Whats New in the New i3

When BMW’s i3 launched in 2014 as the first mainstream compact luxury electric vehicle on the market, its thoroughly modern approach was globally praised. Since then, it’s proved ever popular for motorists that are keen to embrace the latest technology. But how does the latest updated version of the BMW i3 compare with the previous iteration?

Design that inspires conversation

Fans of the original BMW i3 will be pleased that the latest version has hardly changed, retaining its exciting mix of compact proportions, a tall height and short overhangs, abundant use of glass and proudly visible carbon parts giving it a thoroughly modern look. The distinctive ‘black belt’ design signature is ever present, complementing the car’s flowing contours. BMW’s trademark kidney grille leaves no doubt as to the brand. U-shaped LED lights front and rear help it stand out from the crowd even further and the doors still open in opposing directions, the absence of a B-pillar enhancing the aura of spaciousness.

The new version for 2017 sees the A-pillar and roof lines now also turned black, plus the front and rear aprons have been redesigned to make the car appear wider and sportier. The rear now features a full-width chrome strip, the BMW kidney grille has been given gloss black treatment too, and a number of other small cosmetic tweaks have been introduced along with unique 19” and 20” alloys. Overall, though, the i3 looks the same and the minor adjustments will ensure that it continues to wow onlookers, particularly in Protonic Blue with Frozen Grey highlights, previously reserved for BMW’s i8 hybrid supercar.

An equally unique interior

Accessing a BMW i3 is as easy as ever thanks to the doors that open in opposite directions with no B-pillar in the way. Remaining a four-seater, the driver and passengers will be amazed at the airy and spacious feel. Previously, the car’s four different interior ‘worlds’ were more separated but i3 customers can now personalise their cars’ cabins more intimately, mixing certain fabrics and other trims and materials more freely between Loft, Lodge, Suite and the standard Atelier version. A new seat trim called Solaric Brown is now available, produced by combining a wool-derived textile material with natural leather tanned with an olive leaf extract. BMW have gone to great lengths to incorporate as many raw, natural and recyclable materials in the i3 as possible, and optional blue seat belts have been made available for drivers who enjoy a colourful touch.

BMW’s iDrive and also iConnectedDrive systems have been updated in the new i3, equipping its drivers with the latest connectivity features and infotainment software, which is now viewable on a 10.25-inch screen as standard, signalling another enhancement from the original model. Apple CarPlay is now optionally supported and the car’s voice recognition software has also been improved.

How the i3’s power has changed

BMW’s original i3 was revolutionary, introducing all-electric power to the compact luxury sector. The standard version’s electric motor produced 125kW or 170hp. The way electric cars accelerate instantly allowed it to reach 62mph in an impressive 7.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 93mph. The 22kWh battery could be charged back up to 80% in around 30 minutes using a 50kW fast charge or in roughly 8 hours plugged into a domestic mains socket.

A Range Extender (REx) model could also be chosen, offering the same performance credentials, aside from sprinting to 62mph in 7.9 seconds. The i3 REx incorporated a two-cylinder, four-stroke petrol engine producing 34hp, which provided power to a generator that in turned topped up the battery, expanding the range from between 80 and 100 miles to anywhere from 160 to 186 miles. Whereas the original i3 in standard form boasted zero emissions, the REx version emitted 13g/km CO2.

For the 2017 i3 in standard and Range Extender forms, BMW has introduced refined and improved eDrive technology, a key difference being the battery, which has been increased in capacity by 50% to 33kWh or 94Ah compared to 60Ah from the original. The battery size hasn’t changed but the technology has certainly made a very positive stride.

Performance statistics and charging times remain largely the same, but the all-electric car’s range has increased to upto 124 miles, while the Range Extender now offers a theoretical petrol-electric range of over 200 miles.

The big news for those seeking a green but more powerful car is that BMW has introduced a more energetic i3s version. Its electric motor is more powerful and produces 184hp along with 270Nm torque, can reach 62mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. Exclusive bi-colour or Jet Black double-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels come as standard, the blackened wheel arches have been enlarged to house the wider tyres, and new sports suspension sees the car’s ride height drop by 10mm.

A Range Extender variant of the BMW i3s can be specified, with emissions hardly increasing, at just 15g/km CO2. With redesigned Automatic Stability Control and optimised Dynamic Traction Control to achieve supreme performance, the i3 lineup is more fun than ever.

In numbers…

 

Original i3

New i3

 

Min

Max

Min

Max

Power(HP)

125kW/170hp

125kW/170hp

125kW/170hp

135kW/184hp

Electric range(miles)

60

186

124

200+

Emissions(CO2, g/km)

Zero

13

Zero

15

Top Speed(mph)

93

93

94

99

0 – 60mph in….(seconds)

7.2

7.9

6.9

7.6

With its highly successful styling subtly refreshed and, most significantly, its modern and green drivetrains upgraded to offer even more efficiency and usability, BMW’s i3 maintains its position as the leading compact luxury electric vehicle on the market and now welcomes performance-minded drivers through the i3s version. Experience the future for yourself by test-driving one today from Inchcape BMW.