In an attempt to marry its past (cool driver’s cars) and its future (electrically-powered mobility) BMW has injected some sportiness into its i3 EV.
The ingredients are there for an entertaining drive: super-stiff carbon construction, a low centre of gravity, light weight and plenty of instant electric torque being delivered to the rear wheels.
The i3S builds on this by extracting an extra 10kW/20Nm from the synchronous motor, adding a Sport mode, widening the tracks by 21mm front and 10mm rear, lowering the whole shebang by 10mm and enlarging the rolling stock.
Sweet Dream: BMW i3 M
Whereas the standard i3 wears 19 x 5.0-inch rims and 155/70 tyres front and rear, the S uses staggered rims (20 x 5.5 front; 20 x 6.0-inch rear) and tyres (175/55 front; 195/50 rear).
Our time behind the wheel was brief (about 12km) but it was enough to get a taste of what could be the future of the hot hatch. With maximum torque developed from standstill, the i3’s off-the-mark acceleration is potent and the S spins the motor harder to deliver meaningful pace as speeds rise, slicing 0.4sec from the standard car’s 0-100km/h claim.
The steering is light and Ferrari-quick in its response, which requires acclimation but the chassis feels agile and grippy enough to make the most of it. It’s best suited to tight, twisty, flowing roads where it can exploit its size and corner-exit punch. The ride’s decent, too.
At almost $70K and with a 200km real-world range, the i3 remains essentially an expensive curiosity, but its abilities are well suited to its intended urban use and the S is well worth the $1200 premium.
2018 BMW i3S SPECS:
Engine: Electric Motor