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BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show

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BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show
BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show
BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show

BMW has whipped the covers off its updated two-tier i3 electric vehicle (EV) range, which is now topped by an i3s model that promises a sportier driving experience, but an Australian launch is yet to be officially confirmed.

According to BMW Group Australia product communications manager Adam Davis, European production starts in November, while an Aussie debut could occur as soon as the end of the first quarter next year.

“We have put our hand up for both variants,” he said. “We will advise timings when we’ve worked out market positioning, local specification and pricing.”

Stepping up to the i3s boosts power and torque to 135kW/270Nm, with its retooled electric motor helping the 0-100km/h sprint time drop to 6.9s.

The i3 and i3s employ the same 94 ampere hour (Ah) battery introduced to the line-up in October last year, but in two different states of tune.

The i3 unit punches out 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque, all of which is available from standstill. It dashes from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds while on the way to an electronically-limited top speed of 150km/h.

On the the NEDC cycle, the i3’s driving range is rated between 290-300 kilometres, while its combined electric power consumption checks in from 13.1-13.6 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 kilometres.

Stepping up to the i3s boosts power and torque to 135kW/270Nm, with its retooled electric motor helping the 0-100km/h sprint time drop to 6.9s, while top speed jumps to 160km/h. BMW says outputs at the limit have increased by 40 per cent when compared to the i3.

Driving range for the i3s is rated at 280km (on the NEDC cycle), while its combined electric power consumption checks in at 14.3kWh per 100km.

Both EVs send drive to the rear wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission.

Previously serving as its entry-level variant, the 60Ah version of the i3 will no longer be manufactured following this mid-life update – or Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW language.

BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show
BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show
BMW i3, i3s 2018 revealed ahead of Frankfurt show

However, full EV (BEV) and Range Extender (REx) derivatives of the i3 and i3s will be offered, the latter of which adds a 28kW two-cylinder petrol engine that extends ‘everyday’ range by 150km while driving.

A new standard charging cable – which has been optimised and now features a temperature sensor – will be included with every European i3 and i3s, but it is unclear if it will be suitable for domestic use in Australia homes.

The i3s rides on a sports suspension that drops ride height by 10mm, while its track width is increased by 40mm and highlighted by black wheelarch borders and 20-inch double-spoke alloy wheels with 20mm-wider rubber.

Exclusive to the i3s is a ‘Sport’ driving mode that enhances accelerator response and provides tighter steering behaviour, adding to its sport-focused blueprint.

Furthermore, the i3’s stability and traction control system has been optimised to offer quicker responsiveness and better traction in all driving conditions, as well as allowing for slight drifts when grip levels are reduced.

Redesigned front and rear aprons emphasise the vehicle’s width and are model-specific colour-wise, while all-LED headlights with new-look daytime running lamps (DRLs) have also been introduced, complementing the rear-end’s existing LED tail-lights.

With a focus on creating a sporty look, the Bavarian carmaker has extended the external black finish – dubbed ‘i Black Belt’ – to include the A-pillars and roof lines on the i3s, while ‘Melbourne Red’ and ‘Imperial Blue’ metallic paints have been added to the colour palette for the remaining body elements.

The existing i3 94Ah BEV and REx are on sale from $68,100 and $74,100 before on-road costs respectively.

Inside, changes are more subtle as the ‘Atelier’, ‘Loft’, ‘Lodge’ and ‘Suite’ interior themes return. Nevertheless, the ‘Lodge’ picks up ‘Solaric Brown’ leather upholstery, in addition to a blue seat belt option.

The multimedia system is now powered by BMW’s latest ‘iDrive’ software with voice control, while its display panel measures up to 10.25 inches.

Additionally, the suite of ‘ConnectedDrive’ services has further expanded, including features like real-time traffic, public charging station information and over-the-air map updates.

Overseas, an optional ‘Parking Assistance’ package includes a reversing camera, parking sensors and park assist, while ‘Driving Assistant Plus’ is comprised of AEB, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, speed limit info and adaptive cruise control.

The existing i3 94Ah BEV and REx are on sale from $68,100 and $74,100 before on-road costs respectively. Pricing for the new model is expected to remain in this vicinity.

The new BMW i3 and i3s will make their public debuts at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

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