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Yet Another Comparison: Bolt vs BMW i3 vs Model S

Discussion in 'Model S' started by alevek, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. alevek

    alevek Member

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    After only 100 miles in my Bolt (Premier, all options) I'm ready to pas a verdict over the BMW i3 which just came off lease after 2 years and 15000 miles, and my Tesla Model S P85D. Keep in mind the cost of each : Bolt - $43,000, i3 - $53,000, P85D - $132,000 (rounded off $$$).

    Spoiler alert! Which would I rather drive when:
    Everyday driving: Bolt!
    At the drag strip: P85D to blow the doors off my redneck buddies hopped up gassers.
    Long distance travel: Airplane. Can't think of a worst thing to do than drive a car a long distance, prefer a root canal.

    OK, now for the science behind the results.

    The i3 was fun, but some of it's features are just a major pita. The worst is the the skinny wheels. Besides looking stupid, it makes it feel like riding a bike when going over steel bridges or ridges in the road. Besides that, the tires are ridiculously expensive, wear out fast (8,000 mi), and are impossible to find. The stupid coach doors and no rear windows makes rear seat passengers paranoid. The carbon fiber, while a cool technology, actually turns out to be hot when parked in the sun, makes the interior like an oven and takes forever to cool down. The things that I liked better than the Bolt are the rear wheel drive and the seats. Yeah, the interior materials are better, but they better be for an extra $10,000.

    The Model S P85D is a 2014 with 25,000 mi. What can I say it's fast! It's also big and driving it around reminds me of my father's Oldsmobile. When I first got it the tech was cool, like the big screen displays and autopilot. The EV one-pedal driving is awesome, although it's not exactly one pedal since you still have to use the brake to come to a full stop, unlike the Bolt and i3, which is really annoying. The autopilot and summon, at first exciting, are now just useless gimmicks to impress friends. The autopilot, Version 1, never delivered the promise for which I got it, to self park on private property. The display doesn't have surround vision promised or implied in the original advertisements. Again, yeah the interior materials are nicer with the Obeche wood, Alcantra headliner, but wtf, they better be for $100,000 more! And still no grab handles or coat hooks! Don't get me started.

    OK, why after only 88 miles I can say I like the Bolt better than those two? It's actually fun to drive and the tech blows the other two away. The displays makes the Model S seem like my mother's old computer. Which reveals a problem with making cars that are computers, they will get obsoleted fast by new models. The parking display in the Bolt is awesome, blows the Model S and i3 away. The rearview camera display in the mirror and the ability to select front and rearview cameras display when parking are great. The awesome blind spot display in the side mirrors, regular rear doors with roll down windows blow i3 away. Fold down rear seats with bigger cargo area and tight turn radius makes the Bolt the preferred goto for going to the beach with all sport equipment loaded in the back. Roof racks! Yeah, now can carry those paddleboards! Regular tires that you can actually buy! and wait for it, the latest tech, grab handles and coat hooks. And most important for South Florida, an A/C that actually works, Neither the i3 nor the Model S A/C works as expected. The i3 seemed to have a mind of its own, blowing hot and cold air randomly. The Model S can't seem to sense the actual interior temperature, so have to constantly adjust fan speed manually.

    So there you have it, for my average driving of 25 mi/day it's the Bolt all the way. Any body wants to buy a pristine 2014 Model S P85D, driven only occasionally at the drag strip, let me know.
     
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  2. SageBrush

    SageBrush Active Member

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    I'm with you on that point.

    As for the rest, no.
    You obviously change toys pretty frequently, and your new toy bias shines.
     
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  3. KL670

    KL670 Member

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    Thanks for the thorough report. While I know nothing about the other 2, it's disappointing to hear there're so many things Tesla is lacking at least from one owner's standpoint, especially because it's 2-3 times more expensive. However it's true though that technology goes at lighting speed and it's impossible to catch up with every new innovation.
    I have faith that Tesla will get better literally everyday.
     
  4. Emmies

    Emmies Member

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    have you seen a photo of yourself driving the bolt yet?
     
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  5. tskguy

    tskguy Member

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    But The Bolt and i3 are so frigging UGLY!!! Why do they always make electric cars look like crap.. Other than Tesla. :) That alone is why I will never by a Bolt.
     
  6. alevek

    alevek Member

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    No, but I did see one of me driving the i3 and don't want to repeat the experience. Although couldn't be much worse than a photo driving a Model X.
     
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  7. Nick B

    Nick B Member

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    I've driven the bolt but not for an extended time. I still prefer my tesla but I do get your points. For me, the major concern with the bolt is the lack of space: you simply can't have a family with luggage in there. Also, the seats are rather uncomfortable for long distances and there's also the question of the lack of superchargers (or the equivalent) for Chevrolet. I would however seriously consider the bolt as a 2nd car and in my mind it will quite probably be a lot cheaper to maintain than my tesla.

    Thank you for your impressions and comments!
     
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  8. MacGreiner

    MacGreiner Member

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    I don't know what was going on with your AC but the one I had in my i3 turned mine into a fridge - I was always turning it down during DC summers. Never had one that worked so well.
     
  9. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    We have a P85D and an i3. Other than the i3 being a lot slower and looking somewhat like a clown car, I don't hate driving it. It rides well (though the skinny tires do get caught in road imperfections and tar strips), it has a beautiful interior that's way beyond that of the Tesla in terms of quality, it's decently pepping and it's roomy. In fact, it's our family car. The i3 has two car seats.

