BMW i3 REx Road Test, Charging And Fuel Tank Coding – Video Review

OCT 7 2016 BY JAY COLE 55

InsideEVs contributor David Murray, also know as “The 8-Bit Guy” on Youtube, recently picked himself up a steal of a deal on a 2014 BMW i3 REx – $25,000 with only 3,000 miles on the odometer.

/insert comment about residual value of plug-in electric vehicles in the US here

BMW i3 heads out for a test drive in Texas

BMW i3 heads out for a test drive in Texas


…moving on.

After acquiring the car, David set out to film “the ultimate i3 review”, or the stuff you really want to know (like perhaps re-coding the original version to use its full, non software/CARB-crippled, fuel tank), as only he can.

The review includes the basics on the original 22 kWh i3, as well as the newly updated 2017 version with 33 kWh battery on board.

David also took the BMW i3 REx out on a long range test in Texas to see how it fairs in the real world, as well as stopping at some points of interest along the way.

Additional info on the new 2017/33 BMW i3:  the new all-electric i3 nets 114 miles from $44,695, while the REX i3 travels 97 miles on electricity before switching to gas and travelling another 83 or so miles on petrol.

Categories: BMW, Test Drives

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55 Comments on "BMW i3 REx Road Test, Charging And Fuel Tank Coding – Video Review"

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It’s always nice to find a deal. Nice video Dave. Keep them coming.

“/insert comment about residual value of plug-in electric vehicles in the US here”

To be fair, the i3 also has the BMW depreciation problem too. ICE engine BMW’s can have some notorious depreciation too. Not as bad as some Mercedes cars, but still, some BMW’s drop in value like a stone. Both makers have models regularly show up on worst depreciation lists.

This particular one was a manufacturer buy-back. That’s why we got it so cheap. However, it was not a “lemon.” It only had one repair on the vehicle history and the issue was with the Rex making some noise. The part wasn’t available at the time so BMW bought it back. Once it was finally repaired, it was sold as a used car. With the equipment it has on it, I couldn’t find anything like it in my area without paying $5,000 more or at least a lot more miles on the odometer.

Impact of tax rebates on depreciation + BMW level of depreciation + sub-100 mile EV depreciation + dealer buyback depreciation + GEN 1 depreciation after GEN II has been announced.

Yea, that makes sense. Lots of factors piling up there that explains the price other than just a generic plug-in vehicle depreciation factor causing all the depreciation.

I can see why having the REx model helps the car be more liveable. I seriously would never had consider the REx without a larger DCQC (combo plug), -Maybe pickup SAE Combo / Chademo Adapter!! –However your review has opened up my view on the REx to be more favourable. Thanks for taking the time.

Great pick-up, and great review.

Unfortunately no such thing as a Chademo to CCS adapter. Why not is still mistery to me! I can think of a whole lot of chargers that don’t have CCS plugs, but do have Chademo…

Most CHAdeMO only fast chargers I know (and I know a LOT since I’m very active on PlugShare) are quite unreliable.

Believe it or not, they have upgraded all of the Chademo stations in Dallas/Fort Worth to dual-standard chargers like the one you saw in the video. So at this point, where we live, Chademo vs. CCS is no longer an issue. I would imagine any stations being built from this point on will have both.

Will be nice to see the drag strip video against the Volt, or a side by side run from 0-60mph on a private road. At 6.4 seconds, My BEV i3 handily beats the 2016 Spark which is a pretty quick car itself.

Indeed. I haven’t even filmed that yet. Some guys are planning to go with me to the drag strip on Sunday to film it. It should be a close race.

0-30/40 the i3 should be the quicker of the 2.

Yes the I3 has the advantage over the Spark.

The main difference is the feeling. In the Spark, you feel all that toque “pull” you but limited by the front traction, in the I3, being a propulsion, it “push” but strong.

But nothing compare to an anything with a D suffix. 🙂

Me and my friend both were convinced the new Spark felt faster, but it wasnt. The i3 is so sure footed and drama free it makes deadly consistent launches that seem slow and boring.But the clock tells a different story. The i3 was a good .50 second quicker. The new Volt I drove was very quick 0-30, but the i3 seems to be pulling much harder around 40mph.

Considering old 2014 SparkEV was clocked at 8.0 sec while i3 6.5 sec, if the new SparkEV is only 0.5 sec slower than i3, that is significantly quicker than the old. If i3 did 6.4 and SparkEV was 0.5 slower, That’s 6.9 sec for SparkEV, even quicker than Chevy’s rating of 7.2 sec.

But that FWD traction crap is just crap; makes torque steer feel lot worse. Being FWD, Bolt will have traction issues as well.

