Fair And Balanced TTAC Video Review Of BMW i3 REx?

MAR 19 2015 BY JAY COLE 25

TTAC Put The BMW i3 REx Through Its Paces

TTAC Put The BMW i3 REx Through Its Paces

The Truth About Cars (or TTAC if you will) are not known for holding their tongue when it comes to anything automotive that doesn’t ring true to themselves, so it was with heightened interest we saw the online magazine had done a review on BMW’s most “love it or hate it” plug-in offering – the i3 REx.

Which way would review Alex Dykes take us, and the i3?  Will the plug-in BMW be the worst offering the Bavarian company has unleashed on humanity this decade, or one of the better ones?

Surely in TTAC-style there could be no in between right?  Wrong.  Overall the review is quite comprehensive and balanced – even when testing the infamous “battery exhaustion going up a hill” chestnut we have all been subjected to quite often.



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25 Comments on "Fair And Balanced TTAC Video Review Of BMW i3 REx?"

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When I got to the part about the i3 not being a serial hybrid “like the Chevy Volt or Cadillac ELR” I stopped listening. If the reviewer is that uninformed not sure why you’d bother.


You mean “parallel” right? And I agree, that this is somewhat a dead horse when talking about plug-ins.

Sure . . . he is clueless about EVs. But most buyers are so it is still a good look into the still-confused mindset about EVs. Lots more consumer education to be done.

I guess it’s “Opposite Day” here in the comments section?

Actually, he’s more informed than you. The Volt’s “parallel hybrid” mode has been well-documented, and you can tell by the way the presenter talks about it that he understands very well why GM designed the powertrain that way (ie it’s more efficient than a pure series hybrid like the i3 when you’re just crusing along at steady highway speeds).


Alex Dykes knows his stuff.

The Volt is a parallel hybrid part of the time. The Volt 2.0 is even more so, which is why it is more efficient.

As Alex says, the i3 is always serial and never parallel

Agreed… I thought it was a very well done review, incorporating some real world comparison points I hadn’t heard before.

Agreed! Folks here should watch Alex’s review of the 2013 Volt. It is also just as well balanced and detailed and he explains the parallel mode quite well and the very specific, and rare, conditions that it is activated. I used to not care for the Volt at all and was more of a believer in pure BEV technology. His review changed my mind.

I’m also quite eager to catch his eventual review of the second generation. 🙂

In his little summary in the end, he failed to mention one of the best features of driving an EV, and that is the smooth/quiet EV drive. This should be reported a lot more than it is.

Yes! In fact, this is one of the first things I tell people about when they ask me what it’s like to drive a Leaf. Of course I mention the lower fuel cost, no gasoline smell, lower maintenance cost, etc., but I always stress how quiet it is. And I can tell when I’m explaining the low fuel costs, for example, they’ve heard it before, but the quiet driving experience is always news to them.

This is yet another example, IMO, of how nearly all car companies still haven’t figured out how to market EVs.

Part of me really likes the i3, but part of me is not impressed that it has less all-electric range than my Leaf at a considerably higher price. I might consider one with a Rex when our Leaf lease is up next year, but only if there’s no likelihood of a fully electric car with more range coming out within a year from then.

Isn’t the pure electric BMW i3 EPA rated at 81 miles while the Nissan Leaf is EPA rated at 75 miles?

“Nissan Leaf is EPA rated at 75 miles”

Not any more, for several years now

Leaf is now rated at 84 miles I believe. Only reason they were lower before is the EPA made Nissan use the average of the range for an 80% charge and a 100% charge because the cars came with the option to charge to 80% for battery health. Stupid rule by the EPA. Since then, Nissan eliminated the 80% charge option. Also not a good move, but somewhat understandable given the EPA’s approach.

I’d like to point out one thing. While there has been no official confirmation, it would seem that Alex Dykes and TTAC have parted ways (or at least, changed their relationship to be more independent of each other). One key point here is that Alex’s YouTube channel has had a name change from TTAC to AlexOnAutos and he introduces himself much the same way in his videos. I don’t think he’s introduced his videos as TTAC in a couple of years now.

I also love his “trunk comfort index” and find it a more practical metric than the virtually worthless Federal metric (there just seems to be no consistent cubic foot measurement of truck capacity). His metric is what kept me from getting the C-Max Energi, which he ranked 5/10 while the Volt received a 7/10 (on par with the Prius).

I don’t waste my time with any other reviews anymore. I’ve found Alex’s reviews to be the most useful and the best, all around.

*trunk capacity

Nuts. Hopefully they won’t mess with the style he’s developed over the last few years.

Wonder how that will impact his living in the Santa Cruz mountains and his other project, The Mountain Garden.

Random i3 thoughts:

— the i3 should be fairly low in maintenance costs .. which is a big deal when you’re talking about typical BMW cost to own
— next gen batteries (2017?) should make this a 120+ mile EV range vehicle and allow BMW to up the gas tank size to just under 120 mile range as well
— supposedly, the irex power is good to go at 75 mph in flat to light rolling hills

if you’re a flatlander (or light rolling hills lander), which probably 90%+ of us in the US are…. then this would appear to be long road trip range anxiety problem solved and the $3,850 irex upgrade looks like a bargain (especially for what BMW usually charges for significant upgrades)


Compared to a Tesla Supercharger —

a supercharger takes about 35 minutes to add 100 miles range.

you could add 120 miles range to the (hypothetical) 2017 i3 rex in about 2 minutes. That’s a big difference. And a (30+ minute) technical obstacle that I have yet to hear even a proposed answer to.

Is it possible that BEV’s with range extenders may be the practical answer for decades to come?


As Tesla demonstrates every day, it is simple to make a long range EV, but the batteries are expensive, and makes the car very heavy.

That is why the i3 Rex is popular. The extra money buys a lot more range than $4k of battery could get, and for most people, the Rex is rarely used.

Very informative review.

I have a Tesla model S and I just love it.
I have also been driving a BMW i3 now and then and I must say it is a very good car too. But more for shorter trips, Tesla can do both.

One car that can do it all is Tesla.
But if you don’t need a big car for long trips go for the i3

Ok you I3 owners. How do you use the 16 amp level 1 recharging? Is the plug you get with the charger brick a 15 amp or a 20 amp one that requires the special outlet?

Glad it has it though, since the volt can charge at 16 amps @ 200 they should have made it optional to charge at 16 amps @ 110 especially now that they’ve beefed up the charger cords to #14 AWG.

Regarding the Range Extender Motorcycle engine, I have yet to see a review as to the performance of the car with the electric heater on high heat. I would gather it is FAR worse since I’d think the heater would have to steal at least 10 of the 34 horsepower available.

Can any I3 owners answer those 2 questions?

THanks in advance.