The BMW i3S Is The Hot EV Hatch We Never Knew We Wanted

City Cars

Only a mild performance increase, yes, but more than enough to make commuting that bit more entertaining.

With all the new metal being showcased at Frankfurt, it’s easy for the less immediately-exciting cars on display to be overlooked. The prime example of this can be found on the huge BMW booth: with the i Vision Dynamics and X7 iPerformance concepts grabbing all the headlines, the electrified hatchback that BMW will actually sell you has been largely forgotten as of late. As such, now's the ideal time to address that balance with the new BMW i3s.

The big news regarding the BMW i3s involves the powertrain upgrades. Whilst the electric motor remains largely unchanged, subtle revisions do result in outputs of 184 horsepower and 199 lb-ft (up from the base car's 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft). They sound meager, but those mild improvements do result in the BMW i3s being rather nippy: the range-extender model can now reach 62 mph from a standstill in 7.7 seconds, with a 6.9 seconds time for the EV model. Not eye-watering times, admittedly, but plenty for the city streets and stop/start traffic the i3s will likely spend most of its life dealing with on a daily basis.

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Being the quote-on-quote sportier offering in the i3 range, the BMW i3s also boasts flared-up body mods. Bolder front intakes and a more sculpted front bumper lend the car a more distinctive face over the already-unmistakable base i3, with the lowered sports suspension and extra 40 mm of front and rear track width also doing their part in making the BMW i3s more visually arresting. New paint jobs are also on offer, ranging from red-and-black two-tone jobs to the monochrome scheme shown in these photos. Alas, nothing really of note has been done to the interior, but that at least means there’s nothing to moan about regarding fit-and-finish.

Other aspects of the BMW i3s do puzzle with their inclusion (namely the new Dynamic Traction Control setup, which allows the driver to – we kid you not – enjoy “mild and safe controllable drifts” where appropriate) and their omission (no details on the range-extender version’s range have been disclosed at time of writing), and the appeal of the BMW i3s will certainly hinge on how much more it’ll cost over a regular BMW i3. That said, with spec sheets and a good-looking show car to go on at the moment, we’re remaining optimistic about the BMW i3s’ chances when it goes on sale during the 2018 model year.