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A hotted-up version first reported last year has now been made official, with today’s online unveiling of the 2018 BMW i3s.

Joining a lightly facelifted line-up that last year added the ’94Ah’ model, the i3s – another awkwardly named variant and not merely a group of i3s – sets itself apart with a subtle sports kit and a moderate power bump.

The updated range does away with last year’s carryover entry model (which featured the same 60Ah/22kWh battery pack the i3 originally launched with), leaving only the 94Ah/33kWh battery and dropping the ’94Ah’ name in the process.

The i3s, as the new flagship of the electric-only i3 models (the range-extender variant continues as an option), is fuelled by the same 33kWh battery pack, but favours sportiness over range.

Where the regular i3 lists power and torque at 125kW and 250Nm respectively, with a 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds, the i3s bumps the numbers up slightly to 135kW 270Nm, shaving its sprint time to 6.9 seconds. Not hot, but surely warm.

Still, while the i3s is therefore the sportier of the two, its claimed driving range – listed in various forms across an asterisk-loaded read-the-fine-print paragraph – isn’t far off that of its lesser sibling.

For the battery i3, BMW claims a driving range of 290 to 300 kilometres (*) based on the familiar NEDC test cycle, 235 to 255km (**) on the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) cycle, and “up to” 200km (***) in everyday use.

The battery i3s claims 280 kilometres (*) on the NEDC cycle, 235 to 245km (**) on the WLTP cycle and – here they line up – up to 200km (***) in everyday use.

Here’s a breakdown for those caveat asterisks:

* Consumption and emissions figures as well as ranges according to NEDC test cycle, may vary depending on the tyre format specified.

** Ranges according to WLTP test cycle, may vary depending on the tyre format specified and the equipment level. (Note: this procedure, considered a more realistic measure, is intended to replace the New European Driving Cycle procedure that was mandated by the European Commission in 1996.)

*** Figures according to BMW range measurements in everyday use in urban areas, exterior temperature: 20°C, heating/air conditioning, preconditioning, COMFORT driving mode. Range dependent on various factors. In particular: personal driving style, route characteristics, exterior temperature, pre-conditioning.

A 28kW two-cylinder petrol range-extender engine will again be offered for both models, increasing “everyday” driving range in both to around 330 kilometres.

Coming back to what makes the i3s the sportier model, there’s new a sports suspension setup that also lowers the car by 10mm, along with a 40mm wider track – thanks to those little wheel-arch flares. They sit over new new 20-inch wheels that are 20mm wider, subtly reducing the pizza-tray look of the regular model’s hoops.

There’s a number of new exterior colour and interior trim updates for the new model year, along with an updated 10.2-inch iDrive infotainment display when optioned with the ‘Professional’ package. That screen brings a with a higher-resolution 1440×540-pixel panel – up from 1280×480 for the previous model’s display.

Apple CarPlay is also available as an optional extra, but Android Auto is not listed.


The refreshed i3 range will make its global debut at next month’s Frankfurt motor show.

Australian timing is still to be announced, although a November production date for the new models is locked in. Therefore, Australian deliveries could start late in the first quarter of 2018 or early in the second.

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Above: Facelifted 2018 i3, pre-facelift 2017 i3