Today I had the pleasure to test drive the new BMW I3, at an exposition of electrical vehicles in Barcelona. I don’t have the link to the expo as I just stumbled upon it while going out, since it’s close to my house, in front of the Arc de Triomf. While electrical engineering isn’t exactly my favorite field, I do like cars, so I decided to have a look, one thing led to another and half an hour later I was driving the I3 around Parc de la Ciutadella and trying to assess if I can be a gas head in a fully electric car 🙂
Design-wise, the car isn’t all that impressive, although it doesn’t look bad at all. The interior is very futuristic and comfortable, with the exception of the main console which felt a bit too far, but it had a bit of a Star Trek look so all it’s forgiven. The doors open in different directions, so opening them makes me feel like I’m opening a big fridge, but then again, “de gustibus non est disputandum” and other people were genuinely impressed by them.
The car features what the BMW rep described as “single foot driving”, which means that in normal driving conditions I only need one foot to operate it, because whenever I release the gas pedal – ugh the accelerator pedal – the car engine-breaks rapidly. Tested by yours truly and works as advertised, I never pressed the brake pedal once and I didn’t get arrested for reckless driving. The transmission is automatic and only has one gear which makes it feel a bit like a toy rather than an actual car, just push the lever in drive and focus on that one pedal.
But it’s not a toy! Not-At-All!
On paper, the car does 0-100 km/h in about 7 seconds and 80-120 km/h in an astonishing 4.9 seconds which is M3 performance. I didn’t get to test any of those since I was driving the car in downtown Barcelona, but I can say that the acceleration is brutal and the car responds immediately to input, as there’s no turbo lag and the engine delivers maximum torque at just about any RPM.
But before challenging a M3 owner to a drag race, remember that the M3’s 0-100 acceleration is 3 seconds faster and the exit speed on a quarter mile is around 170 km/h while the I3 is electronically limited at 150.
The range is around 160km, so it’s more a city car or living-in-the-suburbs-and-commuting-daily-to-the-city car. Can be a fun commute and with that kind of acceleration, you can easily overtake without sweating when the idiot to your right accelerates exactly when you’re in parallel with him and make sure you’re on time to work in the morning, although that doesn’t carry much weight in Spain 🙂
Verdict: very cool, but not exactly how I’d spend 30k euros (if I had them). Now I’m waiting to drive the I8, although that might be a loooong wait 🙂