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BMW i3 vs. Tesla Model S: The Ultimate Comparison

Stocks in this article: TSLA NSANY GM

The i3 comes in two main versions: One pure electric with approximately 90 miles of range; the other with a gasoline generator and 2.4 gallon (yes, two-point-four -- that's not a typo) gasoline tank. The generator will yield an extra range of approximately 90 miles, and can be refueled at any gas station in seconds, just like every other car.

Compared to the Tesla, BMW i3 is shorter, narrower and taller. The turning radius is tiny, and it's easy to park and place in city traffic.

There is nothing on the road with the particular dimensions and architectural attributes of the BMW i3: Tall but narrow wheels, carbon-fiber plastic body, suicide doors with no B-pillar. Drivers of the BMW i3 will have people staring at them as if they were the first to wear Google (GOOG) Glass. The BMW i3 makes a very strong design statement, arguably the strongest of any car in the market.

The interior also made it from the show car to the final product essentially unchanged. What does this mean? You have never seen a car interior like this. The dashboard alone would be the only one to be featured in The Museum of Modern Art -- it's that special.

The shape and materials of the dashboard curves are not only extremely attractive; they are also very practical. You can move from one side of the car to the other, without meaningful obstruction from a center stack.

The steering wheel has a uniquely shaped stalk-mounted gear shifter, and the steering wheel column has outstanding telescoping ability. Combined with an excellent seat, I was able to get a flawless seating position, which is sadly not available in all cars. It is equal to the Tesla Model S.

What about Tesla's famous 17-inch screen with superior controls? Yes, it remains superior, except for the fact that it's huge and it's therefore in the way from shifting from side to side in the car. BMW's dash looks a lot better from a MoMa perspective (i.e., with screens turned off), but you can't beat Tesla's screen technology for actual use.

Basically, Tesla focused on a great seating position and the best screen/infotainment system in the industry, by far. BMW is just as comfortable for the driver and passengers, but has a more beautiful and plush interior, although it is unlikely to come even remotely close to match Tesla's infotainment system.

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