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Top Gear Reviews UK’s Sportier BMW i3s

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.

2014 BMW All-Electric i3 Press Drive.

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.

BMW Press

“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.

BMW’s X2 Is Fun, But Nothing New

The BMW X2 is the new luxury subcompact SUV from BMW. It’s biggest strengths are that it’s fun to drive, has a sleek exterior design and has lots of brand flashiness for the hardcore bimmer fan.

It’s a little light on room for cargo and passengers, and overall, it doesn’t have a lot to make it stand out from the competition.

Here’s what to expect from the X2:

  • Engine: Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4 2.0 L/122
  • Horsepower: 220
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Miles per gallon: 21 mpg city and 31 mpghighway
  • Seats: Five
  • Base price: $40,000

Design

The X2 is meant to be a sports activity coupe, but it doesn’t really look it from the outside, especially from the front. Inside, the smaller dimensions are more noticeable. The legroom is similar to that of the X1, but there’s less headroom. It also doesn’t have a lot of cargo space — a maximum of 50.1cubic feet.

BMW made some changes when designing the X2. Its traditional kidney grille is wider and the bottom. The car’s C-pillar also has a huge BMW badge, which is atribute to the CS coupes of the 60s and 70s.

In all, the X2 features 20 BMW logos across both the exterior and interior.

Performance

Performanceand handling are some of the X2’s strong suits. It features a 2.0-literturbocharged I4 engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Itfeatures an eight-speed automatic transmission.

You get front-wheel drivestandard but can also get all-wheel drive. You can also opt for the M Sport Xpackage, which has an upgraded suspension and revised shift mapping.

The X2 handles excellently around turns and on twisting back roads. If you turn onSport mode, you’ll feel a bit more weight to your steering and a bit of a quicker throttle response. The brakes feel a bit sticky, though, making commuting in traffic a bit uncomfortable.

You also get a fair amount of road noise in the cabin, because of the run-flat tires. Car and Driver measured 67 decibels at 70 mph.

Tech

TheX2 offers the typical BMW suite of iDrive infotainment features and an 8.8-inch touchscreen that you can also control using the center console. One downside of X2’s tech offerings is the fact that it only has one USB port. You can, however, upgrade to wireless charging as an option. You can also add AppleCapPlay, although that will cost you $300. There’s no option for Android Auto.

You’ll also have to pay extra if you want the driver assistance tech that comes with many other vehicles — even less expensive ones. If you want forward collision and lane departure warnings, you’ll need to add a $700 package.

Adaptive cruise control will cost you $1,000. Unfortunately, there’s no option for blind-spot monitoring.

Final Verdict

The BMW X2 is a decent subcompact crossover. There aren’t any significant drawbacks, but it’s benefits aren’t enough to make it stand out from the pack. It’s $40,000 base price isn’t bad, but you’ll likely want to add some features to get enough functionality to make it worth the purchase.

If you’re a BMW fan looking for a subcompact crossover and you prioritize performance and handling, you’ll enjoy the X2. For everyone else, it’s a solid option but not anything spectacular.

How Does the 2017 BMW 5 Series Stack up Against the 2017 Mercedes E-Class?

Mercedes leaves no market niche unfilled. In the last decade, the three-pointed star brand has taken a portfolio that was robust and injected it with steroids to achieve some vehicles that can only be described as neurotic. BMW, the market-leader not long ago, has pledged 40 new or updated models by 2020 to compete with their Teutonic neighbors.

Consumers who love crossover coupes and electric runabouts can rejoice at all this puffery, but these brands are still best measured by their staple sedans. There is no competition where BMW and Mercedes are more evenly matched than E-Class vs. 5 Series, and for 2018, both are fresh and ready to do battle.

More Alike Than Different

Back in the 1990s and early ‘naughts, this comparison would have been entirely predictable. BMW, the sports sedan company, delivers a businesslike interior and better on-road dynamics. Mercedes sacrifices nimble handling and delivers a more luxurious experience for the well-heeled socialite.

Now, however, things are different. Technology has allowed each company to toe the line further and further into the other’s “niche,” until what was a blurred line no longer exists at all. You can take your Mercedes to the track, and you can use your 5 Series as a limousine — and in both cases, life will go on quite pleasantly.

Parsing Hairs

Still, while these cars might both strive to be the one-car-that-does-it-all, they are two distinct products and must be judged as such. To be fair, it must be said that within each model designation there are a cavalcade of trim levels that include hybrids, all-wheel-drive models, track stars and even a wagon for Mercedes fans.

Using the middle-of-the-road E400 in comparison against the brand-new for 2018 540i is the closest we can get to a head-to-head. Turbo sixes power both cars. Mercedes is more potent on paper, but we hear the bimmer is underrated. However, with both cars scraping 400 horsepower, it is a little concerning to hear that the Merc can have issues with braking.

Styling and Interior

The BMW benefits from coming fresh out of the design shop, and so it brings sharper lines than the E-class — which was initially penned for the 2014 model year and has since been refreshed. However, the Mercedes has aged well, and the E-class coupé is handsome on a level only a 2-door, which BMW doesn’t offer, can achieve.

Inside, the newer BMW offers a world-class infotainment system that is, of course, the latest iDrive interface. Both cars offer superb interior appointments, with the nod going to the Mercedes for overall interior stylishness — it’s just warmer and more inviting than the austere BMW.

The Final Word

Anyone who can put either of these cars in their garage should count themselves lucky. After all, no one said full-size German sedans were cheap. The BMW is new and exciting for 2018, but the halo will fade, and if you go this route, know that it offers slightly higher operating costs than the E-Class.

Even though it’s been on the market for some time, the E-Class remains relevant. It is perhaps the slightly more comfortable car, thanks to its comfy interior, but it does feel heavy on the road next to the new 5 Series. Will you be much happier in either one than driving a company car, though? Unquestionably.