This weekend was a real treat, I drove the all new BMW i3 – it’s electric and it has power to rival any turbo counterpart at any set of lights or whilst overtaking. It’s a little car on the outside with very sleek and stylish designs – but it’s looks are deceiving.
This is a car with epic proportions because once you open the door and cast your eyes on the interior you know this is more than just a small hatch back car. The interior is plush with eco friendly use of natural resources such as KENAF fibres in the door panels. As described by BMW on its website this product is a “member of the cotton family [and] particularly sustainable.” Surprising use of renewable resources are abounds in the car’s interior design and is all geared towards reduced CO2 emissions.
Aside from the environmental features of the interior it’s spacious. Cruising around town on the weekend it happily housed two people an abundance of shopping (fashion and food) and still had more room to stretch out. There is no central column in the car so you could, in theory, exit from any door – if you chose to do so. More importantly it plays to the feel and design of a small space pod. To be honest I likened the drive to hovering around town almost like I was in my own Star Trek space pod! The futuristic feel and drive of the car was not lost on me or my travel companion – we both felt we were in something more than just a car.
Let’s talk about the technical aspects of this car – it is an electric car after all. It’s nothing like anything you may have driven before. In fact this is clear the moment you take your foot off the accelerator. As part of the design the car will automatically slow down (if you time it right there is no need to hit the brakes at all!). This didn’t take as much getting used to as I initially thought it would – in the end if was just fun.
Make no mistake this is a city car, designed for travelling in city traffic. It provides 125 kW/170 hp with a torque of 250 Nm. The full torque is ready and raring to go as soon as you tap the pedal. There is no engine lag or changing of gears which is typical in your standard combustion cars i.e. what we all drive day to day. This car accelerates from 0-60km/h in under 4 seconds. Yes I did try this and it was spot on. Even more impressive, it’s extremely quiet.
So how does it work? It has a specially developed lithium-ion high-voltage battery and like all batteries you need to charge it. This was both fun and annoying – I live in an apartment which is not set up for residents to go environmentally friendly. Accordingly I struggled to find a power point! However to alleviate some of this inconvenience there are a number of “Charge Points” located throughout Melbourne, one being located at Federation Square. So off we went to shop whilst our little car recharged for the afternoon. I also noticed a considerable difference in charging times between the “Charge Point” and the standard power point option. Regardless, in the REX model (which we drove) you always have the petrol engine to fall back on.
The car handled like a pure dream, the steering was light yet responsive and the car turned almost literally on a dime. Despite its small wheels it handled the bumps quite well and the raised seating means that you have a perfect vantage point for all your driving. It’s no secret that I love cars and usually the more powerful the better, but this time I was completed besotted with this car – if you love to drive and want to try something different, get into one of these cool little cars!
BMW i3 REX KEY FACTS
Price: $68,990 (plus on road costs)
On-sale: January 2015
Engine: Electric motor with 650cc two-cylinder range extender
Transmission: direct drive