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BMW i3, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, VW e-Golf test

Arturo Rivas
Mercedes B-Class ED, BMW i3, VW e-Golf in the test
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We could talk about the lack of subsidies, limited coverage or the confusion Charging standards whine. One could also philosophize about the low price of oil, which conventional combustion engines are currently playing heavily in the purchase contracts. Yes, electric cars have a hard time in this country, and to put it in a friendly way: In February, the e-Golf was enough for 132 new registrations for first place in the electricians' guild. For the BMW i 3 68 buyers decided - BMW sold 76 times as many of the five in the same month. But all complaining does not help, after all, the manufacturers have to electrify part of their fleet in order to implement the increasingly strict CO2 requirements.

Perhaps the electric drive version of the B-Class will stir up the scene now, Finally, Mercedes combines a spacious van body with the massive drive train of Tesla's sports electric vehicles. Its asynchronous electric motor from the Model S creates 132 kW (180 PS) and 340 Nm of torque in the B-Class, which is more than the synchronous machines in the Golf and i3. Of course, Model B does not come close to the 431 Tesla PS, which is due to the smaller battery. In contrast to combustion engines, the combination of motor and battery determines the performance of an electric drive.

Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive with electric motor from Tesla

They pack in the area in front of the rear axle Engineers developed a juice dispenser, which with 28 kWh also offers more capacity than the batteries of the competition. Unfortunately, Mercedes has given up the option of charging the B-Class on the superchargers that Tesla is currently building on motorways. With its gigantic charging power of 120 kW, a range of 100 kilometers can be tapped in around five minutes, and the range-plus button can be used to tickle an extra 30 kilometers from the battery. Usually, electric cars do not go to the capacity limits of their batteries, otherwise they will age too quickly. However, if longer journeys are planned, the wear protection in the Mercedes can be deactivated every now and then.

Due to the lithium-ion chunks, the vehicle floor in the rear had to be raised around four centimeters, which is why passengers' knees a tad stronger angledthan in the conventional brother. In addition, the sliding back seat fell victim to the battery implantation. However, five people still travel comfortably, are happy about 501 liters of trunk volume and are amazed at the courageous draft. At country road speed, the Electric Drive hums in 8.1 seconds and therefore only a blink of an eye slower than the lighter i3. In addition, the Benz can be equipped with many safety options: From active parking assistant to xenon light with adaptive control, Mercedes leaves nothing to be desired.

Radar-based brakes in the Mercedes help with recuperation

In terms of transverse dynamics, the B-Class also sets standards in this comparison. With its wide 18-inch wheels, the high seat swings through pylon lanes just as skilfully as it does fast country roads and remains easily manageable with its soulful and unexcited steering. If electric cars are already expensive, they should at least be fun - and that's exactly what the Mercedes does.
However, constant going is at the expense of range. If you want to go further, you can reduce the output from 132 kW to 98 or 65 kW at the push of a button and activate the radar-based braking system. If its sensor spies a slower vehicle ahead, the system uses the recuperation brake and fills the battery. If the vehicle in front turns, you immediately continue in sailing mode, which means that the B-Class Electric Drive uses its momentum. The Mercedes achieved the maximum range of 183 km in the test.

Hitting the sailing mode, however, requires i3 pilots to tip their toes. If the driver suddenly takes off the pedal, the BMW throws the full recuperation anchor, which initially astonishes those switching from combustion cars. With a little practice, however, the short one can be zigzagged through the city in single-pedal mode, where it also benefits from its small turning circle. The rear-wheel drive car is also motivated to tackle country roads, catches the slightest steering wheel movements and puts in a lot of effort even at high speeds. No wonder, because the electric motor designed by BMW cleverly uses an additional magnetic principle (reluctance), which extends the torque curve in the upper range.

BMW i3 does many things differently than the competition

In general, the BMW i3 does a lot differently : Instead of converting an existing car to a battery drive, the engineers were able to realize their vision of the optimal e-mobile. This carries the battery and rear motor in an aluminum chassis on which a carbon body sits. This means that the i3 weighs a full ten quintals less than the B-Class, and the distance to the Golf is still 264 kilos. However, the 3.99 meter short i3 belongs to a different vehicle class, which becomes clear at the latest when climbing the narrow and sparsely padded rear seatshall be. Despite doors opening in opposite directions and the missing B-pillar, the BMW forces you to bow low - also because the cheeky protruding door lock in the roof likes to give you nuts.

The lightweight construction has less of an effect on the hunger for electricity than expected. With 13.6 kWh /100 km it undercuts the B-Class noticeably, but compared to the Golf there is almost a stalemate. The e-Golf and i3 are also similar when it comes to fast charging options: for a surcharge, they accept plugs from CCS chargers that provide up to 50 kW.

VW e-Golf remains its virtues even as a Stromer faithful

Which would already list the parallels. As with Mercedes, the VW developers took an existing car and converted it to electric drive. Not a bad idea in view of the difficult to calculate demand for e-cars, after all, this means that all the Gölfe come off the same line. With its conventional brothers, the e-Golf also shares the smooth suspension comfort, the impeccable quality impression, the clear and easily usable body and the simple operation. Those who switch from the TSI or TDI can hide the exotic drive within minutes and only play with the various recuperation levels in order to get 178 km and thus almost as far as the Benz.

That the VW with 115 PS doesn't One can easily forgive the fact that the low-friction tires specially developed for the Stromer are at the expense of agility. With its optional sports tires, the B-Class wags around pylons a bit more actively. In the race for test victory, the VW e-Golf also decides on costs for itself. Even when you buy it, it is a good 4,000 euros cheaper than the Mercedes and offers better equipment (including LED light and large navigation). But test victory or not: In the cost comparison against the in-house combustion engine competition, the VW is also running out of juice.

E-cars: High acquisition costs cloud the balance sheet

As if short ranges and long charging times weren't enough, electric cars also look bad from an economic point of view. A Golf 1.2 TSI costs 10,000 euros less to buy than its electric brother, which is why its pleasantly low energy costs no longer help. For every 100 kilometers he approves electricity for just under four euros, while the TSI burns gasoline for around seven euros. At BMW and Mercedes, the differences between the drive types are smaller.

Watt should that be?

How Annoying: Although the B-Class uses Tesla's drive, it cannot be charged with their superchargers, which give Model S drivers a respectable range within minutes. The Benz doesn't get any faster than a wallbox with 400 volts three-phase current (around 2.5 hours). BMW and VW in turnforego the inexpensive three-phase option and sell connections for CCS fast chargers at high surcharges, which are incidentally incompatible with the Renault and Nissan systems. The car manufacturers cannot help high battery costs - but they have brought on the fast-charging madness themselves.

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