What's the news?
BMW has released details of a suite of upgrades for its i3 electric car ahead of the 2019 model's world debut at the Paris Motor Show next week. While there are new colour, trim and equipment items to discuss, the biggest news concerns the availability of a new battery pack, taking the real-world range to about 260 kilometres.
Within the floor of the BMW i3 are eight battery modules with 12 storage cells apiece - and that hasn't changed. Instead, BMW has managed to increase the capacity to 120Ah and the gross energy content to 42.2kWh, without needing more space. For reference, when the i3 was launched, its battery pack had a capacity of 60Ah and gross energy content of 22.6kWh, though a 94Ah variant was unveiled in 2016. According to WLTP testing, the new battery-equipped i3 can travel 285-310km on a charge (the sportier i3s manages 270-285km), though BMW says that 260 kilometres is a reasonable expectation for most drivers. That compares with 200 kilometres for the 94Ah battery.
The new battery does not affect performance, though obviously it takes more time to charge. Plug it into a normal wall socket (2.4kW) and it'll take some 15 hours to reach 80 per cent capacity; use the BMW i Wallbox (11kW) and that reduces to 3.2 hours; and if you can find a quick-charging DC station, it'll charge at 50kW, so 80 per cent capacity is restored in 42 minutes.
BMW is to offer buyers of the regular i3 a sports package to make it look like and drive like the BMW i3s. The sports suspension features a 10mm lower ride height on new springs, different dampers and anti-roll bars and even a widened track. It also includes 20-inch alloys and black wheel arch surrounds.
Jucaro Beige metallic is a new BMW i3 colour for the exterior, while buyers also get an extra interior colour scheme option, mixing Carum Grey with accents in brown and interior surfaces in Electronic Brown. Adaptive LED headlights are offered for the first time and there have been tweaks to the iDrive infotainment system, too.