in the interior is good. This car is sneaky fast. True testament to engineering that the car handles just as well going 70 as 45 miles per hour. But with the I3 narrow stature, short battery range, and its skinny unique tires kill any idea of a long road trip. It is design for urban driving and would be a poor choice if you want short weekend jaunts.

The Chevy Bolt is GM’s answer to the Tesla. It is reported that it cost much more to produce than the msrp price. The first thing you notice is just how ugly the car is. Step inside and it doesn't get much better. Front wheel drive robs some of the fun of driving an electric car. Anytime you punch it the front tires spin. It is quick though and a bit quicker than the I3. I thought cornering was not that great and felt almost suv -ish. Granted, it is not a sports car but I expected a bit better. It was wet and tested the handling by taking the some corners hard. I could not get the back end to slide. I am thinking this car is probably does better in wet and snowy conditions than most cars. I went over several speed bumps and it handle them very well. The turning radius is fantastic. The seats are bad, very uncomfortable. I cannot believe someone actually thought that adding these car seats was a good idea.

The Chevy Bolt is a very ugly car, inside and out. Front wheel drive ruins the experience of driving an electric car. Hats off to the engineering team for making it quick and having the range of 238 miles, though. But Cheap materials and aesthetics just ruins this car. GM, after all these years still cannot create a design that is comparable to Europeans cars?

The M3 basically beats these two contenders on all points. Now if Tesla can learn how to run an effective market campaign...
 

felixculpas

Member
Jun 11, 2018
633
694
Ontario, Canada
Drove past an I3 this morning on a major highway and personally wouldn't be caught dead in one but it did appear larger than I anticipated. Dealers aren't that keen to promote EV's. They like their ICE with higher maintenance revenues. It's not like BMW or Chevy are running effective market campaigns for their EV's so not sure what your point is there. Tesla did a very good job of going after and crushing their competition.

I considered all EV's but in the end felt there was only one choice due to where a lot of your dollars are going - the battery/technology and the infrastructure in place to support it.
 
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afadeev

Member
Feb 28, 2019
692
624
NYC
The 3 cars (electric) that I test drove are the Chevy Bolt, BMW I3, and of course the M3.

The I3 [...]I like the exterior design of the outer car and feel the back suicide doors are very usable. [...]This car didn't have the wood accents and I think it would look very nice on this car. Too bad BMW didn't add it to all their I3’s
[...]The regenerative pedal is very aggressive and instantly liked the feel of it. Very, very cool. The I3 did well going over the bumps and grooves in the road despite those odd skinny tires. But with the I3 narrow stature, short battery range, and its skinny unique tires kill any idea of a long road trip. It is design for urban driving and would be a poor choice if you want short weekend jaunts.

I had i3 before, and it can be had with wood (eucalyptus) interior trim.
It's a great daily driver, more energy efficient than TM3, and is ridiculously maneuverable - you can do a 360-turn on one-way streets where every other car will require 3-point turns. The downsides are, as you stated, design focused on short/mid-range use cases.

i3 leases are very heavily subsidized by BMW, and you can get one for $250-300/month.
For a $50K EV, that's steal!


The Chevy Bolt is a very ugly car, inside and out. Front wheel drive ruins the experience of driving an electric car. Hats off to the engineering team for making it quick and having the range of 238 miles, though.

Bolt is a full on sh*t-car with great EV range.
That about sums it up.


The M3 basically beats these two contenders on all points.

Yes, but not on lease pricing.
If you are in the market to lease an EV, Tesla's will bend you over the barrel.

Unlike BMW or GM, Tesla hasn't setup its own bank to fund the leases or financing of its cars, and thus the pass-through funding is not competitive. It's easy to bring your own financing if you buy a car, but not for leasing, you get screwed by noncompetitive lease rates and monthly payments from Tesla.

a
 

turtlesz

Member
Aug 7, 2017
520
467
Southern California
We have multiple Tesla's at home and have leased an i3. The X and 3 are great but there is a place for the i3. The i3 has tons of promotions and we scored an undeniably good deal on it. 50k msrp but we spent $4850 total for the entire 30 month 12k mile / year lease which equates to $160 a month. Cheapest model 3 with 10k miles is over $650 to lease after accounting down payment and taxes. Simply cannot touch it at that price. I would say it's a better city car compared to Tesla's because it is smaller, seating position is high and visibility is excellent. Also it's small size makes it very fun to drive, handles like a zippy go cart, excellent 0-30 acceleration which is perfect for a city. Great storage space for it's size. It gets around 120 miles of range so it definitely is not a primary car but it has hov access and can be a great economical way to get a commuter ev. It looks quirky but a lot went into it's design and eco friendly interior materials. It can coexist for what it is in the sea of Tesla's. It's the cheapest car to run as it costs less than gas that would have been spent.
 

