BMW’s compact EV is given a sporty edge in 2018 in the form of the i3s
With its good looks and decent battery size, the BMW i3 has been a relative success for BMW, at least if one takes a global view. Despite slow US sales, 25,528 i3 models were sold worldwide in 2016, enough to qualify it as the best-selling EV in its class (the rather specific “premium compact BEV”).
Increased range may be one secret to boosted sales. The last update, announced for the 2017 model, offered increased battery capacity to 33kWh (or 94Ah as BMW reported).
However, in the new 2018 models just announced by the company – the i3 and the new i3s – the battery remains unchanged, in favour of a refreshed body and interior, including restyled front and rear aprons and new roof accents.
The i3s also features a sports suspension as standard, resulting in a 10-millimetre drop in ride height, and an additional 40 millimetres of track width compared to the standard i3model.
For the powertrain, the BMW eDrive electric motor offers two output levels, and an optional range extender, suggesting BMW is still not quite confident enough that its consumers can live without an ICE. The i3 motor has a maximum output of 125 kW/170 hp and peak torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft), and top speed limited to 150 km/h (93 mph).
The i3s meanwhile, has a slightly sportier 135 kW/184 hp motor with 270 Nm (199 lb-ft) of torque. An updated drive system includes “modified motor control and specific taper roller bearings”, which optimise power delivery and performance curve at higher rpm.
The 33kWh pack offers an NEDC stated range of 290 to 300 kilometres (180-186 miles) although the more realistic urban-use rating suggests 124 miles. The previous model was EPA-rated to 114 miles, suggesting little overall change, although perhaps some minor improvement on the 2018 model through weight reduction or better aerodynamics.
There is also a choice of suitably luxe interior options, dubbed the “Loft, Lodge and Suite equipment lines.”
Additional charging options come in the form of BMW’s 11kW i Wallbox, which the company says is around five times quicker than the standard charging cable.
Ultimately, changes would seem to boil down to a few aesthetic tweaks in the case of the i3, and faster response and better control in the i3s. ElecTrans is not convinced that the compact EV market was crying out for a sport model, but BMW may be looking to differentiate itself, building on the extra power offered by electric drivetrains.
It would have been nice to see a larger battery pack, perhaps taking more fight to the longer range models like the Leaf, Bolt and Model 3 – however BMW seems to be saving that battle for other models further down the line.
In any case, interested buyers won’t have too long to wait. The new i3 and i3s will be premiered at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in September, followed by a global market launch in November 2017.