A Review of the All-Electric BMW i3

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 18:24

Image Credit: Whitney Gonzalez

I spent a couple of days driving BMW’s electric i3 and I think I fell in love. Racing is in my blood so I never thought I’d see the day that I actually liked an electric car so much I’d add it to my “to-own” list. I found the hatchback’s styling strange at first, but it quickly grew on me. Read on for what I love most about this EV.

It’s Green

Photo Credit: Whitney Gonzalez

Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), Kenaf plant, aluminum, responsibly-forested eucalyptus, etc. – these are the types of materials that make up this car. I don’t know about you but that alone makes it an environmentally-friendly choice. What’s more? You don’t need gasoline [that is, unless you go with the range-extender (REX) model, which features a generator that serves only to maintain the battery’s charge]! On a single charge (typically 3-4 hours), the i3’s distance in the comfort driving mode ranges from 80 to 100 miles, which can be increased by at least 12% with the use of the ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ driving modes. I was most comfortable driving in the “comfort” mode, since it felt most like a regular car, as it seems to coast a bit. Driving in ECO mode felt a little odd for me since the car slows down significantly once you take your foot off the accelerator – I barely had to use the brake! With some getting used to, though, I’m sure ECO mode would become a standard for me since gaining a few extra miles couldn’t be a bad thing.

If you’re still worried about surpassing the mileage range the battery’s charge allows, the REX nearly doubles the range, leaving you worry-free and returning you home safely. Did I mention the REX has a maximum fuel capacity of – wait for it – 2.4 gallons? Needless to say, you won’t be spending much time at the gas station.

It’s Speedy

For me, hybrids and EVs were once synonymous with “slow.” Stepping on the “gas” of the i3 changed my mind … quickly. This EV only needs 7.2 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph. I consider that kind of pick up a necessary safety feature ;). Still need convincing? Watch this zippy car take on the hot lap below.

It’s Spacious

Photo Credit: Whitney Gonzalez

Even though the i3’s exterior footprint is as compact as the 1 series, it’s surprisingly spacious inside. Access to the rear seats is made simple by way of suicide doors, the only downside of which is that their windows don’t go down. Inside the i3, overall, you won’t feel cramped – there’s plenty of overhead space (coming from my 5’7 self) and there’s no tranny bump in the center of the car (read ample space in vehicle’s center for purses and other belongings). Although a hatchback is expected to be compact on the inside and out, the i3 has as much interior space as BMW’s 3 series. There’s enough room for an average amount of groceries in the trunk but if you’re buying in bulk, you might want to fold down the rear seats for even more space.

It’s a BMW

Photo Credit: Whitney Gonzalez

Although it has a strikingly different look than the average BMW, the i3 stays true to the brand. Quality and safety are two things that are not compromised in a BMW and the i3 is no different. I also loved the excellent handling in this car, not to mention how responsive it is. Overall, I’m a fan but my only roadblock is that I live in an apartment, which makes appropriate charging a bit challenging. Until Central Florida ups its charging station game (or until I move to a house), I’d be hesitant to commit to the i3.

BMW’s first all-electric car starts at just over $41k and just over $45k for the range extender model.

What are you thoughts on getting an EV? How does the i3 rank among others? Let us know in the comments below.

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