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  • Liling Tan

BMW i3: An Electric Car Bigger Than It Seems, Larger Than It Looks

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

The electric car-volution begins with the BMW i3 setting the trend with its compact yet sporty outlook.

From a driver’s perspective, an interior without the regular centre console and common dashboard design brings a futuristic feel.

There are 2 screen displays. One in front of the driver that provides immediate drive information and the in-car infotainment in the centre. Simple movement and ease of access without any issues. The placement of the gear level is interesting, with it being located behind the steering wheel instead of between the seats.

Given the fact that this is an electric car, steering and seat adjustments are surprisingly manual! Having driven the other electric car before and some of the other BMW cars, I wasn’t quite expecting to manually adjust my seat and steering, to be honest. Fun fact though, the interior seems to align with a ‘greener’ initiatives as the surface is made out of top quality recycled plastics and natural fibres.

It is interesting to see this in an electric car as I thought the focus would be placed more on its technical aspects rather than design.

Acceleration was not as dynamic as expected, but stable handling gives the overall drive a very planted sensation. The only downside during the drive was the regenerative braking. I may have not been aware of how to remove the huge ‘engine brake’ when the accelerator is released but that made the drive rather tiresome in some ways.

Unsightly rear door handles are phased out with inward-facing rear passenger doors. Rear seated passengers are able to open their doors only when the front doors are open. This definitely made the i3 seem bigger and more spacious. Bonus though, this probably helps a lot when you have children in the back seats.

One full charge should take you to an approximate 200km and this press car boasts a 9-litre fuel tank, also known as the range extender, to provide an extended charge that will take you an extra 180km thereabouts.

Your i3 comes with an iwallbox which includes installation at a regular charging area (home or office) when parked. Should the users not require it, a few thousand dollars will be deducted from the sale amount which will contribute as savings.

Without your own power charging station, an i3 driver will have to rely on the public charging stations like ChargeNow, which are available in carparks, private estates and some commercial buildings. You can find out where the charging points are from the mobility service website by BMW. Your new i3 comes with a ChargeNow card that will be the key to your charging process. Let me elaborate:

Step 1: Plug the charging cable to the car’s charging port.

Step 2: Wait for the yellow light to illuminate. This is your cue to activate the station with your ChargeNow card.

Step 3: A blue light on the car’s charging port and iwallbox means charging is in progress. In any case you’re wondering, removal of the charging plug from the charging port will not be possible. It is locked in by means of the i3’s central locking system. At any point in time during the charging process, you may stop the charging process by unlocking the i3 with the key and manually resetting it on the dashboard. with no exposed metal parts, it is 100% safe to handle and no worries about anyone coming to sabotage or “snatch” your charging lot while you are away.

It will take about 8 hours for a full charge, and you will be able to monitor the battery status and estimated travel mileage from the dashboard too.

Information on the screen indicates the battery level at the top left. This is proportionate to the bottom right indicator bar that denotes the remaining distance the i3 has. Bottom left in white indication, marks the range extender. This is the final backup when the battery is totally exhausted. An approximate travel distance is shown as well. Please note that model availability with the range extender is only for our press car.

Being a fuel powered car driver, I get mixed feelings when driving an electric car. For one, the i3 is an awesome, modern-looking car. Driving during peak hours is uncomplicated with its planted handling and short wheelbase. With the range extender option, I do not get as nervous when the battery indicator reaches ¼.

I must say, parking with the i3 in tight spaces is truly a breeze. The experience is different, in a good way, especially with its acceleration (I always love fast cars). Despite so, the idea of owning an electric car in Singapore is something most drivers may have reservations about and I can understand why but this usually changes when they get behind the wheel of an electric car.

Taking the step forward with the i3 limits you with concerns about range but with some planning, it can be easily overcome. Still, the fact remains that it’s been an enjoyable experience driving an electric car around the busy streets of Singapore.

Long drives in an i3 is a major challenge but hopefully someday soon, this will change. In summary, I would get one only because of its silent lure rather than the way it drives.


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