I was lucky enough to drive a client’s BMW i3 recently and, I have to say, what a fascinating experience.
It was the all-electric model (there is also a range-extender version with a two-cylinder petrol engine). It pulls away silently and really, really flies if you put your foot down. 0-60 is about 7 seconds, so warm hatch fast, but far more impressive is the 0-30 time – I think its pace here would put some very expensive machinery to shame. This is due to 100% of its torque being instantly available.
When you take your foot off the accelerator, you can really feel the regeneration kicking in. The car uses its kinetic energy to charge the battery as it slows down. And slow down it does, quite quickly. This does feel odd at the start, but it is something you would soon get used to. I’d wager that you could complete some journeys with very little actual braking.
But, despite its obvious pace, this is a brilliant, cheap-to-run, small family car. It has a real-world range of about 125 miles, so easily enough for a decent mid-length commute, so long as you can either charge at home or at the office. In fact, at about £3 per charge, a commute of about 30 miles round-trip could see you save about £200 a month in fuel costs.
The body is made from carbon-fibre and it sits on an aluminium chassis. As a result it is very stiff, helping handling, but also extremely light. Including the heavy battery, the car only weighs 1224 kgs. Believe me, that’s impressive for an electric car.
The interior is very modern-looking and beautifully put together from fully-recyclable materials. Inside in particular, it feels like you are driving something from the future.
There are some excellent lease deals available on the i3 too. So, if you need a nippy (as I said, it’s actually properly fast though) small family hatchback for a commute of less that 100 miles or just for local motoring, have a look at the i3. If you need to go further afield, consider a range-extender model.
If you only have one car though and you go on an annual European jaunt, or travel long distances to see relatives, for example, you will probably need more conventional power for now. Either a full hybrid or petrol/diesel. Once the charging network catches up with the fast development of electric cars though, I have no doubt cars like the i3 represent a look at our future right now.
For more information, look here: