BMW i3 vs Hyundai IONIQ vs Nissan Leaf vs Volkswagen e-Golf

BMW i, News | December 11th, 2016 by 8
BMW i3 Nissan Leaf VW E Golf 1200x800 c1af4ace06b31cec 750x500

The BMW i3 might be the most unfairly criticized electric car on the market. It gets quite a bit of flak for its lack of …

The BMW i3 might be the most unfairly criticized electric car on the market. It gets quite a bit of flak for its lack of range, relative to some of its competitors, and for being a bit too expensive. However, we still feel that the i3 is one of the best electric cars, and honestly one of the best daily drivers of any kind, on the market today. It seems as if Autocar seems to agree.

Autocar recently put the BMW i3 up against some of its usual competitors and one brand-new one. The usual suspects are the Volkswagen e-Golf and Nissan Leaf, two of the most popular electric hatchbacks on the market. The newcomer to this test, and this segment, is the Hyundai IONIQ.

2016 BMW i3 94Ah Protonic Blue 33 kWh Elektroauto 22 750x500

We already know quite a bit about the e-Golf and Leaf but, for the uninitiated, they are as follows: a 24 kWh battery with an 83 mile range and 115 hp for the former and a 30 kWh battery with a 107 mile range and 107 hp. However, the new guy to the group, the IONIQ, packs a 28 kWh battery with a 124 mile range and 120 hp. The new 2017 BMW i3, for comparison’s sake, uses a 33 kWh batter with 114 miles of range and 170 hp. So, let’s see what these cars are made of and which one is the best pure EV.

According to Autocar, the BMW i3 takes first place. “So good that it’ll make you think differently about EVs. The i3 is one of the best urban cars money can buy, and great fun to drive.” As much flak as the i3 takes for basically not being a Tesla, it’s actually a brilliant little car to drive. It offers rear-wheel drive fun and dynamics along with funky styling, a cool interior and impressive practicality for such a small car. And now that the range is bumped to over 100 miles, it should limit the range anxiety that’s plagued it. As a city car, I’m not sure there’s one better.

BMW i3 VW E Golf 1200x800 f2d821dbae7c0fa8 750x500

In second place is the Volkswagen e-Golf. Even though it lacks the range of the other cars, boasting the lowest range in the group, it is still a great overall city car. Plus, it drives as well as you’d expect from any MKVII VW Golf, which all drive fantastically.

The plucky newcomer places third in Autocar’s test. The Hyundai IONIQ impressed for a first attempt. It boasts a good range, most in the test, and a low cost. But it lacks the polish and dynamics of the other two cars ahead of it, so it places third, but a strong third. “Hyundai’s first dedicated battery car shows plenty of promise but needs better dynamic finishing. Good on value, practicality and range.”

While the Nissan Leaf is still a good car, it’s just not special anymore and is in desperate need of an update. With battery and range numbers that are still respectable, the Leaf is still a fine EV, especially for the price. However, it just can’t keep up with the competition that’s clearly moved far ahead. “Original electric poster boy shows how far rivals have moved the game on. Leaf is still very credible and genuinely usable, though.”



So the BMW i3, despite being criticized by many EV fans, is still the best small electric car on the market, according to Autocar. Now, the Chevy Bolt has yet to come out and that could shake things up quite a bit, with its 200 mile-plus range and low $30,000 price tag. But until then, the i3 is still king.

[Source: Autocar]

8 responses to “BMW i3 vs Hyundai IONIQ vs Nissan Leaf vs Volkswagen e-Golf”

  1. Bob Morane says:

    The problem of i3 is not design, even not range, although 200 miles would be better like the the Bolt. The problem is that it is a van, and many would want a sporty sedan.

    If the i3 was a CF 4 door sporty sedan, with 300 PS and 300 miles range it would sell for +60K.

    • Max says:

      But the big difference is: it doesnt drive or feel like a van, it feels like a proper BMW. RWD, very low CoG, very light. I hope they bring something similar with defining the smaller issues (rear doors etc.) and it would sell like crazy! At the moment its the perfect city car or daily driver to work!

    • Me says:

      If the i3 is a van, that would make the Bolt what? A full size conversion work van?

      … then Tesla X is a Winnebago?

  2. CDspeed says:

    Being an i3 owner I’d say the only disadvantage the i3 has in this group is not having four doors, and it’s smaller trunk. My i3 feels more like a 4-Series shooting break, basically like a coupe with a hatchback. It’s roomy up front, and a bit of an ordeal when you need to get people in the back, and the rear hinged doors only add to the problem. And because BMW put the motor, or motors under the trunk floor I do find that I have to fold the seats down at the grocery store when I buy a full cart’s worth of food. I can get a lot in my i3 with the seats folded down, but day to day the i3 is like living with a coupe that just happens to have a hatch, rather the a versatile five door hatchback.

    • spinoza2 says:

      ” My i3 feels more like a 4-Series shooting break, basically like a coupe with a hatchback.. and a bit of an ordeal when you need to get people in the back”

      I really don’t know what you are referring to here, the swing opening four doors make it a pleasure to get into the back seats in comparison with other cars. Within the same comments here, we have someone claiming that the i3 is a “van”, while you claim it’s “like a coupe”, what gives!?! Are we talking about the same car here?

      • CDspeed says:

        It’s no van, I am basing my opinion on previous BMWs that I’ve owned that’s were I get the coupe with a hatch point of view. And no the rear hinged doors make getting people in the back a bit difficult at times, and are far from a “pleasure”. Passengers unfamiliar with my car have tried to shut the rear door first, fail. They can’t get out without help, fail. You and a passenger can get into a tight situation between the doors when parked closely with another car or building, fail. If you already have a front passenger, and you need to get another rear passenger in on the same side. You have to ask them to undo their seatbelt, and they may even need to get out, fail. You can easily live with these things but after two years in my 2014 i3, I do wish quite often that the rear doors were bigger, and had a handle.

  3. spinoza2 says:

    As a new owner of a 2017 i3, I can use my fresh perspective to say that the i3 is totally unlike any car I’ve ever driven, and I’ve driven a lot of cars over the years. I test drove the Leaf and the new Prius Prime before deciding on the i3, and I liked all of them in their own way, but all three are very, very different driving experiences. Far and away was the i3 the most fun to drive, its eerie quietness and speedy acceleration put its competitors way back in the rear view mirror, at least from my perspective. We own a MINI Coupe (a hot rod if there ever was one) and a Volvo, so all three of our vehicles are about as different as they come.

    I wanted to try the VW, but the VW dealers here in Massachusetts seem totally uninterested in selling them. And the Hyundai is still vaporware, so who knows when it will be regularly available, which is of course the same for the Bolt for everyone living outside California.

    I’m still trying to find the words to describe the i3 to friends, right now the best I can think of is that it’s what one would imagine an electric BMW to be: extremely well built and stable and a blast to drive. This is truly a unique car, a car that BMW clearly built from the ground up as a new driving concept. This is why I avoid comparing it to other vehicles.

  4. Calvin Grier says:

    A good review. I agree with keeping the new 94Ah i3 at the top of the ranks.

    The i3 rear doors are not as easy as conventional doors, but when you have room, opening both doors really provides an unusual level of access. Tight parking can make it tough for rear seat access, but the seats (front and back) are designed to allow egress from either side easily – a city-car innovation that gets lost on most folks.

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