BMW just released in Britain an i3s, the sportier version of its electric i3, with a larger 120 Ah battery. Top Gear decided to give the upgraded i3s a try, and the resulting review paints a pretty alluring picture of what it’s like to drive the car.
The i3s offers 182bhp, about 14 more than the i3, and can go from 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds, 0.4 less than the i3. It also features one-inch-bigger wheels, 10mm-lower suspension, a 40mm-wider track and extended wheel arches. The car’s max speed is 99mph.
The drive system now also has a new Sport mode, and you get a bespoke steering setup and slightly updated exterior design. The upgraded i3s costs £37,615, or about 49,022, new — about 3,258 more than the regular i3. Overall, Top Gear gave the BMW i3s a rating of 8/10.
The Top Gear reviewer, Stephen Dobie, notes that on paper the differences between the i3s and i3 are pretty subtle. When it comes to how the car drives though, he writes, the i3s “does noticeably lift it to another level.” He notes that the acceleration is “flipping quick” up to 60 miles per hour, especially in the first 40. Lifting off the gas pedal often provides enough of a slowdown to navigate turns, speed bumps and the like without needing to hit the brakes.
Top Gear writes that the i3s handles well “to an extent.” Dobie notes the vehicle’s tall body and flighty steering as well as its rear-wheel drive and the fact that the car’s heaviest portions are set low. After some time, you’ll get used to how the car handles and even learn to take advantage of it to tuck into and out of corners, he writes.
“It’ll even indulge a small amount of silliness if you slacken off the stability control,” Dobie says. Loosening up the stability control with a few turns and clicks of the iDrive wheel will let you get enough momentum during a turn to enjoy some nano-slides.
The setup and design of the car seem to encourage you to drive fast, Dobie says. There’s a large fishbowl windscreen that gives you a clear view of the road, and a digital speedometer at the bottom of it. The way the car flat-lines its acceleration around the typical highway speed limit means you can get to the car’s fun dynamics without pushing too hard.
“What’s present here – and not in a Leaf, Zoe or Ioniq – is a real sense of humour, and layers of fun beyond those first few hits away from the traffic lights,” Dobie writes in his review. “Isn’t it vital to know as cars fundamentally change, their sense of fun is still tangible?”
Of course, if you drive hard, your range will decrease from the quoted 160 miles. The car doesn’t have the optional range extender, a small gas-powered engine, anymore either — it’s fully electric.
Based on this review though, it seems like enjoying the full extent of the driving experience the i3s has to offer might be worthing losing a bit of range now and then.