Car News

BMW Refreshes Electric Runabout, Adds Sportier i3s Variant

Early next year, BMW will begin selling a refreshed i3 electric car in a range that will include the model's first performance-oriented variant.

Dubbed the i3s, the new "hot" version will boast an extra 14 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque compared to the base model's 170 hp and 184 lb-ft, an increase BMW says will cut the little car's 0-100 km/h sprint by nearly half a second, to 6.8, and improve the car's top speed to 160 km/h, an increase of 10 clicks.

Despite the modest power gains, BMW claims the i3s's modified powertrain's "power and torque represent an improvement of up to 40 percent over the BMW i3," with that improvement being most noticeable at the drivetrain's upper limits. The sport model is also the first i3 to gain a sport mode for its driving dynamics control system.

We have an easier time wrapping our heads around the i3s's sportier suspension, which BMW says comprises specially-tuned springs, dampers and roll bars and lowers the ride height by 10mm. The wider-set 20-inch wheels are housed in wheel arch extensions, and this sportier model also gets trim-specific bumpers and coloured accent strips. The standard i3 gets a less-dramatic styling update, and all cars gain standard LED headlights.

As before, the i3 can be ordered with a range-extending gasoline engine to generate electricity to feed the electric motor.

BMW will reveal the 2018 i3 and i3s next month at the Frankfurt auto show.