2014 BMW i3: Ride Quality in the City
March 24, 2015
I recently had a weekend in our long-term 2014 BMW i3 and most of that time was spent commuting on city streets. Unlike editor John O'Dell who got to have some Fun in the Twisties, I was doing short urban commutes. And on the kind of broken, practically cobbled city streets that line most of Los Angeles, the i3 had a pretty bumpy ride.
Along the highway, the i3 was quiet and composed. At 70 miles per hour I kept the stereo off and it was easy to talk to my passengers. No need to shout. It soaked up the minor road imperfections relatively well and kept us comfortable on a short freeway journey. No complaints from anyone.
On our trip back home we took city streets instead. And in the city, over speed bumps, potholes, construction grates and intersection-gutters, the i3 bounced quite a bit. The entire cabin seemed to move as one piece, communicating road surface changes with dramatic hops. Some of this comes down to the road quality and the i3's suspension calibration (it's stiff but not unyielding), but there are other factors too. We've got the optional 20-inch wheels on our i3 and when you combine those large-diameter wheels with a relatively short wheelbase, you end up with a lot of impacts being transmitted right into the cabin. I'd opt for the standard 19s as a baseline solution but I'm not sure that would solve the problem entirely.
Over the weekend, I found myself slowing down quite a bit for road imperfections and speed bumps, basically duplicating the kind of behavior usually reserved for lowered, high-performance sports cars. Approach slowly, slow-speed over the bump, accelerate away lightly to save energy and hope there isn't another bump ahead.
None of this is to suggest that the ride quality in the BMW i3 is so bad that you can't live with it along broken city streets, it just isn't ideal. I'd prefer something like the VW e-Golf on a daily basis.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 3,450 miles