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BMW i3s: The knowledge

A sporting variant of the i3, dubbed i3s, will gain more power, more performance and a new dynamic to differentiate it from its stablemates


When BMW first started testing EV’s with the Mini E back in 2008, nobody knew that it was the i3 which would truly become the company’s flag bearer for electric technology. The i project first hit the roads in 2013, and now BMW has announced that its electric hatchback is about to get a power boost.

Due for release in 2018, the new spec BMW i3s will debut at IAA Frankfurt, featuring a higher output, enhanced handling and all-new chassis features. BMW claim the new sportier i model will offer 'emission free driving, with instantaneous power delivery and increased range'.

Powered by a 33kWh lithium-ion battery, the synchronous electric motor in the i3s generates 186ps and 270Nm of torque, which is sent to the rear axle via a single-speed automatic transmission.

The hotter hatchback is capable of getting from zero to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 160km/h. Even with the added power, BMW hasn’t lost its efficiency, the EV will return a combined electric power consumption of 14.3kWm per 100km/h on the NEDC cycle.

Located low in the vehicle floor, the high-voltage battery has a range of 290km. At a BMW i Wallbox enough charge for 180km of range can be transferred in under three hours, or if you can wait, a standard cable will take five times as long.

The 38ps two-cylinder petrol range extender returns from the original i3, available as an option, drives a generator that produces power to maintain a constant level of charge. This extends the i3s’ battery by 150km.

The sportier member of the i project, also includes an updated drive system, featuring modified motor control and specific taper roller bearings which optimise power delivery and the performance curve at higher rpm.

Additionally, the i3s now includes sport mode, which thanks to newly developed springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, and a 10mm drop in ride height will deliver tighter steering characteristics as well as more direct accelerator response.

The German automaker’s changes aren’t all hidden away. Externally, the trademark i 'Black Belt' running from the bonnet over the roof is now complimented by the A pillars and roof lines. This is complimented by mildly revised front and back to emphasise the car’s width.

While the i3s is stepping into new territory, the original i3 has also been reworked for 2018 (above). And despite being the tamer sibling, the BMW’s original EV boasts impressive figures.

With the same 33kWh battery under the vehicle floor, the new i3 possesses 172ps and 250Nm of torque which means the EV will reach 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, just 0.4 seconds slower than the i3s. So no slouch.

Despite the two newest additions to BMW’s EV line-up looking a close match on paper, the company claim a massive performance boost. “At the limits of the motor speed range, the power and torque of the further developed drive system represent an improvement of up to 40% from the BMW i3.




1 September 2017

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