2019 BMW i3 REX
When I was first introduced to the world of electric vehicles a few years ago, the BMW i3 was the one car I was most eager to try out. I loved that the car looked so different than all the other models in BMWs line up and that it was fully electric. So when I finally had the chance to take home the i3 for a week, I was thrilled to get to know the car for myself.
And let me tell you that this Bimmer loves to make a statement. Although it may not be as fast as it’s i8 older cousin, the BMW i3 completely embodies the brand’s holistic concept. From raw material production, through manufacturing and operating the vehicle, to it’s later recycling, the i brand takes into account the complete lifecycle of the electric car.
This RWD EV is powered by a 170 hp electric motor and accelerates 0 to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds. Just like all electric cars, it’s a lot of torque and so much fun to drive. The i3 Range Extender, or REX is the electric car with an alternative plan, meaning that it has a small generator that will power the electric motor if the car should run low on electric range. The BMW eDrive is the technology behind the i3 that allows the emission-free driving with instant power, efficient energy use and maximum range for a daily driving lifestyle that goes beyond city driving.
Range and Charging:
BMW first launched the i3 in 2014 with a 60 ampere-hours (Ah) battery which has since grown to a 120Ah battery in the new 2019 model.
At 42.2 kWh, the high-voltage batteries are capable of up to 200km of range. The 0.6L generator can add another 100km or so if needed.
It has three driving modes; Comfort, Eco and Eco-Pro mode and depending on the selected mode, you can add up to 24% more range as you’re driving.
The one-pedal driving is one of my favourite features of driving an electric car, and it’s highly responsive on the i3. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car will slow down or stop if you want it to. This is when the regenerative braking is at it’s best and will continuously add range to your drive.
The car is compatible with Level 1, 2 and 3 charging.
L1: This is your three prong home outlet. It’s not the recommended way to charge your EV as it can take at least 10 hours to charge this way.
L2: This is the most commonly used speed of charging. You can get an electrician to install a level 2 charger in your garage or driveway. There are also many public level 2 chargers now on the roads, and it will take between 5-8hrs to charge.
L3: This is the fastest way to charge. Fast charging stations are also publicly available and cost more than level 2 charging. Will charge up to 80% in 40 minutes.
I would categorize the i3 as a crossover, believe it or not, and that’s mainly because it’s built on a high chassis platform.
Since I’m short, I liked the height and seating of the car because it gives me great visibility, but that may not be the case for taller people.
My favourite part of the car is the interior. All the materials apply the concept of sustainability throughout the car. Over 80% of the visible surfaces are made from recycled and raw materials.
“The extensive use of kenaf replaces petroleum-based plastics and reduces the weight of the BMW i3, because the kenaf fibers are up to 30% lighter than conventional material. They are harvested from malva plants, which convert CO2 into oxygen at an above-average rate.”
The seats are made of 40% virgin wool, and the interior trims are made of eucalyptus wood;
“Eucalyptus has a natural silky grip and a natural pore structure, and therefore, it requires about 90% less surface processing than conventional types of wood. The eucalyptus wood used in the interior trim comes from plantations that are certified by the Forest Stweardship Council (FSC®), which ensures sustainable forestry practices”
I was pleasantly surprised by how spacious the interior is. The front cabin is airy, and the wide windshield gives it a sense of openness. The rear seats are roomy too. During a recent test drive event at the AutoShow with Plug ‘N Drive, I had two grown men seated in the back comfortably.
Legroom in the front is open and again adds to the spacious design of the interior. The cool suicide doors or coach doors that open in opposite directions allow passengers to comfortably enter and makes loading large objects very convenient.
With the seats up, the cargo space is about 260L and 1100L with the seats down.
Infotainment and Dash:
The BMW iDrive system in the i3 is the standard system that is in most of new BMW models. The iDrive controller on the center console navigates the system on the 10.25”center screen. The i3 is now standard with the navigation system, Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless charging tray. The car also has AM/FM/XM radio and is equipped with Apple CarPlay only (I love having my text messages read to me through Apple CarPlay or dictating messages back while I’m driving). BMW hasn’t adopted the touch-screen yet, and the iDrive is not always the most user-friendly system. I found myself shuffling back and forth through the screens a lot.
The 5.7” driver gauge is the screen that feeds all the information about the range and battery as you drive. Even at a glance while you’re driving, it’s simple to read and understand.
I’ve found that most electric cars place their shifter in a different position and on the i3 it’s on the side of the steering wheel. It may seem bulky and odd to use at first, but it doesn’t take long to get use to. The push start makes a cool sound as the car turns on and all the trim lighting turns on electric blue.
It took me a couple of days to figure out the climate control – that’s ok you can laugh at me. The temperature and air flow direction are all on one digital knob. It’s relatively small, so I didn’t see the arrows changing directions as I pressed all the buttons around it to try to figure it out. Rest assured, I did eventually see the dial change and cranked it directly to my feet – am I, right ladies?!
Having an app to control your car, is one the best features of owning an electric car. The main purpose of the app, I would say, is to monitor the range on the car at all times. You can set the time to start and end your charge, climatize the cabin before your trip, locate your car, turn the lights on, honk and a slew of other controls right from your phone.
The BMW i3 is designed with the attention to details that makes BMW one the best luxury performance automakers in the world. This model may just be for the enthusiasts who are longing to go electric and still stay loyal to the brand. And lucky for them, the i3 is the full package that embodies sustainability through and through;
“The carbon fibers used for the BMW i3 are manufactured entirely with hydroelectric power. Manufacturing at the BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany, is powered entirely with wind energy. And, compared to the other BMW models, only half of the energy needed for production is required.”
AND, the BMW i3 is 95% recyclable. The battery module can be re-used as a storage receptacle for solar energy. And the surplus carbon fibers can be returned to the production process.
The MSRP of this specific model is $53,600. It’s equipped with the Premium Package option, Driver Assistance Package and the Stand Alone Options, bringing it to a total of $62,245.
Although the i3 REX is discontinued in Europe, North Americans may still need the alternative plan (the generator) before our charging infrastructure develops a little more.
For more information on the BMW i3, check out BMW.ca
If you’re in Canada, check out Plug ‘N Drive for more information on all available EVs.