So my brother in law was raving about the i3 the other day. Today, I decided to take the afternoon off for some 'me time'. So I called up Fremont BMW and went for an i3 test drive. They were having a 'drive the i3' event which I didn't know about.
Here is an enthusiast's impression:
Exterior styling: 6/10 - looks odd, even cheap. Not BMW luxury, not even corporate BMW look.
Interior styling: 4/10 - the eco friendly fibrous material inside sucks big time. It looks cheap, again. The plastics in many places are the hard, econobox variety. Seats are OK. It does feel spacious.
Steering: 3/10 - steering would be more appropriate in a Prius. It is NUMB. It is THIN. Almost no feedback, really.
Handling: 8/10 - turning circle is very small, nice. Lane changing reveals a fair bit of body roll, since this is a taller vehicle than my Model S, its expected. However, handling in general feels nimbler, as it should for a vehicle that weighs almost half of my Model S. But there is none of that 'BMW - solid, neutral and sporty handling'. It feels like a small SUV, and drives like one. Which is all I can say.
Road noise 5/10: Ever present, louder than my Model S. This is expected too, it's a much cheaper car. However, its very un-BMW like, again. It feels Honda Civic, not BMW. Lot of wind noise too, at any speed > 50.
In conclusion, this is not a well made car. Even the exterior paint choices seem cheap. It's like a step child of BMW.
The salesman tried to badmouth my Tesla at which point I smiled widely, shook his hand, and reminded him that I did not want him talking about my Tesla. He whispered ' I test drove a Tesla, I love it! but... I got a lot of inside info about how Teslas are made and they are NOT eco-friendly'. I thanked him and walked over to a BMW 750i.
Price tag of the 750i: 96K, comparable (even a bit cheaper as they will discount it) than my Tesla. But, boy, was it loaded. Everything under the sun: radar, LED lights, heated and ventilated seats, lane departure and other nannies, everything.
BMW 750i test drive:
Drive: 8.5/10! Great steering, as good as my Tesla.
Handling - 8.5/10 - slightly better (gasp!) than my Tesla, while weighing nearly 400 lbs heavier (750 is at 4800 lbs, my 60kwh is 4460). The big brute feels nimble on it's feet! Shocking. The car did have sport suspension, according to the salesman. Less body roll than my Tesla. Seats are cushy, but my Tesla seats are pretty good. It actually felt great to hear the V8 growl, just like a BMW should.
Road noise: 9/10 slightly quieter than my car, but not by too much. I will never again complain about road noise in my car. This comparison has settled it for me.
Interior: 7/10 - cushy, great quality materials, a smorgasbord of buttons. Not as claustrophobic as some other ICE cars though. The controls are complex. For example, the door unlock button is in the center of the dash, next to the hazards button. Very nice, BMW :-(. Tesla controls are so simple, and so intuitive, it's like a breath of fresh air when I got back into my car.
Anyway, my comment to BMW was: 'bring an all electric 3/5 series, then I will talk'. He said 'it's coming next year'. I will believe it when I drive it, old chap. :-)