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BMW i3 / i8 / ActiveE
Are you excited about the upcoming BMW i3 or i8? Interested in learning more about the BMW ActiveE? This is the place for you!

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  #1  
Old 06-08-2014, 06:59 PM
apollner apollner is offline
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Initial impressions on my new i3

BMW i3 customer review

I've been a long-time BMW owner, with 2 X6's most recently. I've been researching electric vehicles for some time now as I've been fascinated by this technology. My focus over the past several years has been on the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3.

I finally got a chance to drive a Tesla Model S when the dealership in Washington, D.C. made them available for test drives. That drive, without exaggeration, made me feel like I was driving the future. The Model S, for those who have not had the pleasure of driving it, is a sophisticated, elegant, and quiet automobile. Its acceleration is breathtaking (I drove the Performance model) and it actually made me feel as though I was in a spaceship. Think of Captain Kirk ordering warp speed on the Starship Enterprise.

After driving the Model S, I got back into my X6 Xdrive35. All of a sudden, all the gear changes and lag time starting off seemed so last century! Yes, the X6 is a heavy car with all-time 4-wheel drive, but even thinking back to my E39 M5 or E63 650i I got a totally different feel by a one-speed smooth-as-silk power delivery and acceleration. The Model S set a new benchmark for how a car could feel, interact with the driver, and respond.

I soon realized that a nicely appointed Model S could quickly approach 6 figures. During this time BMW was getting closer to providing additional information on the i3. I scoured the web and read every article, saw every picture, and tried to learn as much as I could about the i3.

When deliveries started in Europe last year, I read every review. The styling of the car had not veered too much from the concept, though I really liked how the rear door opened on the concept, something probably difficult to engineer on a production car.

As a business owner I lease my vehicles, which means that every 3 years I get to try something new. There have been some exceptions to this. I bought out my M5 from the lease as I really enjoyed the car so much, and ended up driving it another 3 years. Mostly though, I've just returned the cars and order another one, to my specification.

The lease on my beautiful X6 with Individual Package and BMW Performance wheels was going to end November 2014. I was thinking that by late summer or early fall I would have an idea of what car to get next, possibly an i3.

My dealer knew of my interest towards an i3 and would communicate every bit of new information they found out about the car. Then a series of amazing things happened, like the stars aligning in the sky.

My dealer called to tell me that order slots had opened so that I could configure an i3 into a forthcoming production slot. Other than in the early years when I bought second hand BMWs, every car I've owned/leased has been configured to my liking. I especially find that paint colors and wheel designs can make a huge difference on the appearance of an otherwise identical model. So I put in my order and began waiting for a production slot to be confirmed.

At the same time, my dealer informed me of BMW's pull-ahead program, that lets you move from one lease into another within 6 months of your lease end. With my lease ending in November, or payment-wise actually October since my deposit is the last payment, I was able to move into a new vehicle if I took advantage of this program, which ends June 30.

Problem was, the production slot wasn't going to be filled in time to take advantage of the pull-ahead program, and my car wouldn't be built and delivered until closer to lease-end.

Then the magic happened. My dealer got their first i3, just days before the BMW's Drive The Future Now was going to make a stop at the dealership. I was invited to come in and check out their first i3, which had pretty much every option I had selected on my own vehicle, save for the color and interior package. I had ordered Capparis White with Terra World and this car was Andesite Silver Metallic with Giga World. I drove the car on side streets and a highway and immediately fell in love with it. The BMW i3 provided the same seductive pleasure as I recalled from the Model S, though in a smaller package. I'm telling you, transmissions seem so antiquated now. So I told them to put a SOLD sign in the car while I conferred with my wife. In the end, we bought the car and drove it off the lot with our newborn!

For me the i3 is the ideal commuter car. I live about 6 miles from the office, so I can go several days without recharging. I live in a condo and work in a building without EV charging, so buying this car was a bit of a risk. What I have found is that there are EV charging stations popping up more and more. I've even found one at a university that's walking distance from my condo where charging is free. And in my building, if I need a quick top-off, I can just use the ordinary charger that comes with the car and plugs into a household outlet.

