Drag Race: BMW i3 vs New Polo GTI - Electric vs Petrol

Not too long ago, before a certain man by the name of Elon Musk started Tesla, the idea of an electric car drag race would have seemed utterly absurd. Fast forward to 2015 and the Youtubes are flooded with hilarious videos of terrified passengers experiencing the violent acceleration of a modern electric car.

However, BMW’s i3 is a very different motorcar to the now infamous Tesla P85D. It is designed to be a comfortable, convenient city-dwelling transport tool. In fact, while in development, the car’s codename was MCV – Mega City Vehicle.

We’ve been fortunate to have a few opportunities to experience the i3 [watch our feature review here]  and without any exaggeration, the entire Cars.co.za office has fallen head over heels for the odd-looking run-around. It is a visionary product and we can only hope the price trends downwards over the next few years, to make this sort of motoring more accessible to the South African public.

One thing we’ve learned and loved about the i3 is that it is quick off the mark. Really, really quick. We couldn’t help but wonder how a car like this would fare against a proper, traditional hot hatch. This race is the answer.

We sourced a brand new VW Polo GTI DSG, with the new 1.8-litre turbo engine, booked the Killarney drag strip just outside of Cape Town, charged up the i3 and squared up on the line…


Comparison: BMW i3 BEV vs 2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI

  BMW i3 BEV (fully electric) 2015 VW Polo GTI DSG
Price R532 500 R334 000
Engine Electric motor 1.8 litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power 125 kW 141 kW
Torque 250 Nm 250 Nm
0 – 100kph 7.2 seconds 6.7 seconds
Fuel economy 12.9 kWh/100km 5.6L/100km
Airbags 6 4 (opt 6)
Boot space 260 litres 280 litres
Leather upholstery Opt Suede + leather
Bluetooth Std Std
SatNav Std Opt