David has Rex which is slower than BEV i3. REx is rated only slightly quicker to 60 MPH than SparkEV (2015+, not 2014 with 30K miles on it), so it would be an interesting race. But Volt (even new one) is slower to 60 MPH than SparkEV, so we know that will be slower than i3, even REx.

Would love to see the race, though: SparkEV, Volt, i3 REx.

You are right. My friend has a black 2014 Spark EV also.We got 7.9 sec 0-60mph. Almost a full second slower than his 2016. And yes the Rex and the 2016 Spark should be very close. Interestingly enough..from 60-80mph, the 2014 Spark seems just as fast as the 2016.

Good video David.

I didn’t find your personal reasoning for purchasing the i3 over the Bolt convincing. Ya’ll have a Volt for any long distance travel and as you pointed out the Bolt would make regional trips like Waco with much less fuss.

The reasoning was pretty simple, the wife wanted it

LOL, yup. If momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy.

The main issue for us was cost. When the Bolt comes out it will cost $35,000 after incentives.. but my wife will demand navigation and several other features, so we’d probably be looking at nearly $40,000 to buy one. The used i3 we found was $25,000. So that was much easier to stomach.

Ultimately, this was a car for my wife. She’s the one that said she wanted a Bolt or i3. So I spent some time searching for a good deal on a used i3 in order to save us some money. She’s very happy with the car. So that’s what it boils down to.

Myself, I’m happy with my 2017 Volt and there’s no other car I’d rather have.

Interestingly, the Bolt appears to have no option for navigation. Apparently it will use Apple Carplay/Android Auto to stream a cell phone’s navigation app to the car. I really think this is the wave of the future since auto nav systems are inherently outdated compared to instantly updated Google and Apple Maps.

For example, for my 2008 Mini Clubman, BMW is not supporting any new map updates, so my car is locked to 2014 data until it dies.

I still don’t get why car makers can’t figure out how to make nav systems in their cars that can be updated as quickly as apps for phones.

It seems more like they just don’t want to keep older cars up to date, they want to push you into buying a new car instead.

They allow updates as far as both of my car is concerned. But they will offer me a great discount on the updates and it will only cost me $150 to do it including discount.

That is a cost of brand new GPS.

Well, yeah, when comparing economics of new vs used, used wins almost every time.

And you don’t have to “Tamper with the emissions controls” (code) the car to make it drivable.

Great video.

I considered getting an i3 REX (got a Volt instead) but was concerned that any attempt to recode the car might not work or might be undone by a future service visit. Without the REX + hold mode, I just can go far at highway speeds. In Texas highway speeds means 75-85 mph, those are the posted limits, not the 5-10 over people actually drive.

I wish on these “Ultimate Reviews”, that someone would turn the heater on high heat with the battery dead and discuss the performance of the car. I’ve seen a dozen reviews claiming they were so great but no one ever tested the car in what for me would be an everyday occurance.

I discuss this in my range polynomial blog post. Heater starts at about 5 kW for few minutes than settle down to about 2 kW. Car is doing about 10 kW at 55 MPH. In effect, heater takes 20% of range at 55 MPH and less at higher speeds, though the overall range would be less.

I don’t think video review would convey such information well.

I believe the I3 heater is ‘bigger’ than 5 kw, especially in cold weather.

Taking 10 hp away from 34 would be definitely noticed going up a hill.

My ELR is 6 kw, plus 2 kw battery heater for 8 kw

If you’re running the heater at peak power all the time, that’s different. But for typical use, power should go down as cabin gets warmer, and that’s what I saw with SparkEV after initial spike.

2kW is about 2 space heaters’ worth. Since car cabin is about the size of a small bathroom, I think that’s probably enough. I went to snowy hills, and we used 1 space heater in practically open bathroom (ie, non-insulated), and it was enough (barely); 2 would’ve been more than sufficient.

In your ELR, is that for peak power or what you’d typically see? I suppose one could argue peak’s for worst case, but there are lots of “worst case” that would make the range to be close to zero, and some less than the absolute worst case should be considered.

“2kW is about 2 space heaters’ worth. Since car cabin is about the size of a small bathroom, I think that’s probably enough. I went to snowy hills, and we used 1 space heater in practically open bathroom (ie, non-insulated), and it was enough (barely); 2 would’ve been more than sufficient.”

But is that open bathroom “cooled” by about 50mph wind or whatever speed you are driving at?

Since 1kW was enough in sub freezing temp, 2kW might be ok at 55 MPH. But my point being that it’s much less than peak heater power, all the time.

1kW is about the power of an hairdryer. Or even 2kW is about a powerful hair dryer…

On a real cold days, it will take a while to warm up.

it is true that once it is warmed up, it will need less power.

Of course the whole trick is to pre-condition the heat or A/C while it is still plugged in, and then you just need that maintenance heating or cooling to get you to your destination.

That is true it would work if you are in a single destination trip.

But if you are running errands and needs to stop in multiple locations in the cold and just enough time for the car to cool down, then it will become a huge energy drain.

It is often what happens during many holiday shopping trips or running errands…

Of course, a bigger battery will solve the issue.

Wow that seems really high. My 2014 Leaf consumes up to 5kW for a couple minutes maximum when I first turn on the car in 0F weather; after that it settles into about 1.5 – 1.75 kW at about 55 mph. When it gets close to freezing, power consumption is below 1 kW.

You have a heat pump.

Even with efficiency of 1.4, a 1kW pump is only pumping out about 1.4kW worthy of heat…

But generally, when it is freezing outside, you aren’t wearing shorts inside the car either…

MMF and Spark:

In my area, 6 kw isn’t nearly enough. If these are ptc heaters, they are drawing more.

In cold weather, they are only luke-warm and never throttle.

it’s not meaningful to write about power draw from cabin heating in absolute terms because the heating demand increases linearly with interior/exterior temperature differential. so you have to know both the exterior temperature and the interior set point temperature.

i use an interior set point temperature of 75F. i don’t precondition the cabin (i have a volt and don’t want the engine to fire up in my garage) but i can easily believe that i can take a 10% hit in range as a result.

David, here is the big question. Do you and your wife consider the white/black Volt and i3 to be:

* Shamu
* Panda
* Storm Trooper

Hahah.. Actually, I said it looked like a Penguin, and she said it looked like a Panda. But I think I’ll go with Storm Trooper in the future, that sounds much cooler.

David should become the official EV reviewer.

David, are you not worried about tire cost?

some. yes..

Very nice David, congrats on the new wheels 🙂

“picked himself up a steal of a deal on a 2014 BMW i3 REx – $25,000 with only 3,000 miles on the odometer.”

Damn! That is a steal of a deal! The electric range ain’t so great and the looks are polarizing but at $25K, I’d pick one up.

i don’t think that this was that great of a deal. after all incentives were applied, i bought a new volt in 2012 for around $28,000. that said, a bmw i3 rex is a bit more expensive than a volt.

Nice Review.

I wonder if you would be itching to trade one of your car to a Bolt or Model 3 in couple years…

i was surprised that in the bmw i3 rex, you were limited to about 70 mph on the range extender on a level road. i suppose that i have read it somewhere before, but i found that part of the video to be interesting information.

buying an i3 rex is not a bad idea if you already have a volt. the i3 rex isn’t really a car for long trips, but i get that this trip was really for informative purposes. but the i3 rex is a pretty good choice for metro area driving.

were you kidding when you suggested that you didn’t know that highway rest stops are a common feature on interstate highways nationwide? if not, dude, you need to get out of texASS at some point in time to see what the real world looks like. 🙂

Texas is so large that it takes forever to drive outside of it. So usually if I’m leaving Texas, I get on a plane. That’s why I’ve never been on interstates in other places.

Seems to be normal depreciation. ~$52.5K new, -7500 Fedl=$45000. 50% deprecation after 3 yrs=$22500. Close to what he paid.You can absolutely find one at a dealership with extended CPO 100,000, 6yr Warranty for under $25K.

Great review, thanks. Have a question. Suppose you are on a longer journey, 80 mph, engage hold mode at 75%, drive until you need to stop, refill and drive on. How many miles do you think you could have driven before depleting the battery?

My plan, over a year ago, was to buy a used BMW i3 REx for $15k to $18k (plus close to $1k to ship it to New Orleans). I looked at monthly sales, added 30 month lease to get California rebate (plus 24 & 30 & a few 36 month leases expiring nationwide), and decided 4th Qtr 2017 would be when used i3s would hit my target. So far, price trends (thanks CarGuru) are on track.

Bolt, Model 3 and i3/33 kWh would all detract from the demand for older used i3s.

The 2014-16 i3s are actually better. Better electron economy and better gas mileage from the REx (39 mpg vs 35 mpg in 2017 i3 REx).

I will be selling my 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D with 4 speed manual (and manual window winders). Steel still in great shape but 34 year old rubber is going. I expect to wear out before my next car, the BMW i3 REx does. I do hope to get antique plates for it though.

I have already seen sub-20k i3s. Pretty sure including the REx.

I am looking to buy a 2014 i3 and wanted to know if you had any issues with it? Some blogs mention error codes and another video discussing a motor mount bolt issue. My final concern is battery degradation.