Features

Felix's i3

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

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The i3 is BMW's answer to the affordable, electricity wave.  Designed for city commuting with spatial awareness in its compact size and efficiency, the i3 is great at what it does, but it’s not unanimously loved in terms of its styling.  Since the i3 styling cues veered from the mold of the common BMW or any car for that matter, Felix knew he had to give the i3 a little more attitude when he bought his.

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A couple of years back, Felix's i3 was the first that I had driven.  While I was a bit skeptical, it turned out to be a blast buzzing around town in.  Anyone who has been behind the wheel of one will tell you that the brake re-gen feeling in the accelerator pedal does take quite a bit of getting used to, however, you can minimize your overall braking if driven correctly.  My enjoyment behind the wheel of his, led me to driving it to Bimmerfest to unveil it in the Autocouture Motoring booth.  

Los Angeles to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California is approximately 140 miles round trip.  While this is not a significant distance, now may be a good time to emphasize an important statistic - BMW's claim for the RE version i3 is 150 miles.  Remembering one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes when Kramer tested the range limits of the car down past "E", I accepted the challenge and attempted to go for it on one charge.  

The morning of Bimmerfest I met Felix at his house.  I hopped in the i3 and he in his Signal Green F80.  While the torque of its electric motor impressively could hang with sports cars of that caliber from a dig, I had to resist the temptation of driving like a goon in battery conservation efforts.  These were both equally head turning cars cruising down the street, but while others were watching us, I of course watched the dashboard information.  My range plummeted more rapidly than the distance I was covering and it was quickly evident that this was going to become more challenging than I thought by the end of the day. 

Since it was one of the first i3's to be modified, it drew plenty of attention at the show with positive feedback. With only a few modifications on the market, his choices were limited, but it was executed cleanly.  The Cobra lowering springs sit it down nicely over the tires without sacrificing ride quality.  3D Design front and rear aero as well as gloss black kidney grills emphasize the gloss black areas.  Tint was effectively used to break up the white sides of the car and sharpen the body lines.   

We reached out to HRE to get a set of their Classic 501 three-piece wheels built. The traditional combination of brushed faces and polished lips were countered with an unconventional, colorful twist.  The hardware was finished to match BMW's factory blue accents on the car.  The odd combination of diameter and width left us with zero options for tire upgrades.  No barrel was narrow enough for the i3.  In order to fit the wheels back into the factory tires, HRE had to use two outer lips as the outer lip and inner barrel. 

When the show concluded, the range read 71 miles to a 68-mile trip home.  Luckily, I wasn’t alone heading back.  I had my friend and Ultimate Klasse regular, Alex Gaudio, with his Estoril M Coupe alongside as the support vehicle.  By the time I was on the traffic infested 101, my range was 10 miles and closing quickly.  I was close, but my confidence was thinning.  Pulling into Felix’s neighborhood, there was less than a mile to go - I had made it.  Into the driveway it went, plugged in for a much-needed charge.  Even coordinating trips with charging stations, the convenience of the physical charge time itself is not conducive for the average person, especially when comparing it to gas station fill ups.  Despite its size, the deceivingly spacious interior proves to be a perfect, comfortable commuter for local commuting.