I returned this morning from a week-long work trip to New York to find myself in possession of a very unusual vehicle. This is a BMW i3 with a range extender and I’m testing it through next week. It should be a very interesting week.

So far from my brief testing I am enjoying BMW’s electric city car quite a bit. And “it is very much a city car,” as the press fleet guy who dropped it off told me.

Advertisement

Even with the optional a 650cc two-cylinder engine serving as a generator mounted in the rear, its range is still only about 150 miles. Once you run out of juice from a charge the electricity comes from the gas engine, but with a 1.9 gallon baby gas tank you won’t get far. The fleet guy came from Dallas to Austin with a depleted battery—not a short drive if you aren’t familiar with Texas geography—and said he had to fill up five times, although each fill-up was super cheap.

So distance isn’t its forté. But the car itself is really goddamn neat and I like it so far. It’s not a Ludicrous Mode Tesla Model S, but the electric motor packs a surprisingly decent punch. And the rear-drive i3 is shockingly (pardon the pun) fun to toss hard into a corner. Plus, the space-age interior is a real trip.

I haven’t started recording my miles per gallon or range yet but I will when it’s fully juiced up and gassed up tomorrow, which unfortunately is taking a while since the home charger I was given only works with a 120-volt standard outlet.

Advertisement

Feel free to drop me some questions in the comments below and I’ll get to them as I can. And if you have any experience with the i3 at all, I welcome your tips in getting the most out of it. We also have an interesting test planned for it tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed that that happens.


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.