Drifting with the BMW i3 - lateral tension

Rally legend Rauno Aaltonen has now shown that the Stromer also goes really well across the board

Because of listless eco-mobile! Who ever with one Electric car was on the road, knows that the Stromer not only ensure a green conscience, but also a good portion of driving pleasure. At least in some areas. In contrast to the combustion engine, which only provides a sufficient amount of power and torque from a certain speed, the electric motor can be called up almost completely from a standing start. Crunchy cavalier starts at the traffic lights and confident overtaking maneuvers are no problem, even with the smallest electric cars. For most e-cars, the fun factor is rather a side effect, mainly they are rock solid city vehicles. We were all the more surprised when BMW asked for the drift experience - with an i3.

Admittedly, we trust the small carbon box to do a lot, but not that it sways through the terrain in a waltz step. But that's exactly what Rauno Aaltonen wants to prove. If you can get the i3 across, it's the Finnish rally professor who probably masters drifting even better than the small multiplication table. So Rauno sets off on a forest and meadow rally route a good two hours from his hometown Turku on the Finnish west coast. The adventure playground in the no man's land attracts numerous motorsport fans who drive their usually converted rally boxes through the grounds. Where else loud engine roar sets the tone, the grand master wants to show that you can also collect flies on the side window with the silent BMW i3.

Where else loud engine roar sets the tone, the i3 only whirls up soft dust

Even a professional like Aaltonen doesn't get this BMW across easily. It's not down to the ground, the gravel track offers the best conditions. However, the low friction is countered by an extremely talented stability system that keeps the i3 on course through targeted brake interventions and, in case of doubt, throttles the engine power to such an extent that oversteer is no longer an option. The problem: you cannot switch off the ESP in the i3. Or rather, the customer cannot.

Even a professional like Aaltonen doesn't get this BMW across easily.

With the right software and a few clicks of the button, the accompanying BMW engineer outsmarted the technology and locked the electronic watchdog in the kennel. The small, yellow indicator light confirms the success of the hacker attack, Rauno is already rubbing his hands: "Now let's go!" The Finn steps on the power pedal, and the missing safety technology already leaves traces when the vehicle starts off - in the gravel. 250 Newton meters of torque unexpectedly fall on the rear wheels, which first dig into the soft ground before they convert the power into a push forwards.

The course is not exactly generous, the passages in the forest are confusing and the play of light and shadows that conjures up the sun through the trees does not make it easier to find the right course. With the ESP switched on, this was no problem: right foot off the accelerator pedal and off you go. The slightest twitch of the tail called the technology onto the map and as if we were leading on the best asphalt, we practically circled the route on the ideal line - with one hand on the steering wheel and loosely locking. This cosiness has given way - at least for us - to a noticeable tension. Rauno turns in only slightly, accelerates and the rear tries to overtake the car. The perfect drift is about the curve, the old master masters the interplay of accelerating, braking and counter-steering while sleeping. We cover no more than a meter of the route straight ahead, and the windscreen could have been taped over with confidence.

There is enormous fun potential in the i3

Back at the starting point, Rauno jumps out of the car and shouts a happy "Now you!" Slightly pale in the driver's seat, I'm glad that I now have the steering wheel to hold on to. Knowing what's in the pimped i3, I'm slowly rolling away and Rauno gives me a few more professional tips. But they dissolve in dust in the first curve with a rotation around their own vertical axis. At the latest now it is clear to me why the customer cannot switch off the ESP.

250 Newton meters of torque unexpectedly fall over the rear wheels, which first dig into the soft ground

But with every meter more I also notice that there is much more fun potential in the small eco-box than you can imagine at the brisk traffic light start. With Rauno's help, I got the hang of it right away and the BMW took it a little cross-bend after bend. But the i3 also makes it easy for you: "Rear-wheel drive, instantly available power and the extremely low center of gravity due to the batteries are the ideal conditions for drifting", enthuses Aaltonen and speculates that the Munich would have a good chance of winning a title in the rally championship - if he didn't run out of electricity soon. Because the transverse driving is in no way efficient, and after a few laps the charge level display ends the drifting pleasure again. What remains is the final certainty that electric cars - at least with the ESP switched off - can do more than one might think. Even if this knowledge does not really help in everyday life. (Michael Gebhardt / SP-X)

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