Futuristic, extended-range car reveals a whole different side to the German automaker
After a nine-month wait, we’ve just taken delivery of the futuristic-looking BMW i3, a tall, rear-drive, electric-powered hatchback. This is a quick-and-quirky little car with a driving experience quite unlike anything else, for better and worse.
While the base car is a pure EV, the i3 is also available with a range-extending gasoline engine meant to eliminate range anxiety. As with the Chevrolet Volt, the gas engine is only used to generate electricity. The engine only kicks in when the 22-kWh lithium-ion battery is near depletion.
The electric drive produces 170 hp and the REX adds a 34-hp, 650cc two-cylinder motorcycle engine. We opted for the REX in midtrim Giga World version. The EPA rates the electric range at 72 miles, and it estimates that the gas engine will supply another 78, for a combined 150-mile range. The starting price for the gas-assisted car is $45,200, but with options such as heated seats and navigation, our car came in at $50,450. Thankfully, it qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
The i3’s novel lightweight architecture uses carbon-fiber body structure and roof, plastic body panels, and earth-friendly plastics in the cabin. The leather bits are even “tanned” with olive tree extracts.
We took a brief stint behind the wheel of an i3 in Los Angeles in November but now we’re experiencing it on our home turf, in anticipation of a full test once the break-in miles are complete.
Read more: Consumer Reports