November 23rd, 2014

I took a few days off for your mental health

I realized that I was so grumpy, and so annoyed with everything and everyone around me, that I should quit blogging about what was annoying me, and maybe avoid thinking as much as possible, or I wasn't going to have any friends left at all. (Please feel sorry for my poor husband and children. They were still stuck listening to me.) In the last couple days, my perspective has mostly returned. So there will be some catching up to do.

Initial BMW i3 review

I ordered my i3 Rex in the first week of August, and was expecting delivery in October. I just got it on Friday. If you are willing to go with the pure BEV (no range extender gasoline engine that runs a generator to produce electricity to run the drive train), they are probably available for immediate delivery at your local BMW dealer -- over half of all i3s sold are Rex, at least in the US. I don't know what the rolling wait is like to get one you order, but I did read something about carbon fiber input issues as a result of that big storm not too long ago, so, you know, good luck.

I got solar orange. I like the color. It really and truly is carbon fiber, so if you had any ideas of putting some sort of magnetic thingie on your car (in our case, it would have been a DVC or WDW AP oval; in a more practical vein, someone might have a magnetic sign they used for their business), you can just give that idea up right now.

There are only four seat belts, and I think I finally figured out why (I know; I'm slow): the sticker on the door says the combined weight of cargo and occupants should never exceed 650 (six hundred and fifty) pounds. Which would be three of me. Fortunately, my husband retains his youthful figure, and my children are, as yet, young and while tall, are within a healthy weight range, so we are good to go, even with groceries and winter clothes on. Not that this is ever likely to happen, because he has an Odyssey so we would just take that.

The seats are comfortable and _very_ upright. I mean, sure, you can adjust them to recline in front, but I wanted upright and I got upright and I am happy. You want to lie back and enjoy your ride, you should get a Tesla.

Driving an i3 is like driving your cellphone or laptop. There's a bluetooth indicator, a cell strength indicator and an online user's manual. There are cameras and/or sensors all over the place, if you buy it with the active cruise control and/or parking assist packages (I did). There's a little button that will cause the side mirrors to snuggle in next to the car in case you have to get in and out of a tight garage. All this technology (including Facebook and Twitter apps, voice navigation, and the ability to freaking read FB and Twitter posts out loud to you while you are driving -- yeah, that's not going to cause any problems for anyone -- until the adult who could afford to buy this thing lets the kid with ADHD drive it) could be impossible to navigate, however, BMW has helpfully made this car so stupidly easy to drive that there's very little to do besides keep an eye out for the guy in front of you and any pedestrians who won't hear you approaching because the i3 is preternaturally quiet. This is true one-pedal driving and while the car is tall, you almost don't notice the lean when you power through a curve a bit faster than was maybe entirely wise.

Speaking of a bit faster, like every BMW ever made, the cabin has so little road noise it is easy to not realize how fast you are going, and in the event, the electric drive makes that problem worse because there is no whine -- not just less whine, no whine at all, as you go faster and faster. Good news, tho, speed will suck your battery dry so fast that you won't do it for long enough to get very many tickets. Also, if you get the right package, it will _tell you_ what the current speed limit is, which in New England can be incredibly confusing when it is not posted but determined by whether the area is "heavily settled" or not. The immediately available acceleration makes merging onto highways, even the ridiculous on ramps they get away with here in New England, ludicrously simple. Which means you have time to try to figure out why your phone, which is connected through the USB port and through Bluetooth, is mysteriously not producing any music.

I never did figure out _why_, altho the problem went away after some poking at buttons. The menu system is mercifully shallow, and BMW has helpfully placed a set of buttons to immediately access the second tier menu options (or most of them anyway) right above the click wheel (I think it's a click wheel. Maybe someone will tell me if there is another name for that thing that turns and clicks and is round). There are also programmable buttons for more detailed functions you use regularly, which I have not yet explored. The wheel itself is right where my fingers would like to rest as I lounge to the right (it's in the 20s and 30s right now -- ya can't lean out the window in winter) on the firm but not uncomfortable center console. And the buttons require no painful stretching to reach.

This is a lazy driver's car. And I am a lazy person.

I'm also prone to frustration and don't like steep learning curves. I actually broke down and read the user's manual, because I had some fears that required assuaging (what happens if the fob battery dies? How fucked am I? Answer: not very, but keep that paper manual handy because I defy you to remember that sequence when your fob quits working), but before I did that, I could adjust the temperature (knob), the volume (knob) and navigate the menus (buttons and knob). It's hard to know where to balance lots of physical UI vs. virtual (knobs vs menus, physical buttons vs. virtual buttons). I am extremely happy with the solution presented by the i3.

I have two ongoing confusions. One is drive mode vs. whatever not drive mode is. I keep leaving my foot on the brake pedal, out of a lifetime of paranoia, and that keeps putting me back in drive mode. My bad; I'll get over it. The other is accessing the departure time settings on preconditioning. I think I have finally figured out the setting I need to toggle to access it, but I haven't actually done it yet, so, meh.

My husband has a hard time viewing this as a real car, rather than a toy. It has so many limitations (see: 650 pounds). It is so very, very not cheap. I, however, am entirely enamored of my new car or toy or cartoy or whatever, in part because I can just leave that map up all the time and it's sooooo easy to zoom in and out with the wheel, and it _tells me what the traffic is like right now_. I have never felt so Not Lost and so Unconcerned about my route decision making as I have in this vehicle.

Also, I think this might qualify as a midlife crisis car. Right on time.