TyH2009

Member
Apr 12, 2019
522
584
St. Louis
I owned a Bolt prior to my M3, it was a decent little car. Biggest thing I miss is the heated steering wheel, and the extra-regen pedal behind the steering wheel, I could come to a complete stop without using the brake pedal, which I can't on the Tesla.

It was more utilitarian vs. the M3. Interior is kinda cheesy, seats weren't the most comfortable in the world. It did decent in the snow, not deep snow, and rain, but being FWD it spun easily when you gave it the beans, especially from a stop.
 

diggity

Member
Mar 15, 2019
339
168
Los Gatos, Ca
I had an i3 prior to my Model 3 and loved it. I bought the EV only version and drove it from LA to San Jose - it took a lot longer, but let's just say that it helped me get used to having range anxiety (a few times I pulled into a charging station with 1 mile left). Needless to say, the lack of range is why I switched over to the Tesla, and I am sure glad that I did. If the BMW had better range, I would have kept it. It's a fun car to drive, is very safe and sturdy, and the Harmon Kardon sound system might sound better than the Tesla Model 3 premium sound (yes, I did say that).
 

Camera-Cruiser

Fully Charged
Dec 4, 2015
773
795
Fullerton, CA
We have multiple Tesla's at home and have leased an i3. The X and 3 are great but there is a place for the i3. The i3 has tons of promotions and we scored an undeniably good deal on it. 50k msrp but we spent $4850 total for the entire 30 month 12k mile / year lease which equates to $160 a month. Cheapest model 3 with 10k miles is over $650 to lease after accounting down payment and taxes. Simply cannot touch it at that price. I would say it's a better city car compared to Tesla's because it is smaller, seating position is high and visibility is excellent. Also it's small size makes it very fun to drive, handles like a zippy go cart, excellent 0-30 acceleration which is perfect for a city. Great storage space for it's size. It gets around 120 miles of range so it definitely is not a primary car but it has hov access and can be a great economical way to get a commuter ev. It looks quirky but a lot went into it's design and eco friendly interior materials. It can coexist for what it is in the sea of Tesla's. It's the cheapest car to run as it costs less than gas that would have been spent.
I keep looking for that i3 deal. Where in SoCal is it available? I’d love to get one for my kid.
 

bshap73

Member
Apr 22, 2019
62
48
California
Currently own a bolt. Have had it for just over a year. Have put almost 20,000 miles on it. Commute in it 2-3 hours a day. Have no complaints. Is zippy. Great range. I find the seats comfortable. Easy to maneuver. Apple car play is great. It’s exactly what I expected it to be. Had a Nissan Leaf for 3 years before this. Was happy with that too. Both cars are/were a lease.

Will be buying a Model 3 Performance this week. Obviously no comparison. No issues with actually owning this car vs bolt and leaf that I would never want to own. But had no issues with Leaf or Bolt. I’m just putting to many miles on the bolt.
 

Triplett

Banned
Apr 3, 2019
380
368
California
As a good consumer I have been doing some car comparison. The 3 cars (electric) that I test drove are the Chevy Bolt, BMW I3, and of course the M3.

The I3 is very small I was a bit taken aback when I saw it up close. I almost considered it a waste of my time even being there at the dealership. But after spending some minutes walking around, opening and shutting doors and hoods, I got use to it. And people are right. Inside, it feels much bigger. I think it is due to a light interior and very little room behind the second seat is hidden.

I like the exterior design of the outer car and feel the back suicide doors are very usable. The hatch room in the back is small and thankfully the space expands quite a bit when folding down the second row. I don't care for the carbon plastic interior. This car didn't have the wood accents and I think it would look very nice on this car. Too bad BMW didn't add it to all their I3’s

The sprint from a stand still is very, very good. It is an electric car so... of course. The regenerative pedal is very aggressive and instantly liked the feel of it. Very, very cool. The I3 did well going over the bumps and grooves in the road despite those odd skinny tires. Noise level reduction in the interior is good. This car is sneaky fast. True testament to engineering that the car handles just as well going 70 as 45 miles per hour. But with the I3 narrow stature, short battery range, and its skinny unique tires kill any idea of a long road trip. It is design for urban driving and would be a poor choice if you want short weekend jaunts.

