After over 8,000 sales in the UK since launch, the BMW i3 is being updated with new technology and the addition of a new, sportier variant, the i3s.
The i3s comes with a higher output and model-specific chassis technology as well as enhanced handling and design features, says BMW, but both models draw their energy from the lithium-ion high-voltage battery with a capacity of 94Ah (33kWh). A range-extender engine can be ordered as an option for both models.
The synchronous electric motor powering the new i3 generates a maximum output of 170hp and reaches a peak torque of 250Nm, all of which is available instantly from a standstill. The power is transferred via a single-speed automatic transmission to deliver acceleration from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds on the way to a restricted top speed of 93mph.
Located low in the vehicle floor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery provides a range of 180-186 miles based on the NEDC cycle, 146 to 158 miles as per WLTP and up to 125 miles in everyday use. The combined electric power consumption of the new BMW i3 on the NEDC cycle varies between 13.1 and 13.6kWh for every 62 miles (100km).
The handling characteristics have been improved, says BMW, by the optimised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. The i3 now features a form of wheel speed limiting that ensures increased directional stability both under acceleration and on the overrun with strong regenerative braking. Traction during pull-away on snow and wet roads has also been improved while DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) mode now boosts agility at higher speeds even allowing mild and safely controllable drifts on cornering.
The new i3s is powered by a 184hp electric motor that generates peak torque of 270Nm. Its updated drive system includes modified motor control and specific taper roller bearings, which have been utilised to further optimise power delivery and the performance curve at higher rpm, says BMW. It also features sports suspension with specially developed springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, enabling drivers to select SPORT mode using the Driving Experience Control switch for a more direct accelerator response and tighter steering characteristics.
The i3s’s sports suspension includes a 10mm drop in ride height combined with an extra 40mm of track width compared to the regular BMW i3 – highlighted by black wheel arch borders which wrap around standard 20-inch alloy wheels in double-spoke design that are 20mm wider than the previously available versions.
The BMW i3s sprints from zero to 62mph in 6.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 99mph. It returns a combined electric power consumption of 14.3kWh per 62 miles on the NEDC cycle. Its electric range runs to 174 miles based on the NEDC cycle, 146 to 152 miles as per WLTP and up to 125 miles in everyday use.
A 38hp two-cylinder range extender petrol engine is available as an option for both the i3 and the i3s. It drives a generator that produces power as required while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This extends the car’s overall range in everyday use by 93 miles to a maximum of 205 miles. The all-electric range of the new i3 with range extender is 140 – 146 miles as per NEDC and 118 – 124 miles as per WLTP. The corresponding figures for the new i3s with range extender come in at 137 miles on the NEDC and 115 to 121 miles on the WLTP cycle.
On the NEDC cycle, the new i3 with range extender returns combined consumption figures per 62 miles of 11.9kWh to 11.5kWh of electric power and 0.6 litres of fuel (CO2 emissions: 13–14 g/km). On the same combined NEDC cycle, the new i3s with range extender consumes 12.5kWh of electric power per 62 miles and 0.7 litres of fuel (fuel consumption of 403.5mpg imp; CO2 emissions: 14 g/km).
On sale now, with prices starting from £34,070 OTR, the new BMW i3 and i3s will make their world premieres at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.