2014 BMW i3: Pros and Cons of the Suicide Door
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on October 19, 2015
The term "suicide door", according to Wikipedia and its sources, became popular slang for a vehicle door with rear hinges because of the higher risk of opening at speed, either by accident or by a member of the mob. This becomes an issue for the person sitting closest to that door.
If you tried to open a front-hinged door at speed — don't try to — you'd find it very difficult because of the airflow pushing against it. A rear-hinged door that's opened while moving operates more like a drag chute, with a degree of violence that's proportional to vehicle speed.
Our 2014 BMW i3 doors may not be dangerous, but they still have an inherent disadvantage.
A few editors, like James Riswick, have previously reported that suicide doors are an issue if you're parked next to something (e.g. a car, a wall, a rhinoceros, etc.) and have rear passenger that would like to be let out. BMW anti-mobster technology requires that the front-hinged front door be opened before the rear-hinged rear door latch can be operated. This promotes a natural barricade situation when the doors are open, leaving the driver and rear passenger to coordinate a rather ungraceful exit strategy.
This is the only real downside to the design, now that safety isn't an issue. On the plus side, the absence of a B-pillar behind the front seats really opens up the cabin and allows maximum access space to the back row.
Lastly, I also found that a barricade of doors is not always a bad thing. A little window tint would likely improve coverage, but changing in the gym parking lot has never been easier.
Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor