Improvements to the electrically driven BMW i3 include a mix of aesthetics, features and new digital services along with an additional model variant.
The BMW i3 has been the top-selling premium electric car in its class since 2014, although with just two units sold in South Africa in May and three in April, it has not yet established a foothold – so much so, the new model was launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town and not Durban because of the extremely low volume of sales in that city.
The new BMW i3 has a number of design tweaks and the trademark BMW i Black Belt running from the bonnet over the roof to the car’s rear end is now complemented by A-pillars and roof lines that also sport a black finish.
The front and rear aprons are restyled and there is a chrome-design trim strip running across the full width of the rear.
The new BMW i3 comes equipped with all-LED headlights as standard, which employ LED bulb units for dipped beam and high beam as well as the daytime running lights. The new turn signal indicators also feature LED technology and are integrated into the front apron in the form of horizontal strips.
The design principle of the four-seater model means there is no need for either fixed B-pillars or a transmission tunnel. Doors that open in opposite directions allow the occupants to get in and out with the greatest of ease.
The Loft, Lodge and Suite equipment lines are available for the new BMW i3 as alternatives to the standard Atelier version.
The Lodge interior design option includes a new covering for the seat surfaces in Solaric Brown that combines natural leather tanned using an olive leaf extract with a wool-based textile material. In fact, more than 80% of the surfaces visible to the passengers are made from recycled materials or renewable resources.
The synchronous electric motor powering the new BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW. Its peak torque is 250 Nm, all of which is available instantly from a standstill, as is usual with electric motors.
This means 0-100 km/h is achieved in 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 150 km/h.
Located low in the vehicle floor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery provides a range of 290 km to 300 km based on the NEDC cycle, 235 km to 255 km as per WLTP and up to 200 km in everyday use. The combined electric power consumption of the new BMW i3 on the NEDC cycle varies between 13,6 and 13,1 kWh for every 100 kilometres.
The handling characteristics of the BMW i3 are improved by the optimised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. This comprehensively revised, faster responding traction control system guarantees confident handling under all driving conditions.
The BMW i3 now features a globally unique form of wheel speed limiting that ensures increased directional stability, both under dynamic acceleration and on the overrun with strong regenerative braking.
A 28 kW two-cylinder range extender petrol engine is available as an option. The engine drives a generator that produces power as required while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This extends the car’s overall range in everyday use by 150 kilometres, increasing it from around 180 kilometres to a maximum of 330 kilometres. The all-electric range of the new BMW i3 with range extender is 225 to 235 kilometres as per NEDC and 190 to 200 kilometres as per WLTP.
On the NEDC cycle, the new BMW i3 with range extender returns combined consumption figures of 0,6 l/100 km.
The optional Parking Assistance package includes Park Distance Control, a reversing camera and the Parking Assistant. Once a suitable parking space parallel to the road has been selected, the Parking Assistant takes control of acceleration, braking, gear selection and steering.
The new BMW i3 comes with an updated version of the iDrive operating system, which provides an intuitive interface for controlling numerous vehicle, infotainment, communications and navigation functions. In vehicles equipped with the Navigation system Professional, the Control Display has a diagonal of 10,25 inches and an increased resolution of 1 440 × 540 pixels. The main menu is also presented in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode.
The voice recognition system has also been further optimised. With the aid of Natural Language Understanding, spoken instructions can now be executed more quickly and precisely.
Charging at home is extremely user-friendly thanks to the BMW i Wallbox which, in its most recent incarnation, can supply 11 kW of power to charge the high-voltage battery. This allows enough energy for an electric range of around 180 kilometres to be transferred in under three hours – five times quicker than with the standard charging cable.