The 2016 BMW i3 is the DeLorean of our times. No, I’m not talking about gullwing doors (that’s the exclusive province of its bigger brother, the i8), nor am I referring to sketchy Renault mechanicals (you’ll still have to travel to France for that pleasure). What I mean is, the BMW i3’s future-tense design and real-world electric car performance qualify it as a time machine of the first caliber, a glimpse into tomorrow along the lines of what we were once promised in the breathless prose and scintillating images published in the pages of Popular Science magazine.
Doc Brown would be proud – but more to the point, so would Marty McFly, because here, finally, is a dedicated compact EV that dares to wear its stylish 21st-century design on its elegantly-sculpted steel-and-glass sleeve. In other words, it’s a car worth leaving your hoverboard at home for.
That BMW’s i division is far and away the most risk-tolerant arm of the German automaker’s luxury empire is clear after spending any time inside or alongside the 2016 BMW i3. Rarely does such a small car make such a big impression on everyone within a 50-foot radius, as the bubble-topped subcompact’s curvy snout, upright stance, blacked-out hatch door, and blocky side panels give it a profile unlike anything else in the brand’s line-up.
This arresting collection of styling cues continues within the i3’s cabin, which is surprisingly open and airy for a small automobile – a testament to its tall roofline and the decision to use light-colored woods and accentuate the gaps between screens, panels, and dashboard throughout the vehicle. Although the materials used throughout the interior of the BMW i3 walk the line between recycled-chic and upscale niche, it’s their presentation that seals the deal and makes driver and passengers feel as though their are riding along inside something special.
It’s also worth noting that the concept of carting around more than just a pair of people in the BMW i3 isn’t an unrealistic one. Not only does the rear seat offer legitimate comfort for actual adults, but getting back there is made easier by the presence of a pair of rear-hinged half-doors that carve a useful hole into the side of the hatchback when in used. You’ll have to crack open the front doors to release the rear set from their shackles – a minor annoyance, especially in crowded parking lots – but it’s a small price to pay for not having to clamber over a seat when seeking the back bench. Cargo room is also surprisingly generous for a subcompact EV, with just under 37 total cubes available in an easy-to-fill format.
Read the full review at Slash Gear