I finally had the chance to live one entire day with a fully electric car and not just any electric car, but the well known BMW i3. When you talk to someone about electric cars, there’s 2 cars that always pop into the discussion - Tesla and the BMW i3 (because of the really different design).
I was really curious how it is to live with an electric car and there are downsides and upsides, but let’s talk a bit more about this BMW i3 first.
The design is really different compared to any other BMW and it doesn’t copy any other models from competitors. At first I really thought that it was ugly, but once I started using the car, it kind of grew on me. The headlights look pretty good with the Day Running Lights on, the wheels are fine with an aerodynamic look/really skinny tires and I kind of like the integration of the taillights in the trunk door. On the outside, the best feature (I think) are the suicide doors! They’re awesome!
The interior is really simple with a small screen behind the wheel that shows you all the necessary information with no clutter, there are buttons for everything that you would use - the almighty iDrive is here too. Everything is really well laid out, easy to reach and if you care about the environment that much, there is a lot of recycled material inside this car. A really nice touch was the eucalyptus wood on the dashboard. Boot space is pretty limited as the electric motor is in the back, but it’s good that you can have a small frunk (front trunk) where you can deposit the charging cables and the first aid kit.
The infotainment, as I previously said, is the iDrive which we already know as one of the best infotainments in the car industry. Pretty easy to use, the screen has sharp graphics with nice colors and the sound system was loud and clear, but it could use a bit more bass. By the way, it was a Harman/Kardon sound system.
Regarding the driving experience, it was kind of a surprise. You start the car and as usual (with any electric car) you don’t hear anything beside a sound played through speakers letting you know that the car is ready to roll.
I was driving the car in the city together with Clau (one of our photographers) with the music off, and we started whispering in the car as it was really quiet! That’s one of the biggest advantages of an electric car. After a hard day, you don’t have to deal with the sound of the engine, you can hear your thoughts and clear your mind. (that’s if you don’t suffer from range anxiety and you’re low on range).
When you notice those slim tires, you start worrying that the car might roll over in the first corner and let me tell you, that’s wrong! The suspension is on the stiff-er side so the handling is really good, but not that comfortable. The surprise comes when you hit the gas pedal … aaa.. sorry, the acceleration pedal. It reaches 100 km/h in a bit over 7 seconds, but it feels way faster as the torque kicks in instantly. Also when you’re on the go and you hit the acceleration pedal, you can feel the power instantly and that can be really addictive.
One thing that needs a little time to get used to, is the One Pedal Drive mode or whatever it’s called. Basically, once you get off the accelerator, the car brakes automatically to regenerate power. It is cool in town and after you get used to it, you’ll use the brake pedal only for emergencies. (it can’t be deactivated)
3 things I really like about the i3:
- How quiet the car and very well isolated from outside.
- Easy to drive in town.
- The instant power delivery.
3 things I don’t really like about the i3:
It's really hard to fit a non isoFix child seat with rear facing. Then really hard to get the kid in the seat, that’s because of the suicide doors (even though they’re cool!)
If you are in Eco or EcoPro when you turn off the car, it will start in comfort mode and if you want to save some energy, you need to be careful with the driving modes.
On a really cold day when you want to use the heated seats and the heating system in the car, the range drops really quick.
Bonus: As we live in Romania and if you’re considering buying an electric car, you should try and get one for a day to see how you can handle the charges and if you have a house, maybe consider a garage with electricity to charge the car overnight. As of right now, the infrastructure is not very good and you need to be very organized and plan your trips/days really well, especially if you don’t have the range extender in the i3. The car has no fault in this matter, the country has. If you are organized, you’ll be just fine, if not … it will drive you mad.
As a conclusion, the i3 is a very good car for city driving, but we need a much better infrastructure in order to start buying a lot of electric cars.
Would I get this car? At this moment, not really. It is quite expensive and I don’t have a place at home to charge it.
Price of the tested model: 46,800 Euro (VAT included) – this is before any discounts and help from the government (not sure how this works).
Photos by: Clau Morar
Thank you BMW Automobile Bavaria Cluj-Napoca for lending us the car, we really appreciate it!