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For 2017, the BMW i3 receives a larger-capacity battery, which retains the same footprint as before. With more energy density in the lithium ion cells, the new battery provides more than 50 percent extra capacity, according to BMW. The i3 is now capable of driving approximately 114 miles on a single charge, up 33 miles from the previous model. Elsewhere, the Deka World interior fabric is now standard, as is real-time traffic information and a universal garage door opener. An electric moonroof in now optional.
The BMW i3 is BMW's first modern electric car. Powering all models is a 170-horsepower electric motor connected to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. While no one will ever confuse the i3 with a sports car, 170 horsepower is enough to give the i3 brisk acceleration, especially when its 184 pound-feet of torque are accounted for. BMW claims 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Rear-wheel drive prevents all that torque from causing unwanted torque steer, while also ensuring that the i3 lives up to BMW's high standards for vehicle dynamics and handling. The i3 may be a departure from traditional BMW aesthetics and design, but it still offers the automaker's enthusiasm for performance and style.
BMW claims that the i3 has an electric-only range of about 114 miles in normal everyday driving, which should be plenty for most people's daily commute. The car's charging times are remarkably short; BMW claims a scant 30 minutes are needed to charge the car up to 80 percent capacity through the standard DC fast-charging system. Even at home, on a conventional 220V charger, the i3 only needs about three hours to get from empty to a full charge. For those who desire a bit more range, BMW offers a range extender -- a small 2-cylinder gasoline engine that functions as a generator. With the range extender, the i3 can travel about 180 miles until it needs a gas or charging station.
The cabin is accessed through a combination of traditional front doors and rear-hinged rear doors. Inside, the i3 uses a variety of materials available in several different color combinations, with trim packages named things like "Loft," "Lodge" and "Suite." Many of the materials are renewable, sewn from hemp, kinaff and other unconventional plant fibers. More traditional materials are available as well, if desired.
Standard equipment on the i3 is plentiful, and includes BMW's iDrive system, an integrated SIM card, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, heated front seats, plus rear mounted parking sensors and a stationary climate control system. Options include a navigation system that is smart enough to interact with the car and suggest alternate routes based on battery charge, power moonroof, adaptive LED headlights, a glass roof, automatic climate control, a rearview camera and several driver assistance functions.