BMW has unveiled the more powerful i3s – an updated version of its three-year-old electric hatchback featuring a more sporting appearance, added reserves and an upgraded wheel and tyre package. The i3s is the first of a new 4-model strong face lifted i3 line-up set to make its public debut at the forthcoming Frankfurt motor show.
Central among the changes to the new i3s is a more powerful synchronous electric motor. With 184-bhp and 270Nm of torque, the back mounted unit is tuned to bring a subtle 14hp and 20Nm more than the in-housed produced motor used by the standard version of the face lifted i3, which continues to produce 170hp and 250Nm. Both new i3 models deliver drive to the rear-wheels via the same a fixed ratio gearbox. While the standard i3 gets redesigned 19-inch wheels shod with the same 155/70 profile low rolling resistance tyres as the original model launched in 2014, the new i3s comes with wider 195/50 profile rubber and larger 20-inch alloys. With the larger wheels and greater levels of standard equipment, the i3s tips the scales 20kg above its standard sibling at 1265kg. However, its added power and torque sees it post a faster 0-100kph time at 6.9sec versus the claimed 7.2sec for the standard i3. The new range topping i3 model also reaches a higher limited top speed of 160kph against the 150kph of its less powerful sibling. In a bid to enhance its agility, BMW has delivered the i3s with a 40mm wider rear track. It is combined with a sport suspension featuring a 10mm lower ride height than the standard i3, together with uniquely tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
Further changes are concentrated at the dynamic stability control system, which receives new software that is claimed to provide it with faster and improved response to a loss in traction. Another new feature is the sport driving mode that permits the driver to call up more direct properties for the steering and throttle. The new i3 and i3s use the same 94Ah lithium ion battery that was introduced as a running change to the zero-emission BMW in early 2016. With a capacity of 33.2kWh, it is claimed to deliver both models with a maximum range of between 234km and 253km on the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle) test procedure cycle, with the more familiar but less representative NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test figure unchanged at 300km. As with the face lifted version of the standard i3, the new i3s also comes with an optional range extender in the form of a rear-mounted 647cc two-cylinder petrol engine. Bringing an additional 120kg in kerb weight, it acts purely as a generator, providing electrical charge to the floor mounted battery when required. The stylistic changes brought to the face lifted i3 are moderately subtle. Included among the mid-life makeover is a new front bumper. It features greater structure and dispenses with the round outboard high beam lights for new thin line LED units that act as blinkers. The headlights have also been upgraded with LED functions for both the dipped and high beam. The new model also features a black roof, revised sills, lightly altered tail lamps graphics and a revised rear bumper.