BMW’s funky looking i3 is nothing new. It’s been around for a few years now and has been driven and review by pretty much everyone in the industry. However, automotive journalism veteran and Automobile Magazine Editor-At-Large, Arthur St. Antoine, hasn’t. That’s kind of odd, being that St. Antoine is an important journalist in the industry and has driven pretty much everything you can imagine. But he just never got around to driving an i3. Until now, that is.
He admits that he had some negative preconceptions about the i3. He’s a big fan of BMW’s stunning i8, but always felt that the i3 would be too boring by comparison, so never drove it. However, after driving it, those negative preconceptions have completely disappeared.
We’ve talked about the BMW i3’s ability to charm quite a bit, as it’s far more exciting and enjoyable to drive than many might think. St. Antoine feels the same way. Its steering is impressive and far better than expected and its handling dynamics are sports car good. While it might not handle as well as a BMW 3 Series, it’s still very fun to drive, especially around town. St. Antoine also lauds its carbon fiber chassis, which feels rock solid and “like an M1 tank”.
St. Antoine’s week-long i3 press car was a REx model, with the gasoline range extender under the trunk floor, but he never once needed to use it. He tested the REx to ease his range anxiety, which is common for the i3 as it only has an 81 mile range. However, we’ve claimed over and over again that 81 miles is more than enough for the average commute and St. Antoine proves us right, never even using half of that daily.
Acceleration from the i3 isn’t mind-blowing, as it can do 0-60 mph in around 7.2 seconds, but it’s far fast enough to be fun and it actually gets from 0-30 mph better than most sports cars, thanks to its instant low-down torque. So the BMW i3 is actually a fun little car to drive around town and plenty fast enough to entertain. St. Antoine feels the same way and is surprised by its peppiness.
Something else he was impressed with was the i3’s interior. BMW gave the i3 one of the most unique and interesting cabins on the market, if not the most unique and interesting. It’s vast, open and airy, with tons of glass and thin pillars. It brings in tons of natural light and has superb visibility. It also has an incredibly fresh design that looks more like something from the Jetsons than something from today’s age. The materials are funky and different and the ergonomics are simple. It’s just such a refreshing cabin that’s equally as soothing as it is good looking.
We’re big fans of the BMW i3 here, despite the many complaints from folks who feel that its range is too short. It’s just such a likable car that drives so much differently than any other car on the market, EVs and hybrids included. It’s fun to drive, quick around town and infinitely likable. The BMW i3 is a car that’s capable of charming even late adopters who’ve driven pretty much everything else there is to drive. If that isn’t impressive, we don’t know what is.