BMW i3 driven an electric experience GreenMotor co uk

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BMW i3 Electric Cars

14 December 2013

Rating: 5 out of 5

Good: Quick, quiet and a to drive

Bad: Monster pillars, tiny boot

from 25,680

Hidden London s Park Lane is an car park bristling with Astons and Bentleys. But they re not a second look today tucked away in a corner a brand new BMW i3 electric car.

from carbon fibre and it out-exotics the lot of them. And I ve got the key.

Or to be truthful my minder from BMW has the clearly worried that I disappear over the horizon in her new car and not back. First impressions this could be a real

Up the ramp, out into Park s unrelenting river of steel, and BMW s mega-city-car feels instantly in its Squash the accelerator and the car launches bodily forward like a up a weir. Urge is instant, a trace of hesitation. Despite tyres and some slippery asphalt, the upfront torque of propulsion still makes felt.

No car I ve yet driven is better to nip into a short-lived gap between buses and erratic taxis.

The on-paper figures of 170bhp, and 1,195kg all look impressive but it s still arresting to learn how they translate into along a busy street.

off again and the reaction is equally though not quite as beguiling. BMW has set up the i3 to recapture energy, which it slows down quite whenever you step off the pedals. It horribly like someone is pressing the brake without prior agreement.

No doubt approach is highly efficient, that as little energy as is wasted even by drivers especially heavy feet, but it is and takes getting used to. I d to be able to tweak this or indeed to choose a gliding but if there is a means to adjust the level I couldn t find it.

The between the front seats yield control over options, via a standard BMW touch-sensitive, controller combined with a high-contrast central screen. s also a rocker switch easy access to a trio of modes. BMW s usual Sport is absent but there is Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco to choose among.

The main impact of each is on driving range between with BMW saying 80 to 100 miles is in Comfort, an extra 12 or so is unlocked by Eco Pro and another 13 miles on top when in Pro+. Throttle response is back as you step through the while the aircon and heating also go into hibernation to save energy when you at the most miserly setting.

I had the three personalities to feel transmogrifying from hare to to slug, but in practice the switch setups seems much subtle. Even in Eco Pro+ the i3 will still respond to a of throttle as if it s been poked a stick at least until it a wall at 56mph, a barrier put in to save energy. The other two will bring you to heel at 93mph.

When it comes to out extra miles, it s a shame BMW hasn t made more of the instrument screen in front of the wheel. It doesn t provide in the way of visual feedback to assist the a bold colour change you monitor from the corner of an eye be a blessing.

The bigger satnav screen helpfully show the limit of you might reach on currently charge, in either Comfort or Eco setting, with the projected varying according to the roads in particular direction. In general, go and you ll run out of charge within a shorter so the limit from my Central starting point is notably along the route of the M4, for example ranks among the speedier out of town.

On the move, the i3 offers a of hush unmatched by any other I ve driven it s silent even by car standards, with very sound from the rear-mounted and no creaks or squeaks at all.

BMW i3 Electric Cars

The silence comes despite a that can feel a little at times. But evidently there s wheel movement or tall tyres to ease away lumps and bumps. You d need to be an critic to complain, even the capital s cratered streets.

The smooth approach extends to the which is light and effortless, so for a BMW. This softness reflects the i3 s urban remit, easy parking trumps cornering. And with no bulky under the bonnet, there s even for the tall, 19-inch wheels to nip inward and provide a tight turning circle.

Though not quite up to black cab the i3 will still U-turn in where other cars demand a three-point fuss, is always handy in the city.

is a big lump of electric motor the boot floor, however, a high load lip and a meagre compartment of just 260 litres. At the rear seats are easy to forwards from behind the while getting at the back of the from the side is simple s no central pillar, providing a big gap and access to strap in kids (or a coat and camera bag in my case). The door, hinged at the back, can be aside once the front has opened.

Back seat especially short ones, appreciate the i3 s scooped window which helps to lend the car an feel inside. The deeper also makes the i3 look as as an indignant ostrich from the but at least over-the-shoulder vision is


Sadly the same can t be said in all The broad, curved screen could hide a double-decker or two at which is a disappointment given vision is otherwise outstanding. The ahead is helped by an elevated compared to most other and city cars.

You sit tall you re perched above a thick of lithium-ion batteries of course, lie nestled under the floor the protective frame of the i3 s aluminium The pack holds 20kWh of and is kept at optimum temperature liquid coolant, so should the eight years and 100,000 of BMW s battery warranty. The rest of the car make do with three cover, albeit for unlimited

The structure of the car above the chassis is carbon fibre, decorated bolt-on plastic panels. a door or lift the hatchback and you can see the frame ringing the edges of the It s not the glossy, uniform chequerboard of fake carbon fibre but a irregular, honest-looking substance.

I that you re reminded of that material every time you a door.

Inside, it s refreshing to see recycled in evidence across the tops of the and in the sweep of dashboard below the although the mottled grey look a little unfinished and won t be to s taste. Most surfaces to be touched are a delight, however as the satin-finish metal door helpfully lit by LED.

On first BMW s new electric car proves utterly It does have noticeable and I ought to reserve judgement I ve driven it for longer and on a wider of roads. But right now, it like the best electric car for the I ve ever driven, bar none.

BMW i3 Electric Cars
BMW i3 Electric Cars
BMW i3 Electric Cars
BMW i3 Electric Cars
BMW i3 Electric Cars

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