Three driving modes (Comfort, Eco Pro, and Eco Pro+) allow the driver to tune the car's responses to their intended trip and style, though the lack of a sport mode despite the 184 pound-feet of torque on tap hints that the five-link suspension and 50-50 weight distribution might be more about marketing than side-street hooliganism.
Once you're out of charge, it will take about 3 hours using the included 220-volt, 32-amp charger. An optional SAE DC Combo Fast Charger is available, delivering up to 80 percent of a full charge in just 20 minutes, and a full charge in 30 minutes.
Inside the cabin, BMW has taken advantage of the absence of a transmission tunnel to lower the floor and offer slide-through seating, opening up the option of exiting the car from the passenger side in city parking.
The BMW i3 will start from $41,350 plus $925 in destination fees for a total of $42,275 when it hits the market in the second quarter of 2014. That's before subtraction or consideration of any potential state and federal incentives.
That makes it considerably more expensive than the $29,650 Nissan Leaf, but the i3 also offers the range extender option and a considerably higher grade of luxury and refinement. The Chevy Volt's 38-mile electric range and standard range-extended driving will run about $39,995--very close to the i3's, with less all-electric range and no choice of an electric-only model.
In other words, the BMW i3 is planted squarely in the middle of the existing major-manufacturer electric and range-extended electric offerings, but with a unique feature set and premium position.
That makes it one very interesting vehicle, and one that just might re-set the benchmark for efficient, comfortable, and luxurious city motoring. Now we just have to get our hands on one.
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