Weekend Road Test: Darrell’s Big 2014 BMW i3 Electric Car Adventure
The new all-electric Bimmer debuted in January, and went on sale in May. The i3 packs 170 hp with 184 lb/ft of torque, and can drive up to 211 miles if you buy the Range Extender version. The Range Extender adds a small gasoline motor to charge the battery, hybrid-style. With a base MSRP of $45,400, the i3 is priced to take on the new Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, and steal market share from the Model S.Now, back to Darrell and his adventure.
Not surprising the the Ultimate Driving People provide a superior driving experience:
The work focused on delivering a premium driving experience really shows – the i3 has a whole lot of pep, with acceleration that will get your blood pumping and actually let you feel the Gs a bit on launch. On the highway, acceleration feels fast and powerful, but passengers claimed to not have even noticed we were going so fast before looking at the speedometer. Handling is tight and tuned as well, and the only time you’ll really remember that you’re in an electric car at all is when you let off the ‘gas’ and you feel the car slow quickly as if you’re braking, because it is.
Performance is very un-Prius like:
The result is an engine that doesn’t feel like what you’d expect from an electric car: the i3 can jump from 0 to 60km/h in under four seconds, and leaps to 100km/h in just over 7. Plus, it doesn’t shift like traditional engines, and gives you the full torque of the engine right from the get-go.
Darrell isn’t a fan of parallel parking and likes cruise control:
Other cool features on the i3 include Park Assistant, which lets you parallel park simply by lining up next to a spot and holding a single button down for the duration of the maneuver, which the car handles on its own, as well as the intelligent cruise control, which will slow down and speed up (to your set maximum) depending on the speed of the car in front of you, to a trailing length you set with the in-car system, too. For this futuristic ride, these automated controls feel only natural, but they’re magic if you’ve never come across them before.
He shares a fear with many new to electric vehicles, and appreciates BMW’s efforts to let him know how distance to empty:
BMW knows people are thinking about range when they drive an electric vehicle, so there’s an upgrade feature that provides you with a “spider” diagram on a map, showing your max range, either in normal mode or in Eco Pro+. It’s one-way only, but it’s still better than having no clue where you might lose charge.
Darrell put some thought into how the i3 could fit into his lifestyle:
The spider map mostly made me aware that I could never own an i3 as my sole vehicle – the main reason I have a car is to get out of the city to surrounding destinations up to (and sometimes beyond) 400km away, not to travel within it.
His final takeaway?
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The i3 is perfect for those whose whole lives take place in a single urban environment, however, or for those who want a commuter car to complement another vehicle. It’s fun to drive, compact enough to park most places and yet spacious inside, packs plenty of entertainment options and ecologically friendly.
Copyright 2014 Hybrid and Electric Car News