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Plugging In: My first day with the new BMW i3

Plugging in. My first day with the all-new, all-electric, BMW i3!

I was nervous and excited all at the same time. BMW Sudbury had actually left something on the lot for me. At the break of dawn I was in well before anyone would start the day. I had the keys to something monumental. I kept telling myself it was just a car, but honestly, it wasn’t. No, this was BMW’s first all-electric i3. In fact, it was the only one the dealership had which of course added to my anxiety. I kept telling myself to relax but with all the emotions it was going to be tough.

I pressed the button and the car unlocked. This in turn unlocked the plastic looking handle placed neatly in what looked like a fuel door. What I pulled out was more like a plug and the gas cap fit snugly inside it. I closed the little door and walked around. I told myself that was easy.

Pressing the start button everything lit up. The complicated looking display was easy to absorb and it even told me the speed limit. I quickly took note of the 88 mile charge in normal mode (I didn’t have one with the range extender option). The Eco mode would’ve given me more miles, but I only had 44 miles to go and I wanted to see what it could do. Sure, I couldn’t hear an engine noise as it powered up, but you could feel it was alive and ready.

I quickly adjusted the mirrors and the seat and prepared to launch. To fully test this vehicle I decided to turn on the automatic climate controls and the radio. I wanted it to use the power and see how accurate that gauge was. The sound was great coming over the unfinished eucalyptus dash. I gently eased in the throttle and felt something like squeezing the trigger of a slot car and a sound to match. No hesitation at all. I quickly let off the throttle and could feel the regenerative breaking immediately grab me as the display indicated I was charging the battery. I barely ever used the brake pedal. My excitement was overcoming my fear as the GPS gave me directions to head out.

BMWs are known for their touring ability and the i3 would be no exception. One thing I instantly love about this car is pick-up. It didn’t matter where it was in the line of acceleration. While on local streets this would be indispensable. On the highway it is every driver’s dream and it made navigating traffic a breeze. I would find out later that it was BMW’s fastest car from 0 – 45 mph and that didn’t shock me. You will need to get used to the regenerative braking as you can’t just take your foot off the throttle as the car will slow down, but the idle zone is easy to find and I used a little feathering to get the car to charge between passes and during the majority of the trip I only had to use one pedal.

I had a feeling the car would be easy to operate and it didn’t disappoint. Weighing in at around 2,600 lbs. it had to be. It’s rear wheel drive adding to its nimble nature. I felt quite at home on the road even in the rain I was traversing. I eased back in the seat and simply enjoyed the ambience.

I made my destination and allowed the car to sit with the radio playing and air conditioning running. Then I turned back toward the dealership. Upon pulling in I drove up to the familiar plug and looked down at the range. I had a mile extra from the journey and from an hour or so to charge it would be topped off, so to speak.

So what does it take to become an Electronaut? The i3 starts at $41,350 and $45,200 with the range extender. And if you’re wondering, yes, you can even drive the same one I drove.

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