First drive: BMW i3S – an electric hot hatch

Back in 2013 BMW brought us the i3, a compact and agile electric car. Designed as an premium EV from the ground up making use of light-weight materials including a carbon fibre reinforced plastic passenger shell shrouded in plastic panels topped off with a full length carbon fibre roof.

BMW i3S in white with black wheels
The New BMW i3S features small differences to the standard i3, on the right is my 2016 model

At this years Frankfurt Motorshow we saw the arrival of an updated model, referred to as the LCI, with mild tweaks to the front and rear bumpers, new paint colours and more standard kit. Additionally the i3 gained a sportier sibling, the range topping S.

An i3 can never be considered a slouch, with 62mph arriving in just 7.3 seconds. Yet that figure is only part of the story, it’s how it gets to 40mph that is just stunning and leaves others well behind you at the lights.

Bmw i3s Frankfurt
i3S made a public debut in Frankfurt

The sporty S brings an extra 15bhp and 20nm of torque. Engaging sport mode causes the i3 to surge forward and offer up those extra numbers through the instantly responsive right pedal. The performance increase is most obvious above 40-50mph when the standard i3 would feel like it’s running slightly out of steam. Now seat pinning acceleration is available at any speed with 62mph reached in 6.9 seconds and continuing to a higher top speed of 99mph.

Externally a number of small details set the S aside. Flared wheel arches topped with black trim increase the body width by 40mm. Horizontal blue fins adorn the nose to replace the usual blue rimmed double-kidney.  Lower firmer suspension has dropped the EV hot hatch by 10mm creating a more aggressive stance, as do the wider 20inch rims, neither of which have effected the quality of the ride, in fact they have improved it.

The unique alloy wheels are available in black or silver and would not look out of place an on any BMW M car. To continue the aggressive looks the new silver roofline stripe found on the LCI has been omitted – which is a shame as it visually drops the roof line on what remains a tall car.

Lowering the i3 has removed some of the body roll the standard car suffers with, creating a more engaging drive and the wider tyres add weight to the steering offering a pleasing sporty feel.

Inside you will need to look hard to the find clues to indicate you are in a performance i3 as the S is offered with the same interior trims as the standard model . The new additions are the sport mode option on the drive selector and a logo on the front carpet mat to match the one found on the boot lid.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.

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