What about the interiors of these two cars? In the BMW you sit higher and it's easier to get in and out. The front seat is more comfortable and the seating position is better. The steering wheel telescopes better for people with long legs. The steering wheel itself in the BMW has nicer leather.
The back seat? A major drawback of both cars is they fit only two people. It's more difficult to fit your feet in the Volt, but once you're in the seat it may be a very slightly more comfortable place to sit. I call this a draw.
Luggage space? The Volt is slightly bigger. No mystery here.
In terms of driving the two cars, I have found three differences: The BMW i3 has a better one-pedal driving feeling. For the uninitiated, an electric car brakes itself when you lift off the accelerator. The BMW does this better than the Volt, which does it just fine -- just not as good as the BMW i3, which is class-leading in this calibration.
The other difference is the BMW has a more direct steering, which helps mostly in city traffic, and it will take some time go get used to at highway speeds. The other BMW advantage is its maneuverability thanks to its smaller footprint and narrower turning radius, making it ideal for city driving and parking.
The main differences between the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Volt come down to three things:
- Do you go on road trips? If yes, get the Volt.
- Does the 90 mile vs 38 mile electric range mean much for you? If yes, it's a big BMW advantage.
- Price. So let's talk about this.
The Volt starts at $35,000 and is $40,000 fully loaded. The BMW i3 with range-extender starts at $45,000 and is $56,000 fully loaded. Basically, the Volt's pricing advantage is at least $10,000, and that doesn't include any discounts not yet available on the BMW.
In addition, the lease pricing I have seen for the Volt suggests an even bigger difference in the Volt's favor.
Many potential buyers could go either way here. If both cars fit the bill, the BMW will give you a more exciting driving experience for a lot more money.
However, it's hard to argue that the Volt doesn't deliver more basic utility for a significantly lower price.
These are two of my most favorite cars of all time, and if you have the money you can't go wrong either way.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.