Chosen from a shortlist of 10 cars by the NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild the electric powered BMW-i3 has won the NZ Car of the Year Award.
We had the privilage of test driving and writing about this car back in the September issue (124), here’s an excerpt of that review:
Everything about this car reeks of the future; from its space age good looks on the outside to the stylish recycled effect finishing and double stitched leather trim of the interior. The BMW rep talked me through the recharging process – which I hoped would be simple and fortunately, it was. Plug it in and wait for the car’s socket surround to flash blue – then lock up the car and walk away. As an additional aid, there is an ETA (estimated time of arrival) charge time on the instrument cluster to let you know when it will be fully charged – you can, of course unplug and drive off when you want.
BMW i3 @ Auckland CBDWe at realityvirtual.co brings you a lovely joyride with a quirky little mega city car! We had a blast filming this with a host of exotic technologies. www.airboard.co.nz, DJI Osmo, Phantom, GoPro & so much more! Nothing like filming electric vehicles with electric vehicles. Full review to come. #futurenow #leadthecharge #electric #megacity #bmwi3 #carsofinstagram #hellofuture #i3 #EV 🙂 Thanks Deoxys for the track!
Posted by realityvirtual.co on Wednesday, 9 December 2015
One of my favourite features of the i3 are its carriage doors. The front doors open forward and the back doors open backwards, The entire car seems to welcome everyone onboard – it’s a great way to access the relatively compact back seat area and looks really cool too.
The i3 has a considerable amount of room inside – the lack of a gear box hump makes the front foot quite expansive and the top of the dash seems to go on forever. Boot space is adequate and not having an engine under the bonnet gives enough space that a supercar would be proud of.
Being battery powered, it is, of course, effectively silent on start up and when moving. Even though I knew this, it was still a little unnerving (and did catch me out once or twice). The gears are on a twist dial; up beside the instrument panel (I say this in the loosest way, as it’s a simple screen) – again, this throws you a little at the start. All of these little ‘quirks’ are forgotten the moment you press on the gas (I mean accelerator) – instant power. The silent power/speed has a tendency to surprise all involved (me at first, followed by the passengers I took out and then quite pleasingly; other drivers).
No waiting for petroleum to ignite in cylinder chambers, no turbo lag and no gears, just (125kW/250Nm) power to the wheels and nothing else. At the lights or even joining the highway, other drivers that are either trying to work out what the i3 is or just disregarding it as another flower power/do-gooder car, are often left open mouthed at the burst of energy and acceleration (0-100 in 7.9secs). But this all comes to a halt the moment you take your foot off the pedal, there is no coasting available, it starts to brake immediately – again, this takes a little getting used to. It really is a case of all or nothing.
I will cover the issue of charging, as for me it was a bit of a negative. Currently, my home is not set up for an electric car lifestyle and, as such, for me to charge the i3 overnight meant running an extension cable out from under the garage door to plug the car in. Not necessarily a problem, but I did feel somewhat uncomfortable, almost exposed by, maybe, letting the public in access to the power I pay for. However, if I owned one, I’d of course have a 3 phase home charge pack put in – faster and cheaper charging without the stress – phew.
Range Anxiety is something I’d heard of before getting into an electric car (not just the i3). Essentially, it’s the anxiety you feel about watching the charge run down on the screen and knowing that in reality, it will take hours to recharge – thankfully this is something i3 owners don’t need to worry about. I deliberately let the charge run down to near zero (knowing that the petrol motor had 70k’s left in the tank) just to find out what happens. Basically at 2-5% battery level, the petrol engine cuts in and recharges the battery. You are still running on battery power, it’s just the petrol engine is keeping it charged – and will continue to do this until you plug it in again.
Knowing that one of the shopping malls had a recharge park, I decided to take the family there for a shopping experience. On the way, I couldn’t help but feel smug and superior as I passed both a diesel and a petrol car spewing their thick black mess on to the motorway. I realise that it has to do this crap over 10 seconds before it becomes illegal but really…
To add to my feel good mood, the recharging parks at the mall were very close to the entrance. It was like priority-parking for environmentally caring people – it almost feels like a thank you. And this got me thinking that the cities need more of this, it needs the local councils to get behind this movement from fossil fuel and incentivise EC drivers. Maybe free or reduced fee parking, special parks, or even let us drive in the T2 or bus lanes. Something to reinforce EC driver’s forward thinking/planet saving choice.