BMW Reviews - Interior & Walk Around

2017 BMW i3 Walk Around

The i3 attracts attention, it has presence for being so small, and it carries intrigue. But it’s not attractive. Its profile is dorky, stubby at both ends while being tall. It looks best when viewed head-on, except for the chunky door handles, and the conspicuously skinny tires chasing mileage. From the rear, the tires look like they got lost on their way to a mountain bike.

The so-called grille is blacked-out, blue at the edges, the BMW signature on its i cars. No need for a grille with no engine up there.

So many lines and shapes going in different directions, at the rear. It’s confusing. Are those tail fins?


Forward visibility is terrific except when it’s blocked by the big rearview mirror and camera, and it’s only adequate on the right and over the shoulder. The rear window is high and narrow, so there’s not much to peek through. A rearview camera is a real benefit here, but it’s not standard on the Mega.

Unlike the exterior, the innovative interior is soothing. It feels more Scandinavian than German. Simple. Tight textiles, light and dark, give whimsy and elegance. Not at all business-like, as in other BMWs.

The dashboard is like a shelf with a tablet on it, a 10.2-inch screen controlled by a knob on the center console.

The front seats are thin but bolstered well, and comfortable for hours. The base upholstery is like leather, made from recycled plastic; upgraded upholstery includes wool and real leather.

In effect the i3 is a two-seater, as the rear seat is hopelessly small and awkward to reach, despite the rear-hinged doors.

The trunk is small too. Total cargo space: as slim as it gets.

The Mega World gets that leather-like recycled-plastic upholstery. The instrument panel is what BMW calls grain foil. The Giga World ups the ambience to earthtone, with wool and olive leaf-tanned leather upholstery, leather instrument panel, and open-pore eucalyptus trim that would look lovely in a house.

Plastic bits still lurk in the corners. The Tera World is very dark.

The seat is high and upright, affording a good view. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes over a broad range. Any passenger that might be able to squeeze in the rear will also sit high, because of the battery pack underneath. It’s chin-to-knee time.

There’s almost zero mechanical noise inside the cabin, and very little road and wind noise. The only sound is a small serene hum from the electric motor (unless the gas-powered range extender is running).

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