Price of ex­cel­lence

Herald Sun - Motoring - - In The Garage - Twit­ter: @RTMBlack­burn

MY three-month stint in BMW’s new i3 ended in em­bar­rass­ment, af­ter the front door was dam­aged dur­ing a mad rush to catch the school bus.

The i3’s unique door de­sign — the doors open like a clamshell — means the back door has to be closed be­fore the front one is. Un­for­tu­nately, in her haste to exit, my daugh­ter for­got this, slam­ming the front door on the back one.

Im­pres­sively, no pan­els were dented, but un­for­tu­nately the im­pact broke a cou­ple of clips on the front door. A de­sign flaw? Per­haps, although the de­sign does al­low for bet­ter ac­cess to the rear seats than a two-door, and the re­pair was sim­ple and cheap — roughly an hour’s labour and about $200 all up with parts.

The only other damp­ener on my fi­nal days with the i3 was the ef­fect cold weather (and more im­por­tantly heater use) has on the lit­tle BMW. On one par­tic­u­larly cool morn­ing, af­ter the heater was turned up to trop­i­cal, the range im­me­di­ately dropped by 10km. It also took a while to heat up, as the heater can’t draw warm air from the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine.

Other than that mi­nor gripe, I found I liked the BMW the more I drove it — and I’ll def­i­nitely miss it. Although the styling had been the butt of some un­kind jokes, I grew to like the space-age ex­te­rior look and the airy cabin with its tweed-jacket styling. The i3 is great fun to drive, too, par­tic­u­larly at traf­fic lights, where it’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s cloth­ing.

It’s not as fast, though as the cheaper BMW 135i — the pric­etag is the big­gest hur­dle for me with the i3.

Then again, I’ve never un­der­stood why a Mont­blanc pen costs hun­dreds of dol­lars more than a Kilo­met­rico and I can’t see the point of a Rolex when my iPhone tells the time. Could it be that tight-wad jour­nal­ists aren’t the i3 de­mo­graphic?

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