Tag: BMW i3

Is BMW’s i3 at the Frontier of Driving Technology? (Hint: It Comes with a Spitoon)

I don’t know if lumbersexual tobacco-scented hipsters are anywhere near the core of the market for the i3, but if they are BMW is ready for them with this rugged rustproof ABS squirt bucket.

This plastic ash-can isn’t unique to the i3, nor are many other features such as Connected Drive and BMW Assist. But when you roll them all together in an advanced carbon-fiber package it starts feeling as if the future has arrived. Sadly, without a jetpack.

After three weeks of driving I have a very strong feeling of being networked. This car was designed around ecosystems, electric grids, cellular systems and highway infrastructure. The BMW i3 Remote app, which lets you pre-heat or pre-cool your car when it’s plugged in, has hooks to link with Life360, a service that let’s your family and friends creep on your driving habits. So yes, even social networking plays into the design of the i3.

We’re just around the corner from the end of the automobile as we know it. With the BMW i3 the era of the Hypercar has begun. But I don’t think this era will last terribly long. The self-driving car isn’t very far on the horizon and by the time that happens we may well stop thinking about cars as cars and more as mobile offices or lounges. And when that day comes just remember that the BMW i3 helped you get there.

BMW i3 Stability Control Just Saved My Ass

Yesterday some doofus in a Dodge Magnum decided to test the general properties of matter by occupying my lane while I was still in it. I swerved hard to avoid the oncoming rear quarter panel of the Dodge and then swerved back to avoid causing a chain reaction of my own.

At least that’s what I think happened. Maybe the car took over control after my initial swerve and helped me back into my lane. The whole thing happened in less than a heartbeat.

BMW’s car-and-driver-are-one stability response felt really weird, icky and unpleasant in action. To me it felt like the torsion on the wheels was making them buckle and collapse. And then suddenly the car bounced back into it’s lane – like riding a beach ball in a rodeo. I don’t ever want to do that again.

But I’m alive. Unscratched. And happy. If I swerved like that in my Jeep Wrangler there’s a better than good chance I’d have hit the ground hard.

Thanks BMW. Your car of the future just preserved mine.

BMW i3 First Drive – Whoosh!!!

Driving the BMW i3 is a huge change from my gas-hungry Jeep TJ. The i3 has a distinctly golf-cart feel with the smooth silent and instant acceleration. Once you’ve got it up to speed – only 7 seconds if you floor it (compared to 7.4 seconds for the Scion TC) – the ride begins to feel like a bullet train. The i3 hums along, floating like it’s on rails.

There is a little side-to-side liveliness on the despicably paved freeways of southern California. This might have something to do with the i3’s light weight but I’m guessing it has more to do with the narrow bicycle tires that aim to cut down rolling resistance.

The (Nearly) Self-Driving Car of My Dreams

The most amazing aspect of driving the i3 is the Active Cruise Control. Lock in your top speed and the car practically drives itself. You still have to steer but the car takes care of all the stopping and starting that makes bumper-to-bumper traffic such a soul-sucking exercise.

Oddly I find that I’m MORE alert when I’ve got the ACC engaged because a car that cuts in front of you won’t trigger the automatic braking right away. But it’s a zen-like awareness that’s vastly different from the brake-gas-brake-gas-coast-brake-brake dance that I do for at least an hour every day.

The BMW i3’s Dirty Little Secret

The best thing about driving the i3 is something I’ve never heard anyone talk about – sneaking up behind people in parking lots and tapping your horn. Man do they jump!

The BMW i3 is so quiet that people don’t hear you while they are walking. They tend to freak out when they notice that there’s suddenly a car right behind them. It’s funny but I’m finding myself being an ultra-defensive driver when there are people nearby. Much the same as riding a motorcycle, where you have to assume drivers won’t see you, in the i3 you have to assume that they won’t hear you and could easily step right in front of you.

In the Twisties

The BMW i3 handles twisting mountain roads like a champ. The short wheelbase and low center of gravity make the i3 more than adequate on ultra-winding hairpins (Potrero road anyone?). But the best part of the experience is the regenerative braking that starts as soon as you back off the accelerator. You’ve got positive control of the car through turns without ever having to reach for the brake.

In General a Pretty Satisfying Ride

The range extender is what sold me on the BMW i3, not the ride. To be sure it was important to have a comfortable, quiet cabin so that I can convert some drive-time into dictation-time. And the Active Cruise Control is soothing to already jangled nerves.

The zippy, smooth and powerful driving response is just icing on the cake.

 

[Image: BMW]

How I Leased a BMW for $0 (Almost)

Here’s the deal – I live in my car. That’s to say I spend almost two hours every day dragging my sad briefcase across two counties to the salt mines. For the privilege I shuck out over $400 big ones to fill the ample gas tank on my lumbersexual Jeep TJ.

But you can only push a man so far. I broke out the yellow pad and a stubby pencil and applied an advanced form of math known as Teslanomics to calculate how much it would cost me to lease a plug-in hybrid.

Turns out on paper I could actually MAKE MONEY by leasing an electric powered car. And don’t worry, the plan is only slightly more complicated than Milo Minderbinder’s arrangement to buy eggs for 7 cents, sell them to the US government for 5 cents, clearing an 8 cent profit per egg. Basically it hinges on getting the monthly lease payment down below what I pay for gasoline.

So I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a lease for a BMW i3 – loaded (or maybe half-loaded) and joined the ranks of electron moochers who comb the streets looking for charge points the way ants look for sugar. I will confess that an idiotic mistake on my part at the dealership ended up with me getting an extra $50 sliced off the monthly payment. Horse trading is overrated, you simply need to be dumb and have lots of luck.

So life is good, right? I HAD NO IDEA A BMW WOULD BE SO FRICKIN’ EXPENSIVE TO INSURE!!!! My stubby pencil math went bad at this point. Maureen and I had some time earlier calculated insurance premiums on the basis of a STUPID CHEVY SPARK. The cost of insurance seemed no obstacle (see CHEVY SPARK, above) to carrying out my evil plan. So it was all systems go. Until it wasn’t.

Well, here I am, an electron hobo with a shiny BMW i3 plugged into my garage, working an extra two hours a day in the mines to make up for a couple of bad numbers. Your mileage may vary.