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2014 BMW i3 Electric Car: Roundup Of Driving Impressions

For the last few weeks, only one electric car has displaced the Tesla Model S from the top of news stories–the 2014 BMW i3.

That’s an impressive feat considering Tesla’s news-making abilities, but not without good reason: BMW has a reputation for pleasing driving enthusiasts and the badge-obsessed alike, so its first full production electric car is a significant event.

Some–not us, sadly–have been lucky enough to drive the pre-production i3 already, and early signs are good.

Also see: More BMW i3 Headlines

Even under interior and exterior camouflage, as all drives have been so far, initial impressions are positive. Car and Driver calls it “roomy” and “airy”, while Autocar described the cabin as “thoroughly modern”.

“Modern” appears more than once, actually. While not unusual for an electric car, the i3’s minimalist dashboard design and quirky fingertip-reach drive, parking brake and power switch pod are particularly deserving of the term.

There’s a flat floor and good visibility, though some have reservations over the rear door frames, which Road & Track called “awkward to climb into”–even if the suicide-style rear doors do help access for children or loading luggage.

Quality is generally good too–BMW itself is promising 5-Series levels of fit and finish–though one reviewer did note a slight echoey, tinny feel to the doors on the prototype.

Driving

With a rear-mounted motor providing rear-wheel drive, the i3 at least sends its power to the axle most familiar to BMW fans. At 184 lbs-ft of torque, there’s also plenty of power available as soon as you hit the accelerator pedal.

Autocar describes initial step-off as “instantaneous…entertaining pace”. Autoblog agrees, suggesting the i3 is “every bit capable” of reaching its near-on 7-second 0-60 mph time. Road & Track notes that its 0-37 mph figure of 3.8 seconds is the important one as that’s where it feels quickest–and says that “it actually has more torque than the Mini Cooper S, and it weighs less”.
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