2014 BMW i3: Fun in the Twisties
March 17, 2015
Yes, I know our long-term 2014 BMW i3 was designed to be a short-haul commuter/city car, but it does have a BMW badge.
So I took it to my favorite stretch of country road in the Santa Ana Mountains (yes, we still have country roads in the otherwise densely developed O.C.) to see how much of Bimmer's sporty DNA was transferred to its battery-electric runabout.
Quite a bit, it seems.
While no M3, the BMW i3 with its low center of gravity — thanks to the hefty battery pack mounted below the seats — torque-y electric oomph and surprisingly grippy tires, did itself proud on the tortuous stretch of Live Oak Canyon Road that's also a favorite of the area's myriad motorcyclists.
The i3 slalomed through the curves with nary a hint of body roll. The comfortable front buckets kept both driver and passenger firmly in place. And those tall, skinny, low-rolling resistance Bridgestones (155/60/R20s up front and 175/55/R20s at the rear) never lost their grip, although I didn't push them to their limits.
Fortunately, the road is close enough to home that getting there and running up and down its roughly 5-mile length a few times didn't exhaust the i3's battery, which promised 67 miles of range (in comfort mode) when we unplugged and left the garage that morning.
Despite being pushed a bit on our jaunt in the canyon and up and down the hilly terrain on the way there, the i3 actually delivered 63.1 miles on its grid-charged battery before handing power-making chores over to the on-board generator, which does, indeed, sound a lot like a sewing machine ticking away under the cargo area floor.
Turns out that for a plastic-and-aluminum, electric-powered city car, the i3 manages to turn in a pretty good impression of a "regular" BMW if asked to do so.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor @ 3,224 miles