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Discussion Starter #1
So I just picked up a 2019 Bolt Premier in Red to replace my leased 2017 BMW i3 REX. I drove about 70 miles home with the car, took the family for a spin, and then drove to the airport and left the car and wanted to share some initial impressions on this car vs. the i3.

First off, I've rather enjoyed the I3. It was my first foray into EVs so the REX was an "insurance policy" of sorts and the aggressive lease rates made it pretty easy to try for a couple of years.

My biggest complaint with the i3 (and I obviously knew this going in) was the suicide doors. We're a family of five so it was fine for shuttling the kids but we couldn't get the whole family in the car, and the doors also make for awkward entry and exit in a typical parking lot when someone is next to you. You need to do a bit of a dance to get one adult and 2 kids out of the car. This is obviously solved with the Bolt.

Some more specific comments on specific aspects of the vehicles.

RANGE:

The i3 wasn't bad for 80% of my driving, and ballpark I'd guess that 95% of my miles were on electric. The range was a bit awkward for my longer drives, where I'd be going to a location 80-200 miles from the house. I could do a good portion of these trips 100% electric using DCFC except for areas like Greensboro, NC where charging was difficult, in terms of availability of DCFC and destination chargers. In these cases I'd burn a gallon or two of gas along the way.

The 200+ miles of the Bolt seems like a sweet spot for the vast majority of my driving. I haven't investigated all the nuances of charge curves and whatnot, but my system with the i3 was generally to stop for about 45 minutes and eat or take a nice coffee/email break, which should work sufficiently for the Bolt and all my trips within ~300 miles of Charlotte, NC.

EXTERIOR/STORAGE:

I3 is definitely "funky" and the carbon fiber construction is interesting. The Bolt isn't going to win any awards but is a bit more "normal." I thought I'd use the "frunk" in the I3 more, but other than keeping the very rarely used 120V charger in there I don't think I ever opened it other than to show someone.

Conventional doors are a bit win for the Bolt. I'll miss the simple "just grab the handle" keyless entry versus the button press required on the Bolt.

Trunk seems a bit bigger on the Bolt, and a bit more useful with the seats folded.

DRIVING:

I like the way the Bolt drives. It seems planted, fun, and way less twitchy than the I3. You feel every bump with the I3 and it's twitchy on the highway. I got used to it, but unless your neck muscles are teased your head will literally bounce fore and aft over every minor road imperfection.

Better turning radius on the I3 (it's probably the most maneuverable car I've owned).

One pedal driving (loved it in the i3) is very similar. I haven't used the paddle on the wheel too much yet, but seems like a nice addition.

What's been interesting thus far is that on paper, the Bolt accelerates faster than the I3, but it "feels" a bit slower. Initial thought is that there's definitely more accelerator pedal travel in the Bolt so that will take some getting used to, and I believe the car just feels more stable and planted than the I3, making the acceleration feel slower.

INTERIOR:

Both are a bit austere/futuristic. I don't have a clear winner. I found the Bolt seats to be just fine. I3 were nothing to write home about and my butt spends countless hours in airplanes and rental cars so maybe I just have low expectations but I was pleasantly surprised by the Bolt. Certainly not Volvo caliber but I was fine after my 70 mile ride.

Bolt has better Rear seat room (obviously) and I like the USB ports back there for the kids.

I prefer the turn signal and wiper control of the I3, and the I3 also had the best automatic wipers of any car I've owned and that will be missed. That said, the GM controls have way better feel than a lot of other brands (I'm looking at you Ford, Toyota, etc.).

I don't like the shifter (hopefully I'll get used to it). The I3 design initially seemed really goofy, but is actually really smart. When parking it's awesome to move your hand 2" off the wheel, flick your wrist, and be able to change from R to D and vice versa. When starting, the power button and gear shift are so close you can almost operate them in a single movement. Moving your hand down, hitting a button, and making a large and unintuitive movement with your hand is sub-optimal, but again hopefully I'll get used to it. I especially don't like that I have to "double-dip" on each drive to activate regen mode.

TECH:

The CarPlay in the bolt is great. Faster than any rental I've used it in, great resolution, and Siri is actually helpful in the car. The car's internal screens about energy use are also superior to the Bolt. I do like the I3's dial/button interface as once you learn it, you don't even need to look at the screen versus mashing buttons, but the Bolt has better functionality. I can finally listen to podcasts and Spotify with minimal drama! Frankly I'd take CarPlay over the Tesla system for podcasts and audio any day.

I also love the dash display on the Bolt. Someone really did some nice design work on that. Only thing I miss so far from the I3 is the SOC display. I'd love to see exterior temp and SOC somewhere on the dash.

I will likely miss adaptive cruise. Not sure why the Bolt seems to have all the key elements (with DCII it knows how many seconds behind the car you're following you are which seems like all you need) but I can't imagine they'll go all Tesla on us and add this after the fact. Too bad.

