2014 BMW i3: Stepping Up; Way Up!
March 18, 2015
Admittedly, it's a first-world problem, but the unique carbon-fiber construction of the 2014 BMW i3 gives it a tall step-in height that tripped me up more than once while I was using our long-term model recently.
The height of the door sills doesn't require one to do a standing high jump to gain entry, but at 18.6 inches from the ground in front, 19.6 inches for the rear entry, they do require a stretch.
As the photo shows, the top of the sill is almost knee-high on a person who's 6'-3' tall. You've really got to bend your knee and lift your foot when opening that front door and preparing to slide in. Or else prepare to stumble and fumble and maybe fall into the seat instead of gracefully settling onto it!
There are pickups and SUVs with taller sills, but you expect to have to step up when entering a truck. Part of the problem with the BMW i3 is that it's a compact car so you don't really expect to have to clear a hurdle to gain access.
There's also a little optical illusion going on.
Instead of presenting a smooth, single-level sill, the bottom of the door frame is stair-stepped. There's that very visible blue rocker panel, but then there's a half-inch recess and a carbon-fiber step-up that's a couple of inches tall. And while that's what the eye and brain focus on, there's a third carbon-fiber stiffening rail, set back almost three inches, that you also must clear.
This wouldn't keep me from buying an i3 if I were in the market. I imagine I'd get used to it after a week of so of daily use. But I also can imagine it could present an issue for people with shorter legs, or stiffer knee joints, than mine.
John O'Dell, Senior Editor@ 3276 miles