2017 BMW i3 All-Electric Is Ugly Charmer – Forbes
It is not a world of sitters, breathers or meditators. It’s a world of 24/7 connectivity and stimulation from dawn to bedtime via screens, yes?
That’s why it was a pleasure to “fill the tank” of our test BMW i3 every night for a week at the fast charging station two miles from our residence. Each charge took around 45 minutes to get us to the 115-or-so mile range, but those 45 minutes were spent either reading an actual book, practicing the guitar, or, one night, falling asleep lying on the asphalt in the deserted parking lot like some drunken uncle. We’re not in the habit of snoozing in public, but that’s how chill we felt.
But the i3 incites chill. It roars not. Its screeches not. It’s an ugly little electric peanut designed to make you fall in love with it like you’d fall for a stuffed animal. We loved it, and would buy one, except—
You have to buy another car if you want to go anywhere longer than its limited range. That’s fine if you’ve the means to own, say, a Dodge Durango SRT to roar around town with, using your i3 to go to work and back every day.
Then there’s the BMW badge. A lot of griping’s been spewed about the “build quality” or lack thereof within, and it’s warranted; the dashboard’s made of some kinda grey, hairy material, and the “wood” appointments are more suited to Chrysler than BMW.
Also, the rear “suicide” doors can’t be opened unless you first open the front door, and that gets old, especially when you’re in a hurry.
Gripes over, though, it’s a fly electric car with a tight turning circle and the ability to haul relative ass, making it a hell of a lot of fun. The fun’s been missing from every electric car that isn’t Tesla since my first electric in 2012. The stubby i3 evokes smiles to begin with, and they accelerate as you accelerate.
For 2018 – debuting at next week’s Frankfurt auto show, as a matter of fact – BMW will unveil their tweaked model, the i3s. Its battery range stays the same as this year and a new i3s model (for Sport) has been added, with revised suspension and a Sport mode added to its drive-mode options.
This year saw the vehicle get a new 94 Ah, 33 kWh battery, which extends range to 114 miles of city/highway use, although our meter read “149.” Fine with us.The new battery represented a 50 percent increase in stored energy as well as an increase in its all-electric driving range without use of the (optional) gasoline-powered range extender, which we never needed during the test. Also new for this year are a new set of 19-inch wheels, advanced real-time traffic information, a “Deka World” interior theme, and no-cost DC fast-charging for two years via ChargeNow DC Fast chargers at EVgo stations across the U.S. No cost? Hell, yeah.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have released crash test ratings for the 2017 BMW i3, but it’s tiny and I wouldn’t hit anything with it, or get hit, if I were you, or me.
For those afflicted with range anxiety, BMW also offers a 650-cc two-cylinder gasoline-powered range extender for the i3. The range-extended version of the 2017 BMW i3 comes with a new 33 kWh battery pack, but also gets a 25 percent larger fuel tank for 2017. This range extender adds a whopping 270 lbs to the i3’s curb weight, but at least you know you won’t have to Google Dr. Frankenstein when your electricity gets low. That said, your engine is a 0.6-liter two-cylinder job and its 2.5-gallon gas tank are made for getting you home, not serious travel.
Verdict? We loved the i3 despite our nephew’s instant proclamation: “That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life.” He hasn’t, apparently, ever beheld a Pontiac Aztec.