2018 BMW i3 Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Aug 29, 2017
  • Lineup expands to include sporty i3s model
  • Styling and paint schemes updated; full LED headlights are standard
  • Improved dynamic stability control system
  • Updated battery charging options
  • Next-generation iDrive infotainment system
  • New upholstery combination includes Giga Brown leather and Carum Spice Gray cloth
  • New colors include Imperial Blue and Melbourne Red


2018 BMW i3 front quarter right photo2018 BMW i3 side profile photo

Electric cars are getting better every year, and the 2018 BMW i3 rides that wave of improvement. Updated with subtle styling changes, new infotainment technology, enhanced charging options, and a sport-tuned i3s variant, BMW’s electric vehicle (EV) offers up to 180 miles of estimated driving range.

Exterior Features

2018 BMW i3 rear quarter right photo

BMW has modified the i3 model’s paint scheme, adding black roof pillars and roofline edges to complement the hood, roof panel, and tailgate. Front and rear bumpers are restyled, and full LED headlights are added for 2018.

For a sportier appearance, the new i3s variant receives subtle styling tweaks, additional gloss black exterior trim and accents, and a set of exclusive 20-in. aluminum wheels.

Interior Features

2018 BMW i3 interior photo

Equipment lines continue unchanged for both the i3 and new i3s, with Deka World standard, and Mega World, Giga World, and Tera World trim upgrades available. BMW says that over 80% of the i3’s interior materials that are visible to the eye are made from recycled or renewable materials. Interestingly, the i3s gets exclusive blue seat belts.

Under the Hood

2018 BMW i3 grille photo

A pure EV, the BMW i3’s electric motor makes 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter available immediately upon stepping on the accelerator. A single-speed transmission drives the front wheels while a 94-ampere-hour Lithium-ion battery supplies the juice. BMW says the car can accelerate to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and tops out at 93 mph.

Appropriately, the sporty i3s benefits from a stronger 184-horsepower version of the electric motor that makes 199 lb.-ft. of torque. BMW claims that additional modifications to optimize the motor produce a 40% improvement in power delivery at high rpm. The i3s model also boasts a Sport driving mode, which produces a more responsive accelerator and tighter steering, BMW says. By BMW’s stopwatch, the i3s accelerates to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and boasts a top speed in excess of 100 mph.

Both versions of the 2018 i3 are available with a 2-cylinder gasoline engine that serves as a range extender, similar to the setup in the Chevrolet Volt. Choose it and driving range nearly doubles from 97 miles to 180 miles.

According to BMW, it takes 15 hours to charge the i3 using the standard 120-volt charging cable. Opt for the BMW TurboCord EV Charger and with a 240-volt charging station it takes 5 hours. Coming in 2018, a new BMW i Now charging station will supply 7.2 kW of power, charging the i3 in 3 hours.

All i3 models for 2018 benefit from a retuned dynamic stability control system that is claimed to improve handling by allowing a greater degree of agility and slip when the car is driven with enthusiasm. The new i3s version takes the EV’s handling to the next level thanks to a sport-tuned suspension, wider track, and wider 20-in. wheels.


2018 BMW i3s front quarter left photo

Outfit the BMW i3 with the Technology and Driving Assistance package and you’ll obtain a wide range of safety and infotainment equipment. This package includes active cruise control with stop-and-go capability, forward-collision warning with daytime pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and speed limit information.


2018 BMW i3 infotainment display photo

BMW introduces its latest iDrive 6.0 infotainment system to the 2018 i3. It packs up to a 10.25-in. display, natural language-recognition technology, email and text message dictation, navigation including real-time traffic, ConnectedDrive Services with on-street parking information and charging station location and availability, and Apple CarPlay.

With navigation active, range estimates adjust according to route characteristics and information, and with the high-end navigation system the map shows a boundary line indicating the farthest distance that can be traveled on remaining battery power.

BMW Connected+ Services are also available, and include intelligent route planning, the ability to share live trip status, the ability to share current location via text message, and a number of other tech-driven conveniences.

Optional park distance control and parking-assistance features are also available. Parking-assistance technology handles steering, braking, acceleration, and gear selection for the driver in order to autonomously park the vehicle.

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