2014 BMW i3 Hatchback: Self-Parking Feature
January 16, 2015
People hate parallel parking. So you would think that self-parking systems would be very popular. But since their introduction nearly seven years ago, they have remained below the radar. In fact, if you mention to a non-car person, that the car can park itself, they look stunned and say, "What? You mean the car literally parks itself?" Yes, literally. In fact, it even looks for a space big enough to fit into.
So, when our new long-term 2014 BMW i3 came with the $1,000 parking assist program I decided to try it out.
First of all, it's not very intuitive. I had to use another feature, an onboard user's manual with tutorial videos, to find out how to activate it. Then, it took several tries before I hit the buttons in the right sequence to use it. But once in action, it was spectacular. It turned into the empty spot perfectly and used the park distance feature to center the car perfectly.
While on a crowded street in Ojai, on my three-day road trip, I needed to parallel park, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to put it into action for real. However, I must have pushed the controls in the wrong sequence because the system kept disabling. Finally, with traffic piling up behind me, I did it the old fashioned way, following the rules my driver's ed teacher gave me in high school.
If the i3 was my daily driver, and I was in a congested urban area, this would be one of the first features I would learn to use. But it seems like it takes practice and experimentation to really feel comfortable with this system.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 680 miles