Page 0129

squaremeal.co.uk | 127

fashion ¥ lifestyle

F

or years, sci-Š writers have been

promising us a future where we

glide around ultra-modern cities in

sleek electric cars. Finally a carmaker

has delivered on the second half

of the equation, and the BMW i3

looks like it's come straight

from a Š lm set.

It's very, very clever -

like the Alfa 4C (opposite),

it uses carbon for its

bodyshell and panels to

save weight. The basic i3

has a battery pack that's

recharged from the mains.

There's also an 'extended'

version that uses a 0.6-litre

petrol engine to recharge

the batteries on the move

and increase the range from the 80-odd

miles of the pure electric version.

ELECTRIC DREAMS

It couldn't be easier to drive. If you've ever

piloted a golf buggy, you'll get the idea

within about 10 seconds, with no gears and

just two pedals. Most of the time you'll only

need to use one pedal - the i3 slows down

rapidly when you lift o the throttle and its

motor switches to recharging the batteries,

to the extent you rarely need to use the

brakes. It's more than fast enough for the

urban environment where it will spend

most of its time. Indeed, the lack of gears

gives it a turn of speed that should ensure

victory in most tra£ c-light Grand Prix.

However at higher speeds the

acceleration really tails o , and the

remaining range starts to tumble.

The i3 feels like

a quality item,

with a beautifully

Š nished interior that

cleverly maximises

interior space (given the super-mini-sized

dimensions). Even with the Government

chipping in a generous £5,000 electric

vehicle grant, the i3 still costs £25,680 in

its most basic form. But - to look at it

another way - that means it's also the

cheapest carbon-bodied car on sale.

Best bit: driving the future

Worst bit: paying to be an early adopter

BMW i3

For all of their worthy intentions, electric cars

have tended to be very, very dull - until now

BMW i3

Price: £30,680 (before grant)

Engine: electric motor

Power: 125kW (167bhp)

0-62mph: 7.2sec

Top speed: 93mph (limited)

Economy: n/a

The i3 feels like a quality item,

with a beautifully fi nished interior

How to get there from civilisation

Starting in Seaford, take the A23 to

Brighton, then follow the A27 east along

the coast before cutting down through

Newhaven. From Seaford, take the A259 to

East Dean, then south on the Beachy Head

road, rejoining the A259 near Eastbourne.

What's so great about it?

It's an achievable adventure - without

having to go to the Celtic fringe. The road

is great, the views superb and, if you miss

the weekend, it's usually pretty quiet.

You can see for miles and the corners are,

for the most part, extremely well sighted.

Any reasons to stop en route?

Most likely to take pictures or walk a bit of

the South Downs Way. The oft-seen-on-TV

Belle Tout lighthouse is now a B&B. Divert

to Brighton for upmarket grub.

Best car to do it in?

The views and bracing sea air mean the

Jaguar F-Type Roadster would be perfect

- with the roof down, of course.

BEACHY HEAD, EAST SUSSEX

Total length: 12 miles

Great British Drives

Mike Du� is motoring editor of evo magazine

fashion ¥ lifestyle

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