BMW i3 missing a few things to be the perfect car

BMW i | March 20th, 2015 by 23
bmw i3 images LA 06 750x500

The BMW i3 is easily the most innovative and forward thinking car I’ve ever driven. It is a fascinating vehicle, packed to the brim with …

The BMW i3 is easily the most innovative and forward thinking car I’ve ever driven. It is a fascinating vehicle, packed to the brim with new and creative ideas. It feels like no other car on the road, and that’s a good thing. However, despite its genius, the i3 isn’t perfect. There are a few flaws, but none of them major and none are big enough to stop anyone from buying it.

Some complain about the lack of range. This isn’t so much of an issue in reality, as the 80 mile range is more than sufficient for daily use. Plus, at the moment, limits in technology prevent the i3 from having much more without inflating the weight or price tag. So for now, the range and the electric motor are just fine as they are.

But that being said there are one or two issues, albeit tiny ones, that need mentioning.

1. Frunk Size

bmw frunk size 750x500

The i3 is a hatchback, which offers a nice sized trunk (or boot if you live across the pond). It also has a little trunk at the front (hence the name, Frunk), where a normal engine would go in a front-engined car. This sounds great, double the trunk space, right? Well, kinda. While it’s nice to have that little bit of extra space, it really isn’t enough to hold anything substantial. Plus, BMW packages the “Occasional Use Charger” (OUC) in there, and that eats up most of the already limited space. It’s nice that the charger has its own space, so as to not take up any in the trunk, but it’d be nice to have enough space in there for both the charger and maybe some groceries.

2. Waterproofing the Frunk

Frunk bmw i3 750x422

There have been many complaints about the lack of waterproofing on the Frunk. This means that when it rains, the small space under the hood can fill with water. This isn’t an issue for the OUC, as it’s waterproof and won’t get damaged. However, anything else you might put it there can, and besides who wants water in their Frunk? Not this guy. I’m not sure why BMW didn’t waterproof it. Maybe it has to do with weight savings, as the i3 is on a pretty strict diet. But water isn’t the only issue.


Apparently, i3 owners are reporting that dirt, dust and even leaves can make their way into the Frunk and create a mess. It must become tiresome to have to clean that out every so often, just because BMW didn’t put some weather stripping around the Frunk lid.

3. Sunroof


Our friends across the pond get sunroofs in their i3s. We in the U.S., however, do not. This isn’t a huge deal, as many will opt out of getting a sunroof in such a car anyway, because they add weight and in a car like the i3, weight loss is crucial. Despite that, though, it would still be nice to have the option of a sunroof. Some clear sky motoring in a silent, electric i3 would be pretty spectacular. Plus, when buying a car as expensive and as premium as a BMW i3, you’d expect at least the option of a sunroof.

4. Power Rear Windows

The All-Electric BMW i3.

I know that everything in the i3 is put there intentionally. The Germans, especially BMW, don’t just slap stuff on the car willy nilly, without serious consideration first. So I’m sure there’s a reason as to why the rear windows  in the hatch don’t go down. However, it would be nice if it did, especially if you have kids in the back seat.  A simple feature, that maybe isn’t all that necessary, but one that would make ownership a bit nicer.

5. More Interior Options


As it stands now, each “World’ has but one interior color scheme. At least that’s the case in the US. But it would be nice if BMW offered a few more, or even just offer all three in all three “World” variations of the i3. Maybe even just some different color schemes would be nice. It seems a bit forced as it stands now. There are many people, myself included, who like funky exterior/interior color schemes, so it would be cool to be able to pick and choose.

All of these gripes are minor, nothing worth canceling your order for. The i3 is a superb car, one that changes the way you look at the automobile. However, if BMW offered fixes to the minor quibbles, the i3 would be an even better everyday car.

23 responses to “BMW i3 missing a few things to be the perfect car”

  1. CDspeed says:

    They shouldn’t have shortened it from the original size of the first concept car. The first concept was longer, it had better rear leg room, and four real doors. The pillarless design isn’t really much of an achievement with such tiny passenger doors that can’t be opened independently. And being that I’m over 6 feet tall my seating position takes a big bite out of the rear passenger legroom.

