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Tesla vs BMW i3 test drove both back to back.

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Insureit1, May 28, 2014.

  1. Insureit1

    Insureit1 Member

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    I had an interesting day today. Two weeks ago a had scheduled a drive in s MS from the Bethesda MD location. On my way to drive the MS I received an email from a local BMW dealer that they were having an i3 event and would have (4) i3's available to drive. I told them I would be by after my appointment with Tesla. I realize this may be like comparing apples and oranges but they are two viable EV options and the BMW with the Rex has a real world 150 mile range. So here are my observations on both:

    Tesla- I wanted to drive a standard suspension car so the only option was a MS 60. I am probably like many on this forum and have read just about everything I can about the MS. I knew the 60 would not be as fast but that was fine by me. If I purchase I will get an 85 for the extra range but my main purpose for today was to look at the fit and finish, interior and exterior and I especially wanted to park in tight parking spots and drive in traffic. I was trying to get a bit of a taste "real world" use. Sure rocketing from 0-60 is fun but the everyday usability is what is most important to me. I was a bit concerned that car would be too large as other have commented that it is. I found the car was no more difficult to drive or park than any midsize car or SUV (This is MUCH easier to park than my wife's Lexus LX570).

    Prositives for me:
    1) Huge back seat. With a son that is 6'5" this is welcome.
    2) While not the most luxurious interior of a luxury car, it was better than I anticipated.
    3) Nice think rimmed steering wheel. Since I have my hand on the steering wheel 100% of the time I am driving this is important to me.
    4) Quite, composed, solid ride.
    5) Wonderful UI for the HUGE screen. Very intuitive.
    6) The standard radio actually sound pretty good and Slacker radio was great. Not sure I would order the high end audio.
    7) Really liked the glass roof. Was not even considering ordering this but I think I would now. Let's a lot of light in.
    8) Never having to buy gas again!
    9) Looks great in person. Not to flashy and not too dull.

    Negatives for me:
    1) Price. You don't buy this car for the value proposition and Tesla knows this and some of the option prices are just absurd.
    2) Current wait is 4 months. I was told October delivery to the East coast since the impending temporary factory shut down this summer.
    3) Long term reliability and resale value. I do believe TSLA will be around for the long term but the MS is still in the early stages. This could be a $100k gamble.
    4) No real leasing options. I own a business and the lack of competitive leasing options is something TSLA should look at changing.
    5) really crappy cupholders.

    Overall this is a well put together, solid luxury car.

    BMW i3

    I drove from the Tesla Bethesda store directly to Annapolis BMW where they were having the i3 event. There were (4) cars available to drive all Euro spec and 100% battery only (they did not have a Rex version to drive). They had a steady steam of people driving. The test drive was limited to a 5 mile loop on back roads and highways.

    Positives:
    1) Price- with every option available tops out at $56k before $7500 tax credit.
    2) Carbon fiber body. This is pretty cool to see. Not sure if the cars coming to the US with look the same but the roof on the car without the sunroof (euro option only) had the unpainted carbon fiber and it look good.
    3) Very cool looking interior. Totally different than the MS. Futuristic in a different way than the MS.
    4) I drove the car with 20in wheels and it had pretty sharp handling.
    5) Very nice fit and finish.
    6) Nice upright seating position and easy to get in and out.
    7) nice big cupholders.
    8) the two tone exterior looks much better in person than in photos.

    Negatives:
    1) only seats four.
    2) MUCH smaller interior, especially the back seat and hatch area.
    3) While acceleration was quick it is much slower then the MS.
    4) Choppy ride compared to the MS.
    5) No power seats.
    6) drives a lot like the Nissan LEAF.
    7) small sterring wheel and awkward controls for drive, reverse park etc.
    8) Sunroof not available in US.

    In all honesty these are two totally different vehicles, targeted to different demographics. The MS reminded me of a Mercedes or Lexus. Much more refined ride and traditional interior. The i3 reminded me of a bigger, roomier, lighter Nissan LEAF. Ride was much choppier than the MS. The biggest advantage of the i3 is price and size. It is really a city car while the MS can be a highway cruiser. Even totally loaded the i3 undercuts the MS by about $30k to $50k. For many the i3 will be a perfect fit. The i3 felt more like a toy car to me than the MS. The MS felt like a "real" no compromises car. I am more convinced than ever that the MS is the way to go. Now I just have to pull the trigger, decide on options and wait until October.

