The BMW i3 range will be updated for 2018 with light design tweaks and a new range-topping hot model.
The i3S, as it is expected to be called, will offer improved straight-line performance and a more sporting character, making it the market's first proper electric hot hatch.
It will get an uprated version of the current i3's rear-mounted electric motor which produces 168bhp and 184lb ft of torque, trimming the i3's 7.3sec 0-62mph time. While it won't be drastically quicker than the regular car, even minor improvements on the i3's numbers would be enough to push the i3S into the performance realms of conventional hot hatches such as the Ford Fiesta ST.
BMW is remaining tight-lipped on the i3S's arrival, but a source has told Autocar that the model will become the most expensive model in the i3 line-up. The electric hot hatch is expected to make its debut alongside the facelifted i3 range at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in September.
The i3 range as a whole will get minor styling tweaks, and latest sightings of a development car winter testing in Scandinavia show the changes will focus around the headlights and bumpers, with the lower section of the development car's rear featuring a design similar to the i8's.
Inside, the car's dashboard is expected to be refreshed with an updated infotainment system.
Autocar understands the powertrain improvements for the i3 range will be minor, slightly building on the upgraded i3 94Ah model that was introduced last year. That car has a 33kWh battery that boosts the i3’s range to 195 miles (up from 118) when measured by the official New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test. The 2017 i3 will therefore almost certainly push range beyond 200 miles for the first time.
Along with the styling tweaks and technical upgrades, the i3’s colour palette will also be added to, offering more variations and customisation.
The first facelifted i3s will likely arrive in British showrooms by the start of 2018.