On the Road Again! Simon reviews the BMW i3...
Going electric does not mean that you are confined to city streets and the school run, the most common misconception among non-electric car users. Hold your thoughts for now! I set out to on a day trip in our BMW i3 to show how capable this car is for venturing out of your comfort zone and enjoying it like one of its fuel consuming cousins.
I left Douglas Park BMW in Hamilton with a full charge as well as a full tank of fuel in our REX (Range Extender) model, giving me an indicated total of 189 miles. This range being based on how the car has previously been driven and more than enough for my door to door trip of 118 miles. The first 20 or so miles were covered on motorways, which allowed the car to adapt to my driving style and adjust the range accordingly. This also relaxed me, as I could see that by the time I got to my first stop in Luss, I had covered 42 miles and had only used 30 miles of electric range. After plenty of admiring glances from the tourists it was time to take some photographs and head further North.
The shore roads of Loch Lomond on the next part of the drive made the car shine, and proved that it handles the twisty and broken tarmac just as well as it does a quick jaunt to the shops. The brake regeneration on the i3 allows you to drive the car on roads like this with one pedal, reading the road ahead, and just gently lifting off the accelerator where needed to scrub off a bit of speed before using the instant surge of torque to push you back out of the corners.The main surprise to me was how well the car held its range on this style of road. The consistent use of regeneration did a great job of keeping the battery topped up, and by the time I stopped in Tyndrum for a late breakfast I had covered 71 miles and still had 67 miles of electric range showing. Plenty, for the remaining 47 miles through Glen Coe to complete my journey. The only reason the car got plugged in on this stop was so I could satisfy my curiosity in how the DC rapid charge station operated with my charge card. Turns out - it’s easier than fuelling a regular car. After my 25 minute stop, I returned to the car and incredibly it was back up to showing an indicated range of 122 miles, way more than I expected. There was even enough to complete my drive to Fort William and back home again to Hamilton.
By the time I had reached my main goal of the rapid charger in the centre of Fort William,the little petrol engine had not even been close to sparking into life. Even if I had not needed to refuel my stomach in Tyndrum, I would have completed my main goal of Hamilton to Fort William on one charge alone, and with about 20 miles left to spare.
Even before I set off I needed some persuasion about the capabilities of this fantastic, futuristic car. However, I am now totally convinced due to the extensive and strategically placed network of chargers that any journey would be possible with minimal forward planning.
Lunch finished, I walked out to the car ready for my return journey. This time, after a charge of around 30 minutes I was shown a range of 136 miles, and a total range of 235 miles. I was set to complete the trip without getting close to using any of my petrol. I used this as an excuse to drive further afield and head all the way up to the Nevis Range car park for some more photography, and to use a bit of the i3’s addictive performance.
Settling in for the return journey I genuinely felt like this little car has surpassed any of my expectations, whether that was comfort, handling or range. Any small initial range anxiety was definitely the last thing on my mind. I would urge anyone thinking about making the change to electric to come and drive this car,live with it for a weekend, and discover that all it will do is encourage you to venture further than before. And spend less money while you’re at it!
Review by Simon Lamond, BMW Genius, Douglas Park BMW Hamilton.