The term "range anxiety" is used often when describing EVs. If you are someone with long commutes, this generation of EVs is not a good fit. I expect that over time battery efficiency will increase and cost will go down and that will be of great benefit. However, for individuals that tend to not rack up all that many miles in a year (I average about 6000) this car is a hoot! If you live in a house all you need to do, much like you would with your smartphone, is plug it in at night so that it's fully charged the next day. Once we start thinking of our EVs more like our battery powered gadgets, the appropriate charging schedule will soon follow.

Back to the car itself. When I stepped into the Giga World car, I really liked the interior that combined very soft olive leaf tanned leather with soft wool. It's a very comfortable and breathable combination and it gives the car a nice modern and open feel. The iDrive will be familiar to any BMW owner and, unlike the Model S, there are some switches, knobs, and buttons for some often used functions. This EV is a great transition car from existing BMW owners who will feel right at home, and enjoy the extras added to iDrive, like finding EV charging stations that are available for use within the car's current range. The car has a host of advanced features, some of which have not been discussed all that much. For instance, if I approach the car in front of me too quickly and a crash seems eminent, the car will flash a light and actually apply the brakes. I've seen an occasional light flash, but no application of brakes yet. This can be set to early, medium, or late, so as not to interfere too much with one's particular style of driving. The other often-mentioned feature is the one-pedal driving. In all modes, from the default "Comfort" to EcoPro and EcoPro+ the batteries are charged when you let off the gas. It doesn't take long to know how to throttle the accelerator and made one-pedal driving smooth and pleasurable.

US cars don't come with sunroofs. That was a real bummer for me as every car I've owned has had one. And the one that didn't, a 70s VW Rabbit, had one added. This was almost a deal-breaker for me. But when I actually drove the car I was so taken about by how quiet it is to ride in it. Conversations are like talking with someone in your living room. I realized that from a weight and aerodynamic standpoint, a sunroof in this car is not all that necessary or desirable.

So in conclusion, is this car as good as other BMWs, better, or worse? From the standpoint of driving in the future, it surpasses them all. The electric motor with instant maximum torque from 0 RPM is addictive. The interior, including the suspended iPad-like center monitor is clean, modern, and practical. The fit and finish rivals other BMWs with doors, hood, and tailgate that close with a confidence-inspiring thud. The tires are narrow, but large. This means that the car handles nimbly, but it will not track the way a tire 2 - 3 times its width can. The turning radius is amazing and the car is very responsive.

BMW has, over the years, expanded its lineup of cars. It wasn't that long ago that SAVs did not exist in the lineup, and when they did many sedan drivers took disdain to them. The reality is that there are many needs to fill in what people want and need in an automobile. BMW's strategy of creating vehicles to meet these needs seems to be paying off, as the volume of cars they sell continues to set new records.

When I looked at and drove the Tesla Model S, I was really lamenting the fact that I might be moving away from BMW for the first time in many, many years. However, my new car is another equally compelling vision of the future and it is saving me 30% off my existing lease payments. Plus, I'm mostly charging for free these days.

I encourage anybody who would consider this car to actually go to your dealer and drive one. You won't look back!
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2014, 10:30 PM
Runon MD1 Runon MD1 is offline
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Initial Impressions of my new i3

Excellent and most thorough review! Thanks!

I, too, drove the Tesla (several times, in fact), and was most impressed, as was the OP.

But the cost and the fact that the seats sat a bit too low for me will probably make me look elsewhere.

Which brings me to the i3, which I drove a week ago. It doesn't have the pick-up of the Tesla, but it is certainly respectable! And the car has easy access and egress.

I wish it had a head up display, though.

I could well pull the trigger on it, as I, too, don't drive long distances.

And the car I drove was the same color combination yours came in. I thought it was beautiful, so congrats!

A very minor point...I think you confused "principle," which refers to moral or other tenets, and "principal," which refers to the main reason, a leader or someone in a position of importance.

Oh...and it's,"good, better, or worse," rather than "worst."

But yours was a most valuable post, for which I thank you...it helped me solidify my choice.

Runon MD1

Last edited by Runon MD1; 06-15-2014 at 12:04 AM. Reason: Spelling correction
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2014, 07:45 AM
apollner apollner is offline
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Glad you enjoyed my post! I wrote it as a stream of consciousness since I've been thinking about all these things for quite a while.

