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2018 BMW i3s review: Range anxiety and reality

- Apr 26, 2018 -

The BMW i3 has always been a bit of an oddball. Now in post-facelift (or LCI) guise, the likeable electric runabout has been given a makeover. With a wider track, bigger wheels and lower suspension – not to mention its red-and-black paint – it still turns heads.

Even after a facelift, there are a few questions still hanging over its head, mostly in the form of range anxiety. Is 200km of range enough for the average weekly commute? And is the i3 suited to a sporty makeover?

To try and answer them, we charged the car to 100 per cent and, rather than topping up during the week, tossed the cable aside. My commute is 20km each way, or a 40km round trip, and the plan was to drive Monday night until Friday morning without topping up.

BMW claims a 200-kilometre real world (around 80km less than the NEDC) range, and my total week of driving is around 160km. Keen mathematicians will note the 40km discrepancy there.

First, good spotting! Secondly, there's no guarantee a car will actually match its claimed range, as anyone who's tried to beat the sticker on their windscreen will know.

Our idea was to conduct a lazy commuter's real-world range test. Forget lab coats, the i3 would be subjected to mixed loads, a heavy right foot and all the heated-seat goodness you could want. Monday night to Friday morning, no charging allowed.

A few things become clear the second you lay eyes upon the i3s – for one, it's still utterly unique. BMW has sold more than 100,000 units worldwide since its launch four years ago, and the car represents more than half the electrified Bimmers on the road, but they're not common.

Whether you like the rambling window line, stubby nose and Transformer-meets-cockroach profile is subjective, but as a way to get people talking, it's a home run. I happen to really like it by the way, especially in red and black

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