I am a small car guy. Before the i3, my car was a Mini Cooper. Before that, I owned a Mercedes A-Class (2004 model). Before that, a (discontinued) Rover 220sdi. I know what a small car is. And the i3 is no small car at all by my standards. The trunk offers enough space to generously accommodate the weekly shopping for a family of four. There is plenty of space for my Victorian longbow, arrows included, or for my eldest son’s guitar, amp included.
As for the coach doors, once again it all depends on where you come from. Compared to the coupé-style doors of my Mini, the i3’s “antagonist” doors, as they are called in French, are a major step forward in terms of ease of access and comfort. Or to put it in my youngest son’s words : “Sooo cooool!”.
Materials used for interior trims do not feel “premium”:
That was a tricky one.
As I said, price was an important parameter for me, as it surely is for most of us. Given that I accepted the idea of disbursing 40.000+ € for a car, the outlook of spending my driving time in a sleazy environment was distressing me. Of course, I did have the opportunity to feel, touch, smell the interior materials a couple of times before I ordered the car. But assessing the quality of a dashboard or of a leather upholstery is like testing a spring mattress at the mattress store. No matter how long you try to figure it out, the only way to be sure is to turn the lights off and literally sleep on it.
Though I have not slept in my car (yet), now, I know. The interior is largely up to the price paid. Comfy, stylish, extremely well finished down to the most minute detail. I am almost ashamed of having doubted. By the way, my i3 has the Lodge interior (Giga world).
The i3 is just an overpriced Zoe: (I’ve been reading this one a lot in the French-speaking press).
For the non-European reader, let me first explain that the Renault Zoe (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Zoe) is a sort of cute good looking Nissan Leaf, with a French touch. Don’t get me wrong; I think that the Zoe is a nice little car but, c’me on!
How can a professional journalist put the i3 and the Zoe on the same footing. How can you compare the past to the future? A car made of steel to the first mass produced car made of aluminum and carbon fibre?
I wish I were an engineer and be able to explain why and how a car with a CFRP body drives so much better than a conventional one. But I am just a linguist and you’ll have to bear with my poor description : in the i3, you’re just in control!
The rigidity of the thing makes you feel that there is nothing the car won’t take. You feel light and super secure at the same time. If you don’t believe me, just arrange your own test drive.
Considering the technology, range is unimpressive:
My take on that may sound unconventional.
More range would have been inconsistent with the concept of “great driving experience in a sustainable way”. If my average daily need is 40, why should I store in my car 4, 6 or even 8 times the energy and resources that are necessary?
In all fairness though, I must confess that I am still struggling with an instinctual range anxiety. And this is where technology comes to the rescue. The amount of information that comes through the screens is just impressive. The dynamic range assistant, the Eco-route guidance, the graphics, everything has been thought and designed in order to alleviate whatever range fear that I still could have. And it works. On top of that, the resolution quality of the 10.2″ screen (professional nav) is remarkable.
I know that there is a bit of controversy as to why BMW did not include a State Of Charge reading in the i3 as in the ActiveE or the Mini E. Since I never had the chance to drive an EV with a SOC, I guess that my point of view may be considered as neutral on that.
The i3 is an expensive high-tech toy for tree-hugging geeks:
But it is much more than that at the same time.
It’s a car.
With all the features, functionalities, looks, behavior, style, technology and feel of a great car.
And yes, it is electric.
So is my i3 living up to all of its promises?
Not quite all of them, for the moment at least.
In Belgium, some of the much anticipated 360° Electric services have not been fully rolled out yet. The Add-On-Mobility (Access or Alternate Mobility program as it is called on other markets) is still largely undefined and the ConnectedDrive services are having a bumpy debut. Nevertheless, the local BMWi team is working hard on it.
As far as the actual car is concerned though, I can happily report that I haven’t found the least flaw yet.
My i3 is the second BMWi to have been registered in Belgium.
And I am very proud to be among the first owners.