Styling Comparison: BMW i3 vs Chevy Bolt vs Nissan Leaf

BMW i | January 9th, 2016 by 7
Chevrolet Bolt BMW i3 Nissan Leaf refreshing revolting 750x500

Now that the Chevy Bolt is almost here, boasting an impressive 200-plus mile range claim, there will be many EV buyers going to GM for …

Now that the Chevy Bolt is almost here, boasting an impressive 200-plus mile range claim, there will be many EV buyers going to GM for their electric car needs. The large promised range could sway buyers from other EVs and will satisfy GM fans even further. But since it isn’t actually on the market yet, we have no way of knowing if it will actually be able to get 200 miles of range without extreme hypermiling or if it will be any good to drive. The only thing we can compare is its styling, both inside and out, to its main competitors — the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf.

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In terms of the exterior, the Chevy Bolt actually has similar styling to the Leaf and i3, in terms of overall size and shape. All three of them are four-door hatchbacks with aerodynamic styling and are all around the same size. Though the Leaf is the smallest of the group. The Leaf is also the most dated looking of the three. The BMW i3, despite being older than the Bolt, looks the more futuristic of the three and has the strangest design. The Chevy Bolt is an attractive looking car and looks the part of a modern EV. It looks far more modern than the, frankly ugly, Nissan Leaf, but it’s just a touch short of the i3. The BMW i3 is still the best looking car of the three, at least to our eyes, but the Bolt isn’t far behind.

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Inside, both the i3 and the Bolt look like they share similar design philosophies. They tend to both look very open and airy with a strong emphasis on simplicity. The Bolt uses a very cohesive design and is one of the best looking Chevy interiors to date. However, if there is any knock on the Bolt’s interior, it’s that it is clearly a Chevy interior and if you saw it in an Impala, it wouldn’t look out of place. The BMW i3’s interior is something of another planet, it seems like, as it looks like nothing else on the road, even other BMW’s. It’s different and that’s good. The Leaf’s interior is just plain dated. It looks like a base-model Nissan Versa on the inside and it’s in desperate need of an upgrade. It’s all black plastics and cheap-looking screens.

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If there was a true competitor to the BMW i3, in terms of styling, quality and interior space, the new Chevy Bolt seems to be it. It’s very good looking, looks more premium than anything else aside from the i3, has great cargo space and boasts an excellent proposed range. Obviously, we can’t comment on handling, performance or actual real-life range, but it seems as if the Bolt is off to a good start. Chevy seems to be on a bit of a roll, with the new Volt being very good and this new Bolt showing great promise. BMW is going to be working on a new i Division car and the i3 will be receiving a range boost in 2016. So BMW will have to get to work to keep up with the Bolt.

[Top Photo: Motor Trend]

7 responses to “Styling Comparison: BMW i3 vs Chevy Bolt vs Nissan Leaf”

  1. Ziv Bnd says:

    The Bolt is a very roomy car but it has a 102.5″ wheelbase and the Leaf has a 106.3″ wheel base. Is the Leaf really the smallest car as stated in the article? I think the Bolt is roomier inside, but I don’t think it is bigger. GM did a great job making a subcompact car as roomy as the Bolt is.

  2. johnbl says:

    Having driven the i3 for 16 months now I have to say I love how it fits… it is functional. The one request I have for future software updates is that we should be able to keep the rear camera up and running just as they do in Tesla. The camera has a wide field and I thing would help greatly in reducing blind spots..just don’t understand the thinking of BMW design engineers…

    I’ll definitely take the Bolt for a test drive..and seeing how it measures up to the i3..for me handling, performance and comfort are just as important as range..so just “200 miles” won’t get me into a Bolt.

    • Alex Teusch says:

      You can code/program the i3 to have the rear camera on. Almost all BMW’s have special coding parameters you can enable. For example I coded my 335i to have a digital speedo in the dash, disabled the NAV disclaimer, disabled the seatbelt chime, enabled the auto-closing windows when I locked the car and enabled the auto-closing roof when the car detects rain. Usually you need a special cable ($100) and some coding software for that but there are car / tuning companies out there that will do the same for a fee.

  3. steven75 says:

    I’m an i3 owner that will definitely be cross-shopping the Bolt when my lease is up in 2017. I couldn’t be happier that Chevy appears to have targeted the i3 interior. I think the i3 interior is the best of any production car that isn’t $100k+.

    I love seeing this competition with BEVs!

  4. […] spacious interior and funky design. It’s a car that has stood out among the sea of boring Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts. However, many people still can’t get past the fact that its range is […]

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