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The i3 offers optional crash mitigation brakes, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Model S doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.
The i3 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model S doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the i3 and the Model S have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.
The i3’s corrosion warranty is 8 years and unlimited miles longer than the Model S’ (12/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Tesla doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Model S.
There are almost 44 times as many BMW dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the i3’s warranty.
For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 4.7 feet tighter than the Model S’ (32.3 feet vs. 37 feet).
The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1750 to 2000 pounds less than the Tesla Model S.
The i3 is 3 feet, 2.6 inches shorter than the Model S, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces. The i3 is 3 feet, 2.6 inches shorter than the Model S.
The i3 is 7.4 inches narrower than the Model S, making the i3 easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.
The i3 has .8 inches more front headroom and 1.9 inches more rear headroom than the Model S.
The Model S’ optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The i3’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the i3 offers an optional adaptive cruise control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Model S doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.