Home » Watching An Electric BMW i3 City-Car Drift Is Hilarious And Here’s The Secret To Doing It

Watching An Electric BMW i3 City-Car Drift Is Hilarious And Here’s The Secret To Doing It

I3drift Top

Our own David Tracy took a massive leap out of his comfortable rust-water Jacuzzi of his usual automotive life and splashed down into the fantastic, bamboo-enhanced interior of a BMW i3 that will soon have a fresh new battery and become his first modern-ish daily driver. This is a big, big deal, and we all wish him well in his new life of BMW ownership, as he takes night classes to learn how to be a stereotypical BMW asshole and forget how to use indicators and whatever all the BMW stereotypes are. More importantly, owning a car like an i3 – which I think is one of the best-designed, novel cars of recent times – means that we are now on the alert for fun i3 content, like this video here of a drifting i3. Yes, drifting.

See for yourself what it looks like when a city-car (yes, the i3 is absolutely built to be the ultimate city-car) drifts:

In case you can’t see this video, I’ll happily describe: picture the very upright-looking i3, a car that in profile looks a bit like an old BMW 600 with a snout, whipping sideways, surrounded by clouds of dense white tire smoke.

Imb Fl67mq

I love this! It’s very much not what you’d expect from a gumdrop-shaped EV designed for efficiency and environmental friendliness, but let’s not forget that it’s also a RWD, rear-motor’d little car making a respectable 170 to 181 horsepower (depending on year), so why shouldn’t it be a drift car? Well, one reason is the BMW electronic safety nannies squashing all your fun with traction control, for “safety” because BMW doesn’t think you should “crash” into a “wall” because you’re drifting around like a “moron.” Pfffft.

Luckily, there is a way to disable all the i3’s safety stuff, and it’s called Roller Mode. Here’s how to do it:

So, it looks like to make this happen, you need to press and hold a little button on the left side of the instrument cluster screen, which brings up a sort of test/service menu, and from there you can navigate to the Roller Mode setting. Pretty easy, once you know!

You taking notes, DT? Slap that baby into Roller Mode and take it mudding! Do donuts, whip shitties, drift, do a Shed Skid, whatever. Just prove to the world i3s can be for idiots, too.


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15 Responses

  1. Congrats to David for becoming a Bimmer owner! I hope he realizes that owning a BMW comes with certain responsibilities. He now must maintain his asshole-driver rating or he will wake up some morning to find that his I3 has been spirited away and replaced with a rusted-out ’81 Citation. Don’t touch that turn signal lever!

  2. The only thing that sucks about drifting an i3 is that it uses a stupid tire size that’s kinda expensive and hard to get. I’d buy some more standard sized wheels if I was planning on regularly driving an i3 aggressively.

  3. Man, the hoonage is beautiful!

    These cars can do 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds.

    The nice thing about a carbon fiber monocoque is that it will never rust or wear out. And it can be repaired by a hobbyist.

    If money were no object, I’d absolutely love to find an Alfa Romeo 4C and Tesla swap it, because it too is built on a carbon fiber platform.

  4. Hopefully this guy has the upgraded metal motor mounts and/or the cars under warranty. The early i3’s had plastic motor mounts which were quite delicate and prone to snapping when previously spinning wheels suddenly regained traction. There was a silent recall accompanied by a software revision that made the traction control much more conservative in those situations. After viewing the carnage which occurs when the i3 breaks a mount and the drivetrain-out replacement procedure required, I’ll skip any more burnouts with this one. When my mount snapped, the uncontrolled engine motion also took out AC lines. Fortunately all covered under warranty but it was a wake up call.

    I could go on about the ‘e-transmission’ aka gear reduction unit I broke too, but that one was on me for catching air over a speed bump.

  5. I wish someone made wheels that took regular normal-size tires on it, so you can keep drifting without having to worry about procuring tires to do the burnouts 😛

    They should’ve used 16 or even 15-inch wheels

    1. That was my biggest complaint with my i3 and I tried all sorts of wheels with similar bolt patterns in an attempt to achieve that.

      I tried some 16” wheels from a Mini but they are too small to clear the brakes. 18”s from an X1 were the best OEM candidate, but still poke a couple inches past the fenders due to the shallow offsets required. If you don’t mind fender flares, that would get you more widely available tires and generous sidewall. I cracked two rims in potholes. With no factory spare that is especially problematic.

      To that end, I discovered Mercedes SLK’s collapsible spare is the correct size and offset. I understand why they gave it these wheels but it’s just not practical- especially now that the cars out of production. I’m reminded of the metric TRX radials on my E28.

  6. Maybe I’m just cranky (trying to get over a cold), but…
    Why does every single title of an article have(?) to be in a clickbaity form! ????

  7. So much electric torque is the real start here. Considering the price of those tires, this may be the most expensive car to drift. Anyone ever welded a diff on an i3?

  8. I’m just going to pretend David said screw it and hooned the new car before the battery was replaced. Might as well strut it before the new battery is in place and you have to be a responsible adult.

  9. When I bought my little electric crapbox (first year Leaf) I had no idea how much fun it would be to press the “TC off” button and get stupid with it. I don’t have the delicious driftability of the RR i3, but I can still convert electricity directly into tire smoke and torque steer!

  10. Woohoo!! That looks like fun.

    “little car making a respectable 170 to 181 horsepower (depending on year)”

    For a mostly-useless comparison, the Buick 3800 Series I also made 170hp.

    1. Mostly-useless and yet highly entertaining is what makes this place great.

      However, to squash fun and move this into relevance, the 2000 LeSabre with the 3800 weighed around 3600 lbs, the range extender i3 weighs just 3100 lbs!

      1. But that 2000 Buick also made 205 hp and 230 ft/lbs. Most of that torque available down low because 90* pushrod V6. Sadly the 4T65 let it down.

        If carbon fiber can rust in LA, David will make it happen. Iron paint, perhaps?

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