BMW i3 Gets Sideways With Rally Legend Rauno Aaltonen – Video

5 months ago by Jay Cole 16

When it comes to electric vehicle performance, we are accustomed to seeing reports of how quick the latest Tesla offering is to 0 to 60 mph, or the most recent fractional beating of the Model S sedan’s world record 1/4 mile time (of which that record was bested twice in the last 48 hours – see here, then here).

Rally racing and electric vehicles…a match made in heaven?

But when it comes to actual racing, or doing any offroad shenanigans, one doesn’t see or hear much of that.

Enter rally great Rauno Aaltonen, and a BMW i3. Given the power profile of electric vehicles at the low end, the driving impression from the drifting legend was not entirely surprising.

Aaltonen, now 79 – and former winner of both the European and Finland rally championships, and Australia’s Bathurst 500, says of his experience with the BMW i3:

“Once you understand it, it’s great fun.  And it feels like you would be in a car with 1,000 horsepower…I didn’t expect the BMW i3 can be driven in drift so beautifully.”

Hat tip to Miggy!

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16 responses to "BMW i3 Gets Sideways With Rally Legend Rauno Aaltonen – Video"

  1. Chris5472 says:

    You rock, Rauno !
    Still got it… 🙂

  2. Big Solar says:

    pretty cool.

  3. ClarksonCote says:

    Nice. So apparently traction control can be completely disabled on the i3?

    1. mx says:

      Good Question.

    2. 3laine says:

      Yes, but it’s not a simple button. You have to put it in “roller mode”, which also disables ABS, IIRC.

  4. James says:

    Give him props at 79 for still being able to drive like that! Cool!

    On the i3, not so much. AWD? Nope. Rally car material? Nope. Get the 2WD i3 into mud and ruts and it’d be a sad day.

    Also, notice this drifting on level, smooth gravel and dirt. Try that on pavement and it wouldn’t be so fun.

    i3 has these skinny and tall tall tires. Not a combination for drifting nor high performance.

    Why do we so soon forget that UK publication who raced a tinny $12,000 Suzuki ICE subcompact around a track, followed by an i3?
    The Suzuki beat the BMW by eight seconds – an eternity in the racing world.

    i3 is not high performance in any stretch of the word. It’s moderately frisky 0-30 and adequate 0-60 on dry pavement. Detractors who are professional car testers said that at first the i3 gives off the impression that it’s very nimble and quick. After a day at the wheel, it becomes plain that it’s more darty and hard to keep on center than nimble. So more of a chore to drive and not so “fun” except maybe on short trips tooling around town – which is – it’s actual purpose in life,
    after all.

    “Handling” as the term describing how a car
    handles curves, lane maneuvers, emergency situations and the like – is more than being
    able to change lanes in a wink.

    The i3 I drove was not unpleasant. I drove it around town and it gave off a zippy, friendly vibe. I knew it was no high performance BMW.
    For daily chores it’d be a blast to own – particularly if you never had rear seat passengers and had to deal with those weird, confounded suicide doors.

    As a neighborhood/local city car I wouldn’t kick it out of my garage. But at $42-$53,000? Not when I can pick up an Ioniq EV that does the same, only better – for far less money – or spend less but get more as in range and utility ( seats 5, 238 mile range ) in a Bolt EV. Even a gen 1 LEAF makes more sense.

    1. DJ says:

      Ya, this is what I was thinking. Kind of impressed he didn’t pop a tire and flip the thing 😀

      “Also, notice this drifting on level, smooth gravel and dirt. Try that on pavement and it wouldn’t be so fun.

      i3 has these skinny and tall tall tires. Not a combination for drifting nor high performance.”

    2. 3laine says:

      The i3 is certainly not a high performance car, but it is fun as a commuter, which is what it was made for (as you said).

      In fact, some not that high performance cars (such as my MINI) turn out to be more fun than actual high performance cars got everyday driving.

      That said, hopefully the i3S improves it a little bit in that regard.

      As far as the Ioniq being better for less money, it depends on what you want. The Ioniq is significantly slower, has less headroom, etc. Is the i3 worth the premium? Depends on what one is looking for. And I don’t say this to bash the Ioniq. I’m quite excited about it, really, and think for many it’s actually a better value than the Bolt, but there are reasons why someone might prefer an i3.

    3. Empire State says:

      James, I’d agree that the i3 doesn’t seem slated for rally victories, but the article doesn’t really say that it is.

      When it comes to the suitability of the i3 for driving it in rally-esque manner, such as rallycross or rally driving schools, however, I think I’d discount your particularly misguided qualms about the hardware, and defer to the opinion expressed by Mr. Aaltonen. After all, he has more than a bit of experience as a professional race driver on the matter.

      The i3 doesn’t seem to float your boat compared to other offerings. You might stick to this opinion, where it is easy to be right, rather than venture into less defensible ground about the i3’s suitability for uses not your own.

    4. Empire State says:

      James, I’d agree that the i3 doesn’t seem slated for rally victories, but the article doesn’t really say that it is.
      When it comes to the suitability of the i3 for driving it in rally-esque manner, such as rallycross or rally driving schools, however, I think I’d discount your particularly misguided qualms about the hardware, and defer to the opinion expressed by Mr. Aaltonen. After all, he has more than a bit of experience as a professional race driver on the matter.

      http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/HERITAGE/datsun_240z_061.html

      The i3 doesn’t seem to float your boat compared to other offerings. You might stick to this opinion, where it is easy to be right, rather than venture into less defensible ground about the i3’s suitability for uses not your own.

    5. franky_b says:

      James, coming from you, this is almost a positive review of the i3. 🙂

  5. James says:

    * Or Soul EV

  6. DL says:

    Still…far more entertaining than drag strip runs.

  7. WARREN says:

    Besides the hundred’s of drag strip runs, I have had my share of canyon racing,and autocross events with many videos to prove it. James you don’t seem to get it with the i3, so it’s hardly worth the bother to explain it to you. But I will say last time I raced up the mile high climb to Mount Wilson, the i3 was very impressive. To bad you couldnt have spoken with the guy in the lowered Civic and a Sport Bike to see how impressed they were with the i3. Have to remember all out, redlining gas engine is such a different experience than the sublime, quiet, effortless EV experience that the i3 gives at very spirited speeds that most of us do in daily driving while not at the racetrack. Perhaps if that track against the Suzuki had a couple of stop signs you would see a different result.

  8. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

    At age 52 I still from time to time drift sideways on purpose while going out of roundabout on a wet day. Not useful but fun and it makes the difference between a car that is well balanced and one that is not. Many cars just can’t, they will either spin wildly or have front tires loosing grip before making this possible.

  9. Tony Marco says:

    “Once you understand it, it’s great fun.” – That’s exactly how you feel once you’ve driven one!

    Whether it’s to and from work or a 200 mile trip, the i3 is a great comfortable ride especially with so many coming off lease at half of retail!

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