Awhile back, we were offered the chance to drive the brand-new 2017 BMW i3 94 Ah REx. The last bit of that name seems like a jumbled mess of letters and numbers so, for those who aren’t well versed in EV-speak, it means that our particular i3 had the newer 94 Amp-Hour battery and a gasoline Range Extender. This is big news for the newly-refreshed BMW i3, as it means it now has a higher-density battery that gives it a further range of 114 miles, rather than the pre-refresh car’s 81 miles.
So we were given the chance to test out the new i3 for a week and see what it’s like to live with. Honestly, we came away impressed. The newer battery density gives the i3 an extra amount of usability that’s really only appreciated once it’s been used. While the extra 33 miles of range might not seem like that much when compared to, say, a Tesla Model S, you realize how much it is when you actually start using them.
I was tasked with picking the BMW i3 up from BMW’s North American HQ, which is located 85 miles from my house. The pre-refresh 60 Ah BMW i3 would have never been able to make that trip. Not even close, actually, because it’s 85 miles away if you take the highway, something that EVs aren’t very good at. They bleed range quickly when moving at highway speeds, so its 81 mile range would quickly become more like 50 or 60 miles. However, with the new 94 Ah BMW i3, I was able to not only make it all the way home on the highway but still have 20 or so miles left of range to run errands. See what I mean? On paper those 33 extra miles might not seem like a lot but can make a big difference in the real world.
In our new video review, I explain the merits of the new car’s extra range, how well it drive and why it’s the one of the best EVs on the market. The BMW i3 gets quite a bit of criticism by EV fans for not packing enough range or not being as good as the Tesla Model S. But after spending a lot of time in the i3, I quickly realized that it’s one of the most interesting and engaging cars on the road. Check it out.