We were promised flying cars...The next best thing may have landed

Written by lee johnson Google
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We were promised flying cars...The next best thing may have landed
(Courtesy of BMW)

High-tech materials and breathtaking design

We were promised flying cars...The next best thing may have landed
(Photo: BMW)

Any future-mobile worth its salt will be stocked with the latest in high-performance materials, and the i3 doesn’t disappoint in this department. Efficiency and eco-friendliness were the main goals, and BMW has tailored the design and the construction of the i3 accordingly. The characteristic BMW kidney-grille is in place, but it’s still an undeniably unique offering in terms of appearance.

Casting aside the plodding dependence on the traditional gas-guzzler silhouette, the snub-nosed i3 measures less than four metres in length, sits up higher than an ordinary car (thanks to the underside-mounted battery) and has a generally beefy, reliable appearance. It keeps its weight down by incorporating high-tech materials, featuring a trimmed-down carbon fibre chassis and removable, lightweight plastic panels on the exterior (which also lower your insurance premiums). The net effect is a vehicle which packs all of the power of a traditional, inefficient machine whilst competing with the very best in agility and manoeuvrability. In terms of weight, it undercuts the Nissan Leaf by 350 kg, weighing just 1119 kg in total.

Opening the plastic-panelled, straked-handled doors takes you into a world of eco-friendly luxury, with the i3’s interior of indulgent materials and smooth, flowing angles. The glove-box lid is made from Eucalyptus wood, and the dash and windscreen are uniquely formed from recycled plastics. It comes with all the things you’d expect – such as stitched leather seating and textured plastic – but breaks the mould by completely doing away with the centre console. This means that you can leave the car from either front door with ease – boosting the safety and convenience of your driving experience – and while you’re inside, even backseat passengers can enjoy the enlarged central display screen.

A unique driving experience

All of these high-end materials come together to make driving the i3 an experience you’ll never forget. The slim, 19-inch alloys contribute to the trim, 9.8 metre turning circle, optimized for the sharp turning and weaving associated with city driving. It’s powered by a 168 bhp electric motor, which offers direct power delivery and means that the full 184 lb-ft of torque is responsive and ready anytime, even if you’re stationary.

There are some important differences between driving the i3 and the cars of the past, the most noticeable of which is the responsiveness and effectiveness of the braking. Additionally, the ergonomically-designed centre of gravity and impressive rear body control means that you won’t need to make as many minor adjustments to the steering as you’re accustomed to, it keeps its straight-line traction with impressive tenacity. It may take a little while to get used to, but once you’ve taken it for a spin, you won’t want to go back to the lumbering and clunky cars of the past.

A new power paradigm

The most futuristic element of the BMW i3 is undoubtedly the power source. Casting aside the unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels, the fully-electric engine cements its place as the first in a new generation of cars. The age of the petrol-consuming traditional and hybrid vehicles is coming to a close, and BMW is getting ahead of the game with the i3. Boasting 90 miles of range on a full charge, it’s ideal for inner-city use, but can even stretch to some longer journeys even without access to a charging point. With government subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles, the i3 costs just over £25k brand new, but you stand to save money on every single trip you make thereafter.

The cost of fuel is continually rising, and this situation won’t get any better as we further deplete the Earth’s limited natural resources. The i3 allows you to get ahead of the game and save a boat-load of money on petrol, with just an eight-hour charge being required to fully-recharge a depleted battery. You can recharge overnight from a domestic plug socket, and charging points outside your home will only become more and more common as we venture into the future. You carbon footprint shrinks as your bank balance grows.

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