Munich, Germany - BMW has updated its i3 electric hatchback for 2018 with refreshed styling, new features and a new model derivative with more power and sportier running gear.
The new i3s, due for debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September alongside the facelifted i3, has a more powerful electric motor (135kW and 270Nm, versus 125kW and 250Nm for the ‘standard’ model) thanks to an upgraded motor control unit and special taper roller bearings.
The maker quotes faster acceleration - 6.9 seconds to 100km/h compared to 7.3 - and top speed is limited to 160km/h rather than the 150km/h of the i3. All of which sounds great, but they still share the same 33kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack, built into the floor of the car, and the greater performance of the i3s is likely to reduce its range quite significantly.
Just as well then, that the new i3s will also be available (from launch in November 2017 in Europe, about a year later in South Africa) with the optional 28kW, two-cylinder range extender motor. As before, this has no connection to the car’s drivetrain, but drives a generator that pumps amperage into the battery on longer trips.
Standard issue for the i3s, however, included sports suspension with specially developed springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, as well as a drive mode switch with a Sport setting that sharpens both accelerator and steering response. Ride height has been lowered by 10mm and the track is 40mm wider, fore and aft, thanks to exclusive 20mm wider wheels, under model-specific add-on black wheel-arch trims.
Both versions of the new i3 feature an updated dynamic stability programme with faster response and improved traction on wet or slippery surfaces, using regenerative braking on individual wheels to keep the car going in the direction it’s pointing - although it will allow mild drifting under the right circumstances.
She’s got the look
The revised i3 sports all-LED headlight clusters and front indicators, restyled front and rear aprons (the front now all in body colour with a U-shape black edge trim, the rear with a new full-width chromed trim strip) to accentuate the car’s width, blacked-out A pillars and roof lines and a tapered silver-coloured roof line.
The i3s comes with accent strips on the front apron in blue or grey, high-gloss black grille inserts, a special rear apron with a bigger body-colour insert and a gloss black roof line.
Cabin trim, with its emphasis on recycled plastics, open-pored eucalyptus wood trim and natural fibres, gets an update with new, optional blue seatbelts; the i3s models also come with model-specific monogrammed floormats.
The optional parking assistance package includes park distance control, a reversing camera and a self-parking function, while the driving assistant plus package incorporates collision and pedestrian warning with autonomous braking function, active cruise control and a traffic jam function that not only maintains a safe distance to the car in front at up to 60km/h but also keeps the i3 in its lane.
The optional professional navigation system includes a new 26cm display with an increased resolution of 1440 x 540 pixels, improved voice recognition and Apple CarPlay preparation.
Finally, the new i3 comes with a improved standard charging cable that now includes a temperature sensor, while the BMW i Wallbox has been uprated to deliver 11kW - enough to charge the battery in three hours, five times quicker than using the standard charging cable.