Electric cars: they are all around us; however 9 times out of 10 they will be lucky to get a second look on the road. When thinking of electric cars, the first thing that springs to mind is a slow, un-cool, bubble driven by what could only be a tree hugging environmentalist. BMW set out to change this and, without doubt, they have succeeded. Meet the new BMW i3; a head turning hatchback with a promising top speed of 93mph and impressive 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds
Stratstone were lucky enough to get their hands on the new i3 and tested it to see if this state-of-the-art motor was set to change the views on electric cars for years to come.
Styling: From first glance, it’s clearly a BMW, the familiar double grille and rounded badge make sure of this; however the addition of blue styling around both inform passers-by that this is not your standard BMW. You are then drawn to its apparent sharp edges and futuristic body work, guaranteed to turn the heads of other intrigued motorists. The model we looked at featured 19 inch turbine styled alloy wheels which really gave the car a fierce look when stopped at the traffic lights, as well as when the on the move. BMW offers the i3 in 6 colours, with the bonnet always finished in a contrasting shade. Our model was finished in ionic silver which really brought out the futuristic window design.
Slip through the opposing doors and you are greeted with a high-tech look combined with an array of natural materials, giving the driver the peace of mind that they are doing their bit for the planet without taking it too far. Two LCD displays then spark the question, ‘what are these for?’
One, set behind the blue rimmed steering wheel, acts as the main instrument panel. The other, a central console. Our model featured a 10.25in widescreen central display - an optional extra. This display has an inbuilt Sat Nav which will show you the current range on a map; it will also identify nearby charging points as well as displaying the standard BMW multimedia interface. That aside, the interior of the i3 features familiar BMW controls such as the user friendly iDrive controller.
One main difference is that there is no centre tunnel where the gear stick would sit. The drive controls are mounted on the right side of the steering wheel, which does take some getting used to, but allows the driver to use both sides of the car for entry and exit, allowing it to be parked virtually anywhere. The i3 has 2 full size seats in the rear giving it a lavish, first class feel. Our model featured the standard cloth interior which was very comfortable and looked fantastic. However, there are endless options to choose from when selecting your i3, including stitched leather and eucalyptus wood.
Drive: Get behind the wheel of the i3 and the first thing that hits you is how quiet the car is - even when you’re shooting down the dual carriageway at speeds up to 93mph. The vibrations and cattery engine are not missed and the finely tuned brake energy regeneration means that when you step off the accelerator the car begins to slow itself, making the drive really relaxing, especially when driving around town. The direct power delivery that you get from an electric motor means all of its power is available from standstill, ensuring you can be confident at zipping off at the lights and nipping in and out of traffic. The handling is also a surprising element of the i3 due to positioning of the battery weight low down in the chassis. Although the i3 is tall and narrow, it allows it to feel extremely responsive from behind the wheel with very little body lean in corners.
Verdict: We loved it. A futuristic, sporty look with an impressive and fun drive. The stereotypical view of electric transport is changing and the i3 is one to watch. Unbeatable for the city driver; we can’t wait to get our hands on the BMW i8, BMW’s sports hybrid, due in 2014.
Why not visit one of our Stratstone BMW dealerships to test the i3 for yourself.
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