    - - - Updated - - -

    One other dislike on the i3 is the regen braking. This is not adjustable and very noticeable. I am sure the reason is to recapture as much power as possible but it is too much in my opinion with no option to disable or adjust.
     
  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your comparison analysis, it was very interesting reading.

    One thing, you wrote: "Even totally loaded the i3 undercuts the MS by about $30k to $50k."

    The S60 starts at $70K in the US. You said the i3 with all options is $56K. So that is a $14K difference, correct?

    For that additional $14K the Tesla gives more than double the range, vastly more interior room for passengers and cargo, a more sophisticated and easy to use interface, power seats, and of course a beautiful exterior.

    No doubt a fully optioned i3 has some features that the base Model S does not have.

    I think you are making the right choice. But I am startled to learn that there is now a 16 week wait in the US!
     
  3. Ssssly

    Ssssly Member

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    I'm in the same boat as we just decided to pull the trigger right after the lead time went from ~2mths to 4.

    I'm looking into inventory car options as we're flexible if it shortens the wait time.
     
  4. jcadman22

    jcadman22 MD: DRK NRG

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    I own a MS 60 and I have driven the i3. I agree with all of your points, not apples to apples, etc. But I have to point out that your first positive for the i3, Price is really not a good value when you consider that you're only getting a 20-ish kWh battery pack. Back of the envelope calculation puts the i3 around $2K/kWh where the MS is in the neighborhood of $1.2/kWh.

    On the day that I drove the i3, I drove from Silver Spring to Katie's Cars & Coffee in Great Falls in the morning - about 30 miles. Then I drove to Passport BMW in Suitland (40 miles) before continuing around the Beltway back home another 30 miles, all without having to recharge. This 100 mile trip would only be possible in the i3 with some charging time. Get the Tesla and you won't regret it.
     
  5. Insureit1

    Insureit1 Member

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    True but the cheapest model starts at $41k. But you are correct the MS60 is not much more but base price to base price is about $29k difference.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Very good points. The $56k i3 price is with the Rex option so it should have been able to make that trip. But it would require the Rex engine, gas, maintenance etc that any gas engine requires. The Tesla is just a much nicer car in my opinion.
     
  6. LMB

    LMB Member

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    (LMB spouse)

    @Insureit1 - Did you notice if the regen was set to low or standard for your Tesla test drive? Many find lots of regen uncomfortable at first, but after a few days it they grow to like it. The Model S regen was more abrupt in earlier firmware versions; I preferred that myself. (I understand you were commenting on the i3 regen, but comparing that to the Model S low regen setting might have exaggerated the difference.)
     
  7. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    It takes time to get used to regenerative braking, it feels so different than any driving you've ever done, but once you're used to it after a few days it's one of the best features of the Model S. Driving is much less stressful. When I charge to 100% and regen braking is limited for the first few miles I really miss it!
     
  8. karmamule

    karmamule Member

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    Thanks for the interesting comparison Insureit1, I enjoyed reading it!

    I just ordered/confirmed this last weekend for an east coast delivery and it's listing as September, so if you order soon it may be a bit earlier than October (unless sales are really booming and it's already pushed out that much in just a few days!)

    I really wanted to switch to a BEV, but didn't want to have to rely on a second car and/or rentals to meet all my driving needs, and the Tesla was the only one that seemed capable of doing that. It's by far the most expensive car I've ever ordered but after all my dry research that visceral test drive really sealed the deal and convinced me it was worth it!
     
  9. AEdennis

    AEdennis Active Member

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    Being a Model S owner, former ActiveE lessor, and current i3 reservation holder, I have to make that decision soon. There are many things about the Model S that make it harder as a daily driver. The size IS the biggest challenge. In trying to cut in front of people in bumper to bumper traffic, the i3 or ActiveE is better because it is smaller. Another thing that BMW does better is the Bluetooth integration. You can have multiple phones connected to the car at the same time (a primary and secondary) and be able to stream media from either. Additionally, I really hate how easy it is for folks to hear my conversations from outside of the car (when on Bluetooth handsfree) vs. on the BMWs.