I had the head up (btw, there's no "s") on my first X6 and didn't find it all that useful. However, when I had an opportunity to drive a last generation M6, which also had a head up display, I really enjoyed it.

The difference? On the M6 you see the tach gauge displayed as part of the head up information. Useful to know when to shift. Something that wouldn't benefit the single gear i3.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:32 PM
ddk632 ddk632 is offline
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The HUD on the X6M also has the tach - it can be enabled or disabled; for example, when disabled, I get the current speed, and navigation instructions if I have a route enabled. In M mode, it's the tach and current gear, along with speed. I think it's an M car thing. I also believe the newer cars are getting even more elaborate HUDs these days, full color, more information, etc.

It's the beauty of technology, always improving. Honestly I am quite surprised the i3 doesn't have one; however on my one test drive of the i3 last year, I was having too much fun driving the car to even notice there was no HUD!
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:43 PM
F30_E85 F30_E85 is offline
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Thanks for writing this article. I am in the same boat as you were, drove Tesla S and i3 several times and 90% chance I'll be getting an i3 by the of the year.

I've been following and reading everything written about i3s, your post is the best I've seen. Thanks!


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  #6  
Old 06-12-2014, 12:43 PM
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tim330i tim330i is offline
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Great review! I'd like to feature it on the home page of Bimmerfest.com Can you post some pictures that I can add to the text for the feature?

Tim
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  #7  
Old 06-12-2014, 10:34 PM
apollner apollner is offline
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Tim,

That would be great! I'll get something for you in the next day or so.
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  #8  
Old 06-13-2014, 02:46 AM
mattycb mattycb is offline
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I must join the chorus and say this was an excellent review. More selfishly, you addressed one of my main concerns. Like you, I am also unable to install the charging station in my garage as I am a renter and don't have the permission to play with any of the electrical goings on in the garage. So I'll be doing a good amount of overnight charging.

I'm curious about one thing. Do you ever let the battery get so low that you need to leave the car at a public charging station for up to 3 hours? If so, what do you do while it is charging? Sorry it this seems a silly question but it's not like a gas car where you pull up to the pump and in five minutes or less you're fully refueled.

My test drive is later today (Friday) and I am dying with anticipation. I'll post my thoughts later but I won't top the great job you did with this review.
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  #9  
Old 06-13-2014, 07:08 AM
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tim330i tim330i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apollner View Post
Tim,

That would be great! I'll get something for you in the next day or so.
Great! Standing by.
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  #10  
Old 06-13-2014, 07:30 AM
apollner apollner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattycb View Post
Do you ever let the battery get so low that you need to leave the car at a public charging station for up to 3 hours? If so, what do you do while it is charging?
I have not run it down quite that much. Only to when it indicated 15 miles left which is arbitrary, of course, depending on how you're driving the car and in what mode you're in. EcoPro+ would help reduce consumption, something I'd recommend switching to.

What I would recommend is that you head to the mall when it's very low. Many malls now are catering to EV drivers. You just need to pull up ChargePoint or PlugShare apps or websites to see what's available. Also see if there's anything walking distance to your place. This would give you a good reason to get some exercise. What I've done is dropped the car off after work, walked home, then after dinner walked back to the car. I can't see doing that in the middle of the winter, but I like to walk around the neighborhood for exercise anyway.
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:15 AM
pharding pharding is offline
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I test drove the i3 at Elmhurst BMW and I was really impressed. If this were available last year when we bought our 2014 X3, I would bought the i3 for my wife in a heartbeat. It is incredibly amazing and innovative. It was super fasts 0 to 45 mph and ultra quiet. It handled like a BMW and drove great. I too wish it had a sun roof. It was an amazing experience. It is a major milestone for the automotive industry. We are going trade in my wife's X3 next year and get one.

One concern is whether I can get my bike inside the cabin. I dont mind taking the front wheel off. I just hope that it fits.

It was kind of funny for me to drive the car. I press start and I just sat that waiting the engine to start. Just nothing. It had started but it was just so quiet that I didn't hear anything. When I came up to a stop sign or stop light, I would end 20 feet in back of the white line. I am so used to taking my foot off the accelerator and coasting. With the i3 there is no coasting. If you take you foot off off the accelerator, the engine acts as a brake. You don't coast.

