Several years ago, when we saw electric cars in movies it seemed a little far-fetched. Fast forward to today and me driving an all-electric car is nothing short of living in a sci-fi movie. Driving the BMW i3s felt like living in the future without having to worry about polluting the environment with fossil fuels. Living in this bubble of the future made me more conscious of where the world should be headed when it comes to clean energy.
In a growing line-up of electrified options, the BMW i3s still somehow stands out. Much has been made of the i3’s divisive external design, and in many ways the new i3s only exaggerates that: bigger wheels, more aggressive bumpers, and gloss-black trim. As I found behind the wheel, though, the i3’s key charm remains what’s inside.
The BMW i3s is equipped with a new high voltage battery (120 Ah) with an extended range and can do around just over 340 km’s in ECO plus (with the aircon off) and in Sport you can expect to do 310 km’s. With increased cell capacity to 120 ampere hours (Ah) and a gross content of 42.2 kilowatt hours (kWh). Even though the i3s is reasonably quick, I found that sticking to the speed limits worked in my advantage as the car became more economical while going about my daily duties. The use of the aircon does impact the range on the vehicle so do expect to use more energy in the peak of summer.
With all the upgrades and power behind it, the i3s is a much better alternative when running your daily tasks in the city or even using it to go to the office on a daily. The boot space isn’t the biggest but will allow one to get a decent amount of groceries when out doing some shopping. The foldable rear seat does allow for more storage space when needed and you can expect to fit in larger valuables.
Furthermore, the interior design of the BMW i3s is very futuristic and minimalistic with extensive use of recycled materials being at the forefront of the design. The new Giga World interior package adds striking leather and cloth seats and light eucalyptus wood trim on the dashboard. It’s a very pleasant step away from the usual black, brown, or cream leather you’d expect to find in a BMW, and the dour dashboard trims, and it gives the cabin an airy, lounge-like feel.
The suicide doors allow for easier entrance for rear passengers. The rear seating is suitable for a medium sized adult without them feeling too cramped up.
The exterior of the BMW i3s is not my favourite and the front area is the biggest contributor to that. The front end could have been designed more in line with other BMW’s within the BMW family. However, I quite enjoy the colour scheme of the car and fortunately the front end of the car doesn’t affect the drivability of the car.
Charging was not an issue for me because I could charge using a normal household socket when at home and in other area’s I could use the regular charging stations. Some issues I encountered was that there aren’t sufficient charging stations around Johannesburg that are readily available for fully electric vehicles. In one instance there was a normal combustion car parked in a bay reserved for electric cars to charge. This was a little frustrating and it could have left me stranded if my charge was low. When using the BMW i Wallbox charger you can achieve a 80% charge it will take roughly 3.2 hours.
The BMW i3s is an amazing car that’s nimble and fun to drive. However, I feel this cannot be your only car it can only do a short range until you must start looking for a charging point.
The i3s is still not up to the standards of its key rivals, but a lot more palatable. At the same time, it’s borrowing interior and exterior styling and design ideas for upcoming models, like the BMW Vision iNEXT which itself previews a bold EV SUV for 2021. If you ask me, that can’t come soon enough. Pricing for the BMW i3s starts at R716 900 for the base model.
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