Wednesday 6th December 2017
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First drive: 2018 BMW i3s. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2018 BMW i3s
Topping the facelifted BMW i3 EV line-up is the sportier new i3s version.

 



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2018 BMW i3s

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Given the push by the UK for electrification of the car, it's good timing by BMW to launch an updated version of its i3 model. It has already sold more than 8,000 examples of the five-door hatchback, and hopes to sell nearly half as many as that again in the first full year of the new car's sales. Headlining the updated model is a sportier new variant, called the i3s.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW i3s
Price: 36,975 on-the-road (i3 from 34,070)
Powertrain: hybrid synchronous electric motor with integrated power electronics, charging unit and generator function for energy recuperation, 94Ah lithium-ion battery
Transmission: single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Top speed: 93mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Power: 184hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 270Nm at 0rpm

What's this?

The 2018MY BMW i3 electric car, updated as part of its 'Life Cycle Impulse' (LCI). The usual facelift fayre is present and correct, including new colour options, upgraded connectivity and infotainment, plus restyled bumpers and other minor aesthetic tweaks on the outside. There are snazzy all-LED lights up front, too. As before, there are pure electric and range extender models offered (the latter has proven to be, by quite some margin, the most popular of the two) and all UK cars come with the large capacity (94Ah) lithium-ion battery as standard.

The biggest news, however, is the launch of a new variant, the BMW i3s. Along with lots of additional high-gloss black detailing on the outside (extending to eye-catching wheelarch surrounds), it gets new 20-inch alloys as standard, sitting on 20mm wider tyres. The rear track has been widened by 40mm, as well, and the i3s sits 10mm lower. That's thanks to new springs, which are complemented by new dampers and anti-roll bars. Inside, there's a Sport option in the driving settings for the first time, which alters the power steering and throttle response. BMW has also increased power output a little, up from 170hp in the standard i3 to 184hp in the i3s, while torque (available from zero rpm, remember) has increased from 250Nm to 270Nm. The result is a quicker 0-62mph sprint, now 6.9 seconds (down from 7.3 seconds in the pure EV i3).

Also new is a reprogrammed DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system, which is the subject of a new patent and due to be used throughout the whole BMW range.

How does it drive?

If you've driven a BMW i3 already, then you'll know that it's a giggle around town, not least because of its instant torque and urban speed acceleration that is difficult for anything other than a Tesla to keep up with. That's not all it has going for it, but it's definitely the characteristic that grabs your attention at first. Once you get used to seeing disbelieving motorcycle couriers' faces, you'll notice that the i3 affords its driver (and passengers) a great view out in all directions, making it a cinch to place on the road. The turning circle is exceptionally good, too, and all the controls are light and easy to use, if a little quirky in places.

The steering is perhaps a little too light and lifeless for enthusiastic drivers, but the updated chassis gives the i3 more composure and surefootedness at speed without drastically worsening the i3's comfort levels. It tackles corners with more aplomb than most will expect. The new stability control system is really impressive, too, reacting noticeably quicker than before to reduce side slip or wheel spin. It's particularly useful in the wet, though in fairness, the i3's throttle is easy to modulate.

Verdict

Fans of the current BMW i3 will approve of the upgrades for sure, and those that hankered after a more BMW-like driving experience will find lots to like in the new i3s variant. The range extender significantly extends the car's usable range, as before, and we have no doubt that BMW will sell more than ever in the coming years.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 6 Dec 2017









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