BMW’s award-winning i3 is already known as one of the most fun-to-drive battery electric vehicles on the market, with its torquey motor and classic German handling characteristics. Not one to rest on its laurels, the German manufacturer has made the EV even better for 2019, as well as introducing a quicker i3s model that is the subject of today’s blog post.
In my opinion, the most important news is the implementation of a 30-per cent larger 33-kilowatt hour battery on every grade. This enables a travel distance of 70 more kilometres, up to 200 kilometres, on a single charge, finally elevating the car’s status from an around-town errand-mobile to a feasible daily driver.
Both the drive system and suspension have been upgraded on the s, and as a result there is an increase to output as well as big improvements to on-road agility. Total horsepower is now 184 and torque 199 lb-ft, up from 170 and 184 respectively. While the numbers seem modest, the bump in output is definitely discernible using the ol’ reliable butt dyno.
The i3s sits on speciality springs, dampers and anti-roll bars giving the EV a 10 millimetre lower ride height and the ability to corner much flatter than the standard variant, if at the expense of a little ride comfort — extra vigilance in spotting speed bumps is required.
Drivers can determine just how sporty the experience is using the dynamics control switch. After turning on the new Sport mode, the accelerator instantly becomes more responsive, and the steering firmer. When activated, the car can get from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds, enough to create a funny feeling in this automotive journalist’s stomach for a second or two. A gasoline Range Extender (REX) engine remains an option.
To complement the boost in performance, the exterior is bolder than on the regular i3. To match the black roof and centre panels on the front and rear of the vehicle, the A-pillars, parts of the BMW kidney grille and a few other trim pieces are finished in a high gloss black. Underneath the full LED headlights are coloured accent strips painted BMW I Blue or Frozen Grey, helping show off the additional 40 millimetres in track width. Each i3 benefits from the latest easy-to-operate iDrive user interface responsible for controlling everything infotainment related. If equipped with the Navigation Professional, the 10.25-inch screen features a higher-resolution display.
My only nitpicky comment is that the rotary knob proving a little cumbersome for inputting GPS coordinates. Using voice commands is one solution, which can be executed more simply than before via Natural Language Understanding functionality. For example, the computer recognizes casual phrases such as, “Find the closest gas station,” similar to how smartphone voice assistants work.
The 2018 BMW i3s REX is listed at an MSRP of $56,950.