    Additionally, the USB for the BMW can support iOS devices natively as well as the USB music drive functions that both the Model S and BMWs share.

    The strong regenerative braking and creep are two configurations that really is driver dependent and would improve the Model S experience if those things changed with Driver Profile. I actually decided on adding the Teslas to our garage partly because of the regen. The BMW and Tesla (on standard or on the Roadster) regen are two of the strongest regens on the market. The BMW one allows for single paddle driving, and the Model S with Creep off is second to that. The Roadster has some really good regen, but it's always on creep makes it hard to single paddle drive the car.

    The other thing that the BMW does better is the ability to receive addresses from your desktop google searches. Send an address to the car before you get to the car.

    However, the Model S is superior with its OTA Firmware upgrades. The recent inclusion of Hill Hold makes it a lot easier to drive with no creep and not worry about slamming on the car behind you.

    At this point, the delay in delivery of the i3 from its original promised date, the fiasco of the launch, the removal of the sunroof, the anemic 81 mile range rating and drop in range from the Active E, and my getting used to my Model S as a daily driver (12,901 as of this writing) has put the probability of my purchase of an i3 down to 5%... It could still happen... but highly unlikely.
     
  10. Mr X

    Mr X Future Owner

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    The Model S isnt a luxury car though, its a premium sedan that competes in the luxury car market. And i prefer the simplicity and clean looking interior over actual "luxurious" interiors. Don't why so many people complain about it.


    And the i3 is pretty much a waste of money for what your getting, overall. You are really just paying for the BMW badge. Not much different than other cheaper EV's, that price tag is unappealing for what it is...
     
  11. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Driven the same way the i3 needs 30% less energy. That is significant. I would have bought the i3 but it's range and space didn't work for me. I'm very happy with my Model S but I'm not as self centered to think that everyone else has the same space and range requirement. In fact the majority of people drive their cars in a way that all these sub 100 mile EV work great. That is why there are so many EV that all have about the same range.
     
  12. jcaspar

    jcaspar Member

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    I think what kills the i3 for me is the external appearance and that it drives like a Nissan Leaf. It seems to continue in the vein of low range electrics that look ugly and handle poorly. Doesn't really add anything to the Leaf other than a nicer interior at nearly twice the cost.
     
  13. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    It is only less energy at low speeds. The i3's aerodynamics are terrible but that doesn't show up in the current EPA tests very well.
     
  14. scottf200

    scottf200 Active Member

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    And option(s) the fully features Model S does not have like Adaptive Cruise Control.
     
  15. Mario Kadastik

    Mario Kadastik Active Member

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  16. Zextraterrestrial

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    so well said.

    i am test driving an I3 next week pretty much so I can take my S to the BMW dealership and show people what a real EV does.
    for a city car get a leaf and save 1/2 the price. they even almost look better, not sure
     
  17. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Nonsense, it's actually pretty decent. The i3 has 0.29. A BMW M3 has 0.32. So much for 'terrible'.

    The drag coefficient value alone doesn't say much. You have to multiply it with the frontal area of the car. The i3 is smaller so even if it has a worse drag coefficient, it does end up causing the same or similar amount of absolute drag as the Model S. The EPA test is a very good representation of a real world use of a car so it does give you a very good idea.

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    That's just pathetic. Seriously
     
  18. jcadman22

    jcadman22 MD: DRK NRG

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    It still surprises me that there are no other EVs have come out to fill the 40kWh gap. If BMW or the Mercedes B-Class offered a larger battery pack they could justify their premium prices and offer some substance over the Leaf and Volt.
     
  19. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    I thought it did this... just checked, and confirmed it does do this. My wife's driving style seems to prefer light regen while I prefer standard regen. I just switched between the two profiles and saw the setting change. Tho you might be right about creep; neither of us liked the creep driving mode so I don't know if that saves with the profile.
     
  20. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    Adaptive cruise control for an 80 mile city car? Who cares ?
     

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