The i3s’s extra 19lb ft over the regular i3 certainly shows in the performance figures we recorded and lends the car an even more enthusiastic character than that we reported on back in 2013. It equates to a 30-70mph sprint time that is a whole second faster than a like-for-like i3’s, at 6.6sec. It’s more than enough of a difference to perceive on a wide-open throttle, and generally well worthy of any hot supermini.
With lots of torque available right from the get-go, the i3s is well suited to urban driving. It has instant, muscular-feeling performance that’s strong enough to outpace most everyday traffic up to the national speed limit and can nip in and out of gaps at urban speeds particularly effectively.
As a glance at the power and torque curve will suggest, you’ll have strayed beyond peak power and way beyond peak torque by the time you’ve accelerated beyond 60mph – which explains why, beyond there, the car so quickly surrenders the urgency of its pace. Only proper gearboxes will solve this problem for EVs in the long term.
With the range-extending generator, BMW claims the i3s will dispatch the sprint from zero to 62mph in 7.7sec and we matched that almost to the tenth in damp conditions. If you choose to forego the 120kg ballast of a range-extender engine, though, that claimed 0-62mph drops to a hot-hatch-troubling 6.9sec – something well worth considering if you’re buying an i3s for its performance pep and won’t use it for longer journeys.