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BMW i3 vs. Volkswagen e-UP!

BMW i3

BMW i3 

The BMW i3 is... wait for it... the ugliest car to have ever graced the roads. No, scrap that - it's the BEST looking car to have ever graced the roads. Do you see where we're going with this? BMW's design team have taken what's great about the BMW i8 concept and turned it in to a city car reality. The result is a car you're either going love or hate. In our opinion, it looks fantastic, sitting on 19-inch rims like a bad boy cruiser with a silver and black paint job like something out of Tron. The whole front of the car is unmistakably BMW and whereas the VW e-Up! sits high like a pram, the i3 sits squat and fat.

The BMW i3 is faster to 60 mph than many 2.0-litre TDI cars. Its electric motor develops 170 bhp and 184 lb /ft of torque, helping the car surge from 0 - 62 mph in just 7.2 seconds (the same as a 120d). The Volkswagen e-Up! develops 82 bhp and 155 lb /ft of torque, making the car good for a 0 - 62 mph time of 12.4 seconds. Yep, the VW is more than 4 seconds slower to 62 mph. Both cars benefit from instant torque once you mash the throttle but in every situation the BMW pounds the e-Up! 

BMW has developed the i3 to keep it as light as possible; it has an all-new aluminium suspension, hollow driveshaft's, and they have even gone as far as to give the windscreen wiper a honeycomb structure just to save weight. The result? The BMW i3 feels exceptionally nimble with a very fast turn in; it also has a 9.86-metre turning circle. Although the car has 19-inch alloy wheels - yes, 19-inches! - it doesn't ride particularly firm, although, it is deceptively sporty. This helps the car feel faster than its 7.2 second 0 - 62 time suggests.

Inside, the BMW i3 looks like no other BMW ever produced. It's as special as the exterior, with twin digital displays for both driver and passenger, a chunky steering wheel, aluminium inserts across the fascia and overall, it feels incredibly premium. In fact, it puts all other super minis to shame.

Neither the BMW i3 or Volkswagen e-Up! set the world on fire with their claimed ranges. However, due to the added capacity, the BMW edges this one - it has a theoretical range of 80 - 100 miles from a single charge whilst the e-Up! will last just 65 to 70 miles, according to VW themselves. The BMW i3 is also available with a range extender - this features a two-cylinder motorbike engine that develops power for the electric motor, creating a range of between 160 and 186 miles. This set up is expected to be very popular.

Volks e-up

Volkswagen e-UP!

Due to sitting tall on skinny tyres, the e-Up! looks more like a grannies runabout than an alternative to everyday motoring. The i3 looks genuinely serious in what it is setting out to achieve whilst the e-Up! looks remarkably bored of what it has become. Of course, the i3 is a brand new electric model and the e-Up! has simply been adapted from a petrol car, but come on... VW could have at least made notable design changes to make it stand out.

The i3 also has the e-Up! beaten in top speed; 93 mph compared to 80 mph. This is all down to the i3's 22 kWh motor versus the e-Up's 18.7 kWh motor.

The Volkswagen e-Up! uses the same chassis as the regular Up. This means that drivers will be treated to excellent comfort, handling and perhaps most importantly of all refinement. We really like the way the standard Up! rides and because the e-Up! has a lower centre of gravity than the standard car - with thanks to the heavy motor and battery - it should prove to feel a little bit sportier, something it's going to have to do to compete with the i3 out on the road.

Despite clearly being more up market than the e-Up! inside, the VW isn't nasty. On the contrary, it's comfortable and it is just as well made, but it lacks the design flair that makes the BMW such a nice place to sit. The steering wheel and seats are straight from the normal Up! and it is designed in a kind of modern-retro way, which helps to car to appeal to both men and women alike. Inside, the e-Up! is spacious, but at no point does it trump the i3's interior, despite giving it a go. 

Charging the i3 takes 10 hours from a standard 240v socket but a dedicated socket fitted by BMW will charge it to 80% in just 3 hours. The VW e-Up! will manage to charge from 0% to 100% in 9 hours from a wall socket; better than the BMW, but it has a smaller battery remember.

Both cars are exempt from the London Congestion Charge and both qualify for a Government Grant.

Overall

The Volkswagen e-UP is without any shadow of a doubt the second best car here today. The BMW i3 looks sharper, it's much faster, it rides better, the interior is better, it goes further and it even has generous levels of equipment compared to the basic VW. The Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite super minis but if the electric super mini is all new category, the BMW butters our parsnips here today - it is, easily, the best electric super mini in the UK right now. Now we know you might be thinking that we're being biased and leaning towards BMW, but the truth is the VW e-Up! has been announced and become instantly outdated in what it can do. If VW wants to sell any of these they're going to have to re-think the cars specifications.

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