A dash of electric class
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