For a compact, four-seat hatch the BMW i3s is all the money at $70,900, before on-road costs. Close to $20K more than even the top-spec ‘Premium’ version of Hyundai’s Ioniq electric hatch ($52,490), and even further away from Renault’s cute little Zoe ($49,490).
But a carbon monocoque body and high-tech powertrain don’t come cheap, and that’s where BMW’s ‘i’ model program has seemingly run out of juice.
Getting into the EV market early, BMW took a punt on niche vehicles using exotic materials, appealing to a relatively small group of premium buyers. And in glorious hindsight, that path has proved something of a dead end.
But putting all that to one side, it’s fair to expect a generous standard equipment list in a $70K-plus BMW, and the i3s comes to the party with a solid, if not spectacular batch of features.
Aside from the safety tech detailed later, Included is a 10.25-inch media touchscreen, managing audio, built-in nav (with real time traffic alerts), phone connectivity and more.
Other features include, wireless phone charging (for compatible devices), a rear-view camera, automated parking assist, active cruise control (with stop-go function), climate control air, driver’s digital display, ambient interior lighting, 20-inch alloy wheels, auto LED headlights, LED DRLs, indicators and tail-lights, keyless start, rain-sensing wipers, plus heated and folding power mirrors.
But there are a few surprises. It might be an electric car, but forget power adjustment of either front seat. And despite inclusion of Apple CarPlay (BMW says Android Auto will be available later in 2020) and digital radio, the audio system only has four speakers, all in the front doors (because of the clamshell arrangement detailed later).
Our test car featured the ‘Suite’ interior package ($2308) which brings ‘Vernasca Dark Truffle’ leather on the seats, instrument panel, doors and side trim, as well as ‘Oak dark matt’ wood trim, the steering wheel in black with a ‘Satin Silver’ contrast ring, floor mats (and general interior fabrics) in ‘Anthracite’, the roofliner in ‘Carum Spice Grey’, plus orange/white LED lighting for the door pull handles and front map pocket. A dual porthole-style glass sunroof adds another $2246, for an as-tested price of $74,454.