|It may not be the color I'd choose, but I can say I'm the first person outside of BMW to drive an i3!|
It had to be somebody. There can only be one person who gets to be the first person to do something. BMW's first production electric vehicle, the highly anticipated 2014 i3 has had a couple of journalist "ride alongs" where they were passengers in test mule cars, but nobody outside of BMW had been given the keys to a pre-production i3 and been allowed to drive it. Until yesterday.
|BMW's North American Headquarters|
|My security badge|
I arrived at the campus at 7:45am and followed the directions to the technical center where the car was to be. When I arrived there was a familiar face waiting for me. It was Dave Mustac, the technical coordinator for the ActiveE and Electric Vehicle Aftersales Specialist. I kind of felt bad that he had to come here for this on Easter Sunday, but he said he lived close and really didn't mind. I hope that was the case. The car was inside so we had to go in and get it. When we got to the room where it was, I was stunned to see six i3's all gathered together in there. Three of them had the blue swirly camouflage that we've been seeing and three others were painted bright yellow. Not exactly the color I would choose, but for this I didn't care what color it was. I assumed I would be regulated to one of the camouflaged ones, but the first car in line was a yellow one and Dave walked over to it as I followed. The bright yellow color kind of reminded me of a crash test car, but these obviously aren't being used for that.
It was a BEV i3 although there were three with the range extender option also. He handed me the keys and smiled saying, "I know you've waited for this for a while now," and he was right. I pulled out and the first thing I did was drive on the main road that circles the campus. There were long straight-aways and I could really see how much punch it had. It didn't disappoint! It's definitely much faster than the ActiveE, obviously the result of it having the same power while being nearly 1,300lbs lighter. After circling the campus I pulled off into one of the large parking lots which was completely empty and I did some autocross-like maneuvers. It has remarkable poise even with the thin tires on 20" non-production wheels. They held tight on even the tightest turns and barely even squealed as I pushed the car to the limit.
After about 40 minutes Dave reminded me we did have to wrap things up. I noticed I used 30% of the charge but didn't look at the mileage when I started (I was too excited) so that's not much help with the expected range. The instruments - which I can't really talk about were very impressive and I think will be well received. Please ask questions below and I'll answer whatever I can but remember there are a lot of things I can't comment about. Special thanks to Dave for taking time out of his Easter Sunday to come and make sure I didn't leave the campus with it! I can't wait till I get the next opportunity to take one for a longer (and maybe unsupervised) drive!
UPDATE: For those that haven't figured it yet, this was an April Fools joke. Unfortunately I haven't had the privilege to test drive an i3...yet. Hopefully I'll get to be one of the first that does, but we'll have to wait to see... Special thanks to follower Chris Llana who did the photoshop work for the picture above. I know he spent a while on it and it definitely tricked a good amount of people. I even got emails from some people asking if I could tell them info on the car!