I have to tell you that I had not considered myself a person that would consider an electric vehicle. It’s not that I and not looking to be more efficient or more climate conscious. It’s just that I like a certain amount of style and performance. With the exception of a Tesla, most vehicles LOOK like electric vehicles with limited, commuter, econobox styling. Barring as well the upcoming BMW i8 as well, they just didn’t do anything for me.
Well recently I had an invitation to take a brief look at BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle. I’m not a fan of the styling of course, but I was indeed interested in the first real push into this market by the Munich company.
As you know, our goal at OurDailyTread.com is to report on the daily life with a vehicle. This particular report is only a quick look and my initial thoughts. A full review will follow in the near future after I’ve spent a bit more time with it.
At first blush, the i3 looks “modular”. I guess that might be by design since it is a rather “modular” vehicle in its construction. Made primarily from aluminum and carbon fiber, this car is both strong and light. Again, I’m not a huge fan of cars that look like commuter cars or electric. This is one of them. BUT, with the color schemes, blue accents, etc., I kinda get it. Kinda.
I’ve heard it mentioned before from others and I have to agree; though small on the outside, it’s surprisingly “sufficient” on the inside. I had absolutely no problems getting into and out of the car. The seating position was upright, but very comfortable. Visibility was also excellent.
To gauge the passenger carrying ability, I brought a friend and his 6 year old grand-daughter. I have to say our admiration of this car was unanimous. Especially when we looked inside.
Like most high end electric vehicles (Tesla, Fisker, etc.) the interior contains some quality interior finishes made from what is or appears to be reclaimed or efficient materials. I have to say this interior is very nice and luxurious in touch and feel for a vehicle in this price range. The BMW interior design language is evident, but is more like a concept vehicle. I appreciate that as it appears modern, clean, and not fussy. Again, we’ll deep dive into this area in the near future.
The BMW Client Advisor told us about the typical operation of the car, but was notified specifically about the regenerative braking effects on “off throttle” coasting. I’m just under 200 pounds just under 6 feet tall. My friend, riding shotgun was about the same height but about 230 and robust and the grand daughter was typical for a six year old and sat in the back seat. No one had any issues getting into position or finding and attaching seat belts. This is great. I adjusted the mirrors, we all strapped in and we were off!
Quiet. Did it start? Am I on?
Obviously, I didn’t drive to the event in an electric vehicle. I forgot they don’t have a motor to start. So a touch of the pedal and we’re moving.
On the winding roadway, the first thing you notice is the immediate availability of torque. It digs out of the hole instantly. I didn’t push to determine how long it will pull so strong but it was impressive.
The next thing I noticed and I have to say the ONLY thing one would have to get used to is the immediate drag when you lift your foot off the throttle. It isn’t bad in any way, but it takes you by surprise at first. Once you understand what it’s doing, charging and storing energy, you appreciate it. It took me all of two times or 10 seconds to get the hang of it.
I’m a huge fan of Formula 1 racing. This year, the regulations have been changed to require a smaller more efficient engine and power package using hybrid technology. They are required to use this same type of regenerative braking system. I’ve read reports about the learning curve of judging the braking since the power unit itself drags the car down as soon as the throttle is lifted. I can now understand it. I don’t mind it now that I understand it.
This car is small, but it IS a BMW. It drives great, corners flat, accelerates and brakes well. No news here. It’s as I expected. That’s a good thing. It is quiet, as you’d expect and as mentioned it has excellent visibility. While driving, you forget you’re in small, subcompact vehicle. I attribute that to the solid feel and the airy interior. The seating and drivability was such that I believe you could drive this all day without fatigue. From our perspective, that’s important.
Well in our upcoming in-depth review, we’ll go into the daily living with the car. So stay tuned. But if you get a chance, go test drive one. I was pleasantly surprised. Hurry up i8, I might need one.