Introduced in 2013, the BMW i3 marked the German company’s first true foray into the electric vehicle world. It featured a small but usable range of about 87 miles—or a combined range of 180 miles with the optional gasoline range extender—and quirky styling that BMW hoped would resonate with younger car buyers. Now, four years later, BMW is making its first revisions to the i3 platform, introducing the 2018 i3 and new i3s, although the changes don’t amount to much more than a light refresh.
In a time when Tesla now offers a 200-plus mile fully electric Model 3, Chevrolet offers a 200-plus mile Bolt, Nissan is getting ready to deliver the new Leaf with likely a 200-plus mile range—and with a host of other electric vehicles on the horizon—BMW left the i3’s electric-only range unchanged. This seems like a missed opportunity, especially since more buyers are looking for EV options.
However, what BMW did put emphasis on is the car’s sporting potential with the i3s—although we’re not sure that more sportiness is what customers were looking for. The i3s receives more powerful electric motor good for 184 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, up from the standard car’s 170 hp and 184 lb-ft or torque. It also receives a sportier suspension setup that drops the car about a half inch and exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels that are a half-inch wider than the standard 20-inch option. The i3s also receives new wheel arch moldings that emphasize its wider track, which gives it a more grounded stance.
In addition to the extra track width, the exterior of the i3 gets a subtle makeover with a number of new design elements that help highlight the BMW’s unique character. The front gets a new bumper inlay and a u-shaped surround finished in black, as well as broader accents strips. The rear gets only slight tweaks, including a matte black feature line.
Inside, the existing set of interior choices remains, including Mega, Giga, and Tera world, as well as Deka. A new trim comes in with the optional Giga World, which receives a new Giga Brown Natural Leather and Carum Spice Grey Wool Cloth. Further helping in the i3’s strive toward conservation is the 80 percent of the i3’s visible surfaces made from recycled materials or renewable resources, according to BMW.
When the two 2018 i3 variants become available, both with be available with a host of safety and technology options, including Active Driving Assistant, Active Cruise Control, Stop/Go, Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information, ConnectedDrive Services, Daytime Pedestrian Protection, Frontal Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation, Park Distance Control, and Apple CarPlay, all of which will be used through BMW’s latest iDrive 6 interface.
BMW also updated the i3’s charging cable, which can now transfer enough power to the batteries to travel the entire range in just three hours, which is five times quicker than the previously available Level 1 120v charging cable. For those wanting faster charging, BMW does offer a BMW TurboCord for $499, which will charge the i3 three-times faster than the standard charge cord.
Pricing hasn’t been announced, with BMW stating that this information will become available closer to the car’s on-sale date. Both the new BMW i3 and i3s will make their world debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show this September.