2014 BMW i3: Clamshell Doors/Entry and Egress
March 4, 2015
Not everyone likes the styling on our 2014 BMW i3. Admittedly, it has a complicated profile and a snub-nosed face that only a mother could love, but I like that it's different. It stands out from the crowd. Sure there are disjointed folds, interrupted character lines and mismatched colors everywhere, but I'm still a fan.
Aside from the endless aesthetic debate we could have about this car though, one of the design elements adds a bit to functionality: the clamshell doors
Once the front door is open, the back door opens from a rear hinge. I haven't had a chance to bust out the protractor yet, but I'd say the doors open somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees. Combined with the light, thin and easy-tilt front seat, this setup allows for quick and easy entry to the back seat, whether you're throwing your gym bag back there or having friends climb in. It's definitely preferable to a two-door car with massively-long doors where you have to slide the front seat all the way forward to get in.
There's also a decent amount of legroom in the back for such a small car. I'm 5-foot-9 and had no trouble sitting in the back seat with the front seat adjusted for someone of my size.
Unfortunately, step-in height on the i3 is relatively high (18.6 inches in front/19.6 in back) and the door opening height is pretty low comparatively (56.5/56.3 inches) so you have to hunch over to get in, whether you're going in the front seat or back seat. What's more, the upper latch for the clamshell will smack you right in the forehead if you've got the front seat folded forward and you aren't paying attention as you climb in to the back seat. Trust me on that one.
You can't open the rear doors without opening the front doors first, which is a potential annoyance for passengers, but I don't think it's a huge issue. Otherwise, the clamshell doors are seriously helpful, easy to use and, once you're inside, the cabin feels roomy enough for four.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor