BMW i3

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
My wife and I had an i3 with range extender on loan over the weekend, and although we liked the torque and acceleration that the car had, the rest of the experience was 'meh'. The cabin is quite noisy on anything but smooth roads. The rapid acceleration/decceleration gets wearing after a while -- there's only so many times that you can nearly have your neck snapped, and that definitely gave us both some motion sickness. The drive is typically BMW, which is a good thing, but the overall construction left us feeling that for the money being asked, we couldn't work out why. It certainly didn't have the feel of a quality motor, more a concept car. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like, but also a lot to dislike. For example, why no run-flat tyre option? We have them on our existing BMW, and for a car like the i3 it makes perfect sense to us. The spray can repair kits seldom work, if the experience of our friends is anything to go by. By the time we've specced-up the car the way that we'd want it, we're well into Mitsubishi PHEV/Lexus territory, with plenty of change if we wanted a Toyota RAV4.

Thoughts, comments, anyone? We're in two minds about this, and ultimately we think that the numbers don't add up. I've seen several reports about BMW introducing a better/bigger battery this year that will increase overall range, but we're just not sure.

Cheers, Clem
 
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IronGiant

Moderator
The rapid acceleration/deceleration gets wearing after a while
Is that due to regenerative braking? In the Leaf there's a standard drive setting with minimal regen, a brake setting with full on regenerative braking and an eco mode which adds reduced throttle response and a few other power saving features. Full on regenerative braking can be a bit lurchy I found.
 

gangzoom

Well-known Member
.........The cabin is quite noisy on anything but smooth roads. .............
......... It certainly didn't have the feel of a quality motor, more a concept car.

The i3 is the most noisy EV I've driven out of Leaf/Zoe/Tesla S/X.

Part of the reason I think the i3 is noisy and doesn't have a 'quality' feel is because of the carbon fiber construction. BMW went to great length ensuring they used as much weight saving material as possible simply because the lighter the car, the more efficient and therefore longer range.

BMW updated the battery in the i3 about 18 months ago, I wouldn't hold your breath regarding another update anytime soon.

The power output of the i3 drivetrain is also a bit mismatched, it's quicker to 40mph than a M3 but tiny wheels/short wheel base makes it very unstable at high speeds. Try nailing the throttle as you exit a round about....just make sure the road isn't wet and your ready for some rear end shuffle.

As you can tell I wasn't overly impressed by the i3 when I took one for a 48hr test drive, my over all impression was the BMW badge on the front was what sold it to many people rather than anything else. The Leaf/Zoe/Hyundai all offer more comfort/kit/same range as the i3 but for less money, where as a Tesla though more expensive is has so much more range/gadgets as standard.
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Is that due to regenerative braking? In the Leaf there's a standard drive setting with minimal regen, a brake setting with full on regenerative braking and an eco mode which adds reduced throttle response and a few other power saving features. Full on regenerative braking can be a bit lurchy I found.
Yes, but the Comfort mode results in a lot more battery drain, so EcoPro is pretty much the only sensible driving mode.

Clem
 
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IronGiant

Moderator
I can see why it might be a problem if you need to use economy mode. Fortunately we don't. Which was certainly a factor in our decision.
 

SourKraut

Well-known Member
I've started to drive my Leaf on B mode with eco switched on more now around town and find it ok...just switching off the eco at junctions
/roundabouts.
I've always like the shape of the i3, but unsure of those skinny tyres, I was surprised at the width of the Leaf tyres.
I also find the Leaf seating very comfortable and supportive, maybe due to it being a Tekna?
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
According to the WhatCar website BMW is due to release a revised i3 in 2018, along with an i3s. From what I can make out, the core of the vehicle doesn't really change that much. That release will certainly affect any purchasing decision. It's annoying really, because battery technology is tantalisingly close to being viable, but IMHO it's not there yet, unless perhaps you have Tesla money to spend. The range limitations and lengthy charge times need to be overcome before I think I'll be buying anything EV. Obviously, for some people a car with a 90 mile or so range works well, and for us it would too, if wasn't for the fact that my wife has to do 500 mile round trips to visit her elderly mother. That's just not really viable with the majority of EVs at present, but the i3 comes closest. Pity it's just not that brilliant, and BMW won't be getting my ~£40k to buy one.

Clem
 

martimu

Well-known Member
I've done nearly 30k in our i3 (pure electric) now. Whilst it has its niggles it is still one of the most enjoyable cars I've owned. That said I don't view it as a car for long distance. It does school and work every day and if within distance does most of the weekend stuff too. It's a quick, fun to drive, town car. It's not a solid motorway cruiser, though it drives happily at 70mph without issue.

Love the preheat/cooling cool. In the summer when you get in and in the winter its a pleasure to get into a warm de-iced car.

No congestion charge has been very nice on the times we've gone into London too

Cons: Yes it can be noisy on faster roads (ironic given it's so quiet) and it is road noise that causes this problem. But not sure I'm ever in the car long enough for it to bother me. On the flip side on normal roads, the lack of engine noise makes listening to the stereo rather nice.

The rear doors are a nightmare. We nearly always have the kids and they have to do a dance to get in and out in car parks.

No aircon in the back of ours - maybe new ones do?
Rear windows don't come down and in conjunction with the above rather annoying
Range fine for our lifestyle but in the winter it can be as low as 60 miles.

