At first glance, it’s hard to figure out what in category to place the new BMW i3/i3s. It looks somewhat like a smaller SUV with the rear hatch, but with its low, road hugging frame it also looks like a funky sedan.
Regardless of the category, the BMW i3 is a contender in the electric
vehicle space, delivering a combination of environmentally friendliness with the quality and luxury BMW is known for. BMW drivers expect speed and exemplary handling and the BMW i3 is no different. In the
words of BMW, the i3 is “the only EV that performs like a BMW”. The BMW i3 is powered by an all-electric engine with a performance of 170 hp and a torque of 250 Nm, and achieves a top speed of 160 kmh. Coupled with a fully-electric eDrive drive train, the i3 delivers a smooth and quiet acceleration that clocks 0-100 km/h in a mere 7 seconds.
Another contributing factor to this acceleration speed is the frame, which is built using Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), routinely found on racing cars, it is as strong as steel but only half the weight. The two-part
construction of the frame, referred to as LifeDrive, also helps to reduce weight and increase the driving range to approximately 200 km before a charge is needed. Not enough? The optional Range Extender kicks in when the battery is low on charge, and can extend the range roughly another 100km.
The environmentally friendly aspects of the i3 continue into the minimalistic interior, fitted with fine leather upholstery that is naturally tanned using an olive leaf extract to hinder wear and fading. The dashboard is accented with an inlay of sustainable open-pore eucalyptus wood, providing a warm visual complement to the functional elements and 5.7” TFT color digital
display. The interior is surprisingly roomy, though those seated in the rear seats do not have the option of rolling down windows. The rear seats also fold flat for optimal storage.
The exterior surface is boldly modern, with six brilliant two-tone paint options available. What could be somewhat of a gamble for the consumer is rather than having full size rear doors, access to the rear seat is via “coach doors” that open outward once the front doors are opened
first, making it a somewhat two-door and somewhat sedan. This could prove to be an access challenge, especially for families and when considering the starting price of around USD$45,000.