BMW’s i3 set a new template for electric cars when the first generation was launched in 2013, and successive models have gained more tech, more powerful batteries and longer ranges. The 2020 model i3s is the i3’s sporty brother; it’s faster, wider, lower and has several unique design features
Free from the shackles of having to accommodate a combustion engine and its ancillaries, BMW’s designers gave free rein to their vision of a futuristic city car. Compact, with minimal overhangs and a short ‘bonnet’, the i3S maximises passenger space within a small footprint. The avant-garde design features ‘suicide’ forward-opening rear door and a quirky kinked side profile. To distinguish the i3s, its specification includes 20" BMW double-spoke alloy wheels, A-pillar and roof in gloss black, a special front bumper inlay and a wider track with black wheel arch extensions.
Thanks to the latest 120Ah battery pack, the i3s has an impressive range of 173-175 miles, measured on the WLTP Pure Electric Range combined test. That’s enough to get you comfortably from London to Brighton and back on a single charge. The i3s is faster than the standard i3, taking just 6.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, thanks to an extra 14hp and 20Nm. It also has a unique SPORT driving mode with adapted pedal response and rides lower on sports suspension.
To save weight, the i3s is constructed from high strength, ultra-lightweight CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) bonded to a lower aluminium module holding the chassis, battery, drive system and powertrain. Inside, standard features include Bluetooth hands-free compatibility, BMW Professional Multimedia navigation with real-time traffic information, front seat heating, rear park distance control and rain sensor with auto wiper and headlight function. Unique to the i3s is a SPORT drive mode.
The i3s comes with BMW Emergency Call as standard. In the event of a collision, the system will automatically establish a direct link to the local emergency services and send details of your location and severity of damage. Airbags are fitted to the front and side of the two front seats while the curtain head protection airbags extend from to front and rear. Its Dynamic Stability Control+ systems include brake assist, cornering brake control and automatic stability control.
Verdict: For anyone who’s looking for a small EV with a dash more style the i3s hits the spot. It’s fast off the line, handles like a go-kart and is stylish, well-equipped and surprisingly spacious. And here’s the clincher; compared with the fuel costs of a petrol car delivering 40mpg, BMW claim you’d save about £1300 over a typical 10,000 annual mileage, while producing zero emissions. The sporty i3s rewards the keen driver without (literally) costing the earth.