Chauffeur-driven cars are obnoxiously long, excessive luxury mobiles with large displacement, whispering engines. We’re talking about Rolls-Royces, Mercedes-Maybachs and even stretch limousines. Perhaps the last vehicle on our minds for chauffeur duty? That’d be the one we rode away from the Consumer Electronics Show in: a BMW i3. However, this isn’t your normal BMW i3. It’s the i3 Urban Suite. Fancy. This vehicle is about as far from what we envision a chauffeur vehicle to look like, but BMW is concerned about The Future with this one. “The car will offer its passenger a first-hand experience of the BMW Group’s innovative and sustainable mobility concept, while clearly demonstrating that luxury travel in the future will have nothing to do with vehicle size,” the official BMW press release reads. So video producer Alex Malburg and I took turns as passengers to test this premise. The verdict: It’s part of the way there. When it comes to being driven around, space is luxury. What’s even more important than that, is personal space. We put partitions and glass dividers in certain cars designed for being driven around in. Also, the rear seat is typically miles away from the front seat, giving rear seat passengers their own private zone. Why speak to your driver in person when you can just use a speaker or communicate in some other digital manner, after all. This premium on personal space is one of the practical reasons why someone would choose a luxury barge to be whisked around in. Unfortunately for the BMW i3, space is something it doesn’t have. [slideshow id='2202963'] BMW, to its credit, has tried its best to solve the space problem for a single passenger. The front seat has been removed, and an electrically-adjustable ottoman has replaced it. This left plenty of room to put our feet up after miles of walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center, but it was … weird. The driver got a front row view and shared a common space with our feet when our legs were fully extended. I’ve never been a chauffeur driver before, but bringing the passenger’s feet closer to one’s face can’t be on the list of desired future innovations. As passengers, we simply felt awkward about extending our legs so far into the driver’s zone. On top of the extra legroom, BMW has tried to simulate a personal area of sound for passengers by putting speakers in the rear headrest. The driver told us that he wouldn’t be able to hear what we were playing over those speakers in order to provide the feeling of privacy. Proximity to the driver made that hardly believable, though. Hopefully the driver enjoys punk rock. Ultimately, we're inclined to disagree with BMW’s notion that luxury travel in the future won’t have anything to do with size — if the logistics of our body parts can be fixed, maybe, but we’re not there yet. Besides the space conundrum, everything else in the Urban Suite is lovely. The seat itself …
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