Tuesday, 28 January 2014

BMWi3 test drive

Written by Darrel Wheeler | From Merlin Farm Holiday Cottages in Cornwall

For many years now we've had a watchful eye on the electric car evolution. Our aim has always been to provide electric vehicles for our guests to be able to use during their visit to Merlin Farm. So far we have experienced the Vauxhall Ampera and Renault Zoe. The new BMWi3 is the latest for us to spend a morning with. The model has been designed from the wheels up to be as eco as possible.

From the F1 derived carbon fibre body shell being manufactured in a factory powered by hydro electric to seats being naturally tanned using olive leaves!  These 3 cars are at the cutting edge of the latest technology to ensure electric vehicles can be a useable and reliable means of everyday transport.

As expected BMW pushes the benchmark even further. At a starting price of £25,680 on the road including batteries the i3 sits some way above the Zoe at £13,995 excluding battery price, which you have to lease. The Ampera at £28,750 includes batteries and range extender. What couldn't be measured was the feel good factor of driving such a stylish, futuristic and amazing performing eco car which left an extremely broad grin on my face! In many ways it reminded me of what we have done with our Eco Holiday Cottages, that to be environmentally aware does not mean you cannot have your well deserved luxuries. 

The BMWi3 outside Rhodes at the Dome
Not to decry the other two models, which are both very competent vehicles, but with the i3 I felt that I was driving something really special. With a 0-60 in 7.2 seconds you have more than enough acceleration for any situation. From a distance the i3 looks quite compact with the footprint of a 1 series BMW, but it's like a tardis once sat inside with plenty of legroom in the front and ample in the back (even for adult passengers). The stylish and luxurious interior is like nothing I have ever seen in any other BMW, which includes a sleek wood trim made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus.

 This really would be an electric car that you could use very day and rely on. It can charge to 80% in 30 minutes and like the Ampera it has a range extending petrol generator (optional extra at £3,205 ) which will always bring you home!  Unlike the Ampera it was almost impossible to hear the generator running.

Darrel loves - the SUV driving position, intuitive technology and range extending petrol generator
Lucy loves - the funky opening doors, sleek & stylish dash and auto parallel parking mode

Darrel dislikes - potential cost of replacing bespoke run-flat tyres (tyre insurance available)
Lucy dislikes - only 2 seats in the back

Hopefully soon we will have one at Merlin Farm and you too will be able to sample what it has to offer during your stay.

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