Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 BMW i3 VS 2016 Nissan Leaf Near Phoenix, AZ

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2016 BMW i3

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2016 Nissan Leaf

Safety Comparison

The i3 offers optional Collision Mitigation, 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 Leaf doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The BMW i3 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Leaf doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

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 Leaf 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 Leaf 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 and available rearview cameras.

Warranty Comparison

The i3 comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Leaf’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Leaf’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Leaf.

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

The i3’s electric motor produces 63 more horsepower (170 vs. 107) than the Leaf’s electric motor.

As tested in Car and Driver the BMW i3 is faster than the Nissan Leaf:



Zero to 30 MPH

2.7 sec

3.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.5 sec

10.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.5 sec

10.1 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

2.5 sec

4 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.1 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.3 sec

17.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86 MPH

78 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the i3 running its electric motor gets better fuel mileage than the Leaf:




137 city/111 hwy

126 city/101 hwy



127 city/107 hwy

124 city/101 hwy


The i3 REx’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 149.9 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Leaf SV/SL’s range is only 107 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 80% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 26 hours. The Leaf S’ range is only 84 miles.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The i3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Leaf are solid, not vented.

The i3 stops much shorter than the Leaf:



70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Leaf S. The i3’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Leaf SV/SL.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For superior ride and handling, the BMW i3 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Leaf has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the i3 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the Leaf.

The i3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (48.2% to 51.8%) than the Leaf’s (57.5% to 42.5%). This gives the i3 more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the Leaf’s (32.3 feet vs. 34.2 feet).

Chassis Comparison

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 600 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf.

The i3 is 1 foot, 5.6 inches shorter than the Leaf, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The i3 has a larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Leaf with its rear seat folded (36.9 vs. 30 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the i3 has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Leaf doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When different drivers share the i3, the memory system makes it convenient. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Leaf doesn’t offer a memory system.

The i3’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Leaf’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Leaf’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The i3 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Leaf has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the SL.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Leaf doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Leaf offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the i3’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Leaf doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the i3 offers an optional Active 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 Leaf doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Leaf doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The i3 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The Intellichoice estimates that the i3 will retain 46.75% to 47.37% of its original price after five years, while the Leaf only retains 25.71% to 26.78%.

Recommendations Comparison

The BMW i3 won two awards in Kiplinger’s 2015 car issue. The Nissan Leaf only won one award.

 The i3 is ranked first in its class and received the 2015 “Total Quality Award.” The Leaf is not ranked.

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