2014 BMW i3 REx Vs Chevy Volt: Range-Extended Electric Cars Compared Page 4


2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

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I did, however,  get a brief, unintentional feel for the i3's high-performance handling. Cruising at 60 mph or so along New Jersey Route 17, I didn't notice our exit coming up until very late. Unfortunately I was in the middle lane, with another car directly to my right, blocking my way.

So I hit the "gas," and the i3 shot instantly forward. We then  swerved sharply to the right in front of the other car and directly into the rather abrupt exit curve.

Even in my inexpert hands, the i3 handled it all with utter aplomb, with nary a wobble or squeal of tires.

Could the Volt have managed the same maneuver with such ease?  I'm not so sure.

Aggressive i3 Regen

The Volt has two regenerative braking settings. With the shift lever in the normal D position, the regen is light, replicating the modest engine braking of a standard  car with automatic transmission.

But drop the shifter into the L position, and the regen ramps up sharply, mimicking the stronger engine braking of a standard car in a lower gear. A big fan of stronger regen, I always drive my Volt in L.

The i3 has only one regen setting: Supersized.  The i3 regen is stronger than any electric car I've driven, including the Model S. That makes for a very sporty feel that complements the car's overall character.

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

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Interior

The i3 has a higher driver's position, more glass, and a more airy, open feel in the cockpit. The Volt, while equally comfortable, has a cozier, low-slung feel to it

Back seat room is limited in both cars.

With the driver's seat pushed all the way back (at 6 feet 2, that's where I set it), rear passengers in both cars will barely be able to shoehorn their feet and knees into position, with the i3 having perhaps an inch or two advantage.

With tall adults in front, it's virtually kids-only in back for both cars.

With the front seats in the mid-range of adjustment, both Volt and i3 have enough room for a pair of adult knees. Both cars are limited to two rear-seat passengers.

Rear headroom is about the same in both cars--just barely enough for a 6-2 guy like me.

Call it a toss-up of mediocrity for the folks in back.

Suicide doors

A noteworthy feature of the i3 is its rear-hinged back doors. (BMW understandably prefers the term "coach" doors to the more popular colloquial term "suicide doors.")


 
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