How does the Chevy Bolt stack up against the BMW i3?

BMW i, News | August 18th, 2016 by 7
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BMW’s i3 has been fending off competitors and detractors since its inception. At the moment, the BMW i3 is sort of stuck in a class …

BMW’s i3 has been fending off competitors and detractors since its inception. At the moment, the BMW i3 is sort of stuck in a class all by itself. While it has the same sort of range (just a bit more) than the Nissan Leaf, it’s significantly bigger, while also being lighter and faster. And the Tesla Model S has far more range and a far higher price tag. So the BMW i3 is kind of alone in its segment. However, that’s going to change quite soon with the addition of the new Chevy Bolt.

In almost all aspects, the upcoming Chevy Bolt will be the BMW i3’s closest competitor. It’s around the same size, has similar performance, similar interior space and will be priced similarly (about $38,000 for the Bolt and $42,400 for the i3). So when it comes out, the Bolt is what the i3 should be most afraid of. While the Bolt is still a few months away from being released, Car and Driver was able to take a drive in a nearly production-ready prototype to see what it was all about.

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Judging by the outside, the Bolt has definitely been designed with the i3 in mind. Its large hatchback styling is clearly aimed at the i3 and it’s even designed with a sort of quirky, futuristic styling that makes it more interesting than good looking. Like the BMW i3, the Bolt isn’t pretty, but it’s visually interesting enough to keep your eyes on it. While it isn’t as outright funky as the i3, it’s close and far more appealing than the yawn-inducing Nissan Leaf. Want more evidence that the i3 was in the back of Chevy’s mind when designing the Bolt? Look no further than the fat floating D-Pillar.

It’s also about as quick as an i3, maybe even quicker. With 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, the Bolt has the BMW i3’s electric motor beat, in terms of punch. However, it’s portlier than the i3, weighing in at around 3,600 lbs or so, compared to the i3 which tips the scales at just over 3,000 lbs. Chevy claims that the Bolt can do 0-60 mph in about seven seconds and probably just a bit under. That would actually make it quicker than the i3, but we’ll find out for sure when it comes out. The Bolt also has two driving modes in its shift gate — “D” and “L”. D is for your standard driving, much like an automatic transmission would normally do. L gives you regenerative braking that allows for the sort of one-pedal driving we love in the BMW i3.

In terms of handling and ride, C&D claims it to be quite nice to drive. With steering that’s light, but quick and accurate, and suspension that does a decent job of blending comfort and handling, the Bolt is actually more fun than one would imagine a front-wheel drive EV to be. In terms of handling, the BMW i3 has a few advantages, such as significantly less weight and rear-wheel drive. However, the Bold is probably the next best thing at the price point.

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It also has quite a bit of room inside. It’s open and airy, much like the i3’s cabin. While it isn’t as futuristic and minimalist as the i3’s, it’s funky and high-tech looking. Obviously, we can’t comment on interior quality, but it certainly looks better than most GM products. If there’s any real criticism of the Bolt’s cabin, it’s that Chevy played it a bit too safe. It is supposed to be an EV for the masses, so I get Chevy not wanting to go too crazy and wanted its customers to feel at home. But if they want to feel at home, they should have bought a Cruze. The Bolt is supposed to be techy and futuristic, but the cabin is a bit dull. Aside from the large screens, there’s nothing to signify that this isn’t the interior of any other Chevy econobox.

But the big thing everyone is waiting to here about is the range. Just how far can the Chevy Bolt go? According to the EPA, 200 miles. That’s considerably better than the new i3’s 114 miles and will likely be Chevy’s big selling point with the Bolt. It is impressive, though, and should get many EV fans very excited. From 240-volts, the Bolt will recharge 25 miles every hour. It will also fully charge from empty in about 9 hours. However, with a DC fast charger, it can do 90 miles every half hour. Still not as good as Tesla’s Supercharger, which can replenish 210 miles in 40 minutes, but good enough for most folks.

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The Chevy Bolt is going to get some comparisons to the Tesla Model 3, being that they’re both going to be priced similarly and offer similar range. They’re also both American. However, the Bolt has one massive leg up over the upcoming Model 3 — it exists. While the Model 3 boasts impressive stats, they’re nothing but claims. The Chevy Bolt is right here, right now (sort of) and can actually fulfill its claims. So the Chevy Bolt is the BMW i3’s biggest competitor and both cars offer a pretty excellent EV package for the money.

[Source: Car and Driver]

7 responses to “How does the Chevy Bolt stack up against the BMW i3?”

  1. CDspeed says:

    The Nissan Leaf is longer then the i3, and has a bigger trunk, with four doors, and seating for 5. The Bolt is said to have a little over 200 miles, but the biggest problem for the i3 is price, the more capable Bolt is $37,500. whereas the i3 is close to the mid $40’s, my i3 was just over 50k with all opinions (except REx), with taxes, and destination charge.

  2. jason bourne says:

    One thing’s for sure: It’s better looking than the i3.

  3. Figjam_US says:

    Competition is good. Let’s see how things work out. Electric is the way to go…

  4. Ross Nicholson says:

    How many people misspell “hear”?

  5. 181 says:

    4 full size doors.
    Almost double the range.
    CarPlay
    …all at a lower price.

    Yeah, I’m one i3 owner that will be SERIOUSLY considering a Bolt next time even though I really like my i3.

  6. James H says:

    This Author is an clueless idiot. Said the BMW is bigger than the leaf. WRONG! Said it has more range. WRONG! The Leaf is much bigger than the i3. The leaf interior is rated as mid-sized. It seats five. The BMW is rated as a subcompact that seats only four (like the Chevy Spark) and has small rear suicide doors that can only open after the front door is open. The Leaf has more driverpassenger room and is 175 inches long compared to the BMW’s 157 inches.
    As far as range. The Leaf has a slight edge with 84 miles of electric only as compared to the 81 of the BMW. If you take the REX version in consideration only then does the BMW have the ability to cover more miles.
    Nico Dimattia (Author), try a google search before you spit out false facts.
    I own a Leaf, but wanted a BMW. The difference for me was the price. More car for tens of thousands less was a no brainer.

    • Nissan Leaf has more seating space but the i3 has more cargo space (30 ft for leaf w/ seats down 36 ft for i3), but I’ll give you the size bit.

      However, the new i3, with its updated higher-density battery, has 114 miles of range, not 81. That bests the Leaf by a large margin. But if you were such a proficient “Googler” you would have known that.

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