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BMW i3s review: Let the sparks fly

It may not look it, but the BMW i3s is the closest thing we have to an electric sports car for now.

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BMW i3s 94Ah.

Singapore

A CARBON-FIBRE chassis, wacky doors, otherworldly looks and acceleration that will take your breath away.

Think these attributes describe some ultra high-end supercar?

Quite the opposite actually, for these are all features of the BMW i3s (a sportier variant of the i3) which is an egg-shaped electric city car.

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Introduced here in 2014, the i3 has recently been given a facelift, gaining different bumpers, full LED headlights and an updated iDrive infotainment system.

Meanwhile, the i3s can be identified by black inlays in the bumpers, black roof pillars, and tiny wheel arch extensions over each wheel.

The changes aren't just cosmetic - there are also several mechanical differences that earn the car that 's'. The tyres are 20mm wider, the track has been increased by 40mm, the suspension is 10mm lower, and the electric motor produces an extra 14hp for a total of 184hp.

Compared to a regular i3, the i3s inspires much more confidence in the corners. There's now more composure over mid-corner bumps, and the wider tyres have significantly more grip, although they're also noticeably noisier.

Despite the lowered suspension, ride comfort has improved as well.

Around town, the i3s excels like no other car, fossil fuel or electric-powered alike. Acceleration is hilariously strong and smooth, which is useful for overtaking those pesky drivers when they refuse to give way.

The steering is also super sensitive, which means you don't have to twirl the wheel much, even for parking or making U-turns.

However, the drawback to this is a twitchiness at high speeds, which requires extra concentration on the highway.

Apart from the energetic driving experience, the other impressive aspect of the i3s is its packaging.

Not having a conventional drivetrain means a lot more cabin space has been unlocked - there's plenty of space for four, and there are many places to store your belongings, including a void below the dashboard for a large handbag.

The regular i3 is already available in facelifted form for S$179,888 (with Certificate of Entitlement), but the i3s goes on sale only in the fourth quarter of this year, with an expected S$20,000 premium.

That's not a small sum, but the i3s is worth it for its superior dynamics. Sportiness might seem counterintuitive in an efficient EV, but the extra jolt of fun is what makes the sparks fly with the i3s.


BMW i3s 94Ah

Electric Motor 184hp, 270Nm
Battery Lithium-ion, 27.2kWh
Range 200km
Charge Time 3h 30min with BMW i wallbox
0-100km/h 6.9 seconds
Top Speed 150km/h
Efficiency 12.5kWh/100km
Agent Performance Motors
Price S$201,000 with COE (estimated)
Available Q4 2018