Why is the BMW i3 So Ugly?

BMW takes pride in its technological advances in the electric car arena.  Should we really be concerned about the initial impression that someone might have when they see a BMW i3?  I agree that it is not the prettiest car going, but the tech is wonderful.

Why is the BMW i3 so ugly? The BMW i3 is ugly due to its hood having a dark color and the rest of this high tech electric car being another color.  It is rare for a car to have such a contrast.  Most cars have a major portion of the body in a different color only after a major repair has been made.  Sometimes the replacement part has a different color which alters how the car is perceived.

Here are some straight forward reasons why the BMW i3 missed the mark in the design realm:

  • The engineers were more concerned about the functioning of this electric car and they were not trying to draw in clients that were looking for the newest fancy design for the exterior of a car.
  • Another possible reason for the ugliest of the BMW i3 is that it was designed to make a strong environmental statement.  I guess this explanation makes partial sense.  If you are purchasing an electric car to save the environment, perhaps you want others to know about your stance and parading around in an attractive car signals you out.
  • Tesla’s Model S may have caused the designers at BMW to panic and go into design overdrive that created a hideous car design.  BMW wanted to match the success that Tesla was having with the Model 3.  The model 3 is amazing technologically and design-wise.  BMW may have wanted their designers to come up with a design that would rock the industry, but it may have backfired due to overdesigning.
  • Some people feel that since the main designer had changed, the overall styling changed. Claus Luthe was overseeing BMs designs during the 80s and 90s.  Then another designer took over that loved adding the wave design in the front of the cars.
  • Another reason why designers may have gone astray with the look of the i3 is due to the need to have great aerodynamics.  There are only certain shapes that work well to reduce the most amount of drag. It caused the shape to be less attractive than normal.  Nevertheless, the main goal was to reduce the amount of battery power needed and reducing drag is one factor that is important to lower.
  • The fact that the rear windows extend further down makes the design look odd also.  Perhaps they did this to reduce the blind spot when you are trying to back out of a parking spot, plus when you are attempting to change lanes.  Nevertheless, it really throws off the overall look.
  • A statement from BMW states that wanted a design that was unique and that would change the look of the cars into the future.  I think that they went too far with this concept.  They also mentioned that they made design decisions due to functional reasons.

What exactly are people disliking about the BMW i3 design?


  1. The color contrast is the biggest issue.  There are not many cars in general that use such a contrast.  The hood is dark and the molding around the lights is also dark.  This coloring makes it look as the car is unfinished.  Personally, it does not bother me.  It makes the i3 pop and it should since it is vastly different from other electric car models.
  2. It seems to have strange-looking radiator type openings in the front that appear between the front headlights.  They look out of place and they are distracting. An electric car usually does not require a radiator, so why add into the design openings that look like air ducts for a radiator.
  3. Something that is odd about the design is the orange reflectors that are lining the area in the front of the front tires.  They look as if they were just an afterthought.
  4. The fact that the front doors are taller than the back doors is off-putting.  It causes the doors to look as if they are mismatched and that an installation error has occurred.
  5. Before 2018, the design of the i3 was one BMW used to try to lure in peppy, bright clients such as employees at Apple, but it seemed to fail.  Then in 2018, the design altered to one that highlighted the trim by adding in the contrasting colors.  Nevertheless, would-be buyers were not confused and did not seem to care whether or not the vehicle was functioning at a higher level than before.
  6. The truth is that buyers were not seeing a huge change in even the performance of this city slicker type of electric car. For instance, it could hit as high as 100 mph, whereas before it reached 93.
  7. The interior seems flimsy to say the least. It does not feel like a BMW when you are driving it occurring to one person in a tesla forum.  It is noisy and it is as if you are driving in a cheap SUV that is dressed up in odd interior materials.
  8. Perhaps the positioning of the screen is due to the 2018 law in the US that states that all new vehicles must have a backup camera.  Maybe they added in the screen for the backup camera as more of an afterthought.  It looks as if does not belong.

Is BMW Changing the Style of the i3 to Make it More Appealing?

After the backlash from all sides about the failed design, does the 2020 i3 look any better? I feel that is it slightly better but it does not look much different.  It still looks like a toy car to me.  It still does not blend in even though the coloring is better than it was before.

Here are the design points of the 2020 model of i3:

  1. It still has the bizarrely larger back windows that break it up too much.
  2. The tires are still tall and skinny making it look unstable and ancient.
  3. There are copper accents that are appealing.
  4. There seems to be a lot of intersecting lines that are confusing to the eye.
  5. They did a great job in the interior this time.  It has amazing wood, fabric and leather trims that help to justify the high price of this BMW.
  6.  The front interior is made up of recycled materials which is a plus. This detail will attract the segment of the population that wishes to use fewer fossil fuels and other materials that could be recycled.

Which is Better Style-Wise: BMW i3 or the Tesla Model 3

BMW i3Tesla Model 3
Interior is made from recycled materials.Interior is made from 100 percent non-leather materials that are not animal sourced
There is no hand rest in the back seat areaThere is an arm rest that pops down in the back
Space is limited in the truck area, but large enough for the average family for weekly grocery shoppingLarge truck area that can accommodate even small bikes
Not a lot of space in the backseat area for small children, but you can fit two baby seats with some space to spare.Bigger inside than the BMW i3

I feel that the BMW i3 is not terribly appealing to the eye, but at least it has a half-decent interior. Even when compared to the interior of the Tesla Model 3, it still is adequate.

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