Luckily today, I got to do a test drive of the new BMW ActiveE EV car. I know these are not that common yet - this is one of only 700 in the U.S. for a two year lease period. This vehicle is based upon the 1 Series and is the successor to the alpha level MiniE program that recently ended. The ActiveE is the beta test for the drive train to be featured in the BMW i3 to debut in 2015. More info here LINK and LINK2.
I haven't driven a modern BMW (I owned a 1990 BMW 318i) and the stick shift takes a little getting used to. I took the car up to 80MPG on the highway - it was quick, solid and extremely quiet (even quieter than the Volt at that speed). The regen on the ActiveE is almost exactly like the regen in the Volt in L mode. I hardly had to touch the brakes. The solid nature of the Volt is also seen in this car due to the size of 32kWh battery giving the car the heft of a 5 or 7 series (4000 lbs). The 0-60 MPH is quoted at 8.5 seconds and seems a little quicker than the Volt, but really not that noticeable.
The interior is basically similar to what you get with a regular 1 series. The back seats make the Volt look expansive; they are cramped. The rear is also hard to reach since this is only a two door car. The trunk is a little disappointing since the battery and other components take up about a third of its volume (not dissimilar to the Focus EV). This is understandable in a test vehicle based on a regular ICE platform. The i3 will be totally different since it is designed from the ground up as an EV. Under the hood, was interesting. There is a big plastic cover that extends over half of the engine bay. It is almost entirely empty underneath. The EV components only seem to take about half of the total capacity.
Overall it was a fun ride and a positive peek at BMW's contribution to the EV race.