Fox News gets behind the wheel of a BMW i3 REx for a full test drive. And by full, we mean the reporter has pushed the i3 REx to its limits, as any other customer would do, including the current issue of going uphill with the REx when the battery is depleted.
Here is an excerpt from their review:
With a full charge, the electric motor delivers 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, plenty for a car this size. It has a lively feel and steering that’s almost too responsive. The i3 REx rides on oddly tall and narrow low rolling resistance tires that also improve aerodynamics, and the handling can get a little wiggly if you go serpentine.
It also uses the electric motor to slow down when you let up on the accelerator, recharging the battery in the process. It’s aggressive enough that you hardly ever need to apply the brake pedal. You will learn to love this, but things really get interesting as the battery drains.
When it gets down to about five percent, the gasoline engine kicks in to maintain the charge at that level. You lose a little performance, but nothing you’ll notice if you don’t floor it. What’s amazing about this is that the two-cylinder engine has only 35 hp.
That’s enough to keep you going at a constant speed, but not much else. The trick is that when you need to accelerate, the car dips into its battery reserve to give you a boost, then the engine and the regenerative braking fill it up again as you cruise along. I spent an entire day driving in this mode on every type of road, and it worked almost flawlessly.
The only hitch was when I came across the appropriately named Long Hill Road. It was a ski slope-steep ascent a little over a half-mile long, and by the time I got to the top I was out of juice and just putt-putting along at about 10 mph like a Conestoga wagon trying to get over Colorado’s Loveland Pass hauling a load of stolen gold. A posse could’ve caught me on foot.
BMW makes two variants of the i3 and the two cars look nearly identical from the outside and takes a trained eye to spot the differences. Just as the total ranges of the two models vary, the technical differences of the REx and the i3 BEV are rather dramatic. The i3 BEV can about 80 miles on a single charge, where as the i3 REx can travel about 150 miles on a full charge and full tank of premium gas. Price wise, the i3 Range Extender base MSRP is $47,200 vs $42,400 for the i3 BEV base price.
As one would assume for toting a generator around permanently, the i3 REx weighs more at 3064 lbs compared to just 2799 lbs for the i3 BEV. 0-60 time for the i3 Rex is slower at 7.9 seconds vs 7.2 for the i3 BEV, purely because cause of the extra weight.
The MPGe goes from 124 miles for the i3 BEV to 117 miles for the i3 REx, but both are still way above Tesla’s S model and its 89 miles. Even the weight distribution changes from a BMW 48/52 front/rear for the i3 BEV to 45/55 for REx.
Here is the video review: