BMW i3 review Telegraph

27 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи BMW i3 review Telegraph отключены
BMW i3 Electric Cars

Does the BMW i3 electric car live up to the hype?

At the launch event for the BMW i3 I started pondering whether I should change my name to iEnglish. Don’t you think that makes me sound so much more modern? Or does the shameless hijacking of Apple’s product prefix look like a desperate attempt to get down with the kids?

That doesn’t seem to have occurred to BMW’s irony-free marketers, which is a shame because the engineers at the Munich motor works have put too much clever thinking (as well as a mooted £2 billion) into developing its new i3 electric car for it to be saddled with such a naff, plagiaristic name.

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15 Aug 2013

15 Aug 2013

The rear-mounted driveline keeps heavy electric cables to a minimum, the suspension is forged aluminium, the driveshafts are hollow, the aluminium wheels are forged, the screws and bolts are aluminium and even the windscreen wiper is a honeycomb structure.

The i3’s 230kg, 22kWh lithium-ion battery sits under the floor, cooled by the car’s air-con and protected by stout chassis rails and honeycomb carbon fibre sills. The MacPherson-strut front and five-link rear suspension is bolted to aluminium subframes and the 168bhp, AC electric motor and drive axle are under the boot floor.

Range is quoted at 140 miles in the EU Combined cycle, but realistically between 80 and 100 miles. Add another £3,150 to the basic £25,680 purchase price and you get the range extender i3, with a 650cc rear-mounted motorcycle petrol engine that acts as a generator for the battery, and which pushes the range to a maximum of 186 miles on one (9-litre) tank of fuel. Over 80 per cent of UK buyers are expected to buy this version.

“But most customers will never use it,” whinges BMW, which misses the point entirely since, as the range extender is there to overcome range anxiety, it does the job whether it is used or not.

The i3’s cabin is also different, but the rear-hinged rear doors are more contrivance than necessity. Everything feels a little too upright for a BMW, especially the seating position, but the front perches are comfy, the rears will (just) accommodate a couple of adults, and the fully open, flat floor is delightful.

The trim is like an explosion at a remnants factory. There are four trim options (or ‘interior worlds’) all featuring engineered wood, plastics, natural fibres and itchy door trims. The dashboard looks filched from Apple’s skunk works and the attractive satnav system shows a range perimeter based on topography, driving style, battery charge and traffic information.

I have to say, though, that this car didn’t seem glued together with BMW’s normal obsessive attention to quality; there were gummy finger marks, smudgy release agent overspill and inconsistent shut lines.

Press the unassuming black plastic switch and, with a hollow polyphonic tone, the shiny black instrument binnacle lights up like the Millenium Falcon’s. There’s no creep built into the system and if you are on a slope, gravity will roll the i3 downhill. The throttle action follows a pattern set by electric Minis, so there is strong and immediate regeneration braking as you ease the throttle.

With some nifty right foot work, you can (almost) drive the i3 on the throttle alone and BMW claims its Mini guinea pigs love this. You quickly get used to one-pedal driving, but it’s easy to get caught out by a developing hazards requiring quick transfer to the friction brakes, which can lead to erratic progress.

Back in the go department, the i3 isn’t lacking, and though it’s not as quick as a Tesla, or an i8, it fair scorches off the line and picks up well between 30 and 50mph. The top speed is limited to 93mph and the i3 pulls up there with eagerness barely undimmed, although the battery life takes a dive off the high board. One advantage of the rear motor/drive is that you leave the motor whine behind: the i3 is particularly quiet and refined, although the upright shape kicks up quite a lot of wind noise.

Thanks partly to its light weight the i3 rides better than its rivals because the springs have less to support. It’s far from a magic carpet, however, with a lots of road vibration through the tyres, annoying side-to-side pitching and body roll in corners, despite the low centre of gravity. The steering uses the same rack as the forthcoming new Mini and it’s light and precise, with some feedback.

In urban areas the i3 feels nimble, agile and brisk — on faster roads less so, and there’s a feeling of isolation from the road.

There are 46 UK BMW i dealers (or agents, as it prefers to call them) and lots of marketing deals available, including a three-year lease for a £3,000 deposit and monthly payments of £369. Connected Drive services include routing advice, plus apps to monitor the state of charge and pre-heat or cool the i3 before you get into it.

BMW has certainly produced the best attempt at a pure EV hatchback yet, but it still doesn’t really replace the family car and with Nissan’s Leaf available at prices under £11,000, the i3 looks like an expensive way to look environmentally right on.

BMW i3

Tested: 22kWh lithium-ion battery driving an AC electric motor, rear-wheel drive

Price/on sale: From £25,680 including plug-in car grant (Range Extender £28,830)/ November 16

Power/torque: Electric motor: 168bhp/184lb ft. Range Extender engine: 32bhp/41lb ft

Top speed: 93mph

BMW i3 Electric Cars

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 7.2sec (7.9sec for Range Extender)

Range: 80 to 100 miles (160 to 186 for Range Extender)

CO2 emissions: Zero at tailpipe

VED band: A (£0)

Verdict: A brave and partly successful attempt to change the electric vehicle terms of trade. The i3’s construction and the range-extender option address some inherent drawbacks of battery cars. The weirdo looks and hug-a-tree interior fabrics don’t. Drives well and likeable as a second car, but still not an alternative for the family hatch

Telegraph rating: Three out of five stars

Ford Focus Electric from £28,500 inc £5,000 grant

Yes, it is on sale, although modest doesn’t begin to describe Ford’s 12-month sales target of just 30 cars. A 140bhp electric motor and 23kWh lithium-ion battery gives an 85mph top speed, about 100 miles range with a 10 hour recharge. It’s a Focus, with a battery instead of an engine.

It’s also too expensive.

Nissan Leaf from £20,990 inc £5,000 grant

The 2011 Car of the Year, now cheaper to buy, with a wider model range, and built in the UK. A practical and likeable EV, but the availability of big discounts on the list price suggests that it needs some help to sell.

Renault Zoe from £13,995 inc £4,448 grant; plus battery lease from £70 per month

Cute, good to drive and a decent urban runabout. Top speed is limited to 84mph, 0-62mph is in 13.5sec. Reasonably priced including the plug-in grant, but limited-mileage battery leasing packages won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.


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

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