Our i3 has taken us over 21,000 miles- 98+% of it on battery- EV mode. The Range Extender eliminates the anxiety of those last miles before the charger. And, since we charge in our own garage, it is no problem to plug it in 5 or 6 times per week. This is not a road trip car. Buy it for around town comfort, fun and ease of driving. Nice to save CO2 every mile and get that EV smile while cruising in quiet BMW style. Most people think they need more range than they really do.
Most of our driving is around town and short trips less than about 120 miles round trip. It is perfect for this driving! We are "empty nesters" and it is perfect for 2 adults. It would be less practical hauling around kids everywhere, I think. I've never enjoyed driving a car as much as the i3. I also drive differently than previous cars. I'm much more at ease driving slowly (the speed limit), because I'm more aware of energy consumption than with my previous gas vehicles. It is relaxing and fun. In over 1200 miles, we've only used 0.8 gallons of gas, and that was just to test whether the range extender works (it did). If I have one complaint, it is the complicated navigation and entertainment system. It has taken some time and a lot of reading and phone calls to BMW to understand what I'm doing. It is better after a month of using it, but there is a steep learning curve.
I've had my i3REX for about 1 yr and have driven about 10K miles in a combination of 400 mile weekend trips to 80 mile airport runs to endless soccer shuttles in the greater NYC area from PA, NJ, NY and CT. The car was delivered factory perfect and has only had one recall and one software upgrade. It delivers the same range as when it was new. What the car is: An incredibly fun, nimble, exhilarating, holy cow, I can't believe a car can be this fun to drive, I feel like I am 16, where can I go next car. The drive train and ride are un-naturally smooth and quiet. It's remarkable. It's fun in a vintage English sports car way complete with very predicable 4 wheel drifts, blazing acceleration, wicked torque and grand prix "one pedal" driving. The car effortlessly dives into turns with the regen breaking acting like a hand break to unlock the back wheels, only to instantly re-engage as you hit the accelerator (yes, that is what it is) to power out of the turns. Anyone that drives this car as a hyper miler is missing one the best driving experiences imaginable. The fun comes from a combination of super-car ratio of torque-to-weight and grossly inadequate tires. The latter is so poor that you can have all this fun below 40mph instead of 80 in an M5 or Vette. That's not a bad thing. What it is not - a highway car. At speeds above 80 this car is a white knuckle death ride and will take every bit of your driving skills to keep control. It's top speed is governed at 98 but it has a practical limit of about 75. If you are a pre-dawn commuter accustomed to hitting triple digits with your fellow commuters, step away and find another car. As example of how slow you need to drive this car, I historically have an avg driving speed of 44mph while in this car it's 33!. I guess it could use some air dams to keep the air from floating the car - maybe they could also help keep the car from getting airborne on mountain roads too. Living electric - you have to want to. This is an 90% car meaning it fills 90% of your car needs and am able to use it with some planning for almost everything except weekend trips with the family. I use a level 1, 110v charger at home and it comfortably charges the car overnight (10K is about 25mile/day) on most days. I only need to use public charges 2-3 times/month for the longer trips. Using some "extreme couponing" type planning, I can string together 150 mile jaunts and have done 400miles in a weekend using only 1qt of gas. It's possible because the range extending engine does its job to allow you to use the full batter capacity (I get about 80mile range in the summer and 60 mile in winter). The REX however is in sharp contrast to the ultra refined electric drive in that it's roughness, loudness and vibration is on par with your father's vintage tractor. It works fine in city/suburban driving but the algorithms that control the battery reserves are not set for highway driving especially in the mountains. A short hill quickly depletes the battery's reserve and you will find yourself seeking refuge from speeding cars behind a tandem trailer as you slow to 50mph to prevent an emergency shut-down. Living with the car - The phone interface is incredibly disappointing and archaic. The car rarely recognizes the phone when plugged in but still locks out most phone features (for obvious safety reasons) so you either have to do without or reinitiate the apps. BMW's newest addition to the iDrive system is "graffiti" style input circa 1992 Palm Pilot. The voice recognition is very poor and frustrating. It could be due to a poor microphone or its placement. There are however two redeeming features - you can bypass the car's labyrinth of commands and access Siri via a button on the steering wheel or use one of 8 programable buttons on the dash to get instant access to any car/phone function. The sound system is a disappointment and certainly not on level with the car's price tag (I have the standard system). Fortunately you don't spend a lot of time in this car but if you rely on your phone for music, navigation and calls, you will be disappointed. I use it as an excuse to unplug connect to the kids and enjoy the drive. The car's navigation system is equally poor. I used it only 3-4 times and stopped after it directed me the wrong way on a 1-way street. On a separate occasion it dropped us in the middle of a cemetary instead of a soccer field. The traffic feature side by side against Waze was inadequate and slow to offer alternate routes around traffic. In summary, this is an incredibly great car that brings you back to a gone-by era of fun, quiet and solitude in a great modern design.
Before buying this, be clear on the actual miles you drive in any given week and when/where you can charge. I really like my i3 but I drive very few miles in any given week (< 50). So I don't need to charge the car very often. There are chargers at my work but not in my apartment complex. If I have to charge at home, I need to use some chargers down the street (which is fine because they're free!) I've had it over a month now and have yet to use the range extender. However, I still find myself with slight anxiety about making sure the car is charged enough - I'm hoping this will dissipate with time. I'm not a fan of the coach doors in the back. If you are parked side to side with other vehicles and open the front door and coach door at the same time, you're sort of trapped in the triangle while trying to get things out of the back seat. The trunk is much smaller than my Honda Fit. It barely fit my large suitcase. But I knew all of these things before I purchased so I can't complain. The car has amazing acceleration - really impressive. It's also super quiet. Wish the AC was a bit stronger - it just doesn't blow very hard even at the highest setting (likely because AC drains the battery a lot).
I was first hesitant to make the jump to electric before the next year or so, there are a few great car coming out. But since I have a VW TDI Passat being bought back, I needed a new car as a replacement. Unfortunately, there is not any other car I could find that would compare to the Passat for MPG and interior room. I test drove a BMW 5 series and was disappointed, I felt claustrophobic and just didn't seem right. So I decided to try the i3, boy was I surprised! It doesn't have the back seat room like my VW, but it's fun to drive, gets amazing fuel(kW) mileage, and seems to fit my life style just fine. I opted for the REx version and glad I did. I have made a few trips with my family(wife and two kids) no problem. Even a Costco run!