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SPORTY AND SENSIBLE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
BMW's compact electric vehicle, the i3, now also comes in sportier i3s guise. Jonathan Crouch looks at the revised 120Ah version.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 110
If you're not yet quite convinced by the electric vehicle revolution, then maybe BMW's i3s could be the car to do it, especially in this improved form complete with a 120Ah battery offering a longer driving range. This is a sportier, more focused version of a model the Munich brand says is all the things you'd expect a compact EV to be - refined, eco-conscious and super-affordable to run. It should certainly surprise you in terms of sheer driving enjoyment and as before, there's the option of adding in a Range Extender petrol generator to alleviate driving range anxiety. It's all part of BMW's rather different approach to EV motoring.
Backgroundword count: 174
Electric cars may still be of minority interest to buyers, but the car makers know that EVs couldn't be more significant. Hence the vast improvements made to the operating range of models in this segment in the last couple of years. Amongst compact contenders in this sector though, there's still only one premium choice - and this is it: this BMW i3. In early 2018, the brand brought us the significantly revised model we're going to test here, then in late 2018, the company further improved it by adding in a much gutsier 120Ah battery. These days, i3 buyers select between the standard version and the sportier i3s variant we're going to look at here, which gets more power and sharper chassis dynamics. Whatever version you prefer, the i3 remains a car of contradictions. An individual choice, yet with mass appeal. And an eco warrior that a petrol head might also enjoy. Ultimately though, it's a BMW born to be electric - which ought to be a very good thing indeed. Let's find out.
Driving Experienceword count: 227
We tried the top i3 derivative, the i3s, which has 184hp, 14hp more than the standard version. The handling of the 's' model has been uprated too, with a 40mm wider track, a 10mm lower ride height, larger 20-inch wheels and specially tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. All of that makes this BMW feel even more planted and agile, embellishing this model's reputation as the first EV able to offer genuine driving enjoyment. Predictably also though, the i3s modifications further stiffen up ride quality that was already quite firm in the standard i3, as the engineers sought to reduce the natural tendency of the tall, narrow body to roll around through the corners. There's no kind of adaptive damping system available to minimise the downside here, so even if you're set on an i3s, we'd advise also trying the ordinary variant before you finally decide. Either way, you'll need to manage your expectations when it comes to the top speed, which is pegged at 99mph in the i3s. And you only get that if you're using the standard 'Drive Performance Control' driving modes system in its normal 'Comfort' or more efficient 'ECO PRO' modes. Switch to the third 'ECO PRO+' setting and your velocity will be restricted to just 50mph. The i3s also has an extra 'Sport' mode for sharper throttle response and tighter steering characteristics.
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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen
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