Our cars: BMW i3 range-extender - September

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    Cover over electric plug socket door was detached - but a bit of DIY had it fixed in no time

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    Rapid charger at Cobham services topped our i3 up to 94% charge in 40 minutes

  • Charging point at Canary Wharf was just a 13-amp three-pin socket - but at least it worked

    Charging point at Canary Wharf was just a 13-amp three-pin socket - but at least it worked

  • Eco Pro mode is terrific around town, but why can't the i3's software default to this setting?

    Eco Pro mode is terrific around town, but why can't the i3's software default to this setting?

  • Heated seats, air-con and stereo all on at the same time means John's efficiency score plummets

    Heated seats, air-con and stereo all on at the same time means John's efficiency score plummets

  • This PR image shows the scale of the BMW wall charger

    This PR image shows the scale of the BMW wall charger

  • i3 is great around town, but the trade off for decent body control is a ride that's a little too firm

    i3 is great around town, but the trade off for decent body control is a ride that's a little too firm

  • BMW's smartphone app is surprisingly easy to use, and a worthwhile element of i3 ownership

    BMW's smartphone app is surprisingly easy to use, and a worthwhile element of i3 ownership

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BMW i3 range-extender

Week ending: September 15
Mileage: 6800 
Miles driven this week: 500


Read the full BMW i3 review


We've pushed the i3 right out of its comfort zone recently. The daily grind, you see, has generally been a run down and then back up the M3, with a few hours of 32A charging at our offices in between. In other words, we've always had charge to spare (around 11 miles still left in the batteries every day, basically).

Not this week. A couple of back-to-back day trips out of Heathrow forced me to drive the i3 to and from long-term parking, without so much as a minute of charging in between (I'm not able to charge at home). All of a sudden, we were forced to rely on the range extender functionality.

The good news is that it worked fine – but by that I mean that we were able to keep motoring by sticking another nine litres of petrol in the fuel tank. The bad news is that we needed a couple of visits to the filling station, highlighting the fact that when you're running on the motor, the i3 isn't exactly efficient.

Still, the range-extender is designed as a failsafe, and in that respect it delivered. I'm glad we've gone back to charging up every day, though. The cost of nine litres in the tank didn't exactly break the bank, but you certainly notice the inconvenience of having to queue up at the petrol station when you haven't had to do so for several months.

By John McIlroy
John.McIlroy@whatcar.com




Week ending: September 1 
Mileage 6300 
Miles driven this week: 200

It might carry a price in excess of £30,000 (or, in the case of our option-laden car, £40k) but the i3 is very much a city car. Sure, the rear doors have that trick opening mechanism to improve access, but even if four adults can get aboard, the boot is barely the size of a regular supermini’s, so the grown-ups had better be travelling light.

Still, I managed to put the i3 to a practicality test this week, when I went to pick up a sandpit for my young son. The pre-formed plastic unit came with a couple of 15kg bags of play sand; it was the sort of load that simply wouldn’t fit into the i3’s regular boot space.

Fortunately, lowering the rear seats is really simple; there are a couple of fabric pulls at the base on either side of the boot, and you just need to tug them and push forward on the seat to lower it.

Once I’d done that, the sandpit slid straight in, and I had enough space to load up the bags of sand between it and the edge of the boot.

It was a relatively modest test, but I was pleased with how easily the i3 coped with the temporary change to load-lugger. Cars like this have a very specific mission statement – around-town use, principally – but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to deal with occasional special circumstances, too.

By John McIlroy
john.mcilroy@whatcar.com

Our cars: BMW i3 range-extender - August

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