MAS2018 “Short Review Special” Part 4: BMW (4 Cars)

BMW’s most interesting car during the event was the i3. However, if you only walked through the halls and never ventured to the test drive area outside, you wouldn’t be aware of the presence of this tiny electric car. I tried out the BMW X1 on the first day but then I went straight to Toyota who seemed a little readier to accommodate my request for a series of test drives. It was only after Friday prayers at Masjid UPM did I manage to muster whatever energy I had left on that hot afternoon to go and talk to the representatives from BMW. I was lucky that Mr. Eugene, Corporate & Marketing Manager of Ingress Auto, was there that afternoon. He sure knew how to handle my usual endless questions.

The line up from BMW during the show was mainly plug-in hybrid. The 330E, the X5 Hybrid, and 530E were part of what was on display. Mercedes was also pushing their hybrid cars during the autoshow but the i3 from BMW was weirder looking that it attracted passers by.

Again, I appreciate the cooperation from the dealers during the autoshow for entertaining my request to have a go in almost all the cars available.

Let’s see what the BMWs were like.

1. BMW X1

Picture is obviously from

BMW’s smallest crossover. Very expensive if you’re shopping in CR-V and C-HR territory. It’s German, continental, and favoured by some of us. Although the ‘X’ line from BMW is quite vast, none of them are capable off roaders. They are all urban luxury crossovers.

What was it like to drive?

Definitely premium. Although named the X1, it’s really not that small. Interior is definitely German with the odd-shaped gear shifter.

Why would a person buy one?

If you’re shopping for a BMW, a Honda or a Toyota does not surpass the lower limit of your taste. You have a lot of money.

2. BMW 330E

The 330E is a plug-in hybrid. Perhaps the best looking mid-sized saloon on the market right now next to a C-Class hybrid.

What is it like to drive?

Again, it features the oddly shaped gear knob by BMW. I believe this is an ergonomic design. One thing’s different here from the other BMWs and that is the usage of a standard hand brake lever instead of an electronic parking brake. Possibly for handbrake turns?

Why would a person by one?

If you want a good-looking hybrid, it’s a possible choice. Mind you, the F30 3 series is going to be replaced soon, after almost 6 or 7 years on the production line. We’ll be getting a completely new 3-series. Applying the Scotty Kilmer logic, it would be advisable to purchase an F30 3 series now since the design has gone through many iterations and by right, should have been perfected.

The gear shifter does take some getting used to, but at least it is more intuitive than the gear shifter we see in the Honda City Hybrid.

3. BMW X5

The only reason I drove the X5 was because I was waiting for the i3 to get fully charged. It’s nice, spacious, and it’s a hybrid. Big urban crossover for the family that could afford one.

What was it like to drive?

To be honest I couldn’t really tell the difference between this and the X1 because I drove it over such a short course. I also haven’t developed a good enough gauge when it comes to driving luxury cars. It was big, spacious, and comfortable.


Why would a person buy one?

It’s a big hybrid crossover. If you really cared about emissions, you’d just for a smaller hybrid car with a smaller engine. Or walk. This hybrid is for the prestigious. You’re not buying it to save money on fuel. Although there are free charging points in the city, which is a plus point, you don’t need any more free stuff in your life. You’re rich. You also get special parking spots in shopping complexes. It’s a prestige thing. On a side note, the hybrid motor does help give additional torque.

4. BMW i3

The last car that I tried at the autoshow was the BMW i3. I drove it for 3 rounds. 2 rounds when I had the pleasure of talking to Eugene, and the last round on Sunday because I had to let my father-in-law experience an electric car for the first time. Unfortunately, he forgot to renew his driver’s license so I was behind the wheel.

The i3 is a weird car. Weird looks and weird drive train by today’s standards. It has an electric motor and a back-up engine in case of emergency. The engine DOES NOT charge the battery directly. The only time the battery charges is when the car is plugged in and from regenerative braking. The doors open like a Mazda RX8 which is impractical.

The car is made of carbon fibre to keep the weight down and most of the stuff in the interior is made from recycled material. The interior is different and conceptual. If mass produced, I don’t think BMW will stick to the current interior design of the i3. The fitting and tolerance seems hard to keep consistent.


Pop the hood and you’ll see nothing. There is a cover for the windscreen wiper tank but that’s about it. There is s small compartment for some of your stuff. This is also the first time I’m seeing Velcro in a usual engine bay area. The 2 wing-like plastic covers are held in place by Velcro and slot-in style clips.

I proceeded to open the plastic cover to see what was underneath. On the right side of the car you can see the wiper fluid reservoir, and some pipes for the air-conditioning fluid. On the left side you can see a standard battery hiding underneath. I believe this is for the spark plugs from the back up engine and other supporting electronics. I didn’t get to see the back-up engine but I’m told the car is rear-wheel-drive in both normal and back-up conditions.

The main battery is at the back. It’s a 5 module design. There’s no spare tyre so I assume the tyres are run flat.

Battery charging socket is at the back and the fuel filler cap is at the front.

What was it like to drive?

It has instantaneous torque which was fun for a person like me who has never tried an electric car. It’s quiet. Inside the car it feels futuristic and minimalistic. Didn’t have the chance to test the car on the back-up engine. One thing you need to get used to is the regenerative braking that kicks in as soon as you lift off the throttle. You can’t coast in the i3. The gear selector is positioned on the right side of the steering wheel and utilises an electronic parking brake.

Why would a person buy one?

It’s not for sale yet in Malaysia. They don’t even have an estimated price for it. You could special order one but I imagine it’s not going to be cheap. Is this the future? Perhaps, but I heard there’s a Chinese company called BAIC that supplies modular easily replaceable batteries to solve the whole “charging time issue” of electric cars.


Thank you again, Ingress Auto, for letting me have a go in the cars.


Well that’s about it from me for the Autoshow. Was there anything else interesting? Yes of course like the re-emerging brand, Borgward.

Will I cover that? No. You can go to the likes of Paul Tan for news.

There were 4 by 4 rides by Toyota and Mitsubishi, Mr. Karamjit Singh was present at the autoshow, and some universities were present to showcase their eco/formula student projects. Interesting stuff. Even Art of Speed had a display going on.

Did I have a good time? Yes, definitely. I met so many people and drove so many cars. The only downside was that I was stuck in a 3-hour traffic jam on my way home on Friday evening. I was lucky I was driving an automatic car.


This is a 4-part “Short Review Special” by us for MAS 2018. I’ve been typing away non-stop for 2 days now. If you want to know what I think about the cars that I tried, feel free to have a look at previous parts of this “Short Review Special”.


Click here for Part 1 (Volkswagen)

Click here for Part 2 (Toyota)

Click here for Part 3 (Honda)

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