I am totally amazed by the design and quality of the i3. What BMW did with this is unbelievably amazing. Everything that they did is innovative and just makes so much sense. BMW created an electric car that was totally new from the ground up. All of the other manufacturers took a conventional car and stuffed batteries and an electric motor in it resulting in Rube Goldberg hodge podge. BMW created a totally new paradigm! Plus it still has great driving dynamics and generally feels like a conventional BMW.

I would personally would like to see the kidney grilles removed from the car. They are just decorations that serve no purpose whatsoever. They are totally inconsistent with beautiful logic and design discipline of the rest of the car. They should just rid of them.
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  #12  
Old 06-16-2014, 02:32 PM
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Any luck on the pictures?

Tim
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2014, 07:42 PM
apollner apollner is offline
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Yes, I added a photo to my original post over the weekend.
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Old 06-17-2014, 10:20 AM
rmjames007 rmjames007 is online now
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Thanks for the write up!

I am totally interested in an i3 and its good to hear another person experience with them
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Old 06-17-2014, 10:23 AM
rmjames007 rmjames007 is online now
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Can you talk about what if any incentives or rebates (state and/or federal) you took advantage of?
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:48 PM
apollner apollner is offline
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Since I leased the car, I did not get the full $7500 rebate. BMW only allocates $4,875. If you buy it you should get the full $7500 Federal rebate, plus any state credits, if applicable, on top of that.

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Can you talk about what if any incentives or rebates (state and/or federal) you took advantage of?
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Old 06-19-2014, 05:21 PM
rdollie rdollie is offline
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FWIW, I stopped by Stevens Creek BMW in San Jose, CA last night to see if I can spot the new M3/M4. I didn't but I did see quite a few lonely i3s looking for owners...
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:36 PM
rmjames007 rmjames007 is online now
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I'd be interested but nc does not offer any rebates

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Old 06-23-2014, 11:02 AM
BestCS BestCS is offline
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I'd bet the typical Prius driver would love it, or I guess any ordinary tree-huggin' liberal type. However, I wouldn't be caught dead in that ugly looking little monster.

Which brings me to the thought why do designers of electric vehicles with the exception of the Tesla S make them so look like appliances? I'm not driving anything that doesn't have a little style.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:37 PM
john Dew john Dew is offline
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Mark Twain "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

Blah blah blah blah blah blah and now I love my i3!!
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Old 07-04-2014, 02:03 PM
kenza kenza is offline
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Thanks for this great write-up!
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  #22  
Old 07-16-2014, 08:48 PM
brosher brosher is offline
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Do you have a rear facing seat infant installed? I'm curious how it fits.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:33 PM
apollner apollner is offline
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Yes, we have the Nuna Pipa and it fits fine! As a matter of fact, the baby was with us when we took delivery of the car in May. I don't know about other seats but I would expect most would fit if you adjust the passenger seat backrest.
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Old 07-25-2014, 06:21 AM
trunkrecords trunkrecords is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestCS View Post
I'd bet the typical Prius driver would love it, or I guess any ordinary tree-huggin' liberal type. However, I wouldn't be caught dead in that ugly looking little monster.

Which brings me to the thought why do designers of electric vehicles with the exception of the Tesla S make them so look like appliances? I'm not driving anything that doesn't have a little style.
Sounds like you favor style over cleaning up the air and renewable energy. Electric vehicles are not for you... nothing to see here, move along. This is not the vehicle that you are looking for. Go huff more petrol fumes. ;-)
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:49 AM
buckerine buckerine is offline
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Originally Posted by trunkrecords View Post
Sounds like you favor style over cleaning up the air and renewable energy. Electric vehicles are not for you... nothing to see here, move along. This is not the vehicle that you are looking for. Go huff more petrol fumes. ;-)

But to be honest, he/she has a point here. The i3 is not an attractive car by most standards. Why go with such an outlandish design when what the entire electric car industry needs is mass adoption? I can see the need to express a sense of the future, but I haven't met one person offline who actually likes the i3's design in the same way that they'd like, say, the Model s.


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