BMW Car Club UK
Updated i3 and new i3s released

Updated i3 and new i3s released

BMW have given their primary electric offering, the i3, the first major facelift of its lifetime as they look to fend off new competition. A new i3s has also been added to the lineup.

While BMW was far from first to the electric car party with the i3, the car was very much a game changer in the electric car world. The little Bavarian brought a degree of quality, ingenuity and performance to the electric car that we hadn't seen in existing electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

In truth, the BMW didn't bring much new to the table in terms of ideas, but in typical German fashion, was crushing in its competence.

The i3 converted many who previously regarded electric cars unfeasible for daily use. Indeed its 'TRON'-like bodywork, mirroring the exotic i8, converted some on its own. The fact that the once striking i3 is now nothing too remarkable to see on the street is a testimony to the car's success.

However, BMW's competitors have not stood still, particularly now BMW has shown how to make an electric car that people will get excited about.

Mercedes-Benz is launching its own electric brand, while General Motors' range-extended vehicles are increasingly able competition too. Then, of course, there is the elephant in the room, Tesla.

Tesla's new Model 3 is set to compete directly with the i3, bringing the American brand's mixture of futuristic styling, luxury and performance to a lower price point than previous models could manage.

While BMW has the obvious benefits that come from being a well-established, 100-year-old company, it is easy to see how Tesla's image is unsettlingly similar to how BMW positions it's 'i' brand.

The new i3

This competition from Tesla is what has inspired BMW's update to the i3, which follows an improved battery pack being fitted to the i3 just months ago.

This new standard model i3 produces 170hp and 250Nm of torque, which like all versions of the i3, will be fed by a 94Ah (33kWh) lithium-ion battery. This will provide a claimed 'real world range' of 125 miles.

The i3 has also received an aesthetic facelift, with the car's front and rear having a much rounder appearance than the previous model.

The i3s

Where BMW is really upping the ante, however, is with the i3s. This driver-focused i3 is an obvious attempt to use BMW's sporting credentials - something Tesla does not have - to present the i3 as the prime 'fun car' of its class.

The i3s receives its own unique styling, which very much follows the lead of the standard car's facelift, but retains more aggression via the deployment of more prominent front air dams and flared wheel arches. 

While the air dams may be for show though, the wheel arches are certainly not. The i3s features a 40mm wider track than the standard car, necessitating the plastic wheel arch extensions.

This wider track, which also includes a new set of wider 20-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension, should provide a more agile driving experience that negates much of the 'top heavy' sensation which all narrow cars suffer.

What's more, the i3s also receives a power boost of its own, producing 184hp and 270Nm of torque from its electric motor, meaning the car can now reach 62 mph in 6.9 seconds (0.4 seconds faster than the standard model). BMW claims the same 125 miles 'real world range' for the i3s

A 38bhp range extender petrol engine will be an option on both cars, extending range by a further 93 miles.