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    Long-term test Winter Wunderkind Robert Hefferon has warmed to the i3

    CAR: #BMW / #BMW-i3 / #2017-BMW-i3 / #2017 / #2018

    OWNER: Robert Hefferon

    There was an extra air of smugness about me as I passed the fuel station and saw that prices had increased again, and it stayed with me all the way to work.

    The morning had already started well. I opened the curtains and saw a crisp covering of frost smothering the i3. There was none of that ‘Where have I left the scraper?’ or ‘I’d better set off ten minutes early’ business because the day before I had luckily and unknowingly got one-up on winter, and set the i3’s pre-conditioning schedule for 7.30am and 5.45pm.

    Another peek out of the window at 7.40am confirmed that the i3 was very kindly warming the cabin and defrosting itself. OK, similar things exist and have done for a while, but often they have to be activated in real-time. Incidentally, you can do that too on the BMW i3, if you don’t have a schedule set for the pre-conditioning or you want to access the car at a different time, by pressing a diamond-logo button on the key fob, which will instantly activate the warm-up function. The idea of the pre-conditioning setting isn’t just to keep me toasty: it also improves the batteries’ efficiency in the cold months.

    Win-win! And it got me thinking: how many people, despite warnings to the contrary, leave their car idling to warm up and de-mist? Countrywide that adds up to a boat-load of fuel! It’s the little things that make a big difference, and this little i3 has some big ideas. Less pollution, less global warming, more properly cold winters for the i3 to do its thing…
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    Techie on the case #2017-BMW-i3 / #BMW-i3 / #BMW

    Long-term test Robert Hefferon

    After singing the i3’s praises to anyone who asks, I sometimes find myself countering with a couple of niggles. But I might have been a little unfair. Let me explain. An electric car’s range always plays on your mind. The i3 is perfect for my commute for a couple of days without a charge, but plan anything longer and even with a full tank and charge you’re still limited. ‘Wouldn’t it be good,’ I thought, ‘if you could switch to the petrol-powered motor before the charge runs out…’ Well, it turns out you can. And it took only minutes playing with the settings to find it: ‘Hold state of charge’.

    If you don’t have access to a fast-charge point, being able to stop and fill up with petrol opens up the range and usability of the i3 that bit more, keeping the battery charged for the return journey or, in fact, allowing you to accumulate charge for when you need it. Another little hurrah moment came when working out the right combination of twists and clicks required to turn off the dashboard display – an unnecessary drain on resources when it’s not required.

    It also improves the minimalist atmosphere in the cockpit. Manufacturers are all too keen to flood your peripheral vision with dials and buttons, but the lack of these adds to the BMW’s futuristic and spacious feel. That said, a simple on/off button on the screen would be even better.

    Fair enough, if I had looked in the manual I would have found this out weeks ago (along with the obvious folding wing-mirror button and, more shockingly, the heated seats) but, honestly, does anyone do that? Working out these things for yourself is part of the joy of connecting with the car. I’m sure the i3 will keep surprising me and will continue to silence my niggles the more I use it.

    Left and above Robert likes the i3 cockpit ambience – and has discovered much by fiddling with the iDrive settings.
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    Robert Hefferon
    Robert Hefferon joined the group BMW i3 Club
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