Is the BMW i3s an all-electric hot hatch?We drive the new, sportier version of BMW's i3 and question whether it can rival cars such as the Fiesta ST and 208 GTI.
[MUSIC] This is the BMW i3 which will be familiar to lots of you, but is in fact new to me. I've never driven one before. All though in fact, this version is new to everybody, because it's a 2018 face lifted model. And this is something called the i3S. Which we'll come to in a minute. First impressions of this, well, I like the looks of it. I think it looks very funky. It reminds me of the old Audi A2 for those of you who remember that. Somethings sort of stand actually as being really sort of just different and interesting. I love this material here. The overall shape I think is very cool. Also the side doors to the rear Are great. Other things stick out and just seem a bit odd. The 20 inch wheels on this, which is part of it being a sport model, which again, we'll get to in a moment. [LAUGH] It looks so bizarre, being so narrow and yet showing you all the suspension through their spokes. It's an odd look. Having said that, I love the fact that you can see the chassis when you open up the doors, the sort of a carbon Like [UNKNOWN] which is just really cool. The styling changes the first model, well they tried to make it look a little wider. Therefore you [UNKNOWN] as ell. Although the rear it still looks a little bit like it's giving birth to another car. Just like the i8 did in fact. [MUSIC] It won't surprise you to learn that the S model gets some hikes in both power and torque over the normal i3 to heat up to 181 break horse power and 199 pounds squared pounds foot of torque. This, in turn, drops a knot to 62 mile an hour time from 7.3 to 6.9 seconds. And takes a top speed up to a nice, round 100 miles an hour. The I3S is also endowed with sport suspension that's 10 millimeters lower, and it has a 40 millimeter wider track. And dynamic traction control, too. I like the idea of electric cars. I, I think they are potentially, actually, so I really like them as the idea of probably a second car for car enthusiast. So you can have something like the BMW M5, which has also been on this launch. So you have that as your main car, but for the times when le's face it you don't always need a 4.4 litre twin turbo V8. To pop to the shops. This is perfect. And I think electric cars can be wonderfully relaxing, soothing even as every day transport. However, this being the S model, this is sort of BMW's take on, well, an electric hot-hatch, I suppose. And that brings up rather more questions. This is the battery only version. The Bev, as in the Beverly, if you're writing her a letter. So we're going to take Beverly to the hills, and see if we can have a proper electric car [UNKNOWN]. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] So this has an eight sport mode as well as comfort and eco-pro, eco-pro plus. The first thing to say is it is really very quick. It has the same thing as an NSX. The reason the NSX is so quick on a country road is the fact that it just gets out of a corner, punches between turns. Always with absolute maximum velocity. And this is the thing, you're never in the wrong gear, fairly obviously. And all that torque is deployed quite [UNKNOWN], really, and you can really trouble the front axle if you work hard enough. However, is this a hot hatch? Well, it feels nippy I think is the best way to describe it. So you can understand it being good around town, but that's not really where you should be driving quickly, let's face it. On a road like this the trouble I have with electric cars is the fact that the most exciting bit happens straight away like that. When you get on the throttle, that's it. That's the exciting bit, you're not building to anything, there's no crescendo, you're going anywhere. You have instantly experienced the instant acceleration which is the instant gratification of this car. The only thing is, is that this car, despite perhaps being made to look a little wider, still feels quite tall. And those skinny tires, the handling [SOUND] It's not necessarily handling as such. There's nothing really to get involved with it. It's got quite a lot of grip and you go into a corner and you can work it through a bit with the throttle, but there's not a lot of center involvement. The steering is, there's really no feel at all through there. [MUSIC] There are no gears. There's no sound. It really does strip away an awful lot of what you suddenly realize [UNKNOWN] things to something being an enjoyable driver's car. In terms of sheer outright pace, I think this would actually keep a lot of smaller hot hatches surprisingly honest. Despite the tall look of the car, it takes corners pretty well because the weight is, obviously, low down, but nonetheless, you feel you are sitting quite high in it. It's not a very sporty position, I suppose. The ride is pretty good. You can lean on the front end, it doesn't feel quite as toply as you first expect. But really engaging? I don't think so I'm afraid. [BLANK_AUDIO] I do like it in the right circumstances. [BLANK_AUDIO] I think it can be followed, like the idea of nipping through round abouts, and that instant punch out the other side, away from traffic lights. It's definitely entertaining, but perhaps not in the usual hot hatch territory. And therefore, I can't really work out whether it's actually a hot hatch rival or not. This sporting EV, well it's going to have to happen at some point. I hope it's going to happen at some point, but at the moment I'm still not entirely sure how they're going to be ever as engaging as the internal combustion engine and three pedals. [MUSIC] So after A day. Not quite a day. But a reasonable number of miles. They say this is gonna range around 125 miles. And that's their sort of claim. That's what they reasonably reckon you'll get to a full charge. After quite a lot of miles in this, I do like it. I'm glad I've driven one. I think it's an entertaining Vehicle, and surprisingly quick. And I can definitely see a place for one in a garage. As I say, particularly long [INAUDIBLE] M5. It is a hot hatch, well, I'll still take a One Series, thank you very much. [MUSIC]