The i3’s upright body profile, its relatively high centre of gravity and the profile of its tyres (designed as they are to minimise rolling resistance and maximise battery range) continue to present the car with significant dynamic hurdles to overcome. Even so, the i3s succeeds in two key dimensions: by being at once a more grippy, settled, balanced and compelling proposition than a standard i3, and a much more engaging and charismatic car to drive than any of its all-electric rivals.
That it still doesn’t feel as stable, purposeful or rewarding as any of the piston-engined hot hatches you could spend its asking price on may be true, but it’d be a very uncharitable basis by which to deny it due credit here.
It’s the i3s’s steering that provides the first hint of its ambition to offer a more athletic drive than the average battery car. There’s a noticeable amount of heft here, particularly at low speeds, and its quick gearing lends the i3s plenty of easy agility.
Then there’s the way it rides. The i3s is firm-riding – not to the point of being in any way uncomfortable, but just a little short on suppleness over rougher surfaces. A compromise is being struck here, of course, between day-to-day comfort, outright grip, handling response and terrierish motive temperament; and for a performance-oriented car, it’s probably the right one.