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Test Drive: BMW i3 has electrifying moments

LOS ANGELES — From the passenger’s seat, the 2014 BMW i3 electric car seems like a smooth piece of work.

From the driver’s seat, not so much.

From the outside, smooth is the last word you’d use for the styling.

On sale next spring starting at $42,275, the i3 exudes “car of the future.”

The “i” is BMW’s designation for its electrified vehicles, meaning electrics and extended-range electrics and gasoline-electric hybrids.

Ballyhooed for several years, most famously in 2011 in connection with the movie Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, they have seemed just out of reach, too strange to be real and too real to be all that strange.

Now, the i3 and a super-performance, super-pricey i8 sports car are both due to roll into U.S. showrooms next spring. East Coast markets get the i3 in April, then West Coast areas in May, and the i8 should join them by June, BMW says.

Our test drive was a short one, part of a BMW event ahead of the Los Angeles auto show that routed us from Marina del Rey on the beach to downtown L.A.

But it included a variety of driving conditions, from suburban toodling to canyon corner-carving, and allowed a pretty fair evaluation of the very interesting and somewhat less satisfying electric car.


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