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IN Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Casey Wil­liams

The BMW i3 ex­tends its range to the fu­ture

The BMW i3 ex­tends its range to the fu­ture

BMW’s revo­lu­tion­ary i3 looks like it rolled out of a fu­tur­is­tic sci-fi flick like De­mo­li­tion Man or Back to the Fu­ture. While it still needs roads, the sucker’s elec­tric. Mostly, un­til it kinda isn’t. Let me ex­plain.

The i3 is first and fore­most an elec­tric car, ideal for cities with charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture, but it’s also avail­able as a range-ex­tended ver­sion with a backup en­gine. I drove the all-elec­tric ver­sion in L.A. last spring, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­stant torque, but the ex­tended-range ver­sion goes far­ther.

Plug it in for four hours and the bat­ter­ies give you 116 km and di­rect 127kW/170 horse­power to the rear wheels. Af­ter that, the two-cylin­der gas en­gine adds an ad­di­tional 80 km—enough to get you to a charg­ing sta­tion, but not cross-coun­try.

I’ve had range anx­i­ety while driv­ing elec­tric cars. Trips that will take you to places where charg­ing plugs are un­avail­able should be well planned. You’ll fill up with about 5.5 litres and stop of­ten. Af­ter a few hours on the high­way, my wal­let looked like Sgt. John Spar­tan’s cuss box.

Roll onto the high­way and you’ll whoosh up to speed, but that will de­plete bat­ter­ies quickly, leav­ing the 2-cylin­der en­gine keep­ing pace. Af­ter you set the adap­tive cruise at 115 km/h, the i3 pre­ferred 105 km/h.

Like BMW’s i8 supercar, i3 em­ploys weight-sav­ing car­bon fi­bre in the body, seen ex­posed in the door­sills. The chic de­sign re­shapes the com­muter car with aero-tuned pro­file branded by a stepped win­dow­line, quad head­lamps, 20-inch al­loys and glassy tail lights.

Pop the door to re­veal open-pore eu­ca­lyp­tus wood, stitched leather, and ex­posed fi­bre pan­elling. It feels like a mod­ern loft. An LCD in­stru­ment clus­ter and float­ing in­fo­tain­ment screen with BMW’s iDrive agree. Ad­di­tional com­forts come from heated seats, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol and for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing. Twist the gear selec­tor and go.

This car needs an en­gine about 50 per cent larger and an eight-gal­lon gas tank for 250+ miles of re­lax­ation. But that wasn’t re­ally BMW’s aim. It’s a city car that helps you find your place in the fu­ture. Buy an all-elec­tric i3 from $45,300, or range-ex­tended ver­sion from $49,300.

BMW i3 REX Four-pas­sen­ger, rwd 5-door Pow­er­train: Li-ion bat­ter­ies/mo­tor, 0.65-litre 2-cyl Sus­pen­sion f/r: Ind/Ind Wheels f/r: 20”/20” al­loy Brakes f/r: regen disc/disc Must-have fea­tures: Style, per­for­mance Elect. driv­ing range: 116 km Ad­di­tional gas range: 80 km Top speed: 150 km/h 0-100 km/h: 7.9s Base price: $45,300/$49,300

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