BMW are adding another vehicle to their BMW i range. This year bringing a sport offering- the first ever sports i3, known as i3s.
Quirky, fun, eco-conscious. This car is for the eco-lovers and CO2 emission busters, while also maintaining practicality for those urban dwellers.
Similarly designed to the BMW i3 MY17, however with a slightly updated chassis for a more fiecer, sportier appearance.
For example, both the front and rear of the car have been restyled in an effort to emphasis the cars width. Additionally, a chrome-design trim strip runs across the rear boot lid (see below).
The ‘Melbourne Red’ paintwork guaranteed me to stand out, even more so than I already would driving this quirky set of wheels. Then you’ve got the rear-hinged suicide doors- a standard feature of the i3 model range.
For an in-depth explanation of the unique interior i3 design features, check out my previous article: BMW i3 (94Ah) with Range Extender (2017) review.
Design options fitted:
- Metallic Paintwork- $1090
- BMW i interior design Suite- $1538
- Upholstery natural leather ‘Stellaric’ Dalbergia Brown
- Door panels and cloth in Dalbergia Brown
- Door and side trim natural leather exclusive
- Instrument panel in Natural leather Exclusive Dalbergia Brown
- Interior trim in Fine-wood Oak dark matt
- Steering wheel in Satin Silver contrast ring
- Floor mat and global colour in Anthracite
- Roofliner in Carum Spice Grey, LED lighting orange/white for front and rear door pull handle, and for front map pocket
- 20” BMW i light alloy wheel Double-spoke style 431 Jet Black with mixed tyres -$231
Given this is the sport offering of the i3 range, I was very curious just to see how it stacked up in comparison to it’s standard offerings.
The most important upgrade is the slightly higher performance motor 135 kW(i3s) compared to 125 kW(i3), and a new sport suspension.
From a 0-100km/hr view- the car hit this in 6.9 seconds-very impress outcome. It also feels a lot quicker than this due to how quiet the car is within the cabin and the one-speed transmission.
(For comparison, it’s 0.4 seconds faster than the standard i3.)
There are 4 driving modes available in this car, each with different comfort settings and efficiency.
For example Eco Pro+ turns off all comfort settings (e.g. seat heating, fans etc), vs Sport which maximises dynamic driving (e.g. faster acceleration responses, dynamic sports suspension and more direct steering).
- Eco Pro+
- Eco Pro
When it comes to technology, BMW is a front runner. And this i3s is no exception.
The layout of the car feels somewhat like a spaceship, and you’re the captain. (I’m the captain now!)
The customisation capabilities are great, and the vehicle details/insights are particularly interesting due to it being electric.
Plus with the BMW i app, I am able to keep an eye on my vehicle status, and check it’s charge remotely- something I definitely took advantage of especially when I needed to ensure I could make it home after a weekend away.
A good tip for getting the most out of your charge is pre-air conditioning or heating your car while it’s still plugged in. That way when you unplug to leave, the car is ready to go, and you can conserve some of those battery juices for you to play with in Sports mode (you’ll thank me later)!
As standard the i3s includes:
- 3-phase AC rapid charging
- DC rapid charging
- Acoustic protection for pedestrians
- BMW i Interior Design Lodge
- Convenience telephony with extended Smartphone
- DAB+ Digital radio tuner
- Driving Assistant Plus
- LED headlights
- Instrument cluster with 5.7” digital colour display
- Navigation System Professional
- Parking Assistant Package
- Speed Limiter
- Stereo system, 4 loudspeakers, 100 W, FM tuner
As well as:
- BMW ConnectedDrive
- BMW Connected+, Concierge Service, ConnectedDrive Service, Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), Remote Services, Intelligent Emergency Call, TeleServices
This car was optioned with the following tech:
- Comfort Package (Comfort Access System, Front Seat Heating, HiFi loudspeaker
system harman/kardon) – $2000
The MY18 i3s I reviewed was fitted with a Type 2 (Mennekes) charging connector port and a CCS DC fast charging port (see below). Previous i3 models (such as the one I reviewed last year) is fitted with a type 1 (J1772) port.
If I’m perfectly honest, electric cars in general are confusing to me (they are still such new technology- especially in Australia).
If you’re going to buy an electric car, it is worth doing the following:
- Invest in an extension cord (that can safely handle the capacity of volts- do research first)
- Invest in a few charging connector adapters/converter
- Know the difference in charging ports available at charger locations and,
- Plan your journey if you’re going outside of your comfortable travel range (e.g. 100km).
Talk to any other electric/hybrid owner and this is something of a reality.
Even though there are plenty of charge points available in Victoria for electric cars, especially with City Councils like Moreland and Daylesford regions investing on this sort of sustainability, it’s can be difficult to figure out what adapter they have available and it’s in some cases harder to guarantee it’s accessibility.
That being said, Eco Pro+ mode is a god send, and meant I could squeeze out 230km of conscious driving. (Don’t quote me on this, as this is just an example of my use and will differ case by case depending on so many factors such as road quality, use of headlights, wipers etc.)
The i3s is powered by 360 V DC motor, with a battery range of up to 200km (when driven in Comfort Mode).
I’m not going to sit here and try and tell you this car is your ideal roadtrip vehicle. That doesn’t mean you can’t do them, but you have to remember the range limitations. Range anxiety is a term that is familiar to me, thanks to living a bit over an hour away from Melbourne.
The i3s is however wonderfully suited to the urban/surburban lifestyle. But it can definitely handle a short trip out of the city too.
In ECO Pro+ mode you can definitely get more than 200km+ of range (from experience).
But realistically, this car was made to do your quick runs around town. Get your shopping, do the school drop-offs, drive to work. ESPECIALLY in sports mode, which zaps your battery efficiency…but in return you get fun and dynamic driving. (Well worth the trade-off in my opinion…)
It does an amazing job for city driving, but if you’re dreaming of an electric car that you can take away far away for the weekend, you’ll find it MANAGEABLE with the i3s…That’s not to say it isn’t possible, but it requires a bit of planning.
I myself live outside the city so living with this car for the week, I certainly put it to the test of what it and MYSELF are capable of. (From my door to the CBD, it’s 90km each way! Then my friends, some of them who live 178km from me one way!)
I learnt that I should invest in an extension lead, and power up at friend’s houses whenever I get the chance to. ‘Borrowing’ as much juice as I could from friends and family alike.
But with that being said, it’s not all doom with this electric car, it’s also brilliantly spacious.
Can fit 4 adults comfortably, and it won’t struggle with your shopping or local getaways.
Honestly, there is so much I could say about the BMW i3, with so many quirky features and things about the car which I rejoice about.
The car is a head-turner, but also an absolute pleasure to drive, especially in Sports mode.
It’s exciting seeing brands like BMW invest in the future of electric, and as always I can’t wait to see what they do next.
The i3s is priced at MRLP $69,990 not including on-road costs. The car reviewed with options fitted (above) was priced at $74,759, not including on-roads.
Review vehicle provided on behalf of BMW Group Australia
Photography by Andrea Hobbs