BMW i3s is the city car that pays for itself

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Six years into its life, the BMW i3 has just gotten a truly refreshing refresh, as well as an even better range extender.

The extender is a small, 2.4-gallon generator that runs off of gasoline. With this you can go 114 miles on just the battery alone and up to 180 miles with the extender on.

What this means is that you could theoretically go weeks without even needing to use the extender with the innovative use of regenerative braking and frequent charging.

The 33kWh battery is able to accelerate the i3s, the sportiest model, to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds. While this may not seem blistering, it is quite impressive on a car that can get 109 miles per gallon when you have to use the range extender.

The exterior is just as futuristic as you would expect — it even won an award its first year for best design for both its interior and exterior. The exterior design features an innovative incorporation of glass, remanufactured plastic, and other materials to help keep the car as economically sustainable as possible.

Additionally, each body panel can have up to three different colors depending on trim and color option. The colors are all incredibly attractive, especially the Melbourne Red Metallic with Frozen Grey accent that I had on my test-drive i3s.

The interior is a fantastic blend of natural leather, a nice wool cloth, and recycled wood inlaid into the dash. In other trim levels you can choose to replace the wood with a polished andesite trim piece. There also is an abundance of carbon in the construction of the i3s to save weight. In fact, the entire chassis is made of carbon fiber, the same material as race cars and high end sports cars.

Storage in the i3s is pretty good for a city-focused hatchback. In the back, you have 15.1 cubic feet of storage with the seats up and 36.9 cubic feet with the rear seats down. There even is more under the hood as there is no engine to take up the space and could easily put most of a grocery store trip in there leaving more space in the trunk for other items.

The i3 starts at $44,450 for the base model without the range extender and goes up to $51,500 for the i3s with the range extender. The trim levels are additional as well for the Mega, Giga, and Tera world levels. These may sound strange, but these are all named after different levels of storage often found in today’s electronics.

I was given the Giga World trim in my i3s with the range extender and the final MSRP was a little over $58,000. To help with the sales of all electric cars, including the i3, is the government tax incentives, which take $7,500 off the price and dealers are pushing the i3’s out the doors as well.

Over all, the i3s is a fantastic luxury city car with some really great features. Not only that, but environmentally focused consumers should also be proud of the i3 for its innovation in its interior design. If you are looking for something with a longer range however, the i3 might fall short of the destination.

Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at

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