BMW i3 vs. VW Polo GTI Drag Race Proves Electricity Really Is the Future

BMW i3 vs. VW Polo GTI Drag Race Proves Electricity Really Is the Future 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
I grew up reading auto magazines that smelled like glue and ink chemicals. However, the smartphone generation that came right after mine doesn't think a Ford Fiesta XR2 is cool and wants electric mobility. For them, hurting the environment is one of the worst crimes.
Not too long ago, the idea of a drag racing electric car was unfathomable. Then Tesla came along and changed everything, blitzing Ferraris and Porsches with its 700 horsepower twin-motor beast.

While the BMW i3 is nothing like the infamous Tesla P85D model, it does come with bonkers performance numbers. For the same money as a Volkswagen e-Golf, you get an electric motor capable of pushing 170 horsepower to the rear wheels, far more than most electric cars of this size.

After spending a few days with the i3, found the performance of the admittedly expensive electric car was impressive. The next logical step was to pit it against a normal car with similar output figures.

They sourced a brand new 2015 Polo GTI with a DSG gearbox and rented out the drag strip at the Killarney track, just outside of Cape Town. The result was typical, videos of the entertaining Tesla drag race flooding the internet. Off the line, the i3 is much faster, even though the new GTI model features a more powerful 1.8-liter turbo with 192 horsepower.

Only once the two reach a certain speed does the i3's lack of a gearbox start to create problems. By the end of the quarter mile (presumed, never stated), the two are virtually neck and neck. While the Polo manages to secure an eight hundredth of a second lead, we'd call that a hollow victory.

In a few more years, prices will come down a little, and electric vehicles like the i3 will be even more appealing. While some might argue that driving enjoyment will be lost, we'd say that there's nothing "enjoyable" about losing a race to an EV in something that wears the GTI badge. And frankly, nobody buys the Polo with a DSG gearbox because they want to enjoy driving all the time.

Editor's note: "Nuts and bolts versus watts and volts," says the narrator. We find that really cute!

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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