Editor: Jason “The Bok” – Date: 19 Oct 2015
I was recently lucky enough to attend BMW and SMG’s vehicle showcase at the beautiful Lanzerac Hotel & Spa in Stellenbosch. At the event, I was able to showcase and drive most of BMW’s exciting product series, and get a feel for the innovation throughout this dynamic range. While most of the BMW cars remain very special, particular excitement has been buzzing around the automotive world over BMW’s i cars. I needed to find out what all the fuss is about!
After being spoilt with a day at the Spa, lunch at the Lanzerac and relaxing chat in the hotel lounge, I was itching to get behind the wheel of the beauties featured in my video above and was particularly amazed by the i cars. BMW’s i range represents variants of either full electric or hybrid electric vehicles. These cars are like nothing else currently on the South African automotive scene and they are extremely impressive!
When you see a BMW i car, apart from its very futuristic styling, choice of space-age materials and overall styling, the vehicles are further distinguished by the blue halo around the BMW badge. This represents electric or hybrid electric drive. Offered in both the BEV model (full electirc – seen below in video review) or the REX model (Hybrid Electric).
When you step inside the cabin of the BMW i3, you are immediately cocooned in a world of lightweight and recycled materials, which perfectly embody this car. The vision of the exterior flows through into the i3’s interior and further reminds you that you are in something rather space age!
The interesting choice of materials in the cabin include wood known as the “lodge trim,” which further add to this vehicles “from another planet” feel and the i3 which I drove was also fitted with the optional enhanced iDrive display package, which offers a massive central display, and couples the vehicle with an advanced navigation system, that even displays the amount of range the vehicle can cover in-keeping with your selected route. This gorgeous display floats of the wood trim and is controlled by the BMW iDrive control wheel we have become used to and is a breeze too operate.
The whole experience goes much deeper than just space age materials and clever construction methods. When you fire up the motor, you are blasted by total silence! In an almost spooky experience, it’s hard to believe that the i3 is even on, until you glance down at its large speedometer display and realise that the vehicle is indeed running. A quite start-up however is just the beginning. When you bury your foot on the accelerator, you are catapulted back into your seat, with acceleration that would leave pocket rockets such as the VW Polo GTI in the dust. This experience further enhanced by the fact that it is near silent, with only a slight electric murr and wind noise from movement.
Driving the BMW i3 is different to conventional driving, however the minute you try it, it comes to you in an almost natural progression manner. You don’t accelerate and then brake, as with most other cars, instead you accelerate, and when you need to brake, the power regenerative braking system kicks-in and apply’s the brakes, while you have your foot off the gas. There is a brake pedal available of course, however most of your breaking motion is applied through simply lifting your foot of the accelerator pedal.
After having driven the vehicle myself at the BMW event day at the Lanzerac hotel, I was fortunate to have the BMW i3 further explained by South African motoring star Ciro De Siena.
It really is something very special to drive, and leaves you, as the drive wondering “why did I only experience driving this now!” I look forward to further reviewing and featuring more BMW i cars soon.
Many thanks to Ciro De Siena of Cars.co.za for further explaining the joys of driving BMW’s i3. Kindly go ahead and check out his full review of the vehicle below:
@CiroDeSiena ; @CarsSouthAfrica