Aggressive as standard.
With electric cars gaining more ground every day, it was only a matter of time that the same demands of aggression (both in presentation and dynamics) were posed, allowing those of us who see our cars as more than just a transit device to enjoy the same level of involvement and visual-drama that we get from our ‘outdated’ internal-combustion cars. With that, say hello to the new BMW i3 and i3s, proving that green mobility won’t dispense with frivolities like driving pleasure.
The BMW i3’s update for 2018 represents a mid-life facelift, with the original car having made its first appearance back in 2014. With it, like all facelifts, comes a raft of visual updates and a little rejigging with the lineup, with an entry-level model getting canned and a new range-topping variant being welcomed.
The biggest update under the skin comes from a standard-fit 33kWh battery pack, previously offered as a ‘long-range’ option, capable of “up to 200km” in day-to-day use, with up to 300km on tap if you choose to believe the NEDC test cycle. Should that not be enough, a range-extender option is available, which fits a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet to give you about 100km-150km additional range should you need it (or 330km thereabouts in “everyday” use).
The vanilla BMW i3 continues to offer a respectable 125kW and 250Nm, capable of hitting 100km/h from rest in just 7.3-seconds, but the performance highlight here comes in the form of the i3S. Designed as a hotter variant of the i3 (and foolishly dubbed ‘i3s’ by BMW themselves, making it that much more difficult to refer to the hatch plurally), the i3S bumps power up by a not-inconsiderable 10kW and 20Nm, dropping the century sprint time to just 6.9-seconds. Drop in the optional range-extender engine though, and you’ll pay a 1.0-second penalty on those times (or 0.8-seconds in the i3S), though we reckon you won’t be the type to race between the lights if you have a petrol-generator under the hood.
The i3S is more than just a power bump, as BMW has endowed it with a reworked suspension setup that has not only lowered the car by 10mm, but widened the rear track by some 40mm. The hotter variant can be told apart from its pedestrian sibling by the wheel-arch flares (we haven’t seen those in a while), which house 20-inch alloys that are themselves some 20mm wider than the standard car (helping the car look a little less like it’s rolling on casters).
All i3s (by which we mean every model) will come with a new set of exterior finishes and interior trim options, as well as a ‘Professional’ infotainment package (as an option) that upsizes the iDrive infotainment display to an impressive 10.2-inches. Higher-res than the last display, the upgraded system also offers Apple CarPlay as an optional extra, though there appears to be no support for Android smartphone mirroring.
The BMW i3 and i3S will be making their debuts at the Frankfurt motor show early next month, and while it’s entirely plausible that this model will make it to our shores in due course, no timeline has been offered by BMW Australia regarding its introduction on our shores.
Considering that space-wise the i3 is comparable to the Tesla Model 3, which the German car undercuts price-wise in some markets by as much as $12k, it’ll be interesting to see which way buyers go in the near future. Or maybe it’ll swing in the BMW’s favour just because it’ll be there sooner.