BMW is boosting the performance appeal of its battery-powered vehicle lineup with a sportier variant of the i3 set to go on sale next year.
Dubbed the i3s, the punchier EV hatchback is part of a mid-cycle refresh that brings updated styling and new standard LED headlights across the line and trim-specific styling cues for the sportier model.
Key to the i3s’s specs is an electric drivetrain BMW says was optimized to make 184 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Those aren’t exactly breathtaking numbers, but they represent increases of 14 hp and 15 lb-ft, enough to speed the car’s zero-to-100 km/h sprint to 6.8 seconds, 0.4 less than the standard model.
BMW says the extra performance is credited to modified electric motor controls and a new motor with upgraded bearings, which boost performance at higher motor speeds. While the i3s’s motor makes less than 10 percent more power than the base model, the Bavarian automaker claims the upgraded powertrain offers a 40 percent improvement in performance.
The i3s is also the first i3 with a sport driving mode, which gives the car more immediate accelerator response and “tighter” steering.
Appearance-wise, BMW calls out the new i3’s updated exterior, with design cues conceived to make the car look wider and more athletic. The i3s adds to that by actually being wider: it rides on larger wheels set 40 mm further apart than the base i3 and housed in trim-specific wheel arches, and boasts a firmer suspension that drops the ride height by 10 mm. The i3s also gets its own front and rear bumpers that, again, emphasize the car’s width.
As before, the i3 is available as an all-electric car, or a range-extended model with a two-cylinder gas engine that generates electricity to keep the electric motor fed.
BMW will officially reveal the i3s at the Frankfurt auto show in September. Pricing will be announced closer to the car’s spring 2018 on-sale date.