I greatly admire how BMW, Audi and Mercedes go about introducing new models in the market. Unlike other mass vehicle producers like Toyota, Ford, Nissan and even Volkswagen, the three brands take their time before unleashing a new model to ensure every model is in line with their reputation as luxury automakers. For example, when many automakers are rushing to produce entry-level hybrids and electric vehicles with massive ranges but with poor workmanship in a bid to quench the growing thirst of buyers looking for economical vehicles, the three automakers are taking their time to ensure the models they produce are in line with their brand reputation. On its part BMW has already demonstrated its ability to develop a powerful EV with the i8 however at the entry level, BMW has chosen to take time and develop its entry level; EV, the 2018 BMW i3 one step at a time. Unlike its peers in the likes of the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf which now offer over 200 miles full-electric range, BMW has decided to make the i3 more fun to drive rather than extend its electric range. This has been achieved by the addition of a new sporty iteration christened the “i3s”.The new changes are meant to endear the model to younger buyers.
2018 BMW i3 Exterior
The exterior of the regular i3 features a modest revamp. The twin-kidney grille is unchanged. The front end features a revised bumper which gets a U-shaped matte-black accenting around the model’s LED turn signals. The new bumper also makes the i3 look wider. The model also features LED DRLs and LED high and low beams as standard. The rear has even fewer changes including a horizontal chrome strip that cuts across the tailgate; the other change is relocation of badges towards the edges. The A-pillars and the roof have a high-gloss accenting.
The exterior is also available in two new colors, Imperial Blue metallic and Melbourne Red metallic.
The sporty i3s is set apart by a more aggressive design of its bumpers, a sport-tuned suspension that sees the i3s suspension lower by 10 mm and a 40 mm wider track compared to the standard i3. In addition, unlike the regular i3, the i3s features 20-inch wheels as standard.
The interior is quite roomy for a model its size thanks to its coach-like doors and absence of a transmission tunnel and a fixed B-pillar. Despite its size, BMW offers the i3 with a 10.25-inch screen that supports cloud-based processing and voice-recognition. There is an optional technology package dubbed ‘Navigational System Professional’ that enables passengers to search things such as charging stations, coffee shops, programmed home addresses and parking spaces. The system uses both real-time and historical databases.
BMW has equipped the model with a Parking Assistant button that once selected enables the car to control steering, gear selection, acceleration and braking as it parks itself once the parking spot is identified. The model also features an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go function, pedestrian detection and front collision warning.
To up its green credentials, the cabin is trimmed with recycled materials and others made from renewable resources including eucalyptus wood. In fact, BMW says 80% of the cabin surfaces are made from these materials. However, for those who prefer to go the luxury way, there is an option for Giga Brown leather with Carum Spice Gray wool trim.
Engine and performance
The 2018 BMW i3 comes with the same drive-train setup as the 2017 version. On the regular i3, the rear-mounted electric motor still produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-foot of torque. This power propels the i3 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds; it has an electronically limited top speed of 93 mph. The model has been hooked with an upgraded traction control system that improves handling in poor weather conditions as well as enhances its agility when cruising at high speeds.
Things get more exciting with the new i3s sporty variant; the model is equipped with a tweaked version of the electric motor that squeezes out an extra 14 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque to take its power output to 184 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. The extra power coupled with several enhancements lowers its acceleration to 60 mph by 0.4 seconds to 6.8 seconds. Its top speed is also electronically limited at 100mph. The i3s features revised bearing settings and modified motor control. It also features a sport mode that once selected tightens the steering and sharpens throttle response.
On both versions, buyers can opt for a range extender. This extender is actually a 2-cylinder gasoline engine that is used to charge the battery while the vehicle is on the go. It helps increase the model’s range from a paltry 87 miles to 180 miles.
There is an option for a TurboCord charger that enables users to charge the vehicle using both a standard 120-volt and 3.6 kW charging using 240-volt outlets. It takes only 3 hours to replenish the battery on a BMW charge station and 15 hours using a standard 120-volt outlet.
Price and release date
BMW will showcase the i3 at the Frankfurt Auto show that commences on September 12. The automaker has not communicated price details of the i3 in U.S. but in Europe, the base 2018 BMW i3 has an MSRP of £34,070. The base model with a range extender fetches £37,220. The sporty i3s starts at £36,975, adding the range extender takes the price to £40,125. Deliveries will commence later after its public debut. These prices are exclusive of a £4,500 Government’s EV grant.