Saturday, November 23, 2013

BMW i3 Quick drive

I had a change to drive BMW’s futuristic i3 as part of a media event a few days ago.
And very much looking forward to experience the “BMW of electric cars”.

By now, we have all seen pictures of the i3. In person, it stands pretty tall. And the whole thing looks really futuristic. Like a car designed for a sci fi movie. But I guess, it is 2013, and it’s about time for some cars to look like they’ve been designed in the 21st century.
The weirdest thing I noticed was how narrow the tires 155/70 look on such large 19-inch wheels.

 Inside, it is pretty amazing. It is like no other car. Seems like the designers were on a mission to rethink the way car interiors look and feel.
Everything is intuitive. Things are where they supposed to be. But everything looks different.
The 2 screens on the dash seem to be floating.

 The optional twin glass panels give the whole interior a more open feel.

 The back seat is roomy. More so than I was expecting since the car is really compact. (It is about 2 inches shorter than a Fiesta hatchback). And access is really easy since there is no B pillar.

 The materials used are also treated very differently. (The wood piece looks especially nice.)  BMW makes a point of showing off the recycled materials throughout the high quality interior.

The trunk is also fine. The floor is a bit high, but that is expected.

As for the drive. It first feels like, well, most other electric cars. Super quite with lots of torque right away. 

But I quickly found out that you don’t need to use the break pedal to slow down. Just lifting your foot off the right pedal slows the car down. Eventually to a full stop. So you basically would only use the actual brake pedal to really stop the car in a hurry. Not in normal driving.
Which is really, really weird. At first.

I quickly got used to it. And found myself driving and stopping with one foot most of the time. So BMW has basically also re invented the way we drive a car. And it does make a lot of sense.
The only problem I would see if for those who own another car. Going back and forth between the i3 and anything else might feel a bit weird.

The steering is very direct. Although it does feel a bit artificial, and not as fluid as I thought it would be.
And the “big yet skinny” tires provide quite a firm ride. Almost too much around town.

The i3 will start at around $41 000. $45 000 when you get the “range extender” 500CC gas engine. It ads about 90 miles to the range. 
Which I think is the way to go. Unless you never plan to travel.
In California these prices will be reduced by around $10 000 after various incentives.

And I think an electric BMW for $30 000 is quite a deal. Even better if they come up with super affordable lease.

I predict long waiting list...


JW said...

The interior is really cool, but why can't they put the tech in a 1series or 3?

Anonymous said...

Slowing the car down when you take your foot off the gas pedal seems odd. I thought they strived for more roll and less resistance. Seems a bit golf cart-ish.

Joe said...

The Tesla Model S has a very similar breaking system. I had the opportunity to drive one for an hour and the brakes took a few minutes to get used to. Very nice car too. I am in no way comparing two cars completely-just the braking system.

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Wish I could purchase one.

Dag Kvello said...

The one-pedal-driving is present in my Opel Ampera as well (You can choose to drive with or without it).

Whenever I borrow my wife's Fiat 500 I always forget that I have to use the brakes. In the beginning I almost crashed at every red light.

Getting used to the switching now.

Unknown said...

I personally don't like the design, save the money and put it in the normal models

Carl said...

The ultimate electric... yawn.

Anonymous said...

Love the look inside and out. Because it won't drive like a traditional 3 series it will be panned by the auto media.