Update: ‘Production’ section added.
The BMW i3 nameplate would relate to the electric hatchback until a few weeks ago, but now BMW has given a new meaning to the i3. The brand is shutting down production of the hatch this summer, and the i3 is now an all-electric sedan, exclusive to China, where the 3 Series topped the premium-compact segment last year. The BMW i4 was launched only recently, so let’s see how the BMW i3 sedan compares on paper.
There’s only one variant on offer, the BMW i3 eDrive35L, the last letter referring to the 10 cm longer length it has over the regular 3 Series sedan. BMW seems to have standardized the design recipe for its electric models. Like the i4 and iX3, the BMW i3 sedan also gets a closed off kidney grille with a gloss back finish. Its overall design is based on the G20 3 Series design. The i4 differentiates itself with its massive grille which stretches all the way down to the lower air intake and is more than double in size.
Both EVs have aerodynamic wheels. The BMW i3 sedan comes with 19-inch wheels while the BMW i4 offers 18- and 19-inch wheel options on the i4 eDrive40 in the United States. What’s more, the i3 measures longer (191.8 inches) than the i4 (188.5 inches). The i3 also has a longer wheelbase (116.7 inches) than that of the i4 (112.4-inches).
At the rear, the BMW i3 sedan gets the same LED taillamps as the 3 Series. That said, both the i3 and the i4 get an aggressively styled rear bumper, which has been optimised for aero-efficiency.
Interior & Features
The interior of the BMW i3 sedan is a big departure from what is offered on the 3 Series. In fact, it’s more in line with the i4, albeit with distinct center console and door trim designs. The digital real estate is identical on the two sedan siblings. The i3 and the i4 both use the curved display panel with a 14.9-inch central touchscreen infotainment and a 12.3-inch digital cockpit.
However, the center console is unique. The BMW i3 sedan has the gear selector stalk behind the steering wheel while the i4 has a proper gear lever. That said, both sedans get the same physical buttons for climate control and drive modes among other functions. What’s interesting is that the i3 seems to get the M steering wheel (or a unit that is closely matched) which is also present on the i4 M50.
Both sedans are offered with the latest BMW iDrive 8 software which is easier and more intuitive to operate compared to the older generation OS. It also packs faster computing speeds. The i3’s system is compatible with platforms like WeChat, Tencent Small Scene 2.0 and QQ Music which are popular in China. It also supports Apple CarPlay.
The BMW i3 eDrive35L is powered by a single rear-axle-mounted electric motor which produces 282 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It gets a 66.1 kWh battery which delivers a CLTC certified range of 327 miles. The BMW i4 eDrive40 on the other hand makes 335 hp and 317 lb-ft. It comes with a much larger 81.5 kWh battery which provides 301 miles of range on the EPA cycle.
The i4 seems to have a clear performance and range advantage over the i3. Its eDrive40 variant is RWD while the more powerful M50 is AWD.
|Specifications||BMW i3 eDrive35L||BMW i4 eDrive40||BMW i4 M50|
|Length||191.8 inches||188.3 inches||188.3 inches|
|Width (without mirrors)||72.6 inches||72.9 inches||72.9 inches|
|Height||58.3 inches||57.2 inches||57.2 inches|
|Wheelbase||116.7 inches||112.4 inches||112.4 inches|
|Motor||Single (RWD)||Single (RWD)||Dual (AWD)|
|Power||282 hp||335 hp||536 hp|
|Torque||295 lb-ft||317 lb-ft||586 lb-ft|
|Battery (net capacity)||66.1 kWh||81.5 kWh||81.5 kWh|
|Range (CLTC)||327 miles||388 miles||348 miles|
|0-62 mph||6.2 seconds||5.7 seconds||3.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||112 mph||113 mph||135 mph|
First-ever 3 Series to feature air suspension
A novelty on the BMW i3 sedan is adaptive air suspension on the rear axle. This marks a watershed moment in the 3 Series’ 47 year history, as it’s the first time that customers will get air suspension on a 3er, that too as a standard feature. The model in question, however, is China-spec and it’s unlikely that the international version would inherit this featuring during the current lifecycle or in the future generation.
The front and rear suspension uses hydraulic rebound damping technology and together with the adaptive rear suspension, the ride quality over bumpy roads is reportedly more stable. The BMW i3 sedan also sits 1.73 inches (44 mm) lower than the gasoline-powered 3 Series. The company has mentioned that the BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. R&D division has adapted the componentry and fined tuned the suspension to suit the local market. The BMW i4 gets a similar set-up with adaptive rear-axle air suspension in the global market.
BMW i3 Sedan Price & Release Date
The BMW i3 eDrive35L is priced at CNY 349,900 (USD 55,180) and will launch in the Chinese market in May 2022. The i4 is priced more in the local market, starting at CNY 449,900 (USD 70,720). It’s unlikely that BMW will offer an i3 sedan in international markets until the arrival of the 2025 BMW 3 Series, riding on the BMW Neue Klasse Platform.
Video Source: Technology Xiaoxin
The i3 sedan will be manufactured at BMW Group’s highest-volume manufacturing facility in China. The electric 3 series will be made at BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd’s Plant Lydia. Lydia is a district of the Shenyang city. The BMW i4 on the other hand is manufactured at the brand’s 100-year-old Plant Munich in Germany, since October 2021.
Featured Image: BMW