|The production car, new this year, looks much like the concept that was shown in 2011. The rear doors on the four-door hatchback can be opened and closed only when the front doors are open, below.|
The silver latch for the rear passenger-side door. This was the same system used in the Honda Element, a boxy SUV that went out of production in 2011. In fact, when you see an Element on the road, the styling will remind you of the sleeker BMW i3.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
You don't have to drive the new BMW i3 very far before you discover several remarkable features in this all-electric car, which is also available as a plug-in hybrid.
The one I like best is the possibility of one-pedal operation:
When you lift off of the gas pedal completely, the car slows to a stop, generating energy that recharges the battery.
And, yes, the brake lights do come on, even though you might never touch the brake pedal.
Another great feature is the silence -- a complete absence of mechanical noise and transmission shifts.
On a smooth road, the car, rated at 170 horsepower, accelerates quickly and quietly, and you might find yourself inadvertently driving over the speed limit.
|The BMW i3 in my garage, next to my wife's 2007 Toyota Prius. The i3 is shorter than my 2010 Prius, a gas-electric hybrid, but a few inches higher with a higher seating position, and I kept on hitting my shoes on the sill as I got in.|
Two days with the i3
I got another 33 miles of range by plugging the i3 into my 110-volt garage socket overnight.
|The narrow 19-inch tires have low rolling resistance.|
|In front of you is the screen displaying your range in miles. The screen said 50 miles on electric, 44 miles on gasoline.|
|A second screen is devoted to navigation, media, radio and so forth. The base model I borrowed does not come with a touch-screen navigation system or a back-up camera, two optional features I have in my 2010 Prius.|
|This infernal dial is nowhere near as intuitive as the controls in a Toyota Prius or any other Japanese car. There are other controls on the steering wheel, such as cruise control and a button for answering a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone.|
The seats aren't electrically adjustable, but they can be heated.
|The BMW i3 is fast and quiet.|
|The roomy rear seats.|