NEW BMW i3s 94Ah

Sporty, all-electric version of the ground-breaking BMW is practical, genuinely quick and genuinely fun to drive.

Design: Open a door and the carbonfibre structure is clear to see. Rear coach doors are interlocked with those in front and the arrangement allows good access to any seat. Lower-case ‘s’ badging signifies sporty treatment, with lower (by 10mm) stiffened suspension, wider (by 40mm) tracks, retuned steering, and extra rubber. Gloss black roof and pillars help drop the car visually; redesigned aprons and indicator strips accentuate width.
Driver’s Seat: Upmarket ‘Suite’ interior has you settling into a comfortable chair trimmed in natural Dalbergia Brown leather and gripping a leather wheel with a contrasting satin silver ring. You sit high due to the battery pack spread beneath the floor but fantastic telescopic wheel adjustment ensures long-distance comfort for the tallest drivers. Headroom is also superb. Chunky pillars can obstruct otherwise great visibility.
Interface: Centrally mounted above the dark matt oak dash is a 10.25in display with sharper resolution for the improved iDrive and voice recognition tech that actually works. The driver’s smaller digital instrumentation screen features a 5.7in TFT display.
Start-up: Grab the clunky gear selector on the right of the steering column and press the stop-start button with right thumb, then twist the selector to engage Drive or Reverse in shudder-free silence. The big torque is immediately available to spirit you effortlessly away.
Cruise: Instantly brisk and controllable on light throttle inputs, instantly fun, and easy to drive as a single-pedal car, such is the slowing effect of lifting off the right pedal. Road imperfections combine with sporty tune to highlight the weight beneath the cabin and dent ride quality but isolation from road noise is deeply impressive, even in the wet.
Overtake: Sport mode sharpens throttle response, tightens steering. Floor it for similar acceleration to conventional hot hatch. Even half throttle results in quick progress, and regenerative braking system means easing off causes car to slow immediately. You do so gently so as not to lose momentum.
Unleash: Single-speed 'box means the full-throttle surge can’t be sustained forever but is more than muscular enough at legal speeds, especially without the range-extender's 120kg of ballast. i3s spec means more grip and balance than ever but that tall stance and inescapable sensation of (low-set) weight hinders athleticism and there’s still body roll to manage. Understeer or oversteer are both on the menu but trick stability control keeps things in check.
Configure: With a real-world range of 200km per charge, do you buy the insurance of a range-extender – the two-cylinder, 647cc petrol power generator – that adds $7700 to the price and adds 0.8 sec to the sprint to100km/h? Each interior design theme tailors the unconventional cabin with material options that appeal asthetically and and are chosen for sustainability. As for options, iit’s hard to go past Harmon Kardon hifi and much-admired ‘i-blue’ seatbelts ($300).
Buy One: Our Melbourne Red machine with its Frozen Grey accents came in at $92,640 without a range-extender but it did exceed performance expectations and would be ideal for predominantly town and around use. There’s further outlay for a wallbox charger at home (3 to 4 hours for full charge) although a fast-charge station can boost the battery to 80 per cent in 40 minutes.

CATEGORY RELATED
READ ALL
BMW i3s 94Ah

ENGINE synchronous electric, Li-ion battery 33kWh

POWER 135kW

TORQUE 270Nm

TRANSMISSION single-speed

DRIVETRAIN rear-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.0m

WEIGHT 1260kg

WHEELS 20-inch double-spoke alloy

TYRES 195/55 R20 (f) 195/50 R20 (r)

0-100km/h 6.9 secs

FUEL CLAIM 14.3kWh/100km

PRICE from $85,900

RELATED POSTS

BMW i8 ROADSTER

Dramatic-looking drop-top complements plug-in i8 coupe and caps BMW’s far-sighted i-car range.

BMW M2 DCT

Tearaway M2 picks up junior ‘M’ car mantle from bulging, limited-run 1M and introduces 'junior M4' looks.

BMW 740e

A clean-living week in BMW’s big hybrid has us enjoying great road presence and limousine comfort.

BMW 540i SALOON

Fulfils dynamic exec saloon brief brilliantly and has more luxury and tech in common with flagship 7-Series.

MORE NEW CARS

AUDI E-TRON 55 QUATTRO

Time for some South Island glide time in Audi’s limo-like electric SUV with its ultra-modern blueprint.

McLAREN 600LT SPIDER

Thoroughly reworked Sports Series flyer is pared back for the track but offers great driver involvement on the right roads.

TOYOTA GR SUPRA

The Supra for the 21st century is the first car to be developed by in-house performance division, Gazoo Racing.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE P250

Classy evolution of original compact luxury SUV ramps up refinement and capability in a First Edition special.