2018 BMW i3 finally picks up a sporty variant

The BMW i3 electric city car probably isn't the first Bimmer to come to mind when you think of sporty ones. But with the introduction of a revised version for the 2018 model year, that could change.

The standard i3 -- the non-sporty model -- doesn't look too much different to the old one. The track is wider, and the front bumper ditches its circular fog lights in favor of trim and fog lights that better emphasize the car's newfound width. From the side, not much has changed, either. LED headlights are now standard. Inside, nothing has changed, save for a new available combination of brown leather and grey wool cloth for the Giga World trim.

This model comes with a 170-horsepower, 184-pound-foot electric motor that'll shoot the i3 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and continue on until it hits 93 mph. A revised traction control system promises better handling in bad weather and better agility at high speeds, in the event you're more about handling than straight-line speed.

The biggest news for the 2018 BMW i3 is the introduction of the sporty BMW i3s, which is going to make pluralizing the i3 very difficult from here on out. The front and rear bumpers are more aggressive than the standard i3, and a new sports suspension lowers the whole car by about 0.4 inches. The 20-inch wheels are standard, which can be painted black for no extra cost.

The i3s packs a more powerful punch, too. Its engine puts out 184 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. The drivetrain is engineered to provide better power at higher engine speeds. There's a Sport mode that tightens up the steering and throttle response. 60 mph arrives in 6.8 seconds, and it'll top 100 mph given enough room.

Both BMW i3 variants are available with an optional range extender, which uses a two-cylinder gas engine to charge up the battery while on the go. This can boost the i3's range from 87 miles to 180. With BMW's own charging station, the i3 can go from an empty battery to a full one in about three hours. Using a standard wall outlet takes closer to 15 hours, but if you own an electric car, you're probably not using a regular wall outlet.

You can get some seriously funky cloth in the i3.

BMW

In terms of tech, both i3 variants receive the latest version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. With the optional navigation system, the screen measures 10.25 inches and packs Apple CarPlay. Additional optional packages can add adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, active park assist and autonomous emergency braking. The new i3 is also part of the Connected+ umbrella, which can offer first-mile and last-mile navigation services, as well as greater integration with an owner's smart devices.

The 2018 BMW i3 will get an official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Specific launch dates and pricing information are still TBD.

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