2017 BMW i3 update brings more range, higher price tag

Two new models have been added to BMW’s i3 small car family, with high-capacity battery tech seeing maximum range improve by 63 percent compared to existing models. With both of the newcomers sporting a $2000 premium over the standard i3s they’re based upon, is BMW’s pintsized eco hatch finally a sharp buy?

BMW I 3 With Battery Pack Jpg

BMW has doubled the number of BMW i3 offerings for Australia, with two new models joining the lineup toting bigger batteries to boost range to a maximum of 390km.

With 34Ah more capacity than the existing i3, the i3 94Ah battery-electric and i3 94Ah Range Extender can travel for up to 300km and 390km respectively before running out of juice. Those numbers fall to 200km and 320km in real-world driving (where air conditioning and the infotainment system remain in use), but that still represents a handy increase over the 60Ah models.

The standard i3 60Ah can travel up to 190km on a single charge. The Range Extender models add a two-cylinder engine and generator to provide additional travel distance (and some degree of redundancy should the battery run flat in the middle of nowhere), and both 60Ah and 94Ah Range Extenders have an average fuel consumption of just 0.6L/100km.

Retail prices for the 94Ah variants will be $65,900 for the i3 94Ah and $71,900 for i3 94Ah REx. The i3 and i3 REx prices will remain unchanged at $63,900 and $69,900.

BMW i3

BMW managed to increase battery capacity for the 94Ah models without changing the car's dimensions, meaning interior space hasn’t been compromised. The only downside is increased weight, meaning a slight drop in performance that will be barely noticeable without a stopwatch – the i3 94A does 0-100km in 7.3secs compared to the i3 60Ah’s 7.2secs. Meanwhile, 80-120km/h in-gear acceleration takes 5.1 rather than 4.9 seconds.

The 94Ah variants have a common Type 1 AC charging connector that’s compatible with public charging stations around the country, which take around four hours for an 80 per cent charge. Owners can also purchase a BMW iWall Box for home charging which takes the battery to 80 per cent in around eight hours.

New colours for 2017 include a Protonic Blue exterior paint option featured on the BMW i8 hybrid sports car along with five other colours – non-metallic Capparis White and Fluid Black, and metallic Mineral Grey, Platinum Silver and Iconic Silver.

There are also three interior designs, representing wholly different character traits. Loft, which is the white, clean architectural choice; Lodge, which looks like a Scandinavian retreat with light grey wool fabrics, tan leather trim and light-coloured wood accents; and Suite complete with elegant full dark brown leather seats. Each are adorned with a mix of naturally-treated leathers, wood, wool and other renewable raw materials.

BMW i3 interior

Standard features include BMW Connected Drive system that informs the driver of the battery charging status and provides directions to nearby charging stations while also displaying real-time traffic information. 

Certain i3 functions can also be controlled with the BMW i Remote App, which lets owners use their smart phones to check if the car is charged or turn on the heating or air-conditioning as desired without even getting out of bed. The app also provides remote locking functions, efficiency history, current range and a ‘destination send’ navigational capability, which of course you do have to be in the car for.  

All BMW i3 variants feature the iDrive operation system, to easily control entertainment, information, communication and navigation functions, LED daytime driving lights, active cruise control, front and rear park distance control (PDC) with rear sensors, and economy and comfort driving modes,

The i3 94Ah and i3 94Ah Range Extender will be available at BMW dealerships in October.

Updated BMW i3 range pricing (before on-road costs)

BMW i3: $63,900
BMW i3 with Range Extender: $69,900
BMW i3 94Ah Electric Vehicle: $65,900
BMW i3 94Ah with Range Extender: $71,900


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