    • Tommolog says:

      CDspeed: The concept i3 was actually shorter than the production car. The Concept i3 was 3,845mm (151.4″) and the production i3 is 3,999mm (157.4″) so the production car is actually 6″ longer. The concept car was wider though, which combined with the glass doors gave it an enormously open feeling while sitting inside. I was one of the few people that actually got to sit inside the concept car and I even measured it once to confirm the specs BMW was advertising

      • CDspeed says:

        Hmm for some reason I rembered it being longer, but it did have door handles on the rear passenger doors. And the rear doors were a lot bigger, though perhaps not feasible for production. It would have been nice if it had stayed a bit wider, the cabin does seem to taper off slightly pushing the rear seat passengers closer together, and eliminating the possibility of a center seat.

        • Tommolog says:

          Yes, it gave the impression it was longer because the doors did extend out over the rear wheel wells and when both doors were open, the entire cabin was visible. It looked great, but it wasn’t possible to do that in the production car, the main reason being safety and crash protection. I talked to one of the designers about that at the i3’s premier event in New York in 2013.

  2. San Diego Rick says:

    I just purchased an I3. Today was literally the first day I drove the car for a day. I can’t argue with any of your comments. I personally can live with all these limitations. I only expect to have four passengers on few occasions and I plan to use the car in-town only, so storage space is not a big issue for me. I’m retired and play a lot of golf and I found the rear storage area a challenge, especially accommodating my wife cart and clubs along with mine. But, I made it work — of course with the rear seats down.

    Yes, BMW could have made some better design choices. However, I don’t see why they can’t come up with a fix for making the frunk waterproof and I wish the sunroof option was available in sunny CA. The rear doors are a bit clumsy, but I am already getting used to them.

    My first impression — I love the car. The pros far outweigh the cons. No regrets.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Congrats. I own one also and I feel the same.

    • CDspeed says:

      Did you go with the REx or pure electric?

      • Horatiu B. says:

        REx. Too cold in Chicago for BEV range

        • CDspeed says:

          I can certainly understand, especially given how bad the weather has been up north. And since the range on your instruments is constantly estimating you’d want the extra range just to be on the safe side. Down here in Florida the only thing I do different with my car is turn off the chiller on the AC, and occasionally use the heated seats. That’s probably why I’ve been hitting 100% efficiency, the chiller has been off but I don’t need to crank up the heat either, that and because I have the BEV I have the more efficient heat pump.

        • hinu7ycfgr5e says:

          Get the facelift BEV. ;) That will double the range compared to your i3. It’ll offer around 180 km sub-zero range and more on cold days.

      • San Diego Rick says:

        I added REX, but mostly for resale value. Given my anticipated daily mileage, I doubt I will use it. Today, a normal day for me, I still had 25 or so miles left on BEV. But with that said, I have plotted trips that are 70 to 80 miles, which will push the the BEV range and more than likely will require REX.

        • Horatiu B. says:

          In 500 miles, I only ended up on REx for about 5 miles.

        • CDspeed says:

          It’s probably a good idea in California, you can go a bit futher with it, and make up for the hilly terrain. I live in Florida the terrain here is pretty flat. The only thing I see that resembles a hill on my drive is the bridge leaving my island. I went pure electric and piled on every option aside from the REx, there is a great charging infrastructure in my area so I’m not worried about pushing the range. I’ve pushed into the high 70’s to just above 80 miles, and usually I still have 10 to almost 20 miles still remaining when I get home. I’ve done over 4,000 miles so far, and my 5-series is feeling a bit neglected, the starter battery is starting to get moody on my poor 5er.

    • Congrats on the car! Enjoy it, it’s truly an incredible, one if a kind car.

    • hinu7ycfgr5e says:

      You’re already on board with the car. You bought it. Of course you can live with it. They are, though, shrinking their market with the car’s limitations. I know several people that would’ve gotten a BMW i3 if it had 5 seats and was a little more capable. Trunk space isn’t exactly bad, but it’s not exactly great either. This car is for people like me that doesn’t have kids. Most people do have that. Even I have run into the problem of “my car only fit 4 people”, where we had to find alternative plans.

      The car is great though, I love it, but I think BMW should try to fix some of the downsides.

  3. Harold Sogard says:

    I suspect that the #1 improvement all of us i3 owners would wish for is more range from the battery. That said, and I drive the BEV model, I have — knock on wood — never run out of range in the seven months I’ve had the car. As for creature comfort improvements, I too would love a sunroof – but not if it meant significantly lessening the safety of the car, which seems to be the general consensus for why the sunroof is not available in the US (European drivers beware!). I’m fine with the frunk as is – actually find it very spacious and have never had a dirt or water issue. But I do wish the mechanism for adjusting the driver’s seat was easier to manipulate and offered a greater range of positions to choose from. But these are all nits — I love the car. Love its performance, love its economy, love its drivability, have even come to love its looks.

