2017 BMW i3 94Ah with Range Extender Review

2017 BMW i3 Road Test and Review…

Don’t you hate it when the battery on your mobile phone dies? You’re stranded. Unable to function. For some, it’s almost like losing an arm!

So what happens when you apply the same battery problems to a car? Well, just like your phone, your battery dies once, then you learn.

You devise a strategy to ensure you’re never left that crippled again.

So, with the keys to the recently updated BMW i3, the first idea (without reading the manual, of course) is to plug it in when it’s not doing anything, then don’t think much more about it - cause that’ll be more than enough charge, right?

Surprisingly, yes, that’s about all it took.

With some diligence with the power cord, the little BMW city car was always juiced up and ready for action.

BMW have invested a lot in the latest iteration of their electric car for everyone. The debut model offered a range of around 120km…if you were lucky.

Meaning you were filled with a constant dread of becoming stranded.

Sure, you looked like the most hip, up to the minute, fashion conscious person on the planet, but the cool look wears thin when you’re standing on the side of the M1 waiting for a tow truck.

A 35% battery charge when you’re leaving the city to drive home pretty much guarantees some anxiety, with the new BMW i3, that number jumps to about 65%.

The 200km range, in real terms, engenders a feeling of confidence the first car couldn’t.

If, like me, you live within 20km of the city centre, you won’t have a worry in the world.

Even if you lived 40km out, the new BMW i3 would still do it easy.

For added peace of mind, the test i3 came fitted with a range extender - a small 2 cylinder petrol motor that acts as a battery charger when the charge runs low, although I never once heard it.

By plugging in every time I stopped, I had all the charge I needed.

Nervousness gone, that’s where the fun begins -250Nm of torque is available…instantly.

There’s an unrelenting urgency and a pace that’s addictive.

You can and will punch the i3 away from the lights, on freeway on ramps and basically every opportunity you get, because it’s a hell of a lot of fun, it feels genuinely quick.

It’s built from a mix of carbon-fibre and aluminium.

It’s about as rigid as a thing can be. It feels solid and safe.

The handling isn’t as BMW as I’d like it to be. It can be a bit boat like going into corners, it can almost feel a bit skatey at times.

Mostly though, it’s a competent rear wheel drive performer with predictable handling, and your driving style adjusts quickly to suit the dynamics.

The wheels are worthy of a mention - they certainly get people talking when they see how are skinny they are.

From some angles they almost look like bicycle tyres!

For a car with such a small footprint it has a surprising amount of interior space.

It’s light and airy and provides excellent visibility.

You enter the back seat via a door that swings in an opposite direction to any normal back door, so you essentially open up the whole side of the car.

It seems like a bit of a novelty at first, but in actual fact it’s very efficient.

There’s lots of recycled plastics and environmentally friendly materials in the cabin, even some made from bamboo.

It’s unlike anything else on the road and it looks and feels fantastic.

The BMW i3 has a lot of character. It looks great and is genuinely good fun to drive.

About the only reason you don’t see them everywhere is the price.

With a few options and the range extender, the test car came in at $80,880 - that’s a lot for a little car, even one with a BMW badge.

Still, it won’t deter those who have looking after the planet high on their priority list, nor will it deter the early adopters and those who rate fashion highly.

I spent a week treating the car the same way I treat my phone - and not once did I run into problems.

It’s easy, rewarding and only a fool would contest that it is not the way of the future.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 BMW i3

Engine: 360V DC and 2 cylinder petrol developing 125kW and 250Nm

Transmission: 1 Speed Automatic

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Germany

Price: from $71,900

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