A dash of elec­tric class

CityPress - - The Good Guide -

BMW may be one of the most cov­eted brands in South Africa, but some Beemer driv­ers don’t quite garner the same praise. I re­cently over­heard th­ese driv­ers be­ing de­scribed as “the douche bag high­way brigade”. And it’s not just lo­cally that they get a bad rap. A few years back, a sur­vey pub­lished in the UK’s Daily Mail crowned men who drove blue BMWs as the worst cul­prits of road rage.

Put me be­hind the wheel of an M5 and I’ll eas­ily win the “in­tol­er­a­ble high­way id­iot” prize, show­ing the middle fin­ger as I over­take obliv­i­ous fast-lane hog­gers while lam­bast­ing id­iots with IDS (In­di­ca­tor Deficit Syn­drome). That’s why it was such an in­ner zen rev­e­la­tion when I found my­self be­hav­ing like Driv­ing Miss Daisy on Val­ium while be­hind the wheel of the all-elec­tric BMW i3.

But don’t get me wrong. The i3’s no lethar­gic lentil­cruncher. When it comes to oomph, the i3, pow­ered by the all-elec­tric eDrive power train, has plenty of testos­terone.

In fact, as soon as I hit the ac­cel­er­a­tor, the re­sponse of the 125kW elec­tric mo­tor was im­me­di­ate, mov­ing quickly from 0-100km an hour in a brisk 7.2 sec­onds, and emit­ting an im­pres­sive 250Nm of torque. And best of all, this was cost­ing me zero at the fill­ing sta­tion.

In very sim­ple terms, the way the elec­tric-ve­hi­cle en­gine works is that ki­netic en­ergy is re­cu­per­ated through brak­ing when your foot is taken off the ac­cel­er­a­tor. There’s a driv­ing range of 140km to 160km, de­pend­ing on your driv­ing style and, once you’re down to 5% of the charge, the back-up fuel tank kicks in. But what stood out for me when driv­ing the fu­tur­is­ti­clook­ing i3 was the silky si­lence em­a­nat­ing from the

cabin (it’s al­most eery).

A HID­DEN GEM

s my man and I cir­cled the V&A Wa­ter­front, try­ing to find Dash, a five-star restau­rant where we had a din­ner reser­va­tion, I had a few near misses with pedes­tri­ans who crossed the congested streets, un­aware that a car was ap­proach­ing.

Much like the iconic i3’s stealth, Dash is one of Cape Town’s best-kept se­crets. In fact, it took us more than 20 min­utes to find the eatery, which is si­t­u­ated in the Queen Vic­to­ria Ho­tel on the Portswood Precinct.

Once we had found this hid­den gem, named af­ter one of Queen Vicky’s favourite hounds, a culi­nary ad­ven­ture en­sued. From the dou­ble-baked Gor­gonzola souf­flé starter with bil­tong shav­ings and hazel­nuts to the melt-in-your­mouth grilled fil­let of beef and spinach purée, to my part­ner’s choice, the lamb loin with pearl bar­ley mains, ev­ery morsel we had off chef Sam Wasser­man’s Frenchin­spired menu was sub­lime.

With eye-catch­ing art sup­plied by the nearby Ever­ard Read Gallery adorn­ing open wall space, the in­ti­mate restau­rant only caters for 36 peo­ple, so it’s ad­vis­able to book and ar­rive be­fore sun­set to im­bibe the spec­tac­u­lar views of the glis­ten­ing city and Ta­ble Moun­tain.

Check out Dash at dash.co.za

Toy­ota Auris Hy­brid: From R378 500

Next up, I got to test the more af­ford­able ecotrendy Toy­ota Auris 1.8 Hy­brid, the ve­hi­cle to go to if you want to be eco­con­scious but can’t quite af­ford the elec­tric Beemer.

Not as punchy as the i3 (but then it costs about R130 000 less), the Auris, with 73kW of horse­power and 142Nm of torque, is a beauty to be­hold. Its shark-fin an­tenna, tur­bine-in­spired al­loy rims and sporty grille look great.

But it’s not just its looks that are ap­peal­ing. In­side, the front seats are heated and there’s plenty of nifty tech, like the rear-view cam­era, park-dis­tance con­trol and a panoramic sun­roof. And us­ing just a claimed 3.9l/100km com­bined, your long-term sav­ings are im­pres­sive.

Al­though both the i3 and Auris Hy­brid units I tested came in that dreaded road rage blue, for a heav­enly fort­night my in­ner douche bag took a dis­tant back seat.

WHAT A BEAUT and ecofriendly

The Toy­ota Auris 1.8 Hy­brid is af­ford­able

SILENT EX­PLORER When it comes to oomph, the BMW i3, pow­ered by an all-elec­tric power train, has plenty of testos­terone

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