    What I hate about the i3 is where BMW cheaped out for seemingly no reason. No front parking sensors unless you purchase a package. No backup camera unless you purchase it... and this is on a 2016. No power seats. And then there's the stereo and nav. If you don't opt for the Harmon Kardon stereo you get literally a two speaker system that sounds atrocious. It's embarrassingly bad. Beyond that, unless you spring for the larger nav screen you get what is the equivalent to the iDrive I had in my 2006 M5. Yeah it has navigation but it's so cumbersome to use that you never bother.

    Other than that, you can really see the wrinkles that appear when a traditional car company is dipping their foot into a segment they have no experience in. Things we take for granted on the Tesla are really poorly designed on the i3. For instance, the Model S has a charge door that's built like a tank and a charge cable that you can literally run over (we have) with no concern over whether or not it will break. Conversely, the i3 ships with a really flimsy J1772 charge cable that's already broken and the charge door on the car is not only the size of a gas tank door but also requires you to remove dust caps off the charge port after you open the door. It's just all really flimsy and poorly thought out.
     
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  10. hill

    hill Member

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    i might get one (bolt) - if i were shrimpy enough to fit in the back seat - but since i'm not 4' tall .... or missing both legs? It'll never happen.
    .
     
  11. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    Sit in the back of a Model S and Bolt. I'm 6'1". I fit better in the Bolt, but both are acceptable. The Bolt has a touch more headroom, but a good boost in knee clearance.

    The Bolt uses Tardis Engineering. It doesn't look big on the outside...
     
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  12. Bridor

    Bridor Member

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    My daily driver is the Model S - doesn't even have auto pilot and I just went over 100,000 miles. I've driven to New York, Washington State and Texas. I have six kids and it is the only electric car that can seat that many people. The Model S is beautiful and is so much fun to drive. I could never buy a Bolt due to the ugliness factor and the fact that it cannot seat all of my kids or have the capability to do a road trip to New York. I do not see the comparison to it being an Oldsmobile - it may be big, but it drives like a smaller car.

    I am also waiting for the Model 3 as a second car to replace my aging 2013 Nissan Leaf. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is also looking interesting - we shall see soon.
     
  13. clostridium

    clostridium Member

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    The Bolt is a nice car but the biggest issue is it isn't a practical road trip car in most parts of the country due to lack of L3 infrastructure. Even where you can find L3 charging you notice the difference in charging speed vs supercharging.
     
  14. mtndrew1

    mtndrew1 Member

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    I can see the i3 being pretty universally perceived as ugly, but the Bolt? It just looks like any other car to me. I'd call it generic rather than ugly as without the badges it could be a Fit or Sonic or Rio or Elantra or Focus or...
     
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  15. HyperMiler

    HyperMiler Member

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    Fanboyism at its best, people. Trash it all you want, the i3 has many innovative solutions and a great interior quality. Sitting upright as a tall person on a decent seat, nice size for city use, fair price, range extender, great turning radius, navigation that actually works and so forth. Holding against it that you spec'ed it wrong is not the car's fault. And a way modern design, not like a Mazda on steroids, if a Model S critique is allowed at all.

    But this is of course not what you want to read around here. The Tesla is great, but it is not a city car. The Bolt is great also, and has better range than the i3. But a bit more conventional design, of that pleases you.
     
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  16. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    The Bolt is quicker from stoplight, quicker in passing, and faster around a road course, tight or fast.

    You buy the Bolt if you want a quicker, more responsive, more flexible car. You buy the BMW if you want people to know you have a BMW.
     
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  17. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    I was going to like your post until I realized you were responding to me. Did you even read my post? I like the i3. I specifically mentioned the build quality being substantially better than the S's. The irony here is that you appear to handle criticism of the i3 (from an owner no less) about as well as you claim the Model S guys handle it. It's a nice car with needless flaws and it's sales numbers would back that assertion. I'm not saying it's a bad car. It's quite a good car and I defend it to people often. But if I didn't get a $259 a month lease with nothing down I never would have touched it even if it was higher spec'd. There are just better cars than the i3 that don't make compromises. A new Volt for example or even a Bolt. The Volt has range much closer to the 80 miles of my i3 and the interior materials, while inferior, are still not horrible. The tech blows the BMW out of the water too.

    In other words, I feel it's worth what BMW charged me on a lease. Is it worth the 50k they sell for if you buy them? In my opinion not even close.
     
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  18. hill

    hill Member

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    agreed - but wow, they really missed the mark getting a low drag CD - and after going carbon fiber? That just doesn't compute.
    .
     
  19. SageBrush

    SageBrush Active Member

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    The carbon fibre reduces the car's weight and improves the city MPG; it does nothing for aero. The i3 is spacious, and the Cd shows it. Overall the car was engineered to be an urban car; and at least in my opinion it does nicely as such. It is out of its natural environment on US highways
     
  20. Jeff N

    Jeff N Active Member

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    Were you thinking of the i3 here? It's back seat is notably tight whereas the Bolt has lots of legroom and at least average headroom. I'm 5'9" with a long torso and I'm fine and comfy in the Bolt's rear seats.
     

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