When the i3 was first released, I had a 2-day test drive of the BEV version. For the month of December 2018 and after a few years of Leaf, Soul, Kona and Model S driving, I took the DriveElectric challenge of using a BMW i3 Rex as my daily driver.
I’m really a fan of pure electric cars but do recognise that they are not right for everybody’s circumstances. With the almost 90 miles of battery range I was covered for most of what I needed, but the reassurance of the range extender was useful on the London to Bristol run to collect my son from uni.
North Oxford BMW had programmed a setting to preserve battery, which meant that the range extender kicked in when you get down to 30 miles of pure battery driving left. It’s comforting to know that you have the 70-mile range extender buffer from the electricity generated by the tiny petrol engine and that you will definitely make it to a charger: Less stressful in the new longer-range BEV i3 but reassuring in this model. Around town though, I found it was a no brainier to run it ‘battery only’ without the need for daily charging.
The car I’ve been in, was very well equipped – with leather seats, Harmon Kardon audio and the things that you would expect on a 2018 car like parking sensors though not the backup camera which I missed. The audio is great though, and for a radio guy like me it was good to find the DAB reception was as good or better than in any other car I’ve driven.
Having driven most of the available EV’s, I have to say that the quality comes shining through on this vehicle. The i3 is often referred to as a premium EV and for that you get the superior build and design you are used to on ICE BMW’s which bodes well for the future electric vehicles the company is planning.
If you are thinking about getting out of your diesel or petrol car before resale values drop through the floor, but are not quite ready for full EV, I’d strongly recommend the i3 REX. Like all electric vehicles it really is great fun to drive – much nippier than its fossil fuelled rivals.
It’s on my list for consideration when the Leaf lease expires.
– Mark Goodier
Mark is a radio broadcaster and electric vehicle enthusiast (he’s been driving electric since 2002).