The Chevy Bolt is GM’s answer to the Tesla. It is reported that it cost much more to produce than the msrp price. The first thing you notice is just how ugly the car is. Step inside and it doesn't get much better. Front wheel drive robs some of the fun of driving an electric car. Anytime you punch it the front tires spin. It is quick though and a bit quicker than the I3. I thought cornering was not that great and felt almost suv -ish. Granted, it is not a sports car but I expected a bit better. It was wet and tested the handling by taking the some corners hard. I could not get the back end to slide. I am thinking this car is probably does better in wet and snowy conditions than most cars. I went over several speed bumps and it handle them very well. The turning radius is fantastic. The seats are bad, very uncomfortable. I cannot believe someone actually thought that adding these car seats was a good idea.

The Chevy Bolt is a very ugly car, inside and out. Front wheel drive ruins the experience of driving an electric car. Hats off to the engineering team for making it quick and having the range of 238 miles, though. But Cheap materials and aesthetics just ruins this car. GM, after all these years still cannot create a design that is comparable to Europeans cars?

The M3 basically beats these two contenders on all points. Now if Tesla can learn how to run an effective market campaign...
Like comparing an IndyCar to a turtle and a snail
 

chronopc

Active Member
Jul 8, 2017
2,873
2,719
California
Now if Tesla can learn how to run an effective market campaign...
I know people like to compare the M3 to the i3 and Chevy Bolt, but I don't think Tesla see those as competitors. The M3 outsells the Bolt 5 to 1. The i3 sales numbers are so low it might as well be considered a compliant car. The cars that the M3 is competing with are things such as the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C class and the Prius.

In terms of a marketing campaign, no advertisement is more effective than what Tesla has going for it now. Word of mouth.
 

sreams

Member
Nov 7, 2017
732
1,256
Sacramento, CA
I owned a Bolt prior to my M3, it was a decent little car. Biggest thing I miss is the heated steering wheel, and the extra-regen pedal behind the steering wheel, I could come to a complete stop without using the brake pedal, which I can't on the Tesla.

Honest question... does this really matter, though? Any energy recouped at speeds under 5mph is negligible at best.

Personally, I'd much rather have the simplicity of having fewer things to push/pull to operate the car.
 

seattlite2004

Active Member
Apr 12, 2016
1,183
1,334
Puget Sound
Honest question... does this really matter, though? Any energy recouped at speeds under 5mph is negligible at best.

Personally, I'd much rather have the simplicity of having fewer things to push/pull to operate the car.
Can't get any more simple as lift off accelerator and you will regen to a full stop.
 
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TyH2009

Member
Apr 12, 2019
522
584
St. Louis
Honest question... does this really matter, though? Any energy recouped at speeds under 5mph is negligible at best.

Personally, I'd much rather have the simplicity of having fewer things to push/pull to operate the car.
No, but it was neat not having to use the brake pedal at all, unless it was holding at a light, or if I REALLY needed to slow down quick. The amount of regen I could get was crazy in L mode and the regen pedal.

I don't mind the buttons, and I don't mind the simplicity of the M3. I'm not anti-button. My other car is a Chevy SS and it definitely is different going from one to the other.
 
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Sunshine State

Automotive Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2017
1,304
1,031
Florida
We now have four Teslas but we started our EV experience with an i3. I actually loved the i3 and even though it appears small that may be a bit psychological because shape resembles the truly small box cars and the i3 isn’t nearly as small. The i3 has virtually no hood yet the passenger compartment is very spacious and it is one of the nicest cars for entry and exit, even better than most SUV’s. The biggest negative to me is that the car is extremely twitchy on the highway to the point that I feel it is unsafe in that you need to be on guard, even an unexpected sneeze could send you into another lane. Around town it is a joy to drive with effortless power and acceleration, it’s city range is better than highway and it has the best regen braking in the industry.
 

kgoroway

Member
Apr 24, 2019
166
85
Jersey
I currently have (lease) a 2018 i3. I also currently have a performance 3 on order.

The i3 is absolutely fantastic for what it is, and I view it as the perfect commuter car. The suicide doors are awful, however (the juggling that has to be done to allow a rear seat passenger to exit the car when you are parked next to something else is laughable.) But, the ability to truly and completely drive with a single pedal (regen down to zero) is going to be sorely SORELY missed on the tesla. I don't understand why that isn't an option in the menus.
 

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