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Frankfurt show: BMW adds sportier, faster i3s

Hot hatched: The sporty BMW i3s gets ‘model-specific springs, dampers and anti roll bars.

6.9s 0-100km/h time for sports-focused BMW i3s flagship


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29 Aug 2017

BMW has revealed a mid-life update for its i3 electric vehicle (EV), with 60Ah models dumped and a 90Ah range quartet added, topping out with a new wider, lower and faster i3s semi-hot hatchback version.

Ahead of its reveal at next month’s Frankfurt motor show, a November production start date and – targeted – Australian arrival in the first quarter of 2018, BMW has released details of its new i3, i3 range-extender (REx), i3s and i3s REX range.

While there are no major mechanical changes to the i3, which continues to use a 125kW/250Nm electric motor that can accelerate 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds and provide a single-charge driving range of 300km, the new i3s variant gets more of a boost.

The i3s has an increased output of 135kW/270Nm and lowers the 0-100km/h to 6.9s, with a corresponding drop in single-charge driving range to 280km.

However, BMW claims that “at the limits of the motor speed range, the power and torque of the further developed drive system represent an improvement of up to 40 per cent” for i3s.

The REx option for both models continues to add a 28kW 650cc two-cylinder engine that adds weight and lowers EV-only range to 235km (i3) and 220km (i3s), but then boosts it, respectively, to 330km and 315km thanks to 0.6 litres per 100 kilometres and 0.7L/100km of petrol usage on the combined cycle.

The i3 EV and REx have been rated at 13.1kWh/100km and 11.5kWh/100km, the i3s EV and REx at 14.3kWh/100km and 12.5kWh/km.

Both updated i3 models score a new C-shaped front bumper with horizontal LED indicators replacing round halogen units, designed to emphasise vehicle width, plus new LED headlights with adaptive automatic high-beam.

The rear likewise includes a 40mm-wider bumper applique than before, to emphasise width in the seemingly tall and narrow i3, while a black A-pillar and roofline design have been added along with a new matte-chrome accent bar.

The i3s also gets gloss-black exterior inserts with colour trim inserts, plus different, larger, one-inch-bigger 20-inch alloy wheels.

Two new exterior colours have been added – Imperial Blue and Melbourne Red – while the interior now includes a 10.25-inch display with BMW’s latest iDrive6 incorporating a tile display of functions, more natural voice recognition and wireless Apple CarPlay functionality.

Three style themes have continued over, meanwhile, including Loft, Lodge and Suite, which alter cabin dashboard and seat trim materials.

Underneath all i3 models, a new electronic stability control (ESC) system has been included featuring a revised dynamic traction control (DTC) function that “in corners enhances agility” and “allows mild and safely controllable drifts when grip levels are reduced” in this rear-wheel-drive variant.

To that the i3s has also scored a 10mm-lower sports chassis, featuring “model-specific springs, dampers and anti-roll bars,” according to BMW.

The changes team with 20mm-wider tyres, with a 40mm-wider rear track and an adaptive sports steering setup that becomes “tighter” in Sport – along with a sharper throttle response – compared with Eco Pro or Comfort modes.

The top speed of the i3s also has moved up 10km/h to 160km/h.

A spokesperson for BMW Australia said the company has requested all versions of the i3 update for the local market, with a likely on-sale late in the first quarter of 2018.

Currently the 60Ah versions of the i3 kick off the local range priced from $63,900 plus on-road costs – $3200 below the 90Ah i3 that now singularly continues in the facelifted line-up.

However, BMW Australia did not reveal if the pricing would remain unchanged, except to say that both EV and REx models would still be offered.

The BMW i3 has enjoyed a sales surge this year, which according to VFACTS July 2017 results show a 39.3 per cent increase in volume to 78 year-to-date sales.

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