BMW has revealed the look of its updated i3 electric vehicle ahead of it making an official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, showcasing a new i3s sports variant alongside the regular i3 which has also been refreshed.
As the flagship model, the i3s is powered by a more powerful 135kW/270Nm synchronous electric motor, representing a boost of 10kW and 20Nm compared to the regular i3. Both new i3 models deliver drive to the rear-wheels via the same fixed ratio gearbox.
The fresh face of the new i3 includes a redesigned front bumper that ditched the previous model’s round fog lights in favour of slim LED units that function as indications, topped by revised headlights that feature LED high and low beams.
The new model also features a black roof, silver roof-line accent, revised side sills, new tail light graphics, and a slightly different rear bumper. The i3s also picks up a more aggressive front bumper with extended gloss black highlights, and subtle wheel arch extensions.
Nestled under the bodywork is a set of redesigned 19-inch wheels for the i3, shod with the same 155/70 profile low rolling resistance as the original model launched in 2014, the picks up a set of 20-inch alloys shod with wider 195/50 profile rubber.
To complement the larger rolling stock, the i3s also picks up a 40mm wider track and suspension that sits 10mm lower than the standard model together with uniquely tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
BMW has also revised the dynamic stability control system to react more quickly to a loss of traction. Another new feature is the sport driving mode that allows the driver to call up more direct properties for the steering and throttle.
Owing to its larger wheels and higher level of standard equipment, the i3s gains an extra 20kg compared to the 1265kg i3, but thanks to its added power and torque can dash from 0-100km/h in a brisk 6.9 seconds compared to the 7.2 second claim for the standard i3. Top speed also gets a boost at 160km/h for the i3s, up from 150km/h for the i3.
Both i3 variants take their power from the same 94Ah lithium ion battery that was introduced to the i3 as a running change in early 2016. The 33.2kWh capacity battery is claimed to provide both models with a maximum range of between 235 and 255km on the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle) test procedure cycle.
That figure represents a step down from the previous 300km of the pre-facelift version, however earlier figures were obtained using the less representative NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test.
Once again owners concerned about range anxiety can choose an optional range extender petrol engine which adds a rear-mounted 647cc two-cylinder generator that does not power the vehicle, but only serves to top-up the battery when required.
Changes to the i3’s interior have also been kept subtle, including new finishes like the naturally-tanned Solaric Brown leather option tanned using olive leaf extract, available blue seat belts, and the continuation of recycled plastics, natural fibres and open-pored, unbleached eucalyptus wood.
BMW has also upgraded the infotainment system to the latest generation of its iDrive system that utilises a 10.3 inch display, a new tile based operating system, improved voice recognition, and a range of electric mobility-tailored functions, and the option of adding Apple CarPlay connectivity.
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