All versions of the BMW i3 gain some notable revisions to the front end, mostly as a result of upgrades to the technology of the lights. So, on the pre-facelift i3, the main headlight units were LED items, but the high-beam lamps were actually the round circles lower down in the BMW's face; these glowed a more yellowy colour than the blue-white LEDs at night. For the new car, BMW has incorporated LED main beam into the larger clusters at the top, meaning the round lamps are gone, in favour of slim front indicator units instead.
This change to the illumination necessitates a subtly different design of bumper, including an accent line from the indicators to the number plate and also a black panel underneath the number plate that was never there before. Around the back, various measures aim to emphasise the i3's width, so there's a new, 40mm wider inlay in the lower bumper that features more dramatic, swoopy creases, while the 'eDrive' and 'i3' badges have been pushed further outwards on the hatchback as another visual trick to make the Beemer look broader. Around the sides, nothing much has changed, bar a silver highlight running along the car's roofline.
The i3s performance model receives further changes. It has its own design of rear bumper inlay at the back and also a different high-gloss black insert for the front bumper featuring a highlight accent at the outer edges, high-gloss black spats over its wheel arches, a black roofline and 20-inch, 20mm wider alloy wheels - these being an inch bigger than the 19s on the regular i3. The i3s also has its own specific model badge, while all i3 models can be specified in two new body colours: Imperial Blue and Melbourne Red.
It's a much simpler update inside, where there's a new upholstery choice and a new infotainment system. Dealing with the former first, it's called the Lodge interior design and it sees the seats finished in a half-and-half pattern of fabric and leather christened Solaric Brown; this incorporates climate-active wool and olive leaf tanned hide. Other than that, the 10.25-inch iDrive infotainment display is now a higher resolution and it features the six configurable tiles feature for the home screen, while additional functions include Natural Language Understanding, Digital Charging Service, On-Street Parking Information and Apple CarPlay. The i3s range-topper gets model-specific lettering stitched into its floor mats, too.
Before we get onto the cars themselves, BMW says its latest i Wallbox can now offer fast charging with an output of 11kW and an optimised charging cable means 180km of range can be dumped into the i3's lithium-ion battery pack in less than three hours. Clever stuff.
So, the regular i3 remains mechanically unchanged from the 94Ah 'long-range' model. That means a 170hp/250Nm electric motor does the rear-wheel-drive duties, resulting in a range of anything between 200- and 314km on a single charge. If you think that's not enough you can add a two-cylinder petrol engine to it for the Range Extender model, and 0-100km/h takes 7.3 seconds while the top speed is limited to 150km/h. The only alteration BMW has carried out here is a tweak to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) management, specifically calibrated to EV running. This has the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) 'halfway-house relaxed' function now incorporated, with BMW saying - get this - that you can now enact 'controlled drifts' around corners in your i3.
The i3s, though, benefits from even more additions. Don't get too hung up on the power increase or the performance stats: outputs are up to 184hp (+14hp) and 270Nm (+20Nm), decreasing the 0-100km/h time to 6.9 seconds (-0.4 seconds) and increasing the top speed by just 10km/h to 160km/h all in. But, aside from those wider tyres already mentioned, it also gets 10mm lower Sports suspension, a 40mm wider rear track, its own adaptation of Sport Steering, an additional Sport driving mode and a revision to the ASC anti-skid system. All told, as the standard i3 is a cracking thing to drive, the i3s should be a real hoot.
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Carzone - 07-Sep-2017