Tis the season to be jolly.

It’s also time to bestow chic things to your wife, mom, aunt, sisters, cousin, and girlfriends who hold that special place in your life. By Gugu Lourie

So, let’s face it; these are not easy people to please.

Should I treat them with beautiful, luxury shoes from Jimmy Choo. The designer of high heels shoes has the ultimate gift guide for this festive season to spoil your favourite lady. Maybe, I must pay a visit to Khanyi Dhlomo’s Luminance – a fashion and lifestyle concept store in Hyde Park –  for ideas such as a Sequin-Embellished Snakeskin Shoulder Bag by Andrew GN retailing for more than R20 000. I could also venture into the bling-filled Diamond Walk at Sandton City to find that perfect gift.

A small voice, however, kept on reminding me that I have bought them shoes, bags, etc. in

previous festive seasons.

I had better look for something new that they’d appreciate.

While, I was pondering what to do in my beautiful garden my thoughts were disturbed by a driver hooting by my gate to deliver a new BMW i3.

The moment I saw the vehicle with my naked eye for the first time it dawns on me that this isn’t just any car.

 

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BMW i3 Born Electric

It really looks weird or should I say radically different from BMW cars.

Lucky me, for the week I had a chance to experience a drive in this strange car, which many believe is a symbol of change when it comes to future mobility.

Before I climbed into the BMW i3, I daydreamt for few minutes.

I pictured all my favourite ladies driving this gorgeous car this festive season.

It is a perfect gift I convince myself. It is a strangely designed car that drives like a BMW and charges like a smartphone.

Designed for zippy, sustainable city driving, the fully-electric emission-i3 is regarded as the most aspirational green machines out there.

When my charming wife came out the house, she quickly fell in love with the car. She politely requested to take the car for a quick spin.

I snap out of my reveries.

For about 4km, she drove to the Mall of the South and was hooked. She then proposed we drove to Centurion. I obliged.

She kept on smiling blushingly as the i3 glides near-silently through the N1 highway traffic to Centurion.

I realised I was in serious trouble, when she said: “I hope someone could buy this car for me as a gift to continue to access this fascinating agile driving experience”.

Unpretentious Urban Precinct Melrose Arch Meets The Electric BMW i3

To ignore her indirect request for me to buy the car, I reminded her that the car was not fully charged before we left the house. I thought, she will want to turn back and go back home.

However, she suggested that we find a nearest BMW dealership to charge the car. I said will do that on our way back home.i3-2

After few minutes of driving in the i3 and enjoying the N1 highway, we arrived at the Melrose Arch precinct to charge the car.

Osmond Lange was approached by the Sentinel Mining Industry Retirement Fund in 1996 to create the brief, design and co-deliver (in association with Arup) the first phase of the Melrose Arch development. The client requirement was to create nodal property investment of lasting quality that would stand the test of time.

Since the occupation of the first offices at Melrose Arch in late 2001, the new ‘town within a town’ has established itself not only as Jozi’s premier office address, but just a great place to be, meet for lunch or dinner, live, stay over, workout, and do business.

We plug the car on the AC charging system opposite the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel at Melrose Arch. We swiped the ChargeNow Card on the charging station and left the car for 1 hour 30 minutes.

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Melrose Arch Charging Station

The charging station enables my wife to do her shopping and for me to enjoy my meals while we conveniently quickly recharge the car.

I went to Pigalle Restaurant overlooking the lively Melrose Arch Piazza. The restaurant offers fine dining with a modern edge.

This gave me enough time to digest what just happened.

I quietly asked myself is the BMW i3 a coolest festive gift or not?

It is one of the best gift for that great lady in your life, I said to myself.

I quickly downloaded the BMW i Remote App that allows i3 drivers to connect their electric car to their smartphone so they can see their vehicle’s location, current battery level and charging information.

I loved the fact that it was easy to connect the car through the app seamlessly to my iPhone 6 smartphone.

Isn’t this what we all want?

We all need our cars to be an extension of our connected life.

BMW i3 offers a connected life and also an electrifying drive.i3-6

So, the i Remote App helps BMW to increase the value and driving experience of the i3.

Furthermore, cars are an expression of style. So, the i3 seems to be a perfect way to do just that.

After more than an hour, I got a call from my wife that we need to go.

I quickly checked the battery level on the i3 Remote App and was satisfied.

We met at the charging station and unplugged the i3.

We drove to the south of Johannesburg to meet my sister in-law. She was still in the driving seat. Later, she didn’t want to let go of the keys and was taken by the electrifying driving experience.

BMW i3 next to the parking lot at Mall of The South
BMW i3 next to the parking lot at Mall of The South

The following day, she drove the car with me until it was left with a 6km radius of battery level.

We used the i3 Remote App to locate the nearest BMW charging station. But I suggested that we continue to drive and test the Range Extender (REX), a small, very smooth-running, and quiet combustion engine which runs on normal petrol. This motor drives a generator which in turn charges the high-voltage battery so that the vehicle can continue to drive electrically.

i3-5Once the battery was depleted the Range Extender kicked in seamlessly after we have turned it on manually.

We could extend our range for more than 25km and I started panicking and we went to charge the car again at BMW Auto Glen Motors in Oakdene.

But the Range Extender makes driving the i3 a breeze. The Range Extender is a backup system that helps drivers avoid having battery range anxiety.

After experience the cool technology of the Range Extender, my wife said: “This car is dope. I’m truly captured by the strange design of the car that makes it unique. I love the fact that it is electric but you can extend the range through the Range Extender and you don’t need to worry about being stranded with a depleted battery. I’m now a big fan of this car.”

i3-3I silently said: “It seems many of my beloved ladies could enjoy this car as a festive gift. While driving this beautiful machine, they can chill and chat as if they were in their lounge”.

Those, who may be keen on buying the car, a i3 94Ah on standard model retails for R597 800 and the i3 ah REX available from R673 500 from January 2017. While the Nissan Leaf retails at R474 900 but doesn’t have all the technology found in the BMW i3.

That prices may be steep for most guys interested in buying the i3 for their wives, girlfriends, moms, daughters, sisters, and aunts as a gift.

Furthermore, the charging infrastructure is very poor.

But we’re not going to criticize it too much on that point and despite the price BMW South Africa has managed to sell more than 140 i3s in the country. That’s a good number for now; the more the infrastructure is improve the uptake of the cars will likely to increase.

Encouragingly, BMW has collaborated with Nissan to roll-out more electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the country.

The BMW i3 can not only be charged quickly, easily, and conveniently at home using the i wallbox or the charging cable, it can also be charged on the go from a continuously increasing number of official charging stations.

This makes the i3 a smart and environmentally friendly vehicle.

I digress, my charming wife didn’t want to let go of the car. I assume that she became a free thinker and started embracing sustainable driving offered by zero emission of the i3.

Final Verdict

The i3 is a premium car that provides fine driving in an electric mode.

It embodies BMW’s commitment to driving pleasure without compromise.

I love the access to the rear via a pair of small suicide doors. It makes the car to look cool and futuristic.

The i3 doesn’t sacrifice the driving dynamics found in the BMW badge despite looking different.

One can appreciate the BMW’s carbon fibre forward-thinking module of the i3.

Its way better than the Nissan Leaf, which we managed to test drive early this year.

Finally, I am now trying to see if I can’t raise enough money to buy this green machine for my wife for the next festive season or even for her birthday.

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