Charging network - not the cars fault but it's beyond pants. I've used public charging as little as possible. Different, adapters, different membership, broken, non-electrics parked in them and the list goes on. Fortunately, the cars coming over the next few years with longer range should make the visits far less than some may currently need.
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
Had a look at the B class Mercedes-Benz electric car? It's essentially a B class with an electric motor and having recently has a B class for a few weeks the build quality is typical Mercedes
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
We've gone for a new petrol-engined car for now. There's a lot of clever tech. in the i3 but I stand by my earlier comments. A 60 mile range in the winter from such an expensive car doesn't cut it in my book. What I do find interesting is the new Smart electric car range. (Our friends have a petrol version of the SmartFourFour and it's pretty decent for what it is). Not perhaps in the same league as the i3 but it does look a lot better value for money, given that it's intended as a city/short range car. However, it'll be another 3 years before I look seriously at an electric car, unless there's a nice big lottery win along the way:D

Clem
 

IronGiant

Moderator
As I see it, for the average user, an EV is still limited to being a perfect short range commuter car, ie one where you only need to charge it from home. You still need an element of "derring do" to throw yourself at the mercy of the high seas ie the charging network :) I still remember being a poor student and only being able to put a tenner in the tank, eeking out those precious miles, never knowing whether it would last me to the end of the month :laugh:
 

martimu

Well-known Member
As I see it, for the average user, an EV is still limited to being a perfect short range commuter car, ie one where you only need to charge it from home. You still need an element of "derring do" to throw yourself at the mercy of the high seas ie the charging network :)


That would be my summary! it's absolutely brilliant for me - work, school and general driving about are under 30 miles a day. If I was at the mercy of the charging network I think I would have gone all John Wick on EV by now
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
A slight aside, but in the Daily Mail newspaper today I caught sight of an article claiming that a brand new Smart FourTwo electric car caught fire whilst charging overnight. From what I could read, the car was a total write-off and that luckily, the building nearby wasn't damaged. TBH, this is something that I'd never given any thought to until now. First mobile 'phones catching fire, then EVs, whatever next? (Of course, I do know that conventional fuel-based cars catch fire!) This certainly won't do the Smart EV brand any favours!


Clem
 

SourKraut

Well-known Member
A slight aside, but in the Daily Mail newspaper today I caught sight of an article claiming that a brand new Smart FourTwo electric car caught fire whilst charging overnight. From what I could read, the car was a total write-off and that luckily, the building nearby wasn't damaged. TBH, this is something that I'd never given any thought to until now. First mobile 'phones catching fire, then EVs, whatever next? (Of course, I do know that conventional fuel-based cars catch fire!) This certainly won't do the Smart EV brand any favours!


Clem
Not so Smart after all then....:p



(I'll get my coat :D)
 

outoftheknow

Moderator
First mobile 'phones catching fire, then EVs, whatever next?
Pretty much anything with a lithium ion battery/cell in it! EVs use heaps of cells (I think Tesla use thousands) and of course batteries are a collection of cells - a phone uses one battery which in theory could be one cell. Button batteries are actually cells and the first lithium ion electric cars used (still use in their latest versions I suspect) thousands of button cells so in theory one battery.

You would think lithium ion car batteries should be made to catch fire less but the risk is there. As the numbers of EVs increases the number of battery fires (lithium ion) will increase (assuming no advances in technology that totally prevents it)
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
Sure, but to my knowledge, this is the first I've heard of where a brand new EV car is written-off like this. At the very least, it would seem sensible to charge EVs outside the home, at a distance from the building. It was lucky that the car caught fire outside on this occasion. I dread to think what the damage and possible loss of life might have been if the car had been in somebody's garage at home. Of course the risk is low overall. Everybody's homes are littered with all sorts of battery technology, but something like this does make you take stock. I never leave my home with any device left connected to a charger and charging, as a precaution.

Clem
 

martimu

Well-known Member
You are going to get these sorts of stories as EV becomes more popular.
It's just cars and laws of averages. Didn't Vauxhall have to recall cars a few years ago as one model derivative was potentially bursting into flames? Plenty of other manufacturers have had to do recalls over problems too
Chargers are something else, I'm not sure how regulated they are yet. if they aren't then it's an area that probably should be
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Chargers are something else, I'm not sure how regulated they are yet. if they aren't then it's an area that probably should be
I don't know about SMART Cars but the Leaf comes with it's own charger to plug into a 13A socket. If plugging into a PodPoint it uses it's onboard charger.
 

martimu

Well-known Member
I've got a tethered one at home and the basic 3 pin that came with the car for an emergency.

Cables for non-tethered can be bought, I think, from various locations. It's the actual wall box I wondered about. Mine is a chargemaster, I didn't want the BMW one as it was expensive and not waterproof ( this may have changed). it needs installing properly and I wondered if there maybe some unregulated ones available.

If just using a standard plug socket to regularly charge I would think sensible to get it checked

Maybe contacts weaken over time with constant plugging and unplugging too?
 

IronGiant

Moderator
This was supposed to be a "brand new" SMART Car so maybe it had a faulty onboard charger, or it's supplied 13A charger(assuming that was what was in use) was dodgy from the ouset?
 

martimu

Well-known Member
yes could have been a manufacturing defect

Cheap plug sockets can cause problems - I melted a three pin into a socket. Was told that using an MK or similar should stop it happening, and it was likely moisture related. If using a car plug this has far more chance of being damp
 

Clem_Dye

Distinguished Member
For my home electrics I only use MK products, and I always plan to. They're not the cheapest for sure, but quality seems consistent. For EV charging when I had the loan i3 I just used the standard 13A cable which seemed to work fine.

Clem
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Doesn't seem to be a 13A plug issue as it was the car that caught fire, unless of course it was the plug at the car end :) but even then, it seems more likely it was the batteries overheating while charging.
 
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