Luxury Drive, Luxury Stay: The 2015 BMW i3
Aside from the sheer cool factor of the BMW i3, you’re driving in a vehicle that uses sustainable materials for its cabin construction.
Owning an electric vehicle can be considered a luxury.
Luxury items tend to need a little more love and care, and require some planning when using them. It’s not a bad thing by any means. It’s the luxury of zero-emissions driving, along with the comfort and craftsmanship of a luxury brand. BMW’s i3 is exactly that.
It might be compact, and only seats four, but its potential isn’t confined to its four doors. In fact, the i3 can come equipped with a range extender; giving you the possibility to go further and help reduce the range anxiety when it comes to owning an EV.
Let’s back up for a moment. On a full charge, the i3 can get up to 160 kilometres of zero-emissions driving. I say “up to” because there’s a scope of about 130-160km, depending on what auxiliaries you’re running, and which driving mode you’re in.
There are three modes. They include: COMFORT, ECO PRO, and ECO PRO+. Of the three, the latter is what will give you the most range. Drive conservatively and you’ll get more clicks out of the battery pack. Drive less conservatively and, well, you know the rest!
But thanks to the optional range extender, the 650cc gasoline engine can amplify your range by almost 100km. Again, it all depends on how ginger you are with the accelerator.
The range extender is perfect if you need to make a longer haul. Like the one I made from Vancouver to Whistler, BC.
Though I knew I wouldn’t have enough charge to make it the whole way, the plan was to charge up in Squamish and then keep going.
Though I charged up, it still didn’t give me enough battery to get to Whistler, so part way through the last leg of the journey, I ran out of charge and the extender kicked in.
Thank goodness! Otherwise it would have made for an interesting experience.
Not wanting to rush the adventure, a perfect place to rest my head for the evening was at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler (http://www.fairmont.com/whistler/). Not only is it nestled at the foot of Blackcomb mountain – mere steps from the lift that takes you up to ski/snowboarding heaven – the hotel chain is very closely associated with the BMW brand. Since 2009, the Fairmont hotels have partnered with the German luxury automaker when it comes to their shuttle/car services. When the i3 rolled up, it was welcomed with open arms.
While the Fairmont Chateau Whistler has yet to install Level II charging ports, they accommodate electric vehicles by having underground parking spots equipped with power outlets.
Depending on the length of stay, you’ll be able to charge up and enjoy some of the amenities the luxury hotel has to offer, like a health spa, inspired cuisine, or even take advantage of their Fairmont Whistler Experience Guide; a full-time employee who acts as a concierge and host for outdoor adventures of all kinds. Then continue on your way.Should your stay be shorter, Whistler is equipped with various Level II charging stations throughout – underground and open air – which is never more than a few minutes walk.
Aside from the sheer cool factor of the i3, you’re driving in a vehicle that uses sustainable materials for its cabin construction.
BMW states that 25 percent of the weight of the plastic used in the interior comes from recycled material or renewable resources. Plus, the textiles used on the seats consist of up to 100 percent recycled fibres. Not to mention the layout is gorgeous, the cabin lets a lot of light in, and the seats are very comfy.
When pricing it out, the 2015 BMW i3 with the range extender has a starting MSRP of $49,300. The price as tested comes in at $56,800 (minus the $2,095 destination charge and taxes.