Refreshed city car spotted testing again ahead of Frankfurt launch; performance-oriented S to arrive as range-topper

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.

Our Verdict

BMW i3
Two versions of the BMW i3 are on sale: a pure electric model or a range-extender variant

BMW makes waves with Europe’s first premium-brand compact EV

Join the debate

Comments
13

28 November 2016
If ever a vehicle needed a facelift, this is the one. However I have no confidence whatsoever in styling small cars.

28 November 2016
The i3 has a bold design, that doesn't work, even though so much is quite nice. It is too disjointed. I think just straightening the belt line through the rear doors would tie everything together.

bol

28 November 2016
I wonder how many people will be tossing up between a Fiesta ST and a BMW i3?

20 February 2017
[quote=bol]I wonder how many people will be tossing up between a Fiesta ST and a BMW i3?[/quote] An excellent point! When I used to use the chargers I noted most I3's arriving were the typical well off baby boomer retiree who would normally buy a quality brand as they did when they worked, chatting, they liked the compact size, easy drive and neglible running costs, with most journeys local running around it was ideal and on longer trips they had the time to spare to charge. I doubt any would have a clue even what a 'Focus ST' was!

29 November 2016
Will the facelift include a third seat on the second row to make it, you know, useful on the urban journey school run?

4 December 2016
Looks like it's been in an accident, and it has to be plugged in to the mains before it can go anywhere, so long as anywhere is not too far away. Apart from that though, it's merely awful. Electric cars are going nowhere.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

20 February 2017
It's a range extender so doesn't need to be plugged into the mains if you don't want to, but even so an Autocar verified real world range of 217 miles is probably about the same as your incredible Mini Metro. Styling is subjective, but once you've seen a few of them it does look great. As for sales, 10 times more Plug In's sold in Q4 2016 than 3 years previously.

20 February 2017
I hated the styling of this car when it was first launched. Now, though, I like it. I've seen a few on the road, and friend's of mine have one. I agree that ST buyers andd i3 buyers are unlikley to be comparison shopping, but that misses the point. The fact that there is an option of a fsat electric hatch is great

20 February 2017
Even in its basic form the i3 is probably just fast enough and has the handling to claim a place in the hot hatch bracket. But I agree with the posters that Ford won't be losing their Fiesta or Focus ST customers to a sport variant of the i3 - just yet.

21 February 2017
(it will be the most expensive in the series". WHY?? The batteries and electric motors cost some 50% less than a normal petrol engine so why throw a curve ball ?? because we are gullible and stupid?? Pity because I really like this little blighter

what's life without imagination

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Sporty GT Line styling gives Kia's city car the visual lift it needs to go toe-to-toe with its European rivals, and the 1.2-litre engine does a power of good for its drivability
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    This is a first UK drive of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf, which comes with an updated infotainment system and a lower price. What's not to like?
  • Volkswagen Golf R
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    A facelift for the fantastically capable all-rounder delivers more power and new tech to the cabin, improving on an already exceptional formula
  • Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi 2017
    First Drive
    28 March 2017
    Diesel power makes the Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi frugal, but it doesn’t drive quite as sweetly as our preferred petrol
  • Seat Ibiza from front
    First Drive
    28 March 2017
    Attractive, well equipped and roomy hatchback offers Volkswagen Group quality without the high price tag