I'll also miss the range display that would draw your estimated range on a map, similar to the Chevy app. Despite having nav I'd generally use Waze on critical trips, so I don't see the lack of internal nav as much of a problem. The integrated charging station info on the BMW was fairly lackluster and I'd usually resort to Plugshare, so not something I'll miss either.

APP:

BMW app has a nicer design. Chevy app seems clunky although all the info is there, so may just be a matter of usability that I'll eventually adjust to.

OVERALL:

I'm obviously biased as I'm still in the new car love affair stage, but it feels like I'm not giving up much to solve the range issue, door/5-person capacity problem, and also gaining a better infotainment/audio/mapping capability. Most of my gripes are things I'll easily adapt to and it's nice to gain things like blind spot warning that make up for the goofy shifter.

The thing I'll miss most is probably adaptive cruise. It wasn't perfect, but was great for longer highway trips and traffic. I'll gladly trade double the range, however.
 

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Agree with most of your initial impressions. Our son leases an i3 and we've used it quite a bit.

Yes, you'll definitely miss the adaptive cruise. That's an inexcusable lack in a 2017+ clean sheet design.

We hauled the grandkids in both the i3 and the Bolt and don't find the doors of the i3 to be a problem.

Agree, the i3 is much more maneuverable than the Bolt and has a wonderfully tight turning radius.. However, his does not have the REx feature, so maybe that changes the ride/handling balance, but we don't find the i3 twitchy on the highway. I've run it up to the 93 MPH limiter and found it typical BMW stable.

We do find the Bolt to ride better than the i3 and with less pitching on city street bumps. One would think the Bolt has a longer wheelbase, but they're within an inch or so of each other, so it must be the additional weight of the Bolt batteries.

Agree, the i3 shifter is much superior in design and use.

When we decided to go BEV, our son showed us how there were great deals on lease-return i3s. We initially felt the range of the Bolt was worth 2x the cost of a used i3, but now having lived with it, the i3's range would have been sufficient for our use.

Bottom line - we love our Bolt, but if we were doing it today, we'd choose a used i3 and put the $20K savings for a luxury vacation or two.

jack vines
 

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What's been interesting thus far is that on paper, the Bolt accelerates faster than the I3, but it "feels" a bit slower. Initial thought is that there's definitely more accelerator pedal travel in the Bolt so that will take some getting used to, and I believe the car just feels more stable and planted than the I3, making the acceleration feel slower.
You might find the sport mode more to your liking for the accelerator responsiveness. Only downside is you have to select the mode every single time you turn on the car.
 

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I also came from an i3 to a Bolt. I miss the adaptive cruise control and the seats. The seats in the Bolt are just plain awful.

But I do love the heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, big infotainment screen, range, and cargo hauling capacity (both internal and external).
 

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Not sure why the Bolt seems to have all the key elements (with DCII it knows how many seconds behind the car you're following you are which seems like all you need) but I can't imagine they'll go all Tesla on us and add this after the fact. Too bad.
Is it possible that GM saw the bad press / narrative from the few Tesla autopilot crashes and decided to play it really safe and just not offer it on the Bolt?

I know an intelligent person could say, "well ACC is not autopilot and many other non-BEV cars use ACC all the time", but as we know it doesn't take much for the media and general public to latch on to something like "GM's electric car smashes into a truck when in "self-driving" mode"...
 

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Is it possible that GM saw the bad press / narrative from the few Tesla autopilot crashes and decided to play it really safe and just not offer it on the Bolt?

I know an intelligent person could say, "well ACC is not autopilot and many other non-BEV cars use ACC all the time", but as we know it doesn't take much for the media and general public to latch on to something like "GM's electric car smashes into a truck when in "self-driving" mode"...
I doubt it. ACC is available on the Volt, so I think it is purely a cost consideration. I think by GM's own standards, the Bolt EV is way overpriced, and they are looking for ways to make it cheaper.

With component manufacture at Hazel Park and battery manufacture at Holland, GM should be able to cut enough off the MSRP of the Bolt EV that they feel comfortable offering ACC (or even Super Cruise) as an option for the MY 2020 refresh. My guess is, these are the major changes you will see for MY 2020:

  • ACC or Super Cruise option
  • Heat pump option
  • Heated windshield option
  • 1.25 to 1.5 C peak charging rate (75-90 kW)
  • DCFC standard
  • Base MSRP: $33,000
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I doubt it. ACC is available on the Volt, so I think it is purely a cost consideration. I think by GM's own standards, the Bolt EV is way overpriced, and they are looking for ways to make it cheaper.

With component manufacture at Hazel Park and battery manufacture at Holland, GM should be able to cut enough off the MSRP of the Bolt EV that they feel comfortable offering ACC (or even Super Cruise) as an option for the MY 2020 refresh. My guess is, these are the major changes you will see for MY 2020:

  • ACC or Super Cruise option
  • Heat pump option
  • Heated windshield option
  • 1.25 to 1.5 C peak charging rate (75-90 kW)
  • DCFC standard
  • Base MSRP: $33,000
I kept hoping GM would do a Buick or Caddy version of the Bolt, with some variation of your list above, plus power seats, nicer plastics, and tweak the bumper/body and call it a CUV so it sells 10X faster and charge ~$50K for it all loaded up. I fear they're gun shy after the ELR, despite that being wrong on so many levels.