  4. Greg says:

    My biggest complaint with our i3 is the lack of a heated steering wheel option. A heated steering wheel would go a long way on those cold winter mornings here in Colorado coupled with the heated seats and wouldn’t eat into the range like the main heater does.

  5. I’ve test-driven but am not yet an owner. Waiting for new battery upgrade to get extra miles or a better deal on current models the dealerships will try to move. Here’s my takeaway:

    1) It can park itself yet it doesn’t use same sensors to warn you of cars in your blind spot or cross-traffic when you back out of a parking space?
    2) The frunk seems like an afterthought. Put a lid on it, BMW!
    3) You can pay $3500 for a REX. Why can’t you alternatively pay $3500 for a 2nd electric motor for 340HP? Call it a BMW i3d.
    4) I like the aggressive regen in the city, but why can’t that be defeated/muted for smoother highway cruising? I do know there’s a glide position on the accelerator but sometimes its just easier to lift your foot off the gas. The glide was hard to find in my first highway test. Also, traction loss causing the regen to turn off is NO GOOD. (also happened on a tight turn during testdrive) Regen has to be predicable.
    5) Speaking of regen, why is the brake pedal purely hydraulic/disk? Shouldn’t the car have a much stronger regen mode when you depress the brake? I do not know the limits… seems like 0-60 in 7 seconds should allow something close to 60-0 in a bit longer than 7 seconds. Then your loses are internal and air frictions plus motor heat loss but not -massive- heat radiation from large metal disks.
    6) Why the HECK isn’t the main screen a touch-screen? It’s 2016…
    7) This car should be 1 foot longer for more rear legroom. Using electric is a great ecological step forward. Stuffing 4 people in a car is a major ecological step forward and relieves highway congestion if people can carpool. I’m 6’2″. I would not want to be in the back of this i3 with current legroom and without a window that could roll down.
    8) You have all of this tech in the cabin, but you have air vents that are straight out of a 1985 Toyota Corolla. The entire climate control area should be a touch-screen. WHat happened to this:
    9) If you have a rear camera, how about showing it on the little screen when you change lanes so you can verify a clear lane without turning your head and taking your eyes off the road?
    10) With anti-collision, you have a forward facing camera. That thing should record looping low-res video that you can download in the case of an incident. Again, 2016 here…

    • hinu7ycfgr5e says:

      The controls are better with the physical button array. It makes you able to adjust all of this with feel, without having to look at anything. You feel which button is which. With touch you gotta look and aim and if you touch the wrong place you do something entirely different.

      Touch isn’t always better. I know it looks fancy and is trendy – but can we please just tone it down with “touch every, always, in any application”? For many applications, touch is crap. I don’t care if it looks cool if it’s crap. I’d rather want something well-working. Go from there and make what works well, look nice.

      BMW already did that, the compact button array is small and useful. Smartly designed and looks great at night when the buttons light up. Combined with the interior lighting it’s very homely and cozy in there.

      • I have owned an i3 for a year now (11k miles so far). I do like the touch strip buttons. Major complaints update, in case readers are searching back for info about the i3:

        • Still find it weird that there’s no blind spot detection. I have the parking sensors AND I have a backup camera whos stream can be processed to detect nearby cars (cross traffic in reverse and blind spot going foward).

        • The forward camera is CRAP for cruise control. It frequently disengages when it becomes confused in tunnels, direct sun and random other events. The car gives up and the speed nosedives dangerously. I’ve also had the auto-brakes engaged when pulling out into traffic because some debris moved over the camera fooling it into thinking a collision was imminent. DANGEROUS AS HELL. — ACTIVE RADAR IS A MUST —

        • The REX is waaaaay too loud.

        • HOLD mode absolutely needs to be standard for all models. In Seattle, without HOLD, I can not drive over the mountain pass one hour east of Seattle.

        • Do not like the rear doors at all. Hope they go 4-door but it sounds like i3 will be phased out and BMW will electrify it’s current ICE lineup.

  6. hinu7ycfgr5e says:

    What they actually need is stop making the base version bad with unreasonable, non-money saving features that pressure you to buy options. They need to up the charging speed and range. More of everything and less compromizes. Especially now as we’re seeing good competition from other BEV makers.

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