2019 Volkswagen e-Golf vs. 2019 BMW i3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen e-Golf are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW i3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The e-Golf has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The i3 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The e-Golf has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The i3 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The e-Golf SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The i3 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The e-Golf SEL Premium’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The i3 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the e-Golf’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The i3 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the e-Golf and the i3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

Volkswagen’s powertrain warranty covers the e-Golf 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 89 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the e-Golf’s warranty.

Engine

The e-Golf’s electric motor produces 30 lbs.-ft. more torque (214 vs. 184) than the i3’s standard electric motor. The e-Golf’s electric motor produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (214 vs. 199) than the i3s’ standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the e-Golf gets better fuel mileage than the i3 (126 city/111 hwy vs. 124 city/102 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the e-Golf gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running on electricity (126 city/111 hwy vs. 124 city/102 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the e-Golf gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running its gasoline range extender (126 city/111 hwy MPGe vs. 30 city/31 hwy).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen e-Golf higher (10 out of 10) than the BMW i3 (7 to 10). This means the e-Golf produces up to 11.8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the i3 every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the e-Golf’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the i3:

e-Golf

i3

Front Rotors

11.3 inches

11 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the e-Golf has larger tires than the i3 (205/55R16 vs. 155/70R19). The e-Golf’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (205/55R16 vs. 175/55R20).

The e-Golf’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series tires.

The e-Golf has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the i3; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The e-Golf has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the e-Golf flat and controlled during cornering. The i3’s suspension doesn’t offer stabilizer bars.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the e-Golf’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the i3 (103.5 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

The e-Golf SE handles at .86 G’s, while the i3 pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The design of the Volkswagen e-Golf amounts to more than styling. The e-Golf has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is lower than the i3 (.29 to .33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the e-Golf get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the e-Golf a Compact car, while the i3 is rated a Subcompact.

The e-Golf has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.

The e-Golf has 9.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (93.5 vs. 83.6).

The e-Golf has .7 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, .9 inches more rear headroom, 3.7 inches more rear legroom and 4.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.

Cargo Capacity

The e-Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the i3 with its rear seat up (22.8 vs. 15.1 cubic feet). The e-Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the i3 with its rear seat folded (52.7 vs. 36.9 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The e-Golf has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The i3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The e-Golf’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the e-Golf SEL Premium detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The i3 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The e-Golf has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The i3 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The e-Golf’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The i3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Recommendations

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2015 issue and they ranked the Volkswagen e-Golf first. They ranked the BMW i3 third.

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The i3 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The i3 has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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