Maybe in 2020 but I've got a car that meets 85% of my needs and buys me the 2-4 years before we start seeing some real competition in the market.
 

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Congrats on the Bolt purchase Slappy!


Interesting you mention the i3 ride characteristics as "You feel every bump with the I3 and it's twitchy on the highway" because that is almost exactly how a local gentleman I know described his i3REX to me. His wife want's him to trade it in as soon as he can get an M3.
 

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I kept hoping GM would do a Buick or Caddy version of the Bolt, with some variation of your list above, plus power seats, nicer plastics, and tweak the bumper/body and call it a CUV so it sells 10X faster and charge ~$50K for it all loaded up. I fear they're gun shy after the ELR, despite that being wrong on so many levels.

Maybe in 2020 but I've got a car that meets 85% of my needs and buys me the 2-4 years before we start seeing some real competition in the market.
There's absolutely no reason GM couldn't build the Bolt EV power train into the Buick Encore platform (keeping the Encore's interior). It still wouldn't be amazing, but it would be a better interior than pretty much any EV other than the Jaguar I-PACE. Of course, you'd need to pay for that with range and efficiency (EPA range would probably drop to 220 miles), but most people don't seem that concerned with about 20 miles of range.
 

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I doubt it. ACC is available on the Volt, so I think it is purely a cost consideration. I think by GM's own standards, the Bolt EV is way overpriced, and they are looking for ways to make it cheaper.

With component manufacture at Hazel Park and battery manufacture at Holland, GM should be able to cut enough off the MSRP of the Bolt EV that they feel comfortable offering ACC (or even Super Cruise) as an option for the MY 2020 refresh. My guess is, these are the major changes you will see for MY 2020:

  • ACC or Super Cruise option
  • Heat pump option
  • Heated windshield option
  • 1.25 to 1.5 C peak charging rate (75-90 kW)
  • DCFC standard
  • Base MSRP: $33,000
Fair enough, I hope you're right!

There's absolutely no reason GM couldn't build the Bolt EV power train into the Buick Encore platform (keeping the Encore's interior). It still wouldn't be amazing, but it would be a better interior than pretty much any EV other than the Jaguar I-PACE. Of course, you'd need to pay for that with range and efficiency (EPA range would probably drop to 220 miles), but most people don't seem that concerned with about 20 miles of range.
I keep thinking what I'm going to do at the end of 2020 when my lease is up. I wouldn't mind another Bolt EV, but I'd be excited to see what is available or on the horizon for Cadillac / Buick EVs.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Congrats on the Bolt purchase Slappy!


Interesting you mention the i3 ride characteristics as "You feel every bump with the I3 and it's twitchy on the highway" because that is almost exactly how a local gentleman I know described his i3REX to me. His wife want's him to trade it in as soon as he can get an M3.
Thanks! I like firm suspension, but I think the i3 just isn't fully sorted on that front. The twitchiness wouldn't be horrible if you weren't bouncing on every road undulation. I've heard rumors that this is resolved with aftermarket springs, and potentially fixed in the new I3 sport, but one would think BMW would have reasonably sorted suspension right out of the box.

I hate the "city car" moniker, and the I3 would be just about perfect for most US suburbs with families without kids but I would imagine one test drive on an imperfect road misses a lot of sales.

I 100% agree with the comment above that the Bolt feels like it has a 3-4" longer wheelbase despite it being almost the same.
 

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Good Stuff! Thanks again for sharing. It's most instructive to get comparisons from those who've owned both.

Thanks! I like firm suspension, but I think the i3 just isn't fully sorted on that front. The twitchiness wouldn't be horrible if you weren't bouncing on every road undulation. I've heard rumors that this is resolved with aftermarket springs, and potentially fixed in the new I3 sport, but one would think BMW would have reasonably sorted suspension right out of the box. . . . I would imagine one test drive on an imperfect road misses a lot of sales.
Yours was the REx. At 3135 pounds, the range-extender-equipped i3 is almost 300 pounds heavier than the pure-electric model; 54.8 percent of the REx i3’s weight is carried by the rear axle. It would be instructive to drive the BEV i3 and the REx i3 back-to-back on the same roads. I've got a very wide experience with owner and rentals over the years and just don't find his i3 twitchy.

I hate the "city car" moniker, and the I3 would be just about perfect for most US suburbs with families without kids.
Agree; they live in the suburbs and have medium length commutes, but when delivering kidlets, we/they haul their two pre-schoolers in car seats in the i3 and find it perfect for that duty. FWIW, they have two ICE BMWs and fight over who gets the i3 and who has to take the old clunker.

I 100% agree with the comment above that the Bolt feels like it has a 3-4" longer wheelbase despite it being almost the same.
Glad you agree. Interesting also is the Bolt and the i3 have completely different "hop" over speed bumps. Again, haven't driven the rear-heavier